Hendri Wigunah

Hendri Wigunah

Startup Founder & Millenial Entrepreneur

Where is tech headed in 2019? Six investors make their predictions for the upcoming year – GeekWire

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From top left, clockwise: Geoff Entress, Gillian Muessig, Erik Benson, Matt McIlwain, Andy Liu, Corey Schmid.

How many Seattle startups will go public in 2019? What will happen to Amazon’s stock price over the next 12 months? What will be the most overhyped technology next year? And will the Seahawks win another Super Bowl?

As 2018 winds down and we look at ahead to another year, GeekWire asked six venture capitalists from the Pacific Northwest for their 2019 predictions, as a window into their outlook on the upcoming year.

These investors are closely watching tech trends, as they all plan to make several investments in the coming months. Read on to get their take on topics including privacy, electric scooters, blockchain, chatbots, healthcare, the political climate, and much more. And check out how another group of investors fared with their 2018 predictions.

Geoff Entress.

Geoff Entress, managing director at Pioneer Square Labs

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: Six. Many of the top GeekWire 200 companies are likely candidates, but I will go with Chef, Auth0, Convoy and OfferUp here. Probably a couple of biotech companies as well, although I don’t know which ones those will be.

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: Pioneer Square Labs will likely make five or six new investments in companies that aren’t associated with our Studio. On the Studio side, we expect six to eight new spinout companies in 2019 and our fund will participate in their financings as well.

Google’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,037 now): $1,100.

Microsoft’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($100.39 now): $120. Microsoft is hitting on all cylinders right now.

Amazon’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,478 now): $1,900. Amazon will continue to capture an increasing portion of consumer’s online spending.

Apple stock close on 12/31/19 ($156.23 now): $175.

Nasdaq final close on 12/31/19 (6,584 now): 7,000.

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Cybersecurity is going to be an increasing concern as we head into the new year and so new cybersecurity solutions are going to be hot. Whether that is cloud security solutions, like those being developed by PSL portfolio company Shujinko, or personal data security, like that being developed by Helm, security is going to be a hot topic in 2019.

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019: Electric scooters. I am a big believer in ride sharing of all types, and believe it is going to be a critical component of our transportation infrastructure going forward, especially in autonomous form. But the scooter craze seems overhyped and I think safety concerns will slow their deployment, which has been amazingly fast to date.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019: Privacy. Just as I believe cybersecurity will be the hot technology of the year, the impetus for the increased focus on security will be the recent revelations regarding the lack of privacy we all face online. One of the stocks you didn’t ask about above is Facebook and I think Facebook is going to be under ever-increasing scrutiny regarding its privacy policies. Other large companies will feel this pressure too, notably Google and Amazon, but I expect Facebook will feel it most acutely. Facebook Dec. 31, 2019 stock close will be $110, down from about $130 now.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019: Politicians on both sides of the aisle will continue to focus on online privacy as a hot button issue during 2019, helping drive the demand for new cybersecurity solutions. Politicians will also begin ramping up for the 2020 elections and the election meddling of past elections will even further the increase the demands for better online security. As you can tell, security is a big current focus for me!

Advice to startups for 2019: Protect your cash and take more when you can get it. As you can see from my stock predictions, I am optimistic about the U.S. tech industry in 2019, but a lot of people aren’t, and probably safest to have some extra cash on hand. I have never heard any entrepreneur complain later that they raised more money than they needed.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: With Facebook under increased scrutiny, there might be an opportunity for other large tech companies to make a move in social media. With Snapchat parent Snap under increasing pressure from continuing losses, their valuation is now $6.6 billion, might make sense for Microsoft or Google to pick up 185 million daily active users on the cheap. Microsoft may be the most likely, due to their ownership of LinkedIn and Skype already.

Go Hawks! Bold prediction? Russell and the Seahawks win the Super Bowl over my hometown heroes the Pittsburgh Steelers, avenging their loss from 2006 (I know, I know, the Steelers didn’t actually “win” that one 😊).

Gillian Muessig.

Gillian Muessig, CEO of Outlines Venture Group and founder of Sybilla Masters Fund

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: We will NOT see an IPO from Puget Sound in 2019. OfferUp is ripe, but I think they will elect to remain a privately-held company in 2019.

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: I expect to make approximately eight investments at the Seed to Series A stage in companies with at least one dominant female founder. I will focus my lead investments in Puget Sound, but will syndicate with up to six more investments with colleague gender-lens investment funds worldwide.

