On January 12, the Churchill Club held its annual "Top Ten Tech Trends Debate." We have a podcast of the event, which was moderated by Tony Perkins, editor in chief of AlwaysOn. The panelists included:
John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson Roger McNamee, Co-Founder, Elevation Partners Joe Schoendorf, Partner, Accel Partners Ann Winblad, Partner, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
The panelists gave their predictions for 2006 and had some lively exchanges. John Doerr started off with more of a rant, citing a recent Tom Friedman's column ($$$ at NYT Select), about the need for an U.S. energy policy that reduces dependency oil and authoritarian petrolism and for more green entreprenuers. "Green is going to be the biggest economic trend of the 21st century," Doerr said. "Green has been underhyped."
Steve Jurvetson, an investor in Skype, predicted that in next 12 to 36 months unmetered VoIP will become mainstream, mostly do to with increasing telephony mobility. He said that 10,000 land lines are being cancelled every day, and that an 'eBay' for information or Web services, a way to auction the service economy (accountants, lawyers, graphic artist, etc.) over a data channel with richer communications.
Roger McNamee, who is focusing his investments on media, entertainment and consumer business, believes that role of traditional electronics (semiconductors, enterprise software) is changing from growth engine of the economy to a fuel (like the course steel or cement in the 1950's). "It's entirely dependent on other industrires to add value," he said. The big opportunities is for those who deliver goods and services that are not overtly technical--like well packed consumer devices. But the industry will require a major reset to get away from burdening technology user with too much technology.
Joe Shoendorf, who is investing in Chinese companies, sees the innovation pendulum swinging toward China, and expressed concerns about U.S. competitiveness. Other panelists agreed that China is moving fast, and that the U.S. needs to address the challenge and leadership that focuses on innovation, especially in areas that are emerging, such as energy and genomics.
Ann Winblad predicted that Microsoft, SAP and Oracle will finally lose domination in enterprise software market in the next 36 months. The Internet is having a disruptive effect via open source, software-as-as-service, edge devices, peer-to-peer, composite applications and new pricing models. Joe Schoendorf said it would happen sooner than 36 months. McNamee doesn't see it happening. "The next big wave is collaborative applications that bridge across business partners...which will take more than 36 months to get in place," he said. Doerr said that CIOs (he talks to top CIOs four times a year) are not just committed but stuck on big companies like SAP, Microsoft and Oracle. He doesn't see any changes in the next 36 months.
Doerr cautioned that the earth is grossly unprepared for a pandemic, and much discussion ensued. Jurveston talked about a breakthroughs in nanotech, artificial intelligence and other areas informed by biology, such as genome sequencing. McNamee contended that creating time, such as better email filtering or handheld video, is fertile ground for investment opportunities. Schoendorf predicted that everything related to digital entertainment platform will be reinvented, and not by one of the incumbents, such as Sony and Panasonic. Doerr doesn't see a new player replacing Microsoft or Google in the next five years. He mentioned Samsung and Apple as major players in bringing digital media in the home. Internet over power lines was a subject of debate among the panelists.
The top tech trends is great discussion among some smart people. Download the podcast here.