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All right. Hello and welcome back. This is Colin Keeley here,and I'm Brent Sanders. And we are two guys buying and building wonderfulinternet companies. Indeed. And in everything that is coming out of every mediasource. This last week and maybe the last two months has just been chat. G P T,AI Chat. G P t.
AI's gonna kill everybody and kill every industry. It's beenhard to, to. A slice through the paranoia, right? You have some people that arelike, oh, it's gonna change the world. It's gonna put everyone out of a job.And that might be true, but, it's, it's been a long time coming. So everyone'sseen the terminator.
We all know how this ends. So Seth actually so surprised. Butwe were, we were gonna talk about it on, on the podcast today as a, the firsttopic of, of discussion was around what's it mean for vertical b2b? You knowwhat, what's it mean for, for us? Yeah, I guess, at high level Constellationis, everyone's looked up to, is compounded, it's such a compelling rate for 20years or something like that.
And we're somewhat similar doing this vertical market software.And the whole idea was that, these corners are sleepy, they're great businessesare gonna be super durable. And does AI threaten that? Is that gonna come allcrashing down? Can you just type into like chat, G P T. Please recreate thisvertical market software, make it really nice and modern for like 2023.
And then, why wouldn't people switch and develop solutions forthat And then like set up a nice offboarding onboarding, switching process andthen, set up a outbound cold email campaign and reach out to other customersand steal 'em. Like, is that doable in the next few years? And I don't know,but let's talk about it.
Do you have any immediate thoughts? Yeah, I mean, let, let'sstart with, the technology side of things. So, can you build things with ai?You absolutely can, and it's, it's great. And we have a couple engineers thatI've noticed have been using it. They always have a G P T tab open, andespecially I think we were talking about last podcast, like especially dealingwith legacy software.
It's, we're dealing with some library that's eight years oldand documentation's gone and somehow chatty PT knows how it works. So, I thinkthe AI enabled development is, is huge. Then there's like the AI generation of,of code and, and systems, and I think that's also going to be super helpful.
What I don't see, I, it, it can create things end to end and Ithink you can work with it, you. Is it gonna kill a developer job? Yeah.Probably. Hopefully soon. Right. Like in, in some sense, it is going to, erasea lot of the, like, low hanging. So like, Hey, I, I need to build a login form,like how many login forms I've built in my career that I just never want tohave to do again.
Like that part, I'm, I'm confident that it, it's gonna takeaway the things that. I don't know if it will start taking away, it's like the,the larger systems, like putting the big pieces together and, and likeoperating and, and all those pieces. But you know, let's assume it justcontinually keeps going. So it begs this larger question of like, will softwarecompany goes, software companies go away if you can just make your ownsoftware.
And I, I don't, I still don't think so. Cuz there's all thisother stuff that goes along with not just creating the, the code, the productand, the, the features, but the. The, the actual having a service, not doing ityourself, right? Not having to, like, you still have to spin up servers. Youstill have to, do all this technical stuff that you know, most people aren'tgonna want to do.
And just because it's easier to make doesn't mean people aregoing to start, going through that process. I think people want to have acompartmentalized thing and they also want to have somebody accountable to,Hey, you're running my database backups, you're running my invoicing, you'rerunning.
Operating system for whatever, it's not something they want to,have a relationship with chat g p t over, they want to have like a commercialrelationship to say, I'm gonna rely on you to do this thing. But yeah, I mean,will we see more copycats popping up? Maybe. But I think you still run into thesame scale and growth problems of like, bringing it all together.
That's, that's harder to, to do without, AI doing it for you.Yeah, I think the obvious outcomes are you could get by with smaller teams,like AI assisted developers can just be way more productive. So we could staysuper lean and, the people we have could be more productive and we couldprobably stay lean for longer.
I think the other outcome is like, you could be more ambitious.These small teams can tackle bigger projects. So the obvious ones to me are.Basically copycats, can you spin up copycats way faster? So if Gum road, theylike 10 x their prices or something, I think you could probably build acompetitor for like hundredth of price in charge, maybe like a 10th orsomething.
Or Intercom is always super expensive. I wonder if you couldjust say, hey recreate Intercom, and spin up a competitor that way I think. Thequestion is like, are switching costs still durable? And is that like customerrelationships are still valuable and I think it's still a big pain. So like,everything is built on Scout.
