With the end of the year 2017 fast approaching it’s time for some 2018 predictions.
- Crypto Mania Accelerates - However, Bitcoin’s ability as a money transfer platform will be questioned more and more due to its numerous scalability challenges. Other cryptocurrencies will become the mainstream focus and front and center with leading candidates including Ether and Ripple. Initial Coin Offerings will continue but we see will the first serious cryptocurrency regulation from world governments ranging from the US to South Korea. This will cause a pullback even though I doubt it will stop the mania long term. The number of crypto lawsuits will rise as more tokens are revealed to be scams. Tezos is just the beginning of the legal mess that will emerge. We certainly haven’t seen peak crypto yet.
- Voice Technology Continues to Emerge - We will see better and more accurate voice interfaces as the year goes on, with novel applications starting to emerge especially with Alexa. However, it won’t go mainstream in 2018 and will likely be several more years before voice sees mass adoption and overshadows keyboards and touchscreens as the interface of choice for computing.
- The Juggernaut of Amazon Keeps Growing & Winning - Amazon will continue to expand into more markets and dominate them. From hints in 2017 it seems like pharmacy and healthcare along with retail are the next major areas the company will push into. Either way I’ll be betting on Amazon wherever they go. If the stock market bonanza we saw in 2017 continues in 2018, we will very likely see Amazon as the first or second trillion dollar market cap company. I give it a 30% chance that we see another notable acquisition such as Whole Foods that we saw in 2017.
- Augmented Reality (AR) Gains Some Steam but it Will be a Long Time Before it's Actually Usable - AR will continue to emerge but is certainly no where close to prime time. Magic Leap's recent announcement of its glasses and developer offering will help this trajectory but the technology has a way to go. Apple will potentially open the kimono with regards to what it's developing for AR in 2018 but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t until 2019 that we get more solid product details. The cell phone will continue to be the platform that promotes and grows AR usage by consumers.
- Softbank and Startups - Softbank’s buying spree and pumping up of startup prices will continue pushing up startup valuations, especially with their new Vision 2 fund rumored to be double its first fund at $200B. This will make growth and later stage investing more competitive but will prove a boon to early stage investors by providing liquidity. It will be a great time to be a startup founder who’s company has hit the growth stage.
- Uber - I think we’ve seen peak Uber in 2017 and the company will be on a slowly downward trajectory for the next several years. It will stabilize its core business and do the long overdue house keeping, but won’t see the huge leaps in its valuation any more. Unlikely to become a Groupon like story anytime soon but certainly could be in the next five to ten years.
- Self Driving Vehicles will Still be an Early Stage Technology - We will see the first self driving cars on the road as more than test vehicles. My bet is it starts with the trucking industry and grows faster there before consumers really start any sort of adoption. However, we are still years away from any sort of mainstream consumer offering and consumer trust and adoption.
- Tesla - As much as I love this company and its products, the numbers and personnel changes reveal serious difficulties with the business model. As long as capital remains cheap they will continue going but in the event of any sort of recession or pullback in the capital markets they will be severely pressed to continue as a going concern.
- Tech as a Whole - We will see the first notable regulatory crackdowns on big tech companies (long overdue) from both the US and Europe. We will likely see this on multiple fronts from the monopoly’s of the big 4, the fake news of the media platforms, to the business practices of Uber.
- AI Hype will Cool Down (Just a Bit) - The big technology investing theme of 2017 has been AI with every company and startup suddenly having an AI strategy. Of course most of these aren’t actual AI but more traditional statistical analysis and modeling repackaged for AI hungry investors. I think investors will recognize that the pace of the technology isn’t as fast as they think right now and there is still a ton of work to be done before it has bottom line impacts on consumers and businesses.
Either way I'm excited to see what 2018 brings.