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Adena Friedman: ESG, AI, Cryptocurrency In Focus at Davos

Environmental, social and governance issues, along with artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, are several topics that will continue to transform the broader economic landscape, according to Nasdaq President and Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman.

Business leaders, members of government and entrepreneurs from around the world are gathering this week for the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, discussing subjects that are shaping and disrupting the global economy, currencies and markets. Environmental, social and governance issues, along with artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, are several topics that will continue to transform the broader economic landscape, according to Nasdaq President and Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman, and Nasdaq is actively involved in each of these emerging trends.

The world economy is growing more slowly than anticipated, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Monday during a press conference at Davos. Considering the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and China’s growth slowdown, the economy needs to be resilient, inclusive and collaborative, Lagarde said.

Amid concerns about a global economic slowdown, this year’s forum is focused on “Globalization 4.0,” analyzing how the private and public sectors can work together to make the world more equitable and stable.

The invitation-only forum brings together the heads and members of more than 100 governments, executives of about 1,000 global companies, leaders of international organizations and relevant non-governmental organizations. Together, they gather to discuss new chapters in innovation that will drive the global economy.

With the need for innovative and robust markets, investments and investment strategies focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals will continue to be a priority this year. Support for ESG initiatives has developed as “a growing body of research and fund reports also shows that ESG-themed investments not only have the ability to outperform during calm markets, but also have a better ability to withstand market volatility and downturns,” Friedman wrote on LinkedIn in advance of her arrival at Davos.

Even as investors contend with global geopolitical risks, including the government shutdown in Washington, D.C., opportunities will still present themselves through the mega-unicorn initial public offerings that remain on the horizon.

“As the large-cap IPOs successfully come to market, it could spark a wave of additional venture-capital-backed startups moving toward the public markets,” Friedman wrote on LinkedIn. “These companies have received several more rounds of capital than was typical in previous tech booms, with some venture-backed companies receiving funding through Series F or six rounds of capital-raising. Therefore, by going public, their venture owners and early employees will have the opportunity to seek liquidity for their shares after experiencing many years of growth in their value.”

Last year, Nasdaq extended its IPO leadership to 20 consecutive quarters in the U.S. with a 72 percent win rate, welcoming 186 initial public offerings (IPOs) and 20 exchange transfers.

AI and cryptocurrency have been major disruptors to the economic landscape – more companies are investing in AI technologies to increase efficiency, cut costs and generate revenue, and cryptocurrency’s innovators are working to find greater practical utility for the digital currency. Nasdaq has enhanced it market surveillance technology through machine-learning capabilities designed to analyze abnormal market events, thereby improving supervision and compliance, Friedman noted, and is working to help cryptocurrencies gain investors’ trust by offering its technology for trade matching, clearing, and trade integrity to start-up exchanges.

“The theme of Davos this year is redesigning the architecture of society so that we can build a more inclusive world,” Friedman wrote. “We believe that fair and transparent markets can help us work toward this goal. I am so proud to be at Nasdaq, where we are reimagining markets to realize the potential of tomorrow – a tomorrow with an inclusive, innovative, growing global economy.”

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.