Do you wanna move to a new competitor that just spun up becauseof AI assisted? Probably not. Right? Because you don't trust 'em. We have ,decade of history of running. But it is scary. It feels like, the, the castleis a little more vulnerable than it was before for all these vertical marketsoftware companies.
Yeah. And, and maybe that's just an, a function of like,there's less gatekeeping happening, right? Like it's people that are going,going to be able to enter into this, more freely. But I think at the end of theday, there's still this gap of that I can't, I can't cover. Right. I can't. AIbridging this gap.
So use the intercom example. Like, yeah, it's expensive. Well,why do you think it's expensive? It's like, do they just arbitrarily want tocharge a lot? It's like, no, sending a a boatload of emails is expensive. Overtime, you're, you're kind of paying and kicking into this largerinfrastructure. And so I think that's where like this shared resources whereyou're getting, they're getting a volume, price or whatever it is, is, is youstart getting, you're not paying a premium for.
The feature set, but you're, you're actually like paying forcompute. And I think that's where this converges. And not to get toofuturistic, but that's where I think, cryptocurrency had an interesting andcompelling thing where it's like, it's starting to close the gap between like,what are you actually paying?
You're paying for the compute, and that's like the, the likeatomic thing that. You're engaging with a software company for is like, Hey, dothis thing, take some action, send emails. Like that costs money. Like, and soI think at the end of the day you're going to, let's say you rebuilt Intercomwith chat g p t and it told you exactly what to do and but then you startgetting bugs and it's like, well, you asked Chad g b t about the bugs.
And it's like, it stops giving you great answers. It's likethere's all these gotchas that I'm like, I picture myself doing this and it.There's still a lot of a cost associated with services like that that they'recovering. And then B, like there is still this coordination element that youneed, humans to, to deal with.
Cuz I, I don't think as of right now, chat, G B T would be ableto monitor and deal with, getting things live and keeping things live forever.Yeah, I think that, can we just talk about how, how wrong and confidently wrongit is? Oh, yeah. That's what they, they call it hallucinating, where it's justconfidently wrong.
It makes something up and just continues to run with it. So, itisn't perfect. There it is. Really cool. So let's talk about, for a moment,like, within our space, the, the places that it, it rocks, as we already talkedabout, is like assisting developers, assisting support, I think is anotherhuge. Like turning a frustrated, the one that I like is, is not turning the,the support person's responses and running that through ai, but actuallyturning the all the customer responses into like very nicely worded and makingpeople feel fuzzy.
I think there's actually something to that where it's like, Youcan actually just, you want to help somebody who's being nice and you want toprovide the best care possible. And, I think there, there's something torewording things and re, rejiggering the, the input to make it work better.
Yeah, I, I tell Mark our customer service guy to try it and it,it helps. I mean my like default is just to be blunt and be like, Hey, this ishow you fix it. But then you say, you run it through chat g p t and say like,Hey, make this polite and very friendly and it comes out with like a morebeautiful response.
The other thing I'm trying to use it more for is like a writingbuddy. So I think it's really not to like come up with novel. But to bounceideas back and forth. So if you give it like unstructured notes, it's reallygood at making it structured. So like if I do a podcast like transcription,throw it to it and say, pull out, like, hey, pull out the three points of this.
It does a really good job of that, and like distilling thingsdown. That's awesome. It's been pretty cool. And then you could ask it toexpand on it. And some of the expansion is like hallucinations. It's just kindof made up crap. But other ones are really, so I'm trying to get into the habitof like, I want to use this more.
I have to like do this instead of using Google or something.Like I'll try that first and see how it goes. But yeah, it's just cool. I, Itest it all out. I absolutely love it for, for those types of, of things. Andthat's usually what stops me from writing is like, I get it and then I startediting and I just run out of steam and it's, it's a great, it's a greatwriting partner.
Something I'm, I'm giving a talk next week, a very short one,and I was like, I was gonna bug you for this, so this is my alternatives. I wasgonna bug Colin for like, hey, gimme some good facts about why venture capitalis risky as compared to what we're doing. And so I gave it to chappy ch g p t30 seconds later I've got, found stats with sighting and, six great facts aboutwhat exactly what I wanted in, in an instant.
