Investing in tech startups is hard, particularly global ones. Finding these gems in the wild takes unique insight, experience and a huge network of specialists.
On the same day that Elon Musk unveiled how he is going to take us to the Moon and Mars within a few years and across our world in half an hour it seems fitting we now have even more science around startup investing.
We are very happy to share some new Harvard research to help guide thinking. The short story to exceptional returns based on a study of 300 companies. More women. More education. More cities. More specific experience. More youth.
The importance of female entrepreneurs in a traditionally male-dominated industry and the benefits of a good education and pre-startup experience are clear. The leveling of the geographic playing field gives credence to the development of startup-friendly areas in cities nationwide. And while fit, gut feel, and due diligence will always be critical, this study points to the value of data in making equity capital decisions. Successful companies and their portfolios would be well served to understand their investments more deeply through longitudinal data collection and analysis. Smart companies will use this to create competitive advantage for themselves and for the startups they invest in.
Here at Cooper & Co we have a long standing appreciation of the work of Mary Meeker who is now @KPCB and continues to produce her excellent Internet Trends report on a semi regular basis.
Here are our top points extracted from the rather wonderful 164 pages of charts Mary and her team provided.
Many of these points are stating the bleeding obvious but now they are fact not opinions. Most are underlined with not just 50%+ pa movements but often by 2x and 4x trends.
Real-time and personal is the new norm.
Daily/Weekly consumption of information e.g. email, facebook is moving to mobile and realtime as the new norm for most people led by you guessed it – the young and trendy and connected millennials.
Intimate and easy is the new norm.
The social graph (and associated broadcast of information) as represented by facebook is being replaced by the contacts list on mobile with more frequent communication to a smaller more intimate audience as represented by whatsapp, snapchat and the like. Larger sophsticated apps and sites and being smashed by simpler single function apps that (often in the background) get used more often.
Mobile has won. Globally. Led by US firms for now, but soon CN.
The move from web to mobile is happening much faster than expected with more than a third of traffic now mobile and growing at 25% pa and accelerating. This is accompanied by the real-time trend and powered by an explosion of sensors (from 1-3 in early smartphones to 5-10 now) which is driving a new age of transparency, privacy challenges and also safety and market insights. All major companies are leading with mobile, simple functionality, multi-platform apps. US leads operating systems but challengers are expected especially from China which dominates with 80% mobile and 4 of the top ten firms garnered in just a few short years. Media channels are increasingly consumer more as apps than linear TV with multi-screen consumption now the norm. Cameras are dead, phones won years ago, the new messaging apps are underlining that with three orders of magnitude.
Integrated commerce wins.
Destination shopping is fading fast, integrated content plus community plus commerce is winning. Audiences (consumers on linear timelines) are being killed by fanbases (who share, comment, curate and create) all the time.
Cost reductions year on year of 30-40% (repeatedly for decades now) mean all three major inputs to innovative technology enabled businesses are being smashed: processing power (CPU), persistence (storage) and passing stuff around (bandwidth) means big data, disruptive mobile startups and cloud computing have never been more competitive and hence easier and cheaper. Amazon web services is winning with innovation, volume, market share, investment, pricing and product range – for example just their s3 persistence service has 3 trillion objects (files, movies, photos etc) in that product alone now.
Thats about it, the report is information dense a wonderful read if you get time. We loved it as usual. But most of the themes fit in above.
Just one last note on China, in the 1820s it was a third of the world’s economy now it has overtaken India and Latin America combined again and is about to overtake US and Europe but more importantly will exceed all four combined in less than 20 years on current trajectories.
http:/kpcb.com/InternetTrends is the latest report, happy reading. Or call us and we can help you adjust your business to incorporate these and other meaningful insights.