2020 Predictions

Every year I look forward to predictions being made on tech twitter. With the coming of a new decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to have experts post their thoughts on what could happen in the next decade. I’ve compiled a list of predictions for the decade and year. 

While I don’t consider myself to be knowledgeable enough to make predictions, here’s a couple of ideas that came to mind as I put this together: 

  1. Repurposing Old Colleges: We can create new master-planned communities for parts of the population (e.g. retirees, creators or students - perhaps all of the above). 
  1. ISAs for Sabbaticals: Depending on the profile of an individual, I’d certainly help fund a few months off in exchange for a share of future income. An ISA could significantly de-risk the idea of taking a few months off between jobs. 
  1. Stealing Scouting Techniques from the NBA: Companies can learn a lot from how the NBA (specifically teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat) sources international/remote talent. There’s no reason why companies can’t go to incubators across the world to source the next best creator. 

2020 Decade Predictions

Note: Click on the individual's name to go to the original tweet/post.

Sriram Krishnan 

He’s known for his work in consumer tech products and being an angel investor. He ran consumer product teams and audience growth at Twitter. He worked on various monetization product for Snap and Facebook, including founding Facebook's Audience Network.

  1. We will soon see the rise of internet security fixers you can call in terms of crisis.
  1. We’ll soon see a new IP/story universe designed from the ground up to allow a single story to be told across movies, theme park rides, games and enable various creators to help create it but all enabled by the story’s scaffolding.
  1. We will have rapid evolution in both tools and social conventions for how to make all of the above and more possible for remote work.
  1. We will soon see the rise of “personal attention optimizers” that will work on your behalf, know what is healthy for you, what your priorities are and try and optimize. 

Fred Wilson

He is the co-founder of Union Square Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm with investments in Web 2.0 companies such as Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Zynga, Kickstarter, and MongoDB. 

  1. The looming climate crisis will be to this century what the two world wars were to the previous one. It will require countries and institutions to reallocate capital from other endeavors to fight against a warming planet. 
  1. Automation will continue to take costs out of operating many of the services and systems that we rely on to live and be productive. The fight for who should have access to this massive consumer surplus will define the politics of the 2020s. 
  1. China will emerge as the world’s dominant global superpower leveraging its technical prowess and ability to adapt quickly to changing priorities (see #1). Conversely, the US becomes increasingly internally focused and isolationist in its world view.
  1. Countries will create and promote digital/crypto versions of their fiat currencies, led by China who moves first and benefits the most from this move. The US will be hamstrung by regulatory restraints and will be slow to move, allowing other countries and regions to lead the crypto sector. Asian crypto exchanges, unchecked by cumbersome regulatory restraints in Europe and the US and leveraging decentralized finance technologies, will become the dominant capital markets for all types of financial instruments.
  1. A decentralized internet will emerge, led initially by decentralized infrastructure services like storage, bandwidth, compute, etc. The emergence of decentralized consumer applications will be slow to take hold and a killer decentralized consumer app will not emerge until the latter part of the decade.
  1. Plant-based diets will dominate the world by the end of the decade. Eating meat will become a delicacy, much like eating caviar is today. Much of the world’s food production will move from farms to laboratories.
  1. The exploration and commercialization of space will be dominated by private companies as governments increasingly step back from these investments. The early years of this decade will produce a wave of hype and investment in the space business but returns will be slow to come and we will be in a trough of disillusionment on the space business as the decade comes to an end.
  1. Mass surveillance by governments and corporations will become normal and expected this decade and people will increasingly turn to new products and services to protect themselves from surveillance. The biggest consumer technology successes of this decade will be in the area of privacy.
  1. We will finally move on from the Baby Boomers dominating the conversation in the US and around the world and Millennials and Gen-Z will be running many institutions by the end of the decade. Age and experience will be less valued by shareholders, voters, and other stakeholders and vision and courage will be valued more.
  1. Continued advancements in genetics will produce massive wins this decade as cancer and other terminal illnesses become well understood and treatable. Fertility and reproduction will be profoundly changed. Genetics will also create new diseases and moral/ethical issues that will confound and confuse society. Balancing the gains and losses that come from genetics will be our greatest challenge in this decade.

