Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year on Day 1 of 2015: Let's Look Back at Ten Ways The World Changed In 2014

1) We Went From People Searching For Things To Things Finding People

"Companies are leveraging data in order to serve people with relevant content, commerce, and ads based on situations and locations. In content, a good example of this is the rise of companies like Taboola and Outbrain, serving relevant content to users based on what they’re currently reading."

2) The Smartphone Became A Remote For The Real World

"In the past, what was once fixed Internet consumption based on where your desktop computer was or your hefty laptop has become ubiquitous Internet consumption via the smartphone. This has allowed a crop of new services where you use your phone to control aspects of the real world."

3) New Platforms Were Born

"For the first time in several years, we have multiple new platforms with exciting opportunities ahead to build applications on top of them. Whether it’s Blockchain technology, virtual reality, 3D printing, or the Internet of Things, there will be no shortage of innovative applications built on top of these platforms in 2015 and beyond."

4) Virtual Reality Became More Than Just A Gaming Platform

"I have to admit, when I first heard about Facebook buying Oculus for $2 billion I didn’t understand it. I realized the merits of virtual reality in gaming and know firsthand how big the gaming community is from my experience at IGN, but such a high price tag and from a company whose mission it is to “make the world more open and connected” just didn’t make very much sense to me. Then my friend and Metamorphic adviser Jane Rosenthal introduced me to Chris Milk who, along with Beck, created an immersive virtual reality live concert experience. It was amazing to sit outside this coffee shop in Venice Beach and feel as if I were at the concert."

"5) We Learned That The Next Smart Devices Won’t Be Phones

In a lot of ways, Google’s Nest acquisition showed the world that the Internet of Things is here to stay. There will be Internet-enabled devices in just about every category that will come online in the next few years. These devices show us that the next generation of web-enabled devices won’t be smartphones but rather a world where all of your devices are “smart” whether it’s wearables on your body or in your home or office."

6) Personalization Became Universal

"The logged-in vs. logged-out experience of Amazon has changed the expectations for personalization among users. While it used to be a luxury for consumers, now it’s simply expected. This is the human API, and companies are finding all sorts of ways to leverage our data to create an experience personalized just for us. If companies are sending promotional emails to customers with irrelevant offers and products, it’s likely that consumers will unsubscribe (or worse, report as spam)."

7) Content Became King Again

"Whether it was BuzzFeed, Vice, Vox Media or Elite Daily, business models based on content are back and better than ever. A lot of this is attributed to the new “platisher” model, where it isn’t quite a publisher and isn’t quite a platform but both professional journalists and users are creating content under one umbrella."

"This model provides for strong communities and brand for the content companies. Advertisers also like the branded content side of things where these professional journalists and users are creating content specially tailored for them."

8) Urbanization Returned To The U.S.

"In 2013, 2.3 million more people moved into metro areas than in 2012, driven by the demands of America’s two most powerful demographics. Baby boomers are retiring and moving back to the cities they left when they started families, and millennials want to live closer to each other and where the action is. This has provided a massive opportunity for businesses to be built that leverage the space and time constraints of urban areas."

9) Mindfulness And Nutrition Were More Prevalent Than Ever

"2014 really was the year that mindfulness became mainstream. The Seattle Seahawks were meditating prior to the Super Bowl and companies are being created like Headspace, which helps to teach people to meditate and in turn clear their mind."

"Not only do we try to incorporate fitness and mindfulness into the culture at Metamorphic with our founders and our team, but we added Eddie Stern as a formal adviser who meditates with us and teaches meditation and yoga to our portfolio companies. I recently joined the board of the Sonima Foundation, which is bringing mindfulness into public schools. We have lots of work to do, so you’ll be hearing from me in 2015."

10) Gender Inequality In Tech Finally Got More Attention

"It seems like in 2014, we’ve finally begun to address tech’s gender inequality problem. When I got involved with Girls Who Code a few years ago, there was a problem deeper than just female engineers not being hired by large tech companies. The problem was that there really weren’t a lot of female engineers. And it starts earlier as women haven’t traditionally been empowered to become engineers. Girls Who Code is doing a great job of changing this."

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