Recent Trends in the Venture Capital Community
By Alan L. Olsen, CPA MBA(tax)
Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. LLP
Recently, I attended a Venture Capital Conference in which one of the speakers predicted we would see technology change in the next 15 years that would rival advancements similar to the past 100 years. That is a bold prediction, but as new technologies continue to emerge we are seeing some of the so called “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” technologies are now becoming reality.
I suggest that if you are interested in capitalizing on these changes, just look to the trends in the Venture Capital community. Current trends in the Venture Capital community outline three areas that will be the center of focus in the short term: Cleantech, Globalization, and Web 2.0.
The high energy costs are creating interest in alternative sources of energy. The government is currently putting in place several initiatives encouraging moving the American consumer away from our dependence on oil. The subject of cleantech is permeating the VC world. Cleantech offers broad applications in energy, agriculture, water, transportation and manufacturing, and promises many advantages, such as more efficient uses of raw materials, less waste, better performance, and potential to drive up the bottom line. Many also embrace cleantech for its social good beyond the returns.
The prospects for technology advances in these areas are improving as more resources and human capital is entering the field. We expect more companies to show revenue generation in this area creating further interest.
Recently, several cleantech funds have appeared or funds with cleantech as a focus. Even though cleantech does not have an established track record like IT or life sciences, we expect to see increased interest and continued deal flow in this area over the next five years. Early investors in this market should expect ample rewards.
The big challenge in the U.S. labor market begins in the year 2008 when the first of the baby boomers will reach age 62. Over the following 15 years, we will see a mass exodus from the U.S. workforce. All industries will be affected. One poll predicts that 200,000 engineers will be left to replace jobs vacated by 2 million engineers retiring from the US workforce. The current attention is placed on healthcare, however, the retirement of the workforce will also impact logistics. Companies like Federal express may place a higher value on the employees who actually get the goods delivered to the office, versus the pilots that fly the plane. Part of the answer to the workforce is to bring better technologies through globalization to the business community.
The way we see the web today will also change. Web 2.0, sometimes called the “New Internet,” is an umbrella concept that suggests a Web-centric source for all data. We are seeing more companies preparing for disaster recovery solutions as dependence on technology increases. With “thin client computing”, users access data from any computer via the Web browser, be it news, weather, reference information or even application software, whereas the computer itself has nothing stored on it. Web 2.0 has contributed to the rapid growth in blogging, tagging, browsers, streaming media, and other creative services for the mass internet user (search, movie reviews, event listings, etc.). We expect the internet use to continue to improve.
We really do live is exciting times and will participate in the creation of some remarkable technological advancements. Following the trends of the Venture Capital community can help us predict where the changes are apt to occur first.