GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

July 23, 2007

Being in the venture capital industry, I find that sometimes it is worthwhile to take a step back from the day-to-day to take a look at the large impending trends which are just beginning to affect us. With many frequent headline predictions desensitizing our understanding of their relative importance, those in the industry (including myself) sometimes forget to (or can’t) see the forest through the trees.

And so I thought it would be good post to highlight what are some very important uber-trends which starting to emerge in the digital media space. To most readers, they likely may seem obvious, but perhaps serve as a reminder what’s likely in store. And where there is change there is opportunity; the following seven identified trends are perfect opportunities for startups to leverage:

Seven Coming Digital Uber-trends which Are Ripe for Startup Opportunities

1. The digitalization of transportation experience. Our cars are transforming from motorized transportation into digital immersion experiences. With in-dash devices ranging from GPS, to satellite radio, to integrated telephone controllers, the place where many Americans spend much of their day is going digital. Also, other transportation experiences, namely public transportation, is being affected by a digitalization trend – everything from digital signage in subways to infomation touchscreens in taxis is modifying what we do when going from here to there.

2. Internet’s facilitation of green lifestyle. With concern over the environment becoming a progressively more relevant issue, the web provides a natural vehicle for connecting people to resources and services which lessen impact of individuals on environment. We are at the beginning of “The Green Web” which will provide individuals within our society a leveraged way to positively affect the planet.

3. Influence and word-of-mouth marketing facilitated by online social software. Marketers are increasingly concerned about truly engaging with consumers as the effectiveness of traditional advertising erodes. Social software (in its broadest sense) coupled with the principles of word-of-mouth marketing will provide for successfully reaching potential customers via the most trusted source – people they already know.

4. Fundamental shift demographics of internet usage. The demographics of internet utilization are rapidly changing. Baby-boomers are getting older. International traffic and other languages are will be soon dwarfing that of the U.S. and English. Domestically, we have a growing population of youth who have never known life without internet and mobile phone. Couple these and other demographic shifts together and the internet audience of today looks very different in the not-so-distant future.

5. Mobile consumption of information. A day where everyone carries a powerful hand-held device (which includes GPS and significant processing power and memory on a higher-bandwidth network) will allow information to proliferate in a way setting which is just becoming available to a small segment of power-users. Location-relevant information ubiquity is dauntingly exciting.

6. Wide proliferation of video. While in the age of YouTube it may seem trivial to mention, but I believe it can’t be overstated. We’re moving to a world where every web page, every device, every screen will be have some type of video content. The long-tail of video content will be wagging.

7. Digital information becoming increasingly personalized with greater user control and choice. While search as proactive information-seeking reigns today, the notion of passive personalized discovery which is already taking hold will become ever more important with an abundance of information. User control and choice in that process is becoming integral in the content consumption process.

In hindsight, it’s easy to look back at companies that emerged on the wave of past important trends. Successful endeavors have an easier time with the wind against their backs. Fifteen years from now, I would be surprised looking back if many of these above categories don’t have enduring successful companies which were borne out of capitalizing on them.

(Note: This post was inspired by and largely based on internal discussions that entire Venrock team about megatrends in our industry.)

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