The Search For The Next Platform

I found this part of Mark Zuckerberg’s post on the Oculus acquisition most revealing:

We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

Facebook was a bit slow to get aboard the mobile train. Unlike Apple and Google, they do not have a mobile OS. And they were slow to evolve the core Facebook experience from web to mobile. But once they got religion about it, they moved very quickly to do that and now have an excellent mobile experience on both iOS and Android. And with Instagram and WhatsApp, they have three of the top ten third party mobile apps globally (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram). So they have gotten to a good place on mobile (and that’s what the $19bn WhatsApp buy was all about).

And now Zuck and his team are looking up and saying “what’s next?”. It’s not that different from what Larry Page and his team are doing at Google. The Charlie Rose interview with Larry that I made Video Of The Week last weekend was a bit of a review of all the things Google is doing to figure out what’s next (balloons, driverless cars, Nest, DeepMind, etc).

If you look at these big acquisitions like Nest and Oculus, you might scratch your head. What does a Apple-style proprietary closed thermostat have in common with Google’s mobile strategy? What does a Virtual Reality headset have to do with Facebook’s social graph? Nothing in both cases.

But the roadmap has been clear for the past seven years (maybe longer). The next thing was mobile. Mobile is now the last thing. And all of these big tech companies are looking for the next thing to make sure they don’t miss it.. And they will pay real money (to you and me) for a call option on the next thing.

It isn’t clear if the next thing is virtual reality, the internet of things, drones, machine learning, or something else. Larry doesn’t know. Zuck doesn’t know. I don’t know. But the race is on to figure it out. Trillions of dollars of collective market capitalizations are on the line. So a couple billion here or there is chump change. Except for the people who collect that chump change for selling them an option on the next thing. It’s real money to us.

So for the next few years (I have no idea how long this search for what’s next will go on), a game to be playing is building a platform that can plausibly be the next big thing. It’s a risky game. But the payoff can be large. And you can even start by crowdfunding your first round. Man I love this business.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Khalid

    What´s the next big thing? well, I give up thinking about that 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i never stop. it drives me crazy.

      1. JimHirshfield

        “THE” next big thing? Why just one next big thing? Could be that many of the things you list will be big. #NoEggsInOneBasket

  2. Tom Labus

    Marc Andreessen a bit harsh on Mr Buffett. No need for that.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah. nothing but respect for the Oracle here at AVC

      1. surya

        i think marc has a ton of respect for WB, too. he’s just telling it straight (w/respect).

        1. pointsnfigures

          He tweeted that he respected him. He was critical because Buffett constantly says he doesn’t understand tech-yet comments on it.

          1. Tom Labus

            come on. I can’t believe people have so little conviction in their own opinions.

    2. LE


  3. markslater

    whats your view on the original “donaters” to the occulus kickstarter campaign? a $300 donation (in return for an as-yet undelivered headset) returned series A investors $20k. There is an issue here. (not quite finished thinking it through though)I am aslo not convinced that we should be thinking next big “thing” why cant it be “things”.There is a good case to be made for wearables AND VR. I mean just look at this list of wearables companies

    1. fredwilson

      i wasn’t a backer of the Oculus kickstarter but they will all get headsets. that’s the trade they were offered. that’s the trade they made. i think this is a good thing because it is a very clear and tangible demonstration that kickstarter is not an equity investment. it is a futures contract on a thing that someone plans to make

      1. markslater

        totally agree – but there is a gap there that will be debated over the next days and weeks.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Right. It’s got me thinking…can you arbitrage the system? Kind of risky to design something, get kickstarted, and sell it before you have to scale.

      2. kidmercury

        there’s an implied promise in kickstarter contracts. sort of like in a marriage contract, you technically promise to share assets. but there are lots of other implicit promises. oculus lived up to its legal obligations, but it seems they did not live up to their social contract — at least in the eyes of many of the other contract participants. personally i side with the entrepreneurs in this beef because i think they know best, though i do think there is a contract violation of sorts going on — not a legal or tangible one, but an implicit, social one.

  4. Arthur Goikhman

    To us, this was the key quote: “Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.” There’s been this Second Life stigma all of us in the field have been experiencing. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told not to use the phrase in pitches 🙂 Mark just made it cool.

  5. JZ

    VR + Glass will both be needed, serving different purposes. More curious who has the advantage on the product design side, Google started with a small build that they can expand, while Oculus will shrink. If VR wins overall everything turns into a darker version of Wall-E which is too upsetting to hope for.

  6. JimHirshfield

    Kickstater in lieu of angels —> Small VC round —> Bam!Congrats to Andrew Parker, da man, da USV MBA Alum.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      $95M is a small round these days?

      1. JimHirshfield

        :-DYeah, in retrospect, when you sell for $2B.

  7. Pravin J

    “The next thing was mobile. Mobile is now the last thing.”

    1. fredwilson

      do you agree?

      1. Pravin J

        yes. absolutely. this was apt title for this post, unless you want to write another one on this.may be, google + apple + facebook are probably the first ones to realize that the mobile addressable market is reaching its limit?

        1. pointsnfigures

          GOOG, AAPL, FB and AMZN are about to explore each other’s drawers. The competition to be a platform is heating up.

    2. Bernard Desarnauts

      In hindsight, by popularizing “Mobile First” which implicitly suggests “default” or “primary” you have made room for new, alternative niche/early-adopters platforms.The virtual world that Oculus is pioneering is according to all people who’ve tried it game changing. Marry that capability with a less “intrusive” hardware (Apple anyone?) and then you have something probably very compelling to move away from our screen-based computing model…???

  8. Henry Yates

    Inspiration Wednesday!

  9. ErikSchwartz

    I’ll say what I said back when I tried VPLs goggles aeons ago ~1990). It’s really cool but as long as “goggles” are involved in “VR” it will remain niche.

    1. awaldstein

      We went through this when we launched stereoscopic 3D for movies.At the theater this is one big honking niche! At home, never moved at all.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Just for the record, I find 3D in the theater as pleasant as a migraine. Just doesn’t do it for me.

        1. fredwilson

          i hate 3d in the movie theaterblogged about that here…

          1. awaldstein

            I loved my investment in RLD.

          2. William Mougayar

            But Oculus is