Friday, May 16, 2008

Top 10 tech trends: Smart phones, alternative energies, Boomer technologies

Where is technology headed?

The Churchill Club of Silicon Valley just wrapped up one of its most anticipated events: the Annual Top Ten Tech Trends Debate. Five well-known and opinionated venture capitalists weighed in on what trends will take flight and what trends will fizzle out in the months ahead.

(The VCs are pictured, from left to right: Steve Jurvetson, Vinod Khosla, Josh Kopelman, Roger McNamee, Joe Schoendorf.)

The audience of around 300 people was asked whether it agreed or disagreed with the VCs’ predictions. I’ve ranked them below, according to how well they were accepted by the audience.

Last year’s predicted trends included a shakeout of Web 2.0 companies and the rising economic power of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Trend 1: Customer data stored by different service providers will be combined to create more intelligent services. Josh Kopelman, managing partner at First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture fund, who founded online retailer (sold to eBay after a year for $300 million) said such customer data includes your financial records, dinner reservations, preferences in the iTunes store, random searches on Google and much more. In this way the Internet goes from satisfying explicit user needs (like searching for a friend to add on Facebook) to satisfying implicit needs (like telling who you should add and why adding them would be helpful to you).
Audience: 95 percent voted “Yes”.

Trend 2: Oil will have increasing difficulty competing with biofuels made from cheap non-food crops for transportation. Vinod Khosla (pictured left below, beside Kopelman), founder of Khosla Ventures, which focuses on alternative fuels and green technologies, said coal will become less competitive compared to reliable solar thermal and other alternative energy sources.
Audience: 90 percent voted “Yes”.

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