There are many “Tech Predictions for 2019” articles for the new year. I’m not against them. Some articles are creative and intellectually rigorous idea mazes. But in reality, most of these future predictions may be just better reflections of the present.
Howard Marks once said: “You can’t predict. You can Prepare.” This quote was my creed during my participation in financial markets. A similar idea to Marks’ in the world of technology is William Gibson’s now famous quote: “the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”
The primary obstacles to evenly distributing the future are around the product (simplifying and democratizing the product offering) and distribution (getting the product offering to the right customer base).
Many investors have a prescriptive lens of the future. The reality is no one has a crystal ball. My job today is to recognize a pocket of a better future that exists today and scales. I spend a lot of time thinking about the major preconditions of innovation.
I wrote this in November for some partners at a top seed-stage venture firm in NYC. I think it succinctly distills what the future will look like.
Mobile and the cloud have been the major preconditions of innovation for the last ten years. Both have created an unprecedented amount of value. However, the incumbent businesses are low-cost products operating within markets with less friction. These businesses also have centralized power and wealth. If this trend continues, the future is secular stagnation.
Fortunately, dematerialized business models have expired the planned obsolescence model of industrialization. Unbundled and rented goods and services signal an era of transition… to sustainable, green lifestyles rooted in wellness.
The next platforms are insurgent to incumbent networks. They will focus on empowering consumers and pioneering a new “good life” rooted in wellbeing. Future companies will also tackle harder problems. These companies move atoms and bits. They enter and redefine harder markets.
There are evolving needs and different consumer expectations of the world. Different paradigms will address them. Blockchains, bio, artificial intelligence, and mixed reality are the next major preconditions for innovation.