Happy Holidays and bring on 2024! Now, for the 6th consecutive year (check out last year’s predictions), I’m pleased and excited to share our predictions for the tech industry in the coming year. Without further adieu, here we go…
- Generative AI or Gen AI: Three predictions:
- Part I – As the market for broad-based large language models (LLMs) (e.g., ChatGPT, Bard) quickly becomes saturated, the focus for new, big, ambitious, capital-intensive LLMs shifts to more domain-specific use cases.
- Part II – Smaller players with standalone, niche GenAI products who raised gobs of money on the heels of the 2023 craze fade away, having failed to gain commercial traction as customers recognize that they are not products so much as features in search of a product.
- Part III – AI-as-a-service and proprietary language models layered into existing enterprise software platforms scale rapidly across nearly all industries, quickly becoming (in aggregate) the largest segment of the overall GenAI market. Meanwhile, the market for broad-based LLMs follows the path of early cloud computing with a handful of players best positioned to manage the (very, very) large-scale technological, customer support, and financial requirements emerging as an oligopoly of sorts (similar to today’s cloud market), while the rest fall by the wayside.
- Legal Tech explodes – One of the legacy industries slowest to embrace new technology (largely by design, as productivity isn’t that appealing when your revenue model is based on human hours), law firms recognize GenAI for the threat that it is and embrace new domain-specific language models for everything from research to drafting and editing.
- Defense & Security Tech has a moment – As two major wars continue with no end in sight and geopolitical tensions remain broadly elevated, demand for security technology accelerates in the government and private (business and consumer) sectors.
- The recent backlash against the Harvard, Penn, and MIT presidents’ responses to hate speech on their campuses is the match that lights the powder keg of resentment that has been building towards the higher education system over rapidly rising costs, declining admissions rates, and crippling post-grad loan burdens. Families vote with their feet (and wallets) and begin to explore alternative education platforms and products, leading to an acceleration in the formation and funding of EdTech startups providing professional training and credentials across both white and blue-collar professions as the foundation and reputation of incumbents in higher education begin to crumble.
- Meta pulls the plug on Threads due to lack of usage, as X, formerly Twitter (despite its best efforts to self-combust) continues to be everyone’s short-form media app of choice.
- Following Missouri’s landmark antitrust ruling against the National Association of Realtors (for price collusion), PropTech goes from a secondary/ancillary tool for residential real estate to the primary method of buying and selling homes, as fee competition has brokers scrambling for efficiency/productivity solutions.
- At least one high-profile late-stage VC shocks the industry with the announcement that it is shuttering operations after having to realize massive losses on its 2020/2021 vintage fund(s). The parade of startups who raised hundreds of millions at multi-billion-dollar valuations in one or more late-stage rounds between 2019 and 2022 either selling for a fraction of their bubble-era valuations or shutting down entirely has already quietly begun (or managed to do so very publicly without anyone noticing) and will only accelerate this year as attempts to stretch the proceeds of fantasy-priced 2021/2022 mega-rounds proves to have only delayed the inevitable.
- On the heels of recent customer and regulatory pushback on app store fees, big marketing and logistics efficiency gains (from several years of significant innovation and investment in retail tech), a wide-open playing field (with so many VCs having pivoted away from the space), and the reputational cover provided by some high-profile late-stage software company failures (see above), VC funding for consumer tech halts its multi-year slide and begins a multiyear rebound.
- Lastly, Bonus (non-tech) Prediction: Neither Trump nor Biden is on the ticket in November (the former when he goes to prison or accepts a plea deal that includes a ban from running for public office and the latter when he is gently nudged out by his party following his former opponent’s exit from the race).
There you have it, folks, our 2024 predictions are laid out and Happy New Year!