And that's, that's I think the, the part. It's the most useful,like I look at it as like an augmented Google tool or, and people say, oh,there's gonna be no more Stack overflow. Now the scary thing is, is like if weall start generating and using AI and it starts feeding on itself, I thinkthat's where the value's gonna go to zero, where you start getting wronganswers or it's feeding off of all this content.
So talk about like Stack Overflow, a place where developers goto search out problems that. Right. Like, I'm getting this error. Any tips,hints, like how do I, how do I fix this error? And if it's, if we stop posting,what are we gonna train the next model on? Right? It's like, and if we stopposting, To stack over it.
So I don't think those things are gonna get killed. I think youstill need to have these, these sources of data to build from. Otherwise, it'snot gonna be super knowledgeable as to what those errors, errors are. I, oneidea there, but you know, I think that there's definitely a strong place forit.
And it's only gonna get greater. I scary thing to think aboutis, what's it's gonna mean for academics? Like, cuz I know if I was in school Iwould just be like, write my essay. Write my midterm paper and it would justsend it out. Oh yeah. So my cousins are still in college. They're quite a bityounger and I, that's what they all do.
Like I saw them over like Christmas time and every singlestudent does that and they know at like what time of the day. Yeah. Chat GD isnot busy. So they could get it for free instead of paying. But they're alldoing it. Oh, nice. I think that also the AI, like checkers are getting goodtoo, and I think it's pretty good easy for it to say, was this written by AI ornot?
So one of my rules I guess, is I like never use what's writtenby ai. It's probably different for developers, but I just use it as like a, anidea bouncer offer. And I don't like copy paste that into my article because Ithink at some point they'll be able to check, pretty well and flag you or hurtyou.
And it, it reads a certain way. I don't know why it, like, itrings a certain chime in my brain when I read the responses and it's like, itfeels a little strange, but it, it's what I'm looking for. Like, there's,there's bits of goodness in there. So I agree. Editing that stuff down is, isgreat. But, going back to the impact of, of, of software, I think.
Yeah. Smaller teams can, can result from this, which is, Ithink that is probably just the biggest thing, impact it would have on, on theability for one company to do more. Right. It's like if we wanted to get intosomething like that, we've never done before. Let's say we, we added reviewsor, or review tracking feature to scout.
Instead of starting from Google and starting to research allthis stuff, we could say, how do we do this? And give us some code samples andjust light speeds are our development process, right? Light speed's the productprocess, it light speeds. Everything just goes on this like, oh, here's theanswer.
And so I think the, the r and d impact I think is gonna begreat. And I think that's a good thing. I think everyone benefits from that. Idon't, I dunno, I don't see the downside of. More ideation and, and less likestruggle with the painful stuff of like research and proof of concepts andtesting. Yeah. I so it like no code made testing MVPs easier.
I think this AI stuff makes testing like more code heavyprojects way faster than ever before, so you could probably test a lot moreideas. The other like second order effect of this is, I don't think you needall these crazy venture capital rounds. I don't think you need your series A,B, C. I mean, if a lot of that is to continue building product and buildingproduct becomes a lot cheaper, like I think you can take that first round ofmoney, get off the ground, pay yourself salaries, and then like from there justkind of run.
I don't think you need to build out these huge, multi a hundredperson teams. So I think, bootstrap companies or whatever can ipo. I think thatthe next round is gonna look pretty different. I love that idea. I mean, Doingmore with less is, is kind of what, I feel like that's the theme of the lastdecade of everyone's just, there's a downturn, there's covid.
Oh, we get, we're just gonna have to do more with less. It'slike, well, this is the way you're gonna do it. I think there's a, an existentialquestion here of like, well, who is doing those tests and what are those peoplenow gonna do? I'd like to think that there's, a positive sort of, angle tothis.
But I have to say there is a dystopian feeling of like, okay,that this is how we're gonna end up with. The 90% unemployment where it's atsome point. Right. And that's scary of like a societal collapse due to that.Right? It's so I think we need to figure something out where, yeah, people can,and the sci-fi reader in me, it's like we're just gonna have these assistantsand it's like, it's gonna be built into us and it's just gonna be how peoplework and we'll adapt and we'll find roles for people.
But I think switching from. Labor-based society or somethingwill be necessary, and software's a good place to be for that. So I listen toevery Sam Altman podcast interview that he does, and he's the CEO and founderof Open Ai. And. He talks all the time about how disruptive it's gonna be tosociety and he wants to kind of slow roll it.
