The End And The Beginning of What We Know

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Everybody has an opinion. Some bring data. Some bring experience. Some bring advice.

When brands talk about disruption, it’s typically on two levels:

  1. The startups that are disrupting their traditional business model.
  2. The ways in which the brand connects to consumers as smartphones (and other technology) change everything from messaging to connectivity.

Both are fair game. Still, the bigger challenge comes from understanding how technology changes not only your own industry, but the industries that your business (and your consumers) orbit as well.

This is harder work.

No one works harder at this than those who are trying to identify, invest and grow the next generation of businesses. Whether you can appreciate the work of venture capitalists or not, the very good ones are thinking about technology, connectivity and business on an entirely different plane.

Case in point…

One person who thinks in a way that makes me question the future is Benedict Evans. If you don’t get his weekly email, you really should (subscribe right here, it’s free). Evans has been a Partner at Andreessen Horowitz for close to five years. He thinks very deeply and knows how to express himself about technology in a very powerful way. Last week Andreessen Horowitz held their annual tech conference, and Evans gave a presentation titled, The End of the Beginning (which you can watch below).

What is the end of the beginning? (According to Evans):

“Close to three quarters of all the adults on earth now have a smartphone, and most of the rest will get one in the next few years. However, the use of this connectivity is still only just beginning. Ecommerce is still only a small fraction of retail spending, and many other areas that will be transformed by software and the internet in the next decade or two have barely been touched… Meanwhile, as companies address more and more of this with software and the internet, they do it in new ways. We began with models that presumed low internet penetration, low speeds, little consumer readiness and little capital. Now all of those are inverted. So, we used to do apartment listings and now Opendoor will buy your home; we used to do restaurant reviews and now you can get a hot meal delivered to your door. Tech is building different kinds of businesses, and so will take different shares of that opportunity, but more importantly change what those industries look like… as we think about the next decade or two, we have some new fundamental building blocks. The internet began as an open, ‘permissionless’, decentralized network, but then we got (and indeed needed) new centralised networks on top, and so we’ve spent a lot of the past decade talking about search and social. Machine learning and crypto give new and often decentralized, permissionless fundamental layers for looking at meaning, intent and preference, and for attaching value to those.”

Value hunting.

This is the story of value hunting. How will your brand attach new ways to attract and create value as the tectonic plates of the Internet shift, adjust and completely re-invent the way that we transact?

Here’s where to start thinking about the end of what we know, and the beginning of what’s next…