2021 has seen a huge tie in of key areas including our biggest foe – COVID-19 and one of the most current trending terms, Net-Zero. Of course, with most of us obeying the rules of lockdown, there has been a huge online presence for retail and of course, NFTs. Unfortunately, some of my most compelling investments and eyes on companies are early-stage, not listed, so I cannot add them to this list. However, I will be writing up soon on the ones to get in early if you are like me and like a diverse early-stage portfolio.

With digital art selling for which some would consider ludicrous amounts of money and major sports leagues throwing collector cards at any platform they can, will NFTs be the dot-com bubble that led to so much loss only two decades ago?

Personally, I have been curve balling away from art and music NFTs for a little while. I may kick myself in the future, but I am sitting back and waiting for things to settle a little or at least, a set of platforms and standards which would make a standard for at least ensuring a real value and security in my collection. However, I have been watching the game world and the big things happening on the so-called “metaverse”.

I mentioned Animoca in a previous article, and voila, Sandbox has sold vast chunks of virtual land recently, propelling the SAND coin up the ranks.

This month, I have been concentrating on all those goodies which have been developing for the last year and also the online gaming markets, along with the retail trends which have really changed a great deal during our prison sentences.

So, let’s start with retail. I tip my hat to Debenhams at this point – I have great memories of visiting the stores but unfortunately, way too many things went wrong for them. Goodbye to a fond memory!


CEO Dan Schulman has made public statements recently into the payment giant’s movements, which have tied in very nicely with the pandemic and people’s moves to digital payments.  Over the last year, I have used little cash, with my preferred Apple Pay taking precedence. Even the Royal Mint seem to be in a panic over the decrease in cash use.

However, this is not the only thing making the stocks be eyed again. Around three years ago, I advised on the changes to retail when looking at the Battersea Power Station project and the vast movement to experiential shopping behaviours of consumers. The mass floor space is becoming a thing of the past and shoppers are happier to buy and receive goods the next day. PayPal payments can be a big driver behind this and if we are moving to a cashless society, secure payment methods are key. PayPal has developed a great deal of technology to protect the buyer and my bets are on them targeting further into the physical purchase markets.

Next up – online gaming. The big players are really pushing hard now, very likely due to the demand on games from the stay-at-home players, who are wanting more from the experience. Even colleges in the US are designing courses for gameplay and the next Olympics will very likely see full-scale digital Olympians too.

Epic Games

This powerhouse is the creator of the Unreal VR engine and is certainly taking the product very seriously. It’s not only the gaming world this covers, but also the whole CGI arena and the Unreal engine has just empowered MetaHuman, the latest and rather scary fully mapped human creation engine. Epic has not gone for their IPO yet, but I am waiting, ready to pounce when they do. However, if you are wanting to get in on the game (excuse the pun), then you can buy a bit of Tencent Holding (TCEHY), which has a stake in Epic right now.

Epic is also taking the Metaverse world very seriously and if executed correctly, rather than trying to own the whole thing, the Unreal engine could certainly be a standards contender across the whole verse.

Now it’s time to reach for the stars. SpaceX is firmly on my radar, especially with the Starlink satellite-based internet service rolling out. I hear you say: “Hey they are not even close to IPO”, and you would be right. I imagine it will happen in 2023 when Musk presses the button. However, I have a trick up my sleeve.

Alphabet Inc.  

Okay, what on earth has Google got to do with SpaceX? Easy, they invested into 10% stock when it was an infant getting going. By investing in Google, you can bypass the huge overinflation of the upcoming IPO and sit on Google’s early seed investment, which I believe is still around 9%. Buckle up and become part of the space race.

As a final thought, I move to MedTech, which is one of the areas I consider to be a present and future requirement highlighted during COVID. Much of the research and development which took place can be used to continue the fight against future viruses and even other medical issues.


Apart from other immunoassays, Quidel received rapid emergency-use authorisation from the FDA for their COVID-19 antigen test. Unlike many other tests, theirs is designed to test asymptomatic individuals. This alone is something to propel a stock, but they are also using a great deal of known research from previous tests to provide key medical test solutions into the future.

What we do know with MedTech, is that it is going to play a much more important role in our future daily lives. The pandemic hit us hard, but there almost certainly will be other viruses and infections which will haunt us and these companies are key to far more rapid solutions than we probably gave them credit for.

Next time, I will be looking into those companies which could have made a completely different outcome to the COVID-19 pandemic in the field of vastly more intelligent tracking and tracing and even predictions of further waves of virus mutation. There was a complete lack of interoperability across the world when it came to information and traceability. Red-listing countries post avalanche of people movement, quarantines with very poor intelligence, zero prediction of further waves. It is time for a change and I am a firm believer in a global information interchange. People may scoff at this, but whilst reading this article, you are using the world’s largest data interchange platform - the Internet.

Finally, I am watching one of my own big bets, EyA – which may be listing in the not so distant future. Fingers on the button with this one, that is for sure!


 The content is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. Nothing contained in this article constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Graham Norton-Standen, HIG, Finance Monthly or any third-party service provider to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments.