Happy Independence Day! 

We often hear this proclamation, but what does it mean to us today? For business leaders, it has special meaning. “This is America!” Where we can become anyone we want to be, and work in any career we choose. We are not told what to study, which fields to work in, or which employer to work for. Leaders know this freedom can be both a blessing and a challenge when building a business.
Being able to lead a business is a blessing, and we thank our forefathers and our previous generations for this gift of opportunity. We also know that it was a choice on our part to pursue our careers and ambitions. Our challenge is in the reality that our teammates have this same choice…same freedom of thought and career commitment.  They can be totally committed, or they can leave our team at any time.
Business leaders need the commitment of our teammates and followers to be able to pursue our dreams and goals of building our enterprises. They have the same free will as we do, and chose to commit to our team. We must give them good reason to join us, and stay with us, on our journey. They have the same independence of choice given all of us in this country, and all free countries of the world.
So on this Independence Day, let’s reflect on the gift of career choice, and, as business leaders, earn our teammates’ commitment for another year.
-Paul

Building a Winning Culture

I recommend Laurie Tennant’s recent article on ”Building a Winning Culture…”.  Laurie is the VP of People, Portfolio Services, for NorWest Venture Partners, and a previous consultant on our San Francisco search team. Laurie provides insights into building a great company culture shared by Leaders from Glint, Omada Health, Electronic Arts, Philz Coffee, OpenTable.  Recruiting top talent, retaining employees, achieving high performance, and stronger business valuations are all benefits of a strong company culture.  Enjoy her article:

https://medium.com/norwest-venture-partners/building-a-winning-culture-why-a-standout-culture-is-your-secret-weapon-in-the-war-for-talent-af0d4e0312ca

 

Top Ten Technology Predictions for 2017

From G.P. Bullhound, Dealmakers in Technology.

If you are like me, you enjoy reading predictions from prognosticators.  Recently I was impressed with a presentation of such predictions by Alec Dafferner, Partner, and his team at GP Bullhound, global technology investment bankers.

G.P. Bullhound should know, as they do more investment banking deals in the technology space than any other banker in the world.  They also are research intensive, so they are constantly doing their homework on the marketplace.  Their 2016 predictions fared well, so I was keen on hearing their predictions for 2017. 

Here are the headlines from their top predictions.  (Click here to view the report)  How strongly do you agree? Are you willing to invest in these trends? Is your business benefiting from one of these emerging trends today?

Here you go:

1.  The next generation of Artificial Intelligence. Heavy investment in 2016…here to stay.  Both consumers and businesses begin to adopt cutting-edge AI for real-world applications. Disruptive AI developers raised $500m last year. More to come in 2017. AI-Powered Virtual Personal Assistants (“VPA”) will increase in sophistication (think Siri, Cortana, and Alexa).

 

2.  Cordless Content: Anywhere and Everywhere. Millennials move away from cable networks…TV industry disruption continues.  Networks will respond with new services for mobile consumers. Mobile continues to dominate headlines and investments.  Over-the-Top (OTT) services include fast broadband, large premium content, multiple device access, all at attractive pricing.  Scramble for content, delivery, and consumers.

 

3.  E-Sport Takes Center Stage. E-Sports is the fastest growing component of the entertainment industry, will hit $1B in revenue in 2017, with over 250 million fans.  More viewers for 2015 League of Legends Final than for game 7 of the 2016 NBA Final. 50% growth rate of industry.

 

4.  The Dawn of VR/AR content. VR/AR hardware has outpaced content.  Software will become available for the newest platform.  Head mounted gear taking off…sold 16.5 mm headsets in 2016. Wireless headsets next push.  Content to catch up due to heavy investments by media giants.  Augment reality boasts Pokemon Go’s 500 million downloads…peaks at 50mm users in one day.

 

5.  Driverless Cars…still require Human Direction. Heavy investment recently in this dream, creating more customized cars thanks to Google, Baidu, Apple, and Uber.  Samsung paid $8B for Harman, testament to interest by electronics firms to be part of future “connected” automobile.   More investment this year. Fully autonomous cars have a long way to go before widespread adoption.

 

6.  Fintech: Shifting Tectonic Plates. Traditional Financial Institutions will fight back this year, as “Banks 2.0” continue to steal their business. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platforms intend to create an optimal lending process.  Widespread adoption of blockchain technology is unlikely to happen in 2017

 

7.  Social Media Transformation. Though Western players dominate in technical innovation, Asian players excel at user retention and monetization.  Executive recruitment and M&A transactions will focus on the converging of these two forces in Social Media in 2017.

 

8.  SaaS Software Reigning Supreme. With $61B worth of M&A in the rear view mirror, both PE firms and Tech giants are looking to buy more SaaS companies in 2017.  EU companies may present the best economics and valuations for purchasers.

 

9.  TECH IPOs are set for take off. As Asian markets heat up, particularly in China, and U.S. Unicorns looking to IPO in 2017, combined with modest increases in IPOs in Europe, 2017 should be a strong year for TECH IPOs.   China wants to bring in more foreign capital, and increase valuations for their tech companies.

 

10.  Year of the European Decacorn. With U.S. Unicorns all the buzz, keep your eyes on the European behemoths, the E.U. Decacorns.  These private firms are more capital efficient, have more rational valuations, enjoy greater financial stability, and are most likely to see a significant increase in value in 2017.

 

Note: Alec Dafferner has made the full report available on his web site:  http://www.gpbullhound.com/news/gp-bullhound-identifies-top-10-tech-trends-2017/

More on Alec:  http://www.gpbullhound.com/people/alec-dafferner/