The Pull Forward

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December 20th, 2021

I saw two charts last week that showed the same thing:

This chart was in the deck I shared here last week called Consumer Trends 2022. It shows that after a big lift in 2020 and a bit of a lull in 2021, the e-commerce trendline is back to its old baseline.

This is our portfolio company DuckDuckGo‘s search traffic curve, available here, on a ten-day moving average. You can see after a huge move up in late 2020, it had a pullback in early 2021 and has now gotten back on its normal growth curve.

Both of these are examples of what is called “the pull forward”, an event or a series of events that draws a large and unsustainable boost of new users. It is often followed by a lull where growth is flat or even down for a while, but then the normal growth pattern resumes.

We have seen curves like this throughout our portfolio this year as the pandemic and other factors (in DuckDuckGo’s case the presidential election also played a big part) have whipsawed growth curves. It feels great when things are growing faster than ever. It feels bad when things are flat or down.

My suspicion is a lot of these odd-looking curves are going to resume their normal shapes in 2022 when things gradually start to normalize.

The last two years have been a challenge to manage through. There have been endless curveballs coming our way. Boom and bust. It is important to see things for what they are and not get too up or down in times like this.

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