Keith Wasserman 

He founded Gelt, Inc. in 2008 during the height of the recession and financial meltdown. Keith has been involved in the acquisition of several commercial, industrial, and residential properties mainly in the Western US now totaling over $1.5 billion in assets.

  1. Mobile home parks will have a resurgence by being marketed differently and modernized 
  2. Coliving will become massive in major markets 
  3. Apartments and hotel lines will continue to blur allowing flexible stays w/top service
  4. Affordable housing stock will continue to age and great rewards will be reaped by people that renovate and keep reasonably affordable 
  5. A great brand will form in housing for families 
  6. Draconian Zoning laws will have to change if large cities want to continue to flourish
  7. Hotels will make a resurgence and take on Airbnb head on. Smaller rooms in choice locations will drive down costs. Also lots more automation, self check-in etc. 
  8. Infill Industrial properties will see huge rent increases along with cold storage
  9. Renting an apartment will be a seamless experience and much easier and straightforward 
  10. Cities will be reimagined with lots more bike lanes for single commuters on solo electric lightweight vehicles or bikes 
  11. Design centric apartment living will rule
  12. Time and inflation will continue to be real estate’s best friends 
  13. Physical Keys will be a thing of the past 
  14. Solar will become more prevalent 
  15. More flexible lease terms 
  16. All payments done online 
  17. 3D virtual tours 
  18. More buildings with dual uses
  19. More themed niche housing 

Turner Novak

Turner joined Gelt in 2019 to manage all venture capital investing. Prior to Gelt, Turner was a member of the investment team at Afore Capital, where he invested in pre-seed companies. Turner previously managed a $1.6b endowment, and prior to that worked in credit, private equity, and corporate finance.

  1. Snap/Bitmoji has more users than FB/IG. Snap has similar user #'s as IG in markets where FB makes all its money. FBs products are designed for broadcasting. Friends = stronger nfx than broadcast. FB should have created TikTok but didn't, shows its weakness. 
  2. Facebook’s products are all stories-first (feed deprioritized)
  3. McDonalds doesn’t sell meat. I think alt meat is eventually cheaper to produce than real meat. At the end of the day McDonald’s competes on cost / operational efficiency. Will also be an interesting marketing play! Bold, and maybe they launch/acquire a plant-based chain instead. 
  4. WeWork hits 50m members
  5. AirPods discontinued (become glasses)
  6. LinkedIn doesn’t get unbundled
  7. ByteDance (owns TikTok) will eventually be worth more than FB.

2020 Annual Predictions

Jeff Morris Jr. 

Jeff is the Director of Product, Growth at Lambda School. He was previously the Director of Product Management (Revenue) at Tinder, where he led revenue products. He is also the founder of Chapter One Ventures, an early stage seed fund that focuses on subscription products and mobile apps.

1) Future of Face ID: Apple won the early days of face authentication, which they’ll aggressively expand as a replacement for email & passwords.

  • Google, Amazon, Facebook will attempt to compete by iterating on their own versions of Face ID. Facebook Connect will lose market share. 
  • As competition intensifies, we’ll see more innovation in the use of biometrics as an identifier for email/password (along with PIN, multi-factor auth, privileged access).
  • Meanwhile, startups like @fast will compete to own the new identity layer of the web through the use case that matters most to consumers — one click shopping! Fast will make it simple to buy things without email & passwords. 
  • We’ll realize how archaic passwords feel in 2020.

2) Student Debt will reach a tipping point, with students suing universities more often.

  • Two weeks ago, University of Phoenix was ordered to pay $191M ($141M to students) for false promises of future jobs while asking students to take on debt.
  • More students will fight back. 
  • Speaking of student debt, we’ll see more employers offer “student debt assistance” to attract employees. 
  • About 8% of companies (incl. Aetna, Fidelity, PwC) help employees repay student loans, up from 4% three years ago. 
  • Employers can now give tax-free assistance up to $5250 (in the U.S.).

