Illustrations: Félix Decombat

Our Economy Was Just Blasted Years Into the Future

The crisis is compressing and accelerating trends that would have taken decades to play out

Steve LeVine
Published in
10 min readMay 26, 2020


In 2010, two former New York hedge fund investors paid $5.8 million to buy Clear, a biometric identification firm that had gone bust in the fallout of a lost laptop containing the unencrypted personal data of 33,000 people. Caryn Seidman Becker and Ken Cornick were certain they could revive the company’s fortunes and earn tons of money whisking people through aggravating airport security lines based on scans of their irises and fingerprints.

To a degree, they were right. Just two years later, the Department of Homeland Security recognized them as a “qualified anti-terrorism” firm, and they quadrupled their clientele, expanding into security, along with age-verified beer sales at major sporting events. Clear says it has turned a profit since 2017.

But that was all before Covid-19.

Last week, Seidman Becker launched Clear into a brand new digital space — “touchless technology,” a play built around the fear that the coronavirus may lurk on any surface, anywhere. Against this threat, airports are deploying a new level of security including thermal cameras, all but assuring exceptionally long lines once people resume flying. Seidman…



Steve LeVine
Writer for

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.