2018 Year in Review

It’s easy to feel that we live in less tolerant times, but social progress was pronounced this year. Saudi women can now legally drive, Ireland repealed its abortion ban. India legalised consensual gay sex, FGM saw a massive decline in Africa. #metoo kept the campaign against sexual harassment and women’s rights at the forefront of population management.

It was a less good year for plastic. But hopefully the beginning of better prospects for the planet.

Bears or Bulls? The market stampede created a couple of trillion-dollar businesses but by the end of the nine-year bull run had come to an end.

Word of the year: Backstop – and yes, we’re as bored and bemused by the whole B thing as you are.

Not been a great year for Bitcoin either. This time twelve months ago one was worth $18,114, now it’s just $3400.

Tom Whitwell’s annual round up of 52 things he learned never fails to intrigue.


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – the riveting read about the reality distortion field (and fibs) around Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos blood diagnostic start-up. A deserved winner of the FT / McKinsey Business Book of the Year.

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age – a compelling account of India’s tycoons and an excellent round up of the state of economic and social play twenty-five years into economic liberalisation. A runner up in Business book of the Year.

In Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, Eric Klinenberg makes the case for social bonds and which infrastructures can (or can’t) help.

We’ve bought and gifted more copies of this than any other book this year. The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian is pacey and profound, and given it came out in 2009, ahead of the game.



We’ve had another busy year – grown the team substantially, added new clients and worked on brilliant projects. 2018 looks set to be another year of stellar growth.

We’ve worn hard hats, Hawaiian shirts and gilets jaunes.

Explored and advised on retail in the present and future (with voice and without people), AI, marketplaces, workplaces, beer and industrial innovation in Europe.

And we spent a lovely few days mulling over what comes next in a Kent country house.

A reminder that frictionless retail is only as good as the worst customer. Hema, Shanghai.