Blog, NewsBy Tribeca Venture Partners
We live amongst the trees – or buildings here in NYC – but once in a while, we try to think about the forest. One example: If I told you right now that your phone was lost, you would probably feel physically ill. That’s how central these devices have become in our day-to-day lives. Realize that 10 years ago smartphone penetration in this country was around 15% and cloud computing was a nascent concept. Today, limitless storage, increased bandwidth and advanced computation are keystrokes away. The challenge and opportunity is to step away from the trees and imagine what the forest will look like 10 years from now.
A few thoughts: First and foremost, it’s all about great founders and teams. In fact, the common denominator across all our TVP companies is just that. We invest in people first, second and third. People that inspire us and those around them. People with the passion and obsession to see their visions through to the end no matter what the obstacles are. That will never change. If the forest burns down, great teams will build the next wave of billion-dollar companies from the ashes.
Second, we’re operating in one of the greatest cities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the world. New York is also the fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the country. Our forest is thriving, and we’ll be here to create value for many years to come.
Third, technical progression is a compounding function. The breadth and speed of change in the next decade will be dramatically faster and more impactful than the previous one. We claim no crystal ball but some tech trends we think about are:
5G and Beyond: We’ve been around long enough to remember all the “Broadband Penetration” projections back in the dial-up days of the 90’s. One of the simplest drivers of the rapid growth in digital advertising and e-commerce is the underestimated growth of broadband. Now imagine a world of ubiquitous 1GB service (your current LTE connection is about 20-40mb). The content will evolve, the network topography will change with more compute in the cloud and power management will also be impacted.
AI and Machine Learning: Over half of our TVP co’s are leveraging this technology today and in the future, this will just be part of the stack.
Quantum Computing: Classical computing relies on bits – 1 and 0 – to run calculations. Adding bits increases computing power, but this growth is linear. Quantum computing, however, relies on qubits – quantum bits – and a feature of quantum mechanics known as a superposition which dictates that a qubit can represent all combinations of 0 and 1 simultaneously. In contrast to classical computers, as quantum computers add qubits their power grows exponentially. While about 30 qubits is the equivalent of your laptop, it only takes 2-3 times that amount to reach the power of our largest supercomputers. (This is an oversimplification and if you’re really interested, please reach out and we’ll do our best to explain it in less than 10 pages).
Better Machine/Human Interface: Today the I/O to our brain is speech and text. It’s like using a dial-up modem as the I/O to the AWS cloud. We need a higher bandwidth machine-human interface. No, this isn’t science fiction. A team at UCSF has successfully created computer-generated speech for the disabled by processing brain and nervous system activity and converting it into instructions to a computer.
From a macro perspective, we’re tracking how these technologies interact with some key macro trends:
Urbanization: It’s real, accelerating, and will have a huge impact on transportation, food production and distribution, housing, etc.
On-Demand and Experiential: As Scot Wingo, founder and CEO of TVP portfolio company Spiffy (on-demand car care) says, the “Amazonization of services is here.” The UX of massive service industries that were acceptable a generation ago simply aren’t today.
Content Creation, Distribution and Consumption: Better bandwidth, cheaper hardware, improved storage, and CPU will continue to fuel the explosion of content.
Billion-Dollar Markets: Billion-Dollar Markets: Even after this incredible explosion of tech over the past 30 years, there are still massive business systems largely untouched by tech. For example, TVP portfolio company ACV Auctions is digitizing the $100B/yr wholesale used car auction market, and Loftsmart, an end to end search, discovery and transactional platform is impacting the $150B/yr off-campus student housing market.
It’s amazing to think about the raw power of something with no state, shape or mass: an idea. With so much opportunity, we’re more excited than ever to be here at Tribeca Venture Partners!