He, so that's why they're doing like G P T three, G P T fourand not just like, Hey, we have an AGI in like five years and just blow upsociety. Yeah. So it seems like he's trying to slowly like desensitize peopleto it and like roll it out bit by bit. And there's a good article that came outthat it sounds like they basically sandbagged G P T four, so they developed a.
To, scale or predictaccurately how this deep learning is gonna progress. And so they basicallybacked into what they wanted to the score on like the SAT t and the actts. Andthat's what they had G P T for release ads because it was ready like eightmonths ago. Yeah.
And so instead of releasing what the most modern thing is, Wethink this is what society can handle right now. And so, yeah, what they actuallyhave cutting edge is like, even scarier. It's significantly more ahead of whatthey're showing. Yeah. So you know, it's, this goes into a whole otherconversation.
It has nothing to do with software companies. It does have todo with the future of work. It does have to do with. The society that willexist. Like, we're not gonna have any users if there's no businesses. Right.It's like it's, you're not gonna need to invoice people if you're, you can't doanything for them that they already can't do from, from, some AI platform.
So existentially, yeah, this is, it's super scary, but I'm, I'mnot worried about it. I'm gonna use it as a tool. I think I'm optimistic in thesense that we're gonna find ways to acceler. You know what we do, and but thequestion is, is like, will it kill our customers? That's the, the largerquestion. I don't think it's gonna take your dog walker away.
I it may take your accountant away. Like, as you think of thepeople that use, our invoicing software, like we have a bunch of accountants,we have a bunch of like skilled knowledge workers that. Yeah, maybe that willstart to go away, but I think there's gonna be a renewed importance on thephysical aspect.
The, I don't think, so I guess invoicing for landscaping is theright way to go. Yeah, there you go. Just backed in the blue collar. Those arethe only jobs that are safe in the long term. Yeah, no kidding. So anyways,it's a little, it gets. Pretty dystopian pretty quick. So I don't know. I'm,I'm, I'm, super optimistic about how it is benefiting our customers and usright now.
And I'm excited to see that continue. It's, it, it's likehaving a tutor or having like, free answers at times. Yeah. Any other thoughtson AI or do you wanna talk about conferences? Yeah, let's talk aboutconference. So I think there's a lot of value in meeting people in person, andthe two buckets that I see going forward are like meeting LPs, so meetinginvestors.
So most of the people that scale up, from where we're atcurrently have like a few big anchor LPs. And often in the search fund world,most of the big search funds are backed search funds that invest in othersearch funds. Like fund to funds are backed by like one billionaire. And so Idon't know how many billionaires are in your.
But mine is, pretty brief, pretty short. So I think we have tohang out at more of these LP conferences. So I've been taking notes on a bunchof 'em from other folks. I think one or both of us will go to many of these inthe future. So I think Capital Camp is one of the best ones. So Brent BeshorePermanent Equity, started putting that on a few years ago.
So I'm gonna that one this year. Pretty excited. That one lookssuper cool. Had to get daycare. So , my wife's mom is coming in town to takecare of 'em, so, thank you to her. If she's listening, shout out. S some b Bashis another one in Austin in April. So I was gonna go to that one. I can't rememberwho put the, that one on, but another one meeting investors.
A lot of other operators are going hold co conference. This isthe one you went to last year down in Cleveland. Oh yeah. Yeah, I think thatone, I think there are already billionaires there. Maybe, maybe a couple. Idon't know. I, I, I would say like the, it feels like dating, if you're lookingfor a billionaire, you're not gonna find it.
Right. So it's like you just mm-hmm. I think we do a good jobof just like, publish what we do, do what we do. But I, I agree. We need tonetwork. We need to go, I think like more so Sure there's gonna be LPs there.My sense is, from what I've heard from other people, is a lot of these things,They're more people that are looking for capital than looking to deploycapital.
But maybe that switches over up over time and, but I think it'sa really good idea to just get in the habit of going to these things. I, I kindof dread them, but when I go, I'm really happy when I do. Right? Like, I'malways like, ah, I need to be like working on, like, I need, I got stuff to do.I've got like features to, to push.
