A month ago I gave a talk in front of about 70 entrepreneurs about the VC landscape, discussing trends and emerging sectors. While it is challenging to summarize a 90 min./30 slides talk in a single post, I thought I’d talk about a few highlights:
The emergence of peer-to-peer collaborative consumption model, driven by the success of Airbnb, has been phenomenal. The transportation industry for example is flooded with startups capitalizing on the trend. Lyft, Sidecar, Zimride, Wheelz, Getaround, Flightcar and Higear are just a few to mention. The trend expended into boats (e.g BoatBound), Airplanes (e.g Jumpseat, flyvictor), errands (e.g Taskrabbit, exec) and parking (e.g Parking Panda). I expect more verticals to be disrupted through collaborative consumption. Collaborative consumption fits best big markets (i.e not niche) where users serve on both the supply and the demand side at different times.
Productivity has been trending up since it addresses a simple premise: we all care about our time and want to maximize its use. I probably have eight calendaring apps installed on my iPhone (honestly, none of which serves me well) and I’m eager to try any client that can help me better manage my emails. Mailbox, acquired by Dropbox after two years and $5M in funding, placed a lot of spotlights on the sector and Tempo, Cue, EasilyDo, AnyDo and Goodo are all positioned well in a sector that’s heating up. I think productivity around scheduling and emails is still a big issue and I’m very bullish about this startups addressing those needs. Satish Dharmaraj, with RedPoint Ventures wrote a great post a few days ago about this topic.
Intel’s acquisition last week of Mashery has taken a sector that hasn’t been in the spotlights and turned it into a very competitive one. I suspect it wouldn’t be long before Google, Microsoft, Apple or even SAP would look into buying an API management company such as Apigee, Mashape and 3Scale.
With three acquisitions in one month, Yahoo’s $30M purchase of Summly, LinkedIn’s $90M purchase of Pulse, and Google’s recent $30M+ acquisition of Wavii, the space is heating. We tend to spend premium time reading through a variety of news. I probably spend 30-60 minutes a day reading different news, mainly using Flipboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if AOL, Microsoft or even Twitter will announce an acquisition in that space. Instapaper and Pocket (formally Read It Later) are well positioned in that space given their insight and data on what users consume these days. These companies, in my view, have the potential of becoming the mobile versions of web portals like MSN, Yahoo and AOL (think back 10-15 years ago).
Google Glasses and iWatch emphasize the power of connecting “dumb” everyday devices to the internet and the opportunity the lays in the intersection between hardware and software. They offer a chance to revolutionize everyday experiences without the need for a special purpose device, together with the opportunity to gather enormous amounts of data on the fly. I’ve seen numerous startups tapping into that sector but the use cases weren’t there and the experience was far from being seamless. Google Glasses and iWatch will inspire new innovation and might even create new platforms, challenging the dominance of smartphones and tablets.