Before we jump in so you can lay some wagers at your local betting outfit, let’s look back at 2021 and review our picks. First, and clearly a winner, M&A was on fire with record-breaking transactions, Casper was the unicorn implosion we expected, users are taking back their privacy and robots are slowly taking over jobs people don’t want. However, we missed a few as well, for example, surveillance technologies had no impact on user behavior, and the new Masterclass for founders never actually happened so we give ourselves a solid B- from a year ago. We can and do better, just watch. So, what lies ahead in 2022! Without further ado:
Just like virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain going mainstream before it was ready, the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) craze cools down, feelings get hurt, money is lost and the market corrects itself, and we remind ourselves that hot new markets take years to mature.
Effectively Managing change will dictate the future success of all tech companies. Those who understand their employees’ needs (remote/nonremote), those who embrace cloud computing and tech infrastructure, and those who democratize their IT. The most successful companies will be those who understand their employee’s evolving needs, motivations, and ambitions; and those who improve their overall IT procurement processes; allowing them to take advantage of new cloud computing, infrastructure, and administrative efficiency solutions quickly and efficiently.
The SPAC death toll rises as investors find out the hard way the companies they backed were not actually real businesses in the first place which is why they took advantage of a frothy market to raise money they did not need nor understood how to spend it.
Climate tech, electric vehicles, robotics, and all categories and industry verticals that support a healthy earth continue to gain traction, market adoption, private and government funding.
Digital-only e-commerce companies will continue to struggle; we’ll see an increasing number of hybrid digital/physical retail models. Last year we predicted bankruptcy from a “unicorn.” Casper came close before being taken private at ~21 percent of its last venture valuation and it’s increasingly clear that the prevailing idea that scale can fix underlying gross margin and marketing ROI issues is flawed (a drum we’ve been banging for several years now).
We’ll see a spectacular late-stage VC/early public tech bubble burst in 2022… or we’ll see that bubble continue to inflate and kick that can into 2023. We predicted this last year, but LP money continued to pour into late-stage venture funds (surpassing the prior record by mid-Q3) and VCs continued to indiscriminately fire at everything that moves with three firms alone funding 526 deals in the first three quarters of the year (just under 1 deal per firm, per day) at an average check size of $48 million. With late-stage VCs sitting on record amounts of unspent capital, this could persist for a while, but it’s not sustainable and the longer it goes, the worse the unwinding will be. Buckle up.
Retail Tech will drive a brick & mortar comeback, improving collection and utility of customer data, scaling sales per employee and per square foot, and generally leveraging the inherent advantages of their physical footprints.
Computer vision, data collection, and AI/ML products will need to keep evolving from broad-based, “Look at all the cool things this can do,” to narrower, sector-focused models that provide off-the-shelf ROI to customers at all levels of tech sophistication.
Stagnant wages, disgruntled employees, and post-pandemic labor shortages will accelerate the old economy’s adoption of productivity-enhancing software and robotics tools. These tools will increasingly be adopted to help improve employee job satisfaction, earning potential and upward mobility, in addition to their positive bottom-line impacts.
Mac Jones becomes the first rookie QB to make or win a Super Bowl when he leads the New England Patriots to title number 7.