Venture capitalist forum pegs the top tech trends

Social networking, the real-time Web, and health initiatives are popular choices among VCs and the audience

According to a group of venture capitalists, technology trends to watch for range from social networking to health maintenance and an emergence of new companies.

Venture capitalists gathered in Silicon Valley on Wednesday evening to name top 10 technology trends at a business and technology forum in San Jose, Calif., conducted by the Churchill Club. Audience members were called on to affirm or reject the trends.

[ Beware: The social networking cops are here, InfoWorld columnist Bill Snyder says. ]

Leading off, investor Ron Conway, who now is vice chairman of the University of California San Francisco Medical Foundation, cited the social bent of the Web.

"We believe that the Web is becoming truly social," with consumers much more willing to share intent and desires, Conway said. He cited Facebook's growth from zero users to 400 million users in the last five years as evidence. The audience, however, sided with Conway's premise that the social Web is a top trend by a margin of only 198 to 192.

Faring much better in the social media vein, Kevin Efrusy, general partner with Accel Partners, cited the social Web as a substrate for producing new categories of businesses: new companies will be built on top of the social Web. "It's about the growth of the ecosystem and new companies built on top of it," he said. The audience agreed by a vote of 337 to 59 that this would be a trend.

Emergence of businesses to help customers maintain their health as opposed to providing health care was cited as a trend by Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings. "These companies are selling health to consumers who are buying the tools, uploading the data and beginning to both manage themselves and start sharing the data today," Dyson said. She named getupandmove.me as an example of such a venture, but her contention did not catch on with the audience, which voted 217 against it being a top trend to 188 in favor.

A similar suggested trend, Internet-driven health care for purposes like finding doctors and scheduling appointments, passed by a 299-to-45 vote.

Another trend suggested was that the current troubled economic climate presents an opportune time to start a company. Sixty-four percent of companies listed in the Dow Jones industrials were formed during a recession, said Steve Jurvetson, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

"You get a more frugal internal culture, you tend to focus more on customers" and have more time to build a business model, Jurvetson said. The audience agreed with this suggested trend, 290 to 107.

Another trend suggested involved growth in transparency, based on the huge amounts of data available. Anyone, for example, can go on the Web and find out how people are treated at a company, said Dyson said. This trend received 223 yes votes and 147 no votes.

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