WP016 - VC Tech Predictions & Newsletters, Ben Evans edition
Software Defined Talk Members Only White Paper Exegesis Podcast, episode #16
Coté & Brandon Whichard,  December 2017.

In this episode we look at two tech world artifacts: weekly, curated links in email newsletters and the trends and predictions presentation. Ben Evans does both of these and provides great pieces to do some deep reading.

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VC Predictions & Newsletters


The Presentation

Macro

  • The “30 minute” presentation.
  • He’s a “partner” now - what’s that mean.
  • These slides are rapid illustrations of the points he’s making, e.g., robot and washing machine slide. 
  • I often think about going back to the lecture style presentation with very little slides (maybe 5-6 for a 60 minute talk), most recently done well by Bruce Sterling.
  • There’s a lot of “framing” going on here: what this buzzword can actually do (and not), areas of life we might predict it changes (like washing machines).
  • Does it accomplish being novel here?
  • Does it go above the magazine-drive-strategy he jokes about in the beginning.
  • Cameras above production line, plan diseases recognition - those are interesting.
  • It just sort of ends. I do a lot of book-ending in my talks: bio, thanks slide. I don’t know what to think of that relative to doing nothing.

Micro

  • S curves are always weird. “The thing to remember about s curves is that they’re not always smooth,” as he says.
  • Related: I loath 80/20 things.
  • All these models are very artificial for understanding reality.
  • Use with extreme caution.
  • “What we can build on-top of them” - compare to the PC industry stories of selling into Vietnam, etc., places where there is no PC market.
  • Opportunities for tech repeat themselves over and over: a new platform, a new hole in business models (Ben’s local papers to aggregators), and the incumbents who miss the window and urgency.
  • His # employees charts are good examples of finding data to fit your visual need - how well does # of employees rate anything? It makes curves that show the rise of what he wants (the importance of various companies), but Walmart has lots of people, so does JPMC… He does this himself by throwing in Amazon.
  • What’s “GAFA”? (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple? Good grief…)

Let’s look at the Microsoft decline slide:
This looks at the PC market. Things to ask:
  • The story of Microsoft over the past ten years is shaky, but successful recovery. They are now on the “the three” of public cloud, well respected.
  • They pulled off one of the most difficult strategic feats (as Apple did!): re-arranging their strategic portfolio to match evolving market demand.
  • While their PC market/business stopped driving revenue (and, recall, they contributed to this by making Windows very cheap to free), they built up other businesses.
  • What’s this chart for Microsoft’s enterprise/infrastructure market?
  • Sure, compared to Apple, you’d have rather bought Apple stock:
  • If I’m reading the comparison chart correctly, Apple returned 888% over the past 10 years vs. Microsoft’s 189%
  • From Google Finance: