April 3, 2020

Crisis and Opportunity

Crisis and Opportunity

I hope that you and yours are staying safe and well. We’re still in the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic here in New York City. For the Weiners, today is Day 17 of our Stay at Home Life, with at least another 27 to go, but who’s counting? With the number of cases mounting, it’s tempting to spend the entire day checking headlines, but, like many of you, I’ve starting restricting my news consumption to several times a day.

It’s the only way to stay focused on the job I need to do as leader of Marcum. With many of our clients looking to understand how the CARES Act and new SBA relief programs apply to their firms, Marcum continues to produce webinars to bring clarity, which are consistently over-subscribed. Our Coronavirus Resource Center continues to bring fresh content and new regulatory updates, so please continue checking it every day. And if you need help navigating any of this, we’re here to help.

One thing that has really impressed me during this crisis is how it’s brought out the best in the business community. Many business leaders are under intense pressure right now, as they look for creative solutions to keep their teams on payroll. I was heartened to see that the CEOs of Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Visa, FedEx and Bank of America have all said they will not lay off any workers in 2020. Hopefully they can keep those promises. Many CEOs, including some of Marcum’s clients, are taking pay cuts to keep their teams employed. I have a feeling one might be in store for me in the very near future. The good news is other than food, we’re really not spending any money.

The crisis is also sparking a wave of innovation. Entrepreneurs are the core of Marcum’s business, and I’m truly appreciative of the ways that so many of you are rising to the occasion. I’m hearing a lot of stories about companies diving into brand new lines of business, deploying their teams in creative ways so they don’t have to lay them off, and giving back to the community.

Elon Musk is probably the most famous example. He’s been busy making ventilators in his Tesla factory and is now donating them free of cost to hospitals in the regions where he usually delivers his electric cars.

But he’s not alone in finding a way to contribute. A chocolate factory in Northeast Texas has been using its plastic packaging to manufacture face shields. Many distilleries are now producing hand sanitizer (Purell martini anyone?). And with takeout food orders dwindling, a group of D.C. area restaurants is selling pantry staples like flour, eggs and butter (along with toilet paper, of course) and delivering them to local residents who are hesitant to go to the store.

Meanwhile, hotels across the country are making themselves available as shelters for the homeless so the virus doesn’t spread. The city of San Francisco, for instance, has rented almost 700 hotel rooms from six brands whose names have not been released, and there is a call for doing something similar in New York.

We’re also seeing companies of all sizes come up with new inventions to address the realities of living in a time like this. There’s a new selfie-stick cousin called the “hygienehook,” which lets you open a door without touching a handle. Another new invention I liked: the Immutouch, a wristband that buzzes if your hand goes near your face. Another creative idea: Scylla, an AI-driven thermal camera for public buildings, can take someone’s temperature from a distance – even if they say they’re feeling fine. One South American country has already ordered 5,000 licenses.

No doubt this is just the beginning. Who knows? Maybe at the end of all of this we’ll see what billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is predicting after the economy rebounds: the rise of “world changing companies.” As he put it, it’s in times like this that capitalism can really shine.

There’s a new phenomenon happening near where I live in New York City. Every night at 7pm, people open their windows, go out on their roofs or balconies, and cheer and applaud those who must still work to help the rest of us: Police, firefighters, healthcare workers, drug store employees, food store workers, delivery people. We may not realize it, but there are still many who have to work to make sure those of us that are staying at home have what we need to get by. Perhaps it’s happening near where you live, also. If not, start the trend. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who are sacrificing for the rest of us to get through this, and we will get through it.

On another note, we announced yesterday that all Marcum offices will remain closed until May 4. We continue to work 100% remotely, except for one or two people in each office who go in daily to check mail deliveries and make bank deposits.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.