Google’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,037 now): ~$1,200 (assuming no stock splits)

Microsoft’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($100.39 now): $130

Amazon’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,478 now): $1,720

Apple stock close on 12/31/19 ($156.23 now): $150

Nasdaq final close on 12/31/19 (6,584 now): 6,990

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Blockchain — more companies will leverage its capabilities to liquify illiquid assets, forming new financial marketplaces similar to “stock exchanges” for new assets.

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019: AR/VR.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019: AI facial and other body part (iris, wrists, etc.) recognition systems for security. Once any of these is breached, you’ve been breached for a lifetime. Since these processes are far from foolproof (they can be hacked), once hacked, you’ve been compromised for life. These body parts are not replaceable.

Blockchain and to a lesser extent, cryptocurrencies and utility tokens will continue to be overhyped as well.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019?: As in 2018, the impact will be less than it was in 2017. The election furors will die down; the legal and “social” cases surrounding election fraud will play out. But I don’t think there will be changes in law or regulations that will affect how technology companies leverage or communicate with their consumers, social platform community members, et al. Neither do I think there will significant legislation around the use of personal data in 2019. It will take much longer.

Advice to startups for 2019: Not only are most companies not a good match for equity investment, equity is not a good match for most companies.

When you take even one dollar of equity investment, you have agreed to sell your company or drive, with dispatch, to an IPO. That may not suit your vision. In addition, you now work for and at the pleasure of your board of directors and they can, and often do, replace you.

Therefore, my best advice is look beyond raising capital through equity investment. Instead, look at your capitalization stack. The best way to capitalize your company is to consider, “What can I sell today to fund what I need to build tomorrow?” If that yields insufficient capital, look at a variety of funding models — dividend structures, revenue-share agreements, loans, and more.

And I’ll throw it out there for one and all – if you want help in finding the right capitalization plan for your company, you can reach me at gillian@outlinesventure.com. I hold office hours twice a week; if you ask, you’ll get a meeting. I don’t have a team running interference between entrepreneurs and me. I answer my email and my phone.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: Market segmentation of investors is already taking place and will increase in 2019. Gender-lens investing and investing in venture firms that seek their unicorns in uncrowded fields — underserved localities, diverse teams, ideas, and solutions — will increase substantially in 2019. Dividend models will start to pay out in 2019 and 2020, proving that investors will see higher, longer term, and more reliable returns using this investment model.

Erik Benson. (Voyager Capital Photo)

Erik Benson, managing director at Voyager Capital

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: 3: EagleView, Remitly, Rover.

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: Four (we’ve averaged 4 new investments per year over the last 20 years).

Google’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,037 now): $900

Microsoft’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($100.39 now): $125

Amazon’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,478 now): $2,000

Apple stock close on 12/31/19 ($156.23 now): $165

Nasdaq final close on 12/31/19 (6,584 now): 6,150

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Streaming data.

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019: Blockchain.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019? Immigration.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019?: Neutral.

Advice to startups for 2019: Raise more, burn less, maintain a customer-first mindset.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: As I predicted just over two years ago, VR will continue to bounce along the bottom of The Trough of Disillusionment (Gartner reference). The esports industry will surpass $1 billion market size in 2019. Seattle’s new NHL franchise will be named the Emeralds in 2019.

Matt McIlwain. (Madrona Photo)

Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona Venture Group

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: Three, and we should get half credit for Uber given where some key executives live!

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: 10 venture investments and several seeds/Madrona Labs investments.

Google’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,037 now): $900 (down 10 percent)

Microsoft’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($100.39 now): $113 (up 15 percent)

Amazon’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,478 now): $1,700 (up 20 percent)

Apple stock close on 12/31/19 ($156.23 now): $130 (down 15 percent)

Nasdaq final close on 12/31/19 (6,584 now): 6,700 (up 5 percent)

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Hybrid cloud computing (the time has finally arrived!).

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019?: Quantum computing.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019? Regulation in general and especially data privacy and protection policies.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019?: Substantial time will be invested in building relationships with political leaders and trying to manage/shape public narratives of companies and public policy affecting those companies and their customers/business partners.

Advice to startups for 2019: Always stay focused on your customers. And, be prepared for economic downturns by understanding “unit economics” and having a “downturn plan” in place should you need it.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: Microsoft and Amazon will end the year as the No. 1 and No. 2 market cap companies in the world. The intersection of computer/data science and biological/chemical sciences will lead to major breakthrough in health cures. Seattle will increasingly be known as a hub for these intersections of innovation. And the Seahawks will at least make it to the NFC championship game this season!

Andy Liu.

Andy Liu, founding partner at Unlock Venture Partners

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: Five.

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: 10.