3) The “Facebook Election debate” will become a major story again, as the media finds new cases of election fraud.

  • FB will fight this battle every 4 years until they ban political ads. 
  • FB will be hammered by regulators again & the brand will continue to deteriorate in the US.

4) Social 2.0: We reached a tipping point on the social internet where people are afraid to say what they think online because of backlash.

  • The internet was created to be a free thinking environment & we lost that. Social 2.0 will emerge to create more honest conversations.

5) Omni-Channel Work: The future of work is flagship offices paired w/ remote work environments.

  • As @wquist said: Employers will create digital first work experiences, but with a physical footprint that has the same opex benefits for employers that it does for retail

6) In 2019, Kanye West purchased 10,000+ acres in Cody, Wyoming where he’ll build his own wellness city.

  • Cody will be known for meditation, Sunday services & creative work. 
  • Influencers in entertainment & tech will try building their own cities as the exodus from CA continues.

7) Deepfakes will take Identity Theft to new levels:

  • Cyber criminals used to steal credentials & passwords. 
  • Deepfakes will let them steal your face & voice - phishing will reach new levels. 
  • Deepfakes ethics will be as a hot social topic & big new startups will fight deepfakes.

8) Investing in climate change: 

  • Investors will overcome painful memories of failed cleantech startups. 
  • The stakes are too high & influential voices like @fredwilson are pushing. 
  • Investors will search for startups to fight climate change — hopefully w/ better business results.

9) Mushrooms the new CBD: 

  • Investors will explore shrooms as the “next big thing” after CBD. 
  • US will loosen their ban for veterans & depression and eventually consumers. 
  • Denver already decriminalized. 100 other cities—incl. Chicago, Portland & Santa Cruz are pushing on this.

10) College-closure crisis:

  • “In the last 5 years, half a million students have been displaced by college closures, which together shuttered 1,200+ campuses.” 
  • That’s an average of 20 college campus shut downs a month. 
  • This story hasn’t been told yet. That’ll change in 2020.

Andreas Killinger 

He is the head of remote for Angel List and has previously worked at Product Hunt and Coin List He also recently launched an angel fund dedicated to remote-first company. 

1) Multiple teams will innovate on videocalls

  • Startup Idea: Rethink video clients without "BIG FACES IN A BOX." 
  • Different calls need different optimized experiences (eg Townhall vs 1on1 vs small team call).

2) Gitlab company manuals will become the new norm. Even management courses will focus on it. 

  • Startup Idea: Build a tool that merges the boundary between reading/knowledge, team-communicating/update and doing/action.

3) Rural areas will try to come up with "remote work" strategies. Tulsa, Vermont and GrowIreland might become R&D labs how to do this.

  • Startup Idea: be the "service layer" for "me-too" rural areas to service and attract highly paid remote workers. Literally a concierge service.

4) A nation-wide Starbucks competitor will launch and focus on remote workers. 

  • Startup Idea: A cafe chain focusing on remote workers who occasionally hang out there relaxed. Not a primary workplace, a third-space. Quiet, hidden away, focused, small member fee.

5) Venture Studios will become en-vogue again. The office / HQ will be in hip spots but the teams will be all-remote.

  • Startup Idea: Raise money for a Venture Studio, not a startup. Have all ideas focus on a customer/industry/pattern/problem.

6) Multiple remote teams will go IPO. New joint-ventures will realize that all-remote acquihiring is a great setup for having a fast-track to IPO.

  • Startup Idea: Build a double-blind M&A "exploration" marketplace in your niche

7) Remote-first will become a recruiting buzzword. Teams who aren't set up to support remote-first will still use it to attract talent, because talent will favor/expect it.

  • Startup idea: Glassdoor for remote work env and sell recruiting support and courses on top of it.

8) Buying SaaS companies and restaffing with remote teams will be a common theme. Some will form private equity funds around it. Others will just operate out of cashflow to acquire well-aligned products.

  • Startup Idea: Build tooling to manage and compare multiple saas startups. 

9) The remote teams won't win through price dumping but through talent selection.

