What to expect in 2019: Here are our expert predictions
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What to expect in 2019: Here are our expert predictions

As we bid adieu to 2018, we asked some of our experts across Ventures, Strategy, Product and M&A to weigh in on what will happen in 2019 to advance technologies, increase consumer adoption or change the way startups fundraise.

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Venture Capital Trends

Amit Garg, Ventures: In recent years, the US has seen a larger proportion of venture dollars allocated to later stage companies. This makes sense given the explosion of unicorns and the increasingly high number of “monster” rounds which have outpaced the overall growth of the ecosystem. In 2019, we expect seed entrepreneurs to have more of a space to compete for more for capital. This will be due to the high-profile IPOs in 2017 and even more anticipated for 2018 and 2019. This higher liquidity will eventually fuel early-stage startups.

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Smart Cities

Christina Bechhold Russ, Ventures: As endpoints continue to multiply, the rapidly swelling volume of data will need more bandwidth. In 2019, we’ll see additional urgency around 5G deployment, particularly for case studies demonstrating its uses and value. Networks will require new mechanisms to direct the increase in traffic, with distributed and edge computing and storage solutions garnering the most interest. Much as in the consumer smart home, there are a wide variety of vendors offering many independent services. We expect that integrators offering easy-to-evaluate “bundled” solutions will garner interest from cities eager to implement technology but struggling to select and implement.

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Decentralization

Patrick Chang, Ventures: The cloud will soon become overwhelmed by the amount of data that exists and will need to work in-tandem with the Edge. The cloud will maintain its scale and massive processing power that can handle immense data sets. The Edge, closer to the user, will power processing at lower connectivity or requiring greater privacy. In 2019, we’ll see blockchain become a key enabling technology for decentralization. By establishing trust and a common framework, blockchain will allow decentralized cooperation and coordination of disparate devices at the Edge at scale without a third party to keep central records.

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Identity/Privacy

Raymond Liao, Ventures: The identity and privacy battles that dominated headlines this year will continue. In 2019, companies that advocate for self-sovereign data will come out ahead of those that monetize user data, especially if they introduce truly differentiated products that consumers are willing to pay for. IDaaS (identity as a service), biometrics and blockchain will give consumers more control of their personal data, while still allowing them to access the personalized services they are accustomed to and love.

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AI/Deep Learning

Tareq Aljaber, Product, MissingLink.ai: Deep Learning brings with it enormous amounts of data, complicated experiment results and intense compute requirements. Data scientists currently spend too much of their time managing machines, the sheer volume of data, resources and essentially doing operations instead of focusing on their core competencies. To break down silos and foster trust in deep learning teams, a highly transparent culture and shared responsibility is critical. In 2019, we see a new culture of DeepOps emerging, where data engineers and scientists (deep learning) and operations (ops) collaborate to build a faster, more reliable deep learning pipeline. DeepOps will enable organizations to create and automate deep learning at a much faster pace.

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Payments

Raghu Mittal, M&A: Both merchants and mobile wallet developers are prioritizing new ways to create a frictionless payment/commerce experience. To date, progress has been slow because merchants with scale are incentivized to keep their customers in their own walled garden. In 2019, new companies will emerge and they will be focused on building an end-to-end frictionless experience for customers. This will challenge mobile wallets as we know them today, and have the power to create a new, open experience. We will continue to see non-banking companies contribute to the evolution of payments, prioritizing consumer experience.

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Heath

Amit Garg, Ventures
The winning disruptors in health tech will embrace, rather than bypass, the entire healthcare ecosystem: provider, payers and pharma. Historically, 10% of successful companies (at best) go directly to consumers. This trend will continue in 2019, but we believe there is great opportunity for the majority (90%) to differentiate by integrating with existing workflows and working effectively through regulation. This cohesive and comprehensive strategy will allow for the healthcare system at large to create new opportunities for more efficient and collaborative programs.

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