2018 was quite busy in the tech world.
I was going through my predictions for 2018 and I was pretty close on some of them, while very wrong on a few as well.
This year I wanted to just list off a bunch of things I’ve been thinking about as they came up, I read about it or heard from friends. Happy to dive more into any topic if you’re interested but thought rapid fire might work better as our attention spans continue to shrink. In no particular order:
- We had a pretty nice IPO window in 2018 and I expect that to continue into 2019 with some of the bigger, higher valued unicorns finally hitting the public markets.
- Assuming some of them will IPO in H1, lockups will expire towards the end of the year, meaning there will be a lot of liquidity. This will lead to an increase in pre/seed investments in Q4 that will continue well into 2020.
- With so much new cash, pre/seed criteria will kind of ease up and swing back to investing in more risky ventures that might not otherwise have been funded. This is good for founders and I think overall for the environment as we need crazier, moonshot ideas that are hard to justify.
- On the late stage side, I still expect a very high amount of the $100M+ late-stage, jaw-dropping investments. This is going to continue as some of the top VCs recently raised $1B+ funds, which need to be deployed, Softbank still has like half it’s fund left and M&A continues to increase in size as well.
- VR/AR needs another year after the super-hyped Magic Leap launch was a dud. I predicted in 2018 someone would buy them pre-launch but luckily no one did, so they will either raise hundreds of millions more or get acq-hired. Admittedly I haven’t tried it yet (who has one!?) but all my friends who have said it was amazing and then never bought one… I have an HTV Vive Pro at my house and my favorite two apps are Google Maps because you’re basically Superman and Laser Tag in Rec Room against kids.
- Media consolidation will continue and it won’t get easier as the bigger players get bigger and more desperate. Buzzfeed just laid off 15% of their staff and has said they would be open to a merger in order to compete with Facebook, Google etc. Verizon basically wrote down $4.6B worth of Oath and laid off 7% of their media staff. What business model will help digital news?
- The number of streaming services will continue to increase as competition from traditional TV competes and OTT heats up. Viacom just announced their acquisition of Pluto TV for $340M, Disney will launch one soon even after losing $1B already thanks to Hulu etc and Meg Whitman may launch her $1B backed Quibi (quick bites) service by end of the year.
- I think this will lead to media overload by the end of the year, with too much choice, too much content, not enough time and eventually, people will start paying as much as they did for cable, so the cost savings aspect will erode. We will not find an answer to this problem this year.
- Scooters… hundreds of millions invested, billions in valuations and fights with cities. This will continue for the rest of the year and only get more intense as competition increases, regulations are passed and winners are crowned. Uber/Lyft was rumored to potentially acquire Bird/Lime (which their investors in) but pre-IPO I don’t see that happening. I do expect Bird/Lime etc and maybe Uber/Lyft acquire an overseas (outside US) one for global expansion
- Autonomous cars… they’re the future but we won’t get them for another 3–5yrs. Way overhyped for now, which isn’t a bad thing because the news is covering larger funding rounds and partnerships that will take years to mature. Autonomous trucks though will start to happen in the next year or two, which is very much needed as we have a trucker shortage
- D2C/CPG is still so hot right now and won’t stop this year. We’re just getting started with the transition from traditional retail to only shopping online. I’m not a real fan of subscriptions boxes but new and innovative brands that aren’t the big conglomerates will keep chipping away at the established names. Expect more $100M+ acquisitions as brands need to buy > build.
- I’m pretty vocal that I won’t invest in anything crypto but am very happy that most of the prices nosedived because that’s going to drive a lot of innovation now that greed is basically out of the way. Based on that I’m hoping that some real consumer use-case emerges by the end of the year. It will be unsexy, back-end stuff but hopefully, it’s as great as everyone thinks it is. Lots of top VCs, banks, and people I follow have invested millions — I know they’re a lot smarter than me but still not sure if it’s a bet/hedge to get in the game or if it’s real.
- Health, wellness, and mental well-being app/startups are going to keep growing as we continue to get more addicted to our phones, politics divides us and work becomes more demanding. I really hope everyone can find their own way to deal with it through yoga, meditation, talking with friends etc.
So based on everything above, I think 2019 is going to be another great year!