I'd much rather just be working on these businesses. But thenyou go and, and you realize like, This was totally worth it. You, you makeconnections. You meet people that you'll know for the rest of your life, likemaybe not the rest of your life. But, I think we forget, I forget about thehuman side of, of all this stuff, and it's nice to get that refresher.
So I always have to kind of kick myself to like, go and do it.And I'm always happy. I, I do. When I get back from something like that, I'mjust like, you know what? Totally worth it. I. I think it's just the introvertin me that doesn't want to like, spend that energy on talking to people. Yeah.I'm somewhere in between, probably an introvert and extrovert, so I'm reallyexcited for these.
Like I meet people on Twitter, you use zooms and everything,but I, from, to a large extent, we're operating in basically islands. LikeCleveland is not known for this booming tech, private equity scene. Chicagoeither. It will be, it will be. That's why you have to give your talks and showup on the news every day.
But yeah, no kidding. I'm like a magnet here. So I'm excited tomeet people in person. I just think it's, completely different than meetingpeople on Twitter. So it's pretty Oh, totally. Cool. I'm excited. Other onesjust, I've written down if people are interested, the independent sponsorconference is supposed to be another good one to meet investors.
That's if you're trying to do larger independent sponsor. Allthe big, top MBA programs have ETA conferences. So I've gone a booth for thelast few years. It's really good. It's one of the bigger ones, but it's a lotof students. I heard the hbs, the Harvard Business School one has moreinvestors.
Um mm-hmm. So I have a friend that raised a 10 million fund. Hesaid he met a lot of his investors there. So it's probably gonna go to that oneat some point. Reconvene is another big one by Moses Gagan. That's more forreal estate. GPS and LPs, but I think the LPs and real estate are prettysimilar to like the LPs and private equity, so that may be worthwhile at somepoint.
And that was completely inspired by capital camp. Capital Campcame first and he's like, Moses, this should be for real estate as well. So hestarted that. Interesting. I, I guess one question is like, again, going backto the dating thing, if you go seeking these things out, do you find them. AndI'm like wondering if you just need to spend more time on a boat or somethinglike that.
Yeah. Honestly, like it's, for somebody I, I've seen andparticipated in, larger fund fundraising and seeing how that's done and it canbe like you can. It's, it's just wild, like the, the worldwide aspect to it aswell. Like if you wanted to take in LPs from, different countries and like theroad show that you really have to do if, if you're actively fundraising is onething, but I, again, I feel like, know, you participate in the industry.
I think that's part of it that keeps it, Human, but then Idon't know how, how's your networking, do you, do you have any like go-to likepickup lines for investors? Like, Hey, you looking for some, some good irr, orwhat do you do? Kick off these conversations that I think the idea with some ofthese conferences is there's like a lot of events and so you're just kind ofhanging out with people.
So the first question isn't, what do you do with everyone? It'smore interesting like you're playing paintball or you're working out withpeople. And then it's, you become friends with them and then it's like down theline, Hey, maybe we could do something together. So I think that's my hope, cuzI don't want to like speed date everyone.
That sounds kind of horrible, I imagine for like four days in arow. I found it at the HoldCo conference. I found it to be actually refreshingto just be like, what's your business like that, maybe that's a cheesy way totalk to people, but you know, everybody loves talking about what they're up to.And, and the exchange of ideas was, was pretty killer.
Like that. That alone of like, The little stuff that you findout or learn from one, I feel like it's just a drop in the bucket compared tolike, or Twitter is like a drop in the buck compared to like those, grab a beerwith somebody. You're gonna sit there for 20, 30 minutes with that person andthey're gonna brain dump on you as to like what they've been doing for the lastsix years.
And it's like, what work? What didn't, it's, it's good stuff.Yeah. The other thing here is like the filter is pretty good. So the lowest orthe cheapest conference is maybe 4,000. The higher ends like 10 or 12,000. Andso if you're paying that, you probably have a business of sorts that's doingfairly well.
And so I think people have, they're just doing more interestingthings. If you have a such a filter like that, if it's something free and yougo to it in Chicago, Chicago Tech, it's like a bunch of people that are like,oh, I like tech. I wanna get into tech. And it's like, okay, yeah, best of luckto you, but maybe this isn't.
