2023 has been a wild year for the tech economy. We saw the first truly practical generative AI applications come into their own, a tentative resurgence in the tech IPO market, and a resetting of founders’ and investors’ expectations that could lay the foundation for a more sustainable funding ecosystem.
But 2023 is just the beginning. This year’s biggest news could pale in comparison to what comes next in 2024 and beyond.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the biggest trends shaping the tech landscape right now and what could be around the corner. These insights come from three of the biggest names in tech entrepreneurship and investing: Steve Streit, Patrick Collison, and Jack Dorsey.
Tomorrow’s Winners Will Skate to Where the Puck Is Going, Not Where It Is Right Now
Tech founders and investors have been remarkably reactive of late. Space suffers from a herd mentality, leading to inefficient capital deployment and unacceptably high failure rates.
That’s beginning to change as interest rates soar and investors pull back. It’s also a major opportunity for forward-thinking entrepreneurs amid massive changes in consumer behavior.
“I would advise entrepreneurs to pursue an idea that aligns with the trends and needs of tomorrow’s consumer,” says Steve Streit, founder and lead partner of SWS Venture Capital.
“Remote” Is Here to Stay, But It’s No Longer the Most Important Thing
The “rush to remote” happened out of necessity, but it’s proven stickier than many tech leaders expected (or hoped).
Streit and many like him believe some part of this shift will become permanent. However, evidence suggests that the optimal arrangement could be “hybrid” — a mix of remote and in-person work, with some office time required of most workers.
While this isn’t a tech trend in and of itself, it’s important for leaders to consider worker preferences when hiring in a still-tight labor market.
Tradespeople Are the New Knowledge Workers
Streit and Dorsey are both on the record saying something to this effect. And it’s backed up by early data on the workforce impacts of generative AI. Even as ChatGPT and its ilk make white-collar work more efficient, there’s a massive need for trades workers who (for now) can’t be automated away easily.
Entrepreneurs must keep this in mind when designing consumer-facing solutions. People who work with their hands are about to have much more economic clout.
Decentralized Protocols Are Ready for Mainstream Adoption
Reality is finally catching up with the hype, at least if Jack Dorsey is to be believed. (He’s been right many times before.)
Will crypto go fully mainstream, replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? No, not anytime soon. But blockchain-based solutions that decentralize economic agency could mature sooner than we expect.
Science Is Ready for Disruption
Stripe founder Patrick Collison believes the pace of scientific innovation is slowing down. He’s worried about this because less innovation means less progress and less progress means more human suffering.
Collison has two theories for why this might be the case.
One is that science has become less efficient for some reason we don’t yet understand. Maybe “we were pursuing this process of discovery more effectively in the past, and presumably, for inadvertent reasons, something went wrong, and now, we’re just less efficient at it,” he speculated to Ezra Klein in a 2022 podcast interview.
The other is that science is just getting harder. Or, as Collison put it, “We’re running out of low-hanging fruit, and it’s just going to be harder to do this stuff.”
In either scenario, science is ripe for disruption. Advances in artificial intelligence seem likely to drive that disruption in the short term, but it’s unclear how much today’s AI tools can really move the needle. So, the pace of innovation might seem slow for a while yet.
Ready for What’s Next?
These three influential tech founders and investors believe that big changes are coming — sooner than we all think. But their predictions are their best guesses as to how the tech economy might evolve in the months and years to come. They know their stuff, sure, but they don’t have a crystal ball.
What they can do is prepare for the disruption to come. We should take their cue because it could be a bumpy ride.