2020 Mid-Year Update

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We hope this message finds you and your family healthy and well and rejuvenated from the long holiday weekend. This July 4th was like no-other, void of the traditional parties and parades, yet offering its own unique opportunity to find meaning and reflection as our country commemorated its independence. As some of you may have seen on LinkedIn, Chris shared a moving tribute: A Personal Reflection on America’s Birthday. We hope his words inspires you as they did us.


To say that these times are unprecedented or uncertain feels trite; yet as business leaders and advocates we know that it’s our responsibility to sift through the issues and help make sense of these complicated times. What began as a looming health concern in January has now rippled into a frightening global pandemic affecting over 10 million people worldwide and growing. As we have discussed with many of you over the last few months, it has taken an extraordinary synthesis of disparate specializations (e.g., epidemiology, economic, fiscal/monetary/policy, behavioral) as well as end market and company-specific insights to inform decision making and strategic response. Yet during these turbulent times it often feels like these inputs are out of sync, putting additional pressure on our portfolio leadership and investment teams who are doing their best to navigate the challenges and identify the bright spots. Shoshana was recently quoted in a publication that reflects our best advice on leadership during the current environment:

“Now more than ever, your survival will be based on your adaptability, resilience and action. In the face of crisis, find your foundation – revisit your company’s mission and values and use those as guiding principles when making critical decisions. Revisit your business model and in doing so, question every assumption. It’s time to let go of what was, and have the creativity and courage to embrace this new normal. When communicating, do so with compassion, vulnerability, and clarity. Anticipate the natural tension between cutting and innovating, between urgency and restoration. Attempt to feel what your employees and key relationships are going through, and use your own emotions for good. By showing your employees what it means to be human in business during uncertain times, you will build trust and confidence across your organization.”


Despite some inevitable tension and contradiction, we believe that true reward comes when you are able to accomplish both mission and margin, humanity and liquidity, execution and innovation. We applaud and thank the many leaders across our network who live these principles every day and inspire action and impact across their respective organizations.

Some examples include: Academic Programs International ensuring that thousands of students studying around the world this past spring were able to safely return home and complete their study abroad experience online; Big Blue Marble Academy remaining open throughout this pandemic to provide critical childcare services for families of essential workers; Reading Plus providing free use of its software to students across the country that were learning from home; and Panopto and EdCast ensuring that distributed employees and college students had access to what they needed to learn and work remotely. 


We have put much reflection into the questions of how did we get here, where do we go from here, what’s next, and who can lead us forward. For us, the answer is not to seek comfort in the old or to turn a blind eye; rather it’s to embrace this moment of “reset” and both invest behind and continue to support bold ideas and courageous leaders who are willing and able to build organizations across the education and workforce management sectors that are designed to endure inevitable cycles and address real challenges in their individual markets.

While we applaud the herculean efforts of the schools, teachers, students, and parents who made the best out of a very difficult situation, we also know that we must do better for the upcoming school year and beyond. We believe that nearly every trend has been accelerated by years and we must build on that insight and invest in true online learning – intentionally built systems that provide high-quality, personalized education, that leverage modern technology and interactive curriculum, that are not simply in-person teaching techniques delivered online. We must also ensure that our communities have the technology infrastructure and social networks required to support our teachers and students (of all ages), and that our teachers have the proper training to fluidly move from in-person to online.

Similarly, the need for us to support distributed work environments and to enable reskilling and upskilling has never been more urgent. Just as our K12 and higher education systems require immediate attention, our education to employment pathways and underlying adult learning and corporate L&D offerings all must ensure that they support the industries, jobs and skills that will be in demand in the future.

Back in December 2019 when we launched our new brand, Avathon Capital, we did so with the purpose of “bringing people together” to create “enduring change” – to support our partners as they build important companies designed for growth and impact. We created the below video, back when it was “normal” to hold conferences and work in close proximity to one another. Initially we held off on releasing the video, as “marketing” was far from our minds; however, we share it with you today as an invitation to reach out. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what we can all be doing to raise the bar in the markets we serve. After all, isn’t that the point?

Watch our video here.

The Avathon Team
Summer 2020

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