A few reasons I’m excited for the future. . . . and you should be too:
1. Data ownership: There is an unspoken contract that exists between many free platforms and their users. It goes like this:
Big Social Co: Hey you! come use our free platform and bring all of your friends. Did we mention its free?
User: Is it really free?
Big Social Co: Yes! Of course! We value our users and will never charge you. We may show you an advertisement from time to time; but we promise they will be awesome.
User: (Begrudgingly) Ok
So in exchange for using these revolutionary platform we give up our data and they show us ads that may be worthwhile.
I envision a future where users own their data, control who gets access to it and (hopefully) monetize their data stores themselves.
2. Social Explosion: Think about how you use the social web. Now think about how your son/daughter/cousin/nephew uses social platforms. Hockey stick growth of the social web is just beginning.
3. Wearables: My father bought a 1.7 MP camera in 2000 for $700; certainly not an optimal use of funds but well worth it to get our hands on the technology of the future. This is exactly where wearables stand in 2016: the exciting proof of concept phase. My favorite among the bunch is the OMSignal shirt. We are only a few years away from maturity and we hope it doesn’t involve Google Glass.
Further reading: Wired‘s Why Wearable Tech will be as big as the smartphone
4. Internet of Things:
- Internet Phase 1: Build reliable and scalable infrastructure focused on desktop consumption
- Internet Phase 2: Reformat desktop configuration and make it feasible and beautiful on mobile
- Internet Phase 3: Connect everything to the internet
The first two decades of the internet were essentially about building the internet; IoT focuses on taking the internet beyond computers and into the “real world” and the possibilities are limitless. In 2003
Further Reading: Cisco‘s How the next evolution of the internet is changing everything.
5. Internet for everyone: Odds are if you reading this you are viewing it from a “First world” country where you have had reliable access to the internet for probably a decade. We forget that internet is a luxury that still roughly one third of the world doesn’t have access to. Over the coming decades we will see the internet reach the “middle billion”. We see two major opportunities here:
- Infrastructure: Setting up internet in the developed world is fairly straight forward. Our modern conveniences make this easy. Bringing internet to places where clean water is a struggle and reliable electricity is a pipe dream is quite a challenge. The companies that can create this infrastructure will reap huge benefits in decades to come. Facebook’s acquisition of Titan Aerospace is a great example of deals we expect to see going forward.
- on-boarding: Remember your first time online? You were probably on AOL because it was the only option. AOL chose what content you saw and became your gatekeeper for the internet. AOL is still reaping huge benefits from its first mover advantage. This cycle will repeat itself with the “middle billion”. Whatever entity can be the “AOL for the developing world” will be well poised for the future. Again Facebook is trying to make inroads here with the acquisition of Whatsapp . This buy should be viewed as a wedge or loss leader to the developing world, not as the acquisition of a competitor.
Further reading: How do we bring the next billion people online?
6. Digital/Crypto Currency: The recent hype around Bitcoin has brought a spotlight to an exciting emerging market. We are bearish on the future of bitcoin as a long term currency but excited by the possibilities that alternative currencies bring in the following areas:
- Payment processing: Industry titans like PayPal, Credit Card companies and other institutions make a hefty markup on simply transferring money from one place to another. Bitcoin transaction fees are often fractions of pennies. This undercutting of incumbents makes digital currencies a perfect medium for transferring funds. Fortunately due to their immediacy to the transactions they are not exposed to volatile market fluctuations across time
- Distributed ledger applications: The beauty of these currencies are that transactions take place in public sight of all members of the market. Each bitcoin holder has a record of transactions. This quality alone could prove disruptive to notaries, escrow accounts, loan arrangements and other factors that are powered by trust.
7. Disintermediation: eCommerce is still only 7.5% of overall retail. Companies like Warby Parker, Casper, Dollar Shave Club and building huge businesses selling directly to their customers. This is going to keep expanding till every product and market has a subscription option.
8. Buying and selling time: Uber doesn’t just sell you a ride. You are buying time. Same with Instacart and similar apps. Where else is technology going to save us time?
10. Sales Acceleration