Google’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,037 now): $1,100

Microsoft’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($100.39 now): $100

Amazon’s stock close on 12/31/19 ($1,478 now): $1,400

Apple stock close on 12/31/19 ($156.23 now): $160

Nasdaq final close on 12/31/19 (6,584 now): 6,200

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Big data, especially applied to older industries.

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019: Chatbots.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019: The impact of technology on democracy and social norms. Algorithms are driving our news and media consumption as well as our personal relationships. Whatever our beliefs are, we are being fed more of the things we want to hear (fake news or not) and we engage more and more with people who are like us. Technology can and should play a role in changing that narrative.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019: Technology will continue to be the growth driver for the economy in the future. The biggest impediment to that growth is talent and our current political climate is one of the largest limiting factors as it relates to immigration policy and education.

Advice to startups for 2019: Raise as much money as possible, cash is the number one killer of startups. Be more disciplined on the expense-side without sacrificing growth.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: 2019 will be the year for Seattle sports. In a reversal of fortune, the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl with MVP Bobby Wagner picking off Tom Brady in the end zone to win the game 27-24. The Mariners will shock the baseball world and reach the World Series for the first time and defeat the Dodgers to win their first title.

Corey Schmid.

Corey Schmid, Seven Peaks Ventures

Number of IPOs in Washington state in 2019: Perhaps very few, if any. I think it will be a “lighter” year across the board for IPOs, but with a few big profile stars. We are already seeing the IPO goalpost continue to move further away, and with potential economic correction, additional conservatism in going public, and need for higher market caps, it will be tough for the Pacific Northwest leaders. Rover – maybe? I like Convoy a lot, but think that 2019 might be a bit premature for them. Auth0 has had tremendous growth and is in a sweet spot with identity authentication, given other tech issues and trends in 2019 and beyond. One to watch.

Number of new investments your firm plans to make in 2019: We will likely do six or seven.

Stock closes: I’m not going to predict by company, but in general, I think it will be rare to see a lot of double digit percentage growth as we’ve seen recently (for instance: Amazon was up 27 percent this year). We are clearly in a volatile global market right now, and a lot of unknowns still yet to play out – specifically in Europe and China with trade and foreign economic balance. The U.S. stock market’s slightly bipolar swings in the last weeks of 2018 are perhaps a peek at a “cooling period” that has been primed for some time now.

What will be the hottest technology of 2019: Personalization and transparency. Consumers want to own and control their data more and more – whether that’s in healthcare, social, marketing, etc. Yet, we still want a very “me-centric” experience. How do you balance that? When is too much data about me, too much? Do we really want a speaker listening to our every conversation? AI is getting more and more sophisticated and starting to find real applications — how will that play out, and how do we have a personalized experience with tech that is balanced, secure, and trustworthy? The human-tech balance seems to be tipping too far afield,
so I’d expect to see regulations, consumer driven controls, and trust play a very starring role in 2019.

What will be the most overhyped technology of 2019:  I love the concept and potential of the blockchain — especially for something as complex, data-sensitive, and personalized as healthcare. But will it find a truly valuable, efficient, and scalable application and sector in 2019? TBD.

What will be the most pressing issue facing the tech industry in 2019? Authenticity and trust: What is truth, what can I trust? Tech is dipping its toe (maybe even a full foot) into a dystopian state. Whether it’s in our news, politics, social media (which we may well see a pulling away from, due to lack of trust in our data privacy and movement of key identity factors, etc), or IoT in our home. There is massive potential for machines and tech to bring ease and efficiency to our lives, but the need for controls and regulations to protect every day consumers is paramount.

How will the political climate affect the tech industry in 2019: In general, our nation’s immigration strife, and the continued growth of China as a tech leader (and threat in more ways than one), will challenge the U.S. tech industry to remain dominant in 2019 and well beyond.

Advice to startups for 2019:  As always, but perhaps more so in the coming 12-to-24 months, be mindful of spend and monthly burn. I think they will need to make their money go a bit further given tightening of investment dollars.

Other bold predictions for 2019 in tech, politics, sports or anything else: I am watching healthcare. Every healthcare system out there has their eyes (or at least should) on the big tech players. Amazon, Google, Apple, and more are making very bold steps to upend this most critical industry in the world — it impacts every single one of us. And watch out for Amazon — they tend to win every category they enter.

We need to innovate quickly and meaningfully — not in silos or just point solutions — in our U.S. healthcare system. It is beyond antiquated. I would anticipate a creation of a new insurance model that is private, transparent (what the heck does this actually cost me?) data driven, and personalized. Non-traditional healthcare players may lead here for some time.

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