The best use of my time here. Yeah, maybe. Well, interesting.Yeah, I mean, I think there's always this elusive part to like building anetwork and I, I've just like my go-to is like, just be yourself. Be cool.Like, don't be, don't try to be something you're not. Don't try to, like,that's the one thing I did find in, in a lot of conversations.
There's a lot of MBAs, a lot of folks like yourself that havelike that literacy around. What exactly is a hold co versus what's not? And allthese other, like, all this other stuff where I'm just kinda like, I, I glazeover, I don't really care. Like I'm happy to talk to them about it and, andexchange idea, but then like the finer points of why Charlie Munger's great andthe greatest allocator, capital allocations.
Just like, okay, well I'm out of depth here, but we'll keep youaway from these, finance conferences. Seriously. But, I think there, there is,it's always been. An important thing to me to like know who you're working withand spend time with it, it's the idea that you hang out with some people andyou get to know them and their values, and then you talk about, if that leadsto investment or leads to, acquiring new LPs or new, new businesses.
That's a great way to like net organically get into thoserelationships is like, have a frame of reference versus like a zoom call andthen they wire you money. It just feels really impersonal and Doesn't feel likea partnership as much. Yeah. And the other thing to say here is like, these conferencesare pretty expensive and if you go to multiple, it adds up pretty quick.
But like in our space, income's kind of lumpy. And so if we getlike one big investor, one big deal, one big partnership for something, it'sall worth it. That's like a decade. It's all worth it. Yeah. So I think that'show we think about it. Cuz it, it does hurt. I mean, it hurts to put a bunch ofmoney on a credit card to go to a conference, but I think it's worth.
That, so that's like the investor side. The other side that weshould be going to maybe more up your alley is like to meet these bootstrapSaaS founders. So the big conferences there are micro comp SaaS, stock SaaSopen. And the Calm Summit. MicroCraft I think is probably the most importantand the best one to go to.
And then Calm Summit is put on by a competitor of sorts. Theydo the Calm company, which is, I think they also started it with Sure. Swift,so I'm not sure we even invited to that one. We may be like competitive. Butthose other three I think would be good to go to going forward. Great. Yeah. I,I guess a larger question is like, would we ever have interest.
Creating something in that space or doing our own event orthat, that's crossed my mind of like, I don't think, and I've never attended aconference, but I think a lot of the, the founders that we end up acquiringbusinesses from are probably closer to me, where they're like, I don't want togo, I should be working on this or be making the business better.
I, I'm not gonna leave town for three, four days. I need to behere doing this. And again, a lot of 'em are, are bootstrap. Founders that aredoing everything they're doing, the sport they're doing in it. So it's likekinda keeps 'em captive. So I don't know, not that if we did something we wouldsidestep that, but I think that's like the one thing I think about in bridgingboth of those gaps of like, on the, on the deal flow side, LP side, it's like,and we talked about this before of like fundraising.
You'll see folks put on dinners like, I like that idea. I likethe idea. Like being selective, being, putting a small 20 to 30 person grouptogether and bring someone interesting in to, to talk. But, as we know it, itcan have like mixed results. I've seen, seen that work and seen it not work.Yeah, I've gone to friends of mine who put 'em on for like their venturecapital fund and sometimes it's a bus.
They'll drop 25,000 renting outta restaurants and I don't knowif they get any LPs from it, but I wonder, I'd like to like steal people awayfor a weekend or like, three days or something and take, 20 founders andinvestors and just people are kind of in our orbit and go skiing or somethinglike that.
Yeah, sure. Putting out a big conference seems like a lot ofwork. A smaller group going to some destination is probably doable. Just anidea. Yeah. That or back country backpacking. Why not? I mean, I think I thatwhen you said capital camp, I'm like, are you guys actually going camping?Like, that'd be cool, but it sounds like it's pretty cush.
So, yeah. A lot of the FAQs about flying in our private jet andhow to get from there to the camp, but I think it's a little different. I'mshowing up on a Greyhound bus, so. Nice. Yeah, so I don't know. I, I like theidea the, like the, the end goal is just like to bring the human out and, andwhat we're doing.
And like, I think that's, that's something that I easily forgetweek to week when I'm like, get through week and I'm just staring at code,staring at, emails from people and you just kind of, you lose that touch forsure. Anything else you got? No. No. I think that's, Yeah, same Paul. Allright.
Take care everyone. Thanks for listening.