Jonathan and I are at the CBI Insights Innovation Summit in Santa Barbara this week. Below are a few quick takeaways from yesterday’s panels and discussions. Enjoy.
1. Voice and text platforms will be the biggest winners at the intersection of UI and AI over the next few years.
People can now interact with devices without knowing how to read and write. For developed nations, this means that toddlers now interact with computers for the first time by voice instead of touch. However, the implications for the developing world are even greater. Since illiteracy will no longer be a limiting factor to bringing people online 2B additional people will have the chance to connect to the rest of the world.
After the Q4 and CES success surrounding Echo and Alexa it’s pretty clear that Amazon is leading the way in voice. Yet, Google and Apple still have one big competitive advantage, an OS in your pocket. Consumers generally want to interact with one OS across multiple devices so this hurdle is likely to be key for Amazon.
The industries that will be impacted range from retail to content / media to healthcare. The order of implementation is likely to go from low risk to high risk. As Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Ventures sumized, “health won’t be the first real domain, rather a something like shopping where no one dies if it goes wrong.”
2. The IPO and M&A climate is changing
Just as early as a few years ago, growth at any cost was the standard way to IPO Now, companies are taking a growth at some reasonable cost approach. I wrote last week that non-tech firms entering the startup M&A fray is likely to put a focus on sustainable business models and the IPO market looks to be following suit. Scott Kupor of a16z believes “companies with 30% annual growth and near-term profitability are likely to have good IPO prospects”
3. Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital was his usual quotable self
Several of his insights will be long-lasting in my mind. Among them:
More big companies should partner with VC firms. Combining their balance sheet with access to talent is a game changer. These large, incumbent companies should share the risk with talented startups instead of defining exactly what they do. This mindset prevents them from building big, meaningful businesses. FinTech is a great industry for incumbents to do this. because by definition there must be an ecosystem for consumer interactions.
Working around regulatory is immature, Silicon Valley should being working with regulation. Regulatory standards keep consumer trust in industries like finance, utilities and health where it is paramount. This trust often leads to more users which leads to more revenue. In addition to these benefits, regulation helps companies build a sustainable moat and weeds out those who don’t have the courage to run the gauntlet of starting a business.
4. With the copious amounts of data coming online the way we think and work with data is changing rapidly.
Among the challenges businesses will face; cleaning data that comes from multiple collection points (IIoT, energy) and consumer privacy.
AirBnB’s Chief Economist Peter Coles elaborated on both challenges on the panel focusing on big data. AirBnB wanted to work within the regulatory frameworks of major cities as they expanded their footprint but in order to do so needed to share data with those cities without compromising customer privacy. The solution: aggregating data in order for these cities to spot trends without violating user trust. Sometimes solutions are beautiful for their simplicity.
The other insight Peter provided was on measuring data. Most of us default to one off queries on our database to solve the problem of now. Instead, AirBnB has taken the time to create “core metrics” in order to eliminate one-off problem solving. This is something I know I have done in the past and am betting most of you have too.
There were several more great insights from panelists and presentations from amazing companies like SigOpt and Affective. The future is filled with talented people solving massive problems. I’m looking forward to another productive day focused on big industries like auto and insurance.