  • Startup idea: Become an agent for top 0.0001% talent in your niche. Think sports coach but for a romanian data science guru in a town you can't pronounce.

10) Now that remote work becomes more common. Parents working part-time from home will be an important asset

  • Startup Idea: Employ people who used to do top paid career jobs before they decided to focus on their kids (eg lawyers, analysts, etc). Offer products w/ expert support

11) Between-jobs sabbaticals will become a common thing. "Take time off to focus on X."

  • Startup Idea: Create a hotel chain focusing on month-long sabbaticals. Amazing experiences in unexpected (cheap) locations where people otherwise never go to help overcome burnouts + inspire.

12) City planning will change because of climate change and remote work. How does an ideal new small city look like if remote work and extreme seasonal heat is common?

  • Startup idea: Build a city. Play sim city or skylines before to make sure you are qualified. 

13) If more people become location independent many countries will become defacto service providers. 

  • Startup idea: Read sovereign individual twice, over-invest in bitcoin and partner with a small island country. Become a global service provider for your specific global niche.

14) More "global citizens" becoming rich. 

  • Startup idea: Reinvent Switzerland. Build a private bank focusing only focusing on startup founders who had an exit.

15) Call it "Exit Bank" and build member-only SoHo-house like HQs. Remote work will become embedded in tooling.

  • Startup Idea: Build Figma for X. Eg Figma for architectural drawing. People can collab on the work. More importantly: You can hire somewhere highly talented to finish your work where you lack time or skill.

16) Remote work as an opportunity for incarcerated

  • Startup Idea: Build a marketplace helping people in prison (or recently released) to work remotely. Goal: rehabilitate and reintegrate into society.
  • Pro-tip: Maybe don't start this in the puritan US but rather Europe.

17) Global Payroll will be a common problem. Payroll fragmentation is literally the same problem we had with credit cards before Stripe came.

  • Startup Idea: Focus on convenience and overall experience. But hurry. I think @remote will win this market (disclaimer: i'm an investor)

18) Hybrid setup will be a default. Office-heavy companies suck in staying remote-friendly.

  • Startup Idea: Build a tool that automatically monitors how remote-friendly you are. Daily green checkboxes for best practices plus peer reviews.

19) Loneliness & Mental Health. More people work from home => more people feel lonely

  • Startup Idea: Start something like @codiwork but to see where in your neighborhood people plan to work together this week. Spoilers: I think codiwork might do exactly that

20) Coworking as we know it is not the answer. Coworking spaces are too distracting, too noisy, too impersonal and definitely too unfocused.

  • Startup Idea: Create tooling to enable coop-driven small shared offices for remote workers. Think: 8 people office, everyone works remote.

21) Global ad-hoc teams will be more and more common. You get a project; need support. You know a girl who knows a girl. The team is formed. The next project comes in. More people join the crew. It becomes complicated.

  • Startup Idea: Tooling for employee-owned project-based coops.

22) People will focus more on async.

  • Startup Idea: Build a slack killer focusing async discussions (pattern mix of forum, pull requests and google docs) but also allow sync-chat for where it's useful (eg watercooler, emergencies). 
  • But hurry @twistappteam and @threads are fast.

23) Cultural difference become a problem on global marketplaces. Talent might be distributed globally. But the "ability to sound cool to the SV-tech-bro who video-interviews you" is not. 

  • Startup Idea: Business english courses plus "please don't work from your laundry room" + ISAs

24) Professional english is a struggle. Being able to communicate concisely and correctly is tough for foreigners and limits career opportunities.

  • Startup Idea: A remote language school that has an NDA with your company. Real feedback for your writing (google docs + slack)

25) Companion devices

  • Startup Idea: Facebook portal but for remote teams. Easily share documents, collab on one document, video call people, join calls (with a camera that follows you), see what everyone is doing, play games.

I hope all of you find this as a great resource and inspiration for ideas. Last but not least, thank you to the individuals above for sharing your ideas. The following quote comes to mind: 

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton


Suthen Siva

January 3, 2020