Top 10 tech investing trends for 2011

– Dave McClure is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and the founder of Internet seed fund 500Startups. He has worked with companies such as PayPal, Mint, Founders Fund, Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twilio, Simply Hired, O’Reilly Media, Intel and Microsoft. The views expressed are his own. –

Over the holidays Silicon Valley is a ghost town while most geeks and venture capitalists are busy hitting the slopes at Tahoe or playing Angry Birds Holiday Edition.

If you haven’t had enough football or eggnog yet, stop reading this blather and go watch some grown men beat the snot out of each other while drinking yourself into yuletide stupor. If that doesn’t sound more appealing then you’ll just have to settle for my crazy tech predictions for this year.

With no further ado, I bring you the top 10 tech trends for 2011:

1. (Way too many) Groupons, social games, photo-sharing, and “fart” apps.

Unimaginative VCs

– which is to say, all of us – tend to start the new year off throwing good money after bad on last year’s tired and expired ideas. 2011 will be no exception for “innovation imitation” with more group-buying ecommerce plays, more social game startups, and yet even more ways to do photo-sharing on Facebook and Twitter, now new and improved with 37 shades of yellow-gray filters. Bah humbug. My first easy and obvious prediction is that VCs will waste a ton of money chasing hundreds of new “me-too” startup ideas. Nothing new here Kmart shoppers… let’s move along.

2. Commerce and coupons for location-based services (LBS), aka “The $5 check-in”

While there have been a “bajillion” startups pitching “check-ins” and location-based services in 2010, I really believe 2011 is the year we see this category finally get some legs and take off. Why? Because companies are finally starting to provide discounts and coupons to customers via mobile devices. And once the affiliate market develops for exchanging location and profile data, we should see more people adopting check-in behavior to qualify for discounts and loyalty programs for their favorite online services. As I wrote earlier this year in a post called “Check-ins are coupons”, once financial incentives are combined with existing game mechanics, we’ll start seeing mainstream usage for services like Foursquare and Facebook Places. Going forward we will see an explosion of LBS innovation after Google, Facebook, and other platforms begin pushing revenue incentives for apps that facilitate location data.

3. Crowdsourcing: The Web-enabled mass assembly line

The Internet is a great platform for distribution, but now you can use it to reach not only customers, but also workers – it’s called crowdsourcing. While Amazon Mechanical Turk has been around for a few years enabling access to thousands of remote workers, new startups like Crowdflower (disclosure: I’m an investor) offer platforms for managing the distribution of small, specific tasks to a large and scalable workforce around the world. By combining the Web with an “on-demand” workforce companies can grow rapidly, remixing both digital and human to weave an entirely new fabric of business services.

4. URLs for IRL: enabling the Internet of “things”

Yet another innovation around integration: the offline world is quickly becoming stapled into the future by combining physical representations with digital ones.



Top 10 tech investing trends for 2011