Every six months, our team gets together and determines, based on all the best information we can glean, where we will focus our investment attention for the next six months.
Here is where our funds will focus for the second half of 2017:
Content Experiences and Interfaces. We aim to focus on building blocks, interfaces, personalization tools and delivery platforms for the next generation of consumer story telling. We believe stories will increasingly be based around direct experiences, co-creations between platforms, creatives/influencers, brands and active recipients. We focus, in particular, on two areas: 1) Audio interfaces, which bring new power to the interface and represent the pathway into autos and ambient computing; and 2) AR and VR platforms aimed at creators, as we believe these creators will be the vector for defining the consumer markets for immersive experiences.
Vertically Integrated Digital Brands. “Mobile Commerce” has become a term that encompasses too many disparate companies and no longer makes sense as an investment vertical. At the same time, consumer preferences have changed, and now people are demanding brands that speak to them and their values. New technologies have made low-cost micro manufacturing and shipping more available. These trends converge to create an opportunity around Vertically Integrated Digital Brands. These brands control their products end-to-end. They are sold either entirely online or focus online and leave physical retail to partners. Most importantly, they control the full suite of data about their customer base. We seek brands that serve large potential audiences, with deep margin products, that have teams that can tell a strong, ongoing brand story, and that have a component of technology in the product. Ideally, the products have an aspect of cyclical use.
Blockchain Beyond Cryptocurrency. We believe that blockchain technology will fundamentally change the way information is managed across the internet, resulting in numerous new opportunities for applications to be built. Over time, the blockchain could become one of the most disruptive and important technologies in history, touching broad areas of commerce and life. In the near term, we will focus our investments where the use of the blockchain is core to products that address a significant, existing business point of pain with the potential to deliver in excess of $10M in annual revenue within two years.
Work Platforms. Work platforms are the systems and technologies that support the changing structure of how people work globally, from how they find work all the way through the cycle of starting to find work again. Demand for highly skilled labor will significantly increase worldwide while all other categories will move to on-demand systems and then robotics. We seek startups that help enterprises save significant expenses by hiring and retaining workers.
Health. We will invest in health-related startups from two directions: 1) Those related to the interplay between emerging bio, pharma, neuro-science and related technologies and individuals to create a separation of personal experience from the daily humdrum; and 2) Health related startups that emerge from our other focus areas.
Security. Our opportunity in security lies entirely at the bleeding edge. We will focus to three areas that represent next generation security. Thesis: Next Generation Security Platforms.
1. Blockchain Security. This ties into our Blockchain theses. Expressions of the blockchain for security, including security of physical goods and devices.
2. IoT Security. The challenges of IoT represent a significant opportunity for us and we will actively seek companies here. The blockchain could be a component of IoT security solutions.
3. Active defense. The powerful emerging approach in security, based on the idea that the best defense is a good offense and the best response to any provocation is maximum negative impact against its source. Unlike other areas of security, active defense, being new, presents us with an opportunity to be in the investment vanguard.
Market-based Education. We see a confluence of trends that moves education in a direction with investment potential for us. Education directed toward the acquisition of skills and experiences is emerging from Work Platforms and Content/Experiences, respectively. Game dynamics, emerging from commerce, and AI machine learning techniques blend in new two-sided market approaches to bringing students and teachers together effectively. These, together, result in education solutions that bring the student low-cost skills, tutorial or experience education; bring teachers desperately needed additional income; and represent critical first steps toward a new market-based model for education.