Season 4, Post 49: Client. Origin. Spine.
Rest assured, your author has not gone crazy amidst the spirit of seasonal festivities. Although the title of this week’s Blog may appear strange or even just utterly random, the three words cited in the title above relate precisely to where your author is sitting as he pens this piece. The simplest way to talk about location is, arguably, through the system developed by what3words, a private UK business. Its implications for future trends such as e-commerce and logistics, not to mention how emergencies are dealt with, could be significant.
Last week your author sat down in “Parent. Upset. Fool” to meet with the co-founder and CEO of what3words at their west London headquarters in order to learn more. Remember all those times when your post has been inaccurately delivered or your courier comes to the wrong house. “Addresses are an imperfect solution”, we were told. Rather, what3words had the pioneering vision around a decade ago to split the world into a grid of three metre squares. Each square has a unique (and randomised) combination of three words that allows for users to find any precise location in the world.
The model is compellingly simple, in our view, but also potentially revolutionary. The biggest challenge for the business, we were told, is now to grow adoption. This is a twofold problem since not only do consumers have to embrace the proposition (and the novel can often be challenging – what’s the point in using, if no-one else you know is?) but so do businesses. We were told it was “a double chicken and egg” in the sense that many seem to be waiting for the product to reach critical mass before adopting.
Progress has nonetheless been impressive to-date. In the UK all the main emergency services (and the AA, which deals with car breakdowns) have implemented what3words. Should you be in an accident or similar, then just provide your what3words address and the services will be able to come to your precise location. This could be particularly helpful if, say, stuck on a motorway or in the remote countryside. Other significant players are also adopting including DHL and DPD in deliveries, Bohoo in e-commerce (where the option to insert what3words can be found on their check-out page) and NCP in its car parks. The product is also available in local language formats in over 50 other countries around the world. Based on what we saw, the take-up of what3words could follow a standard S-curve of adoption. Watch this space (that’s three words!).
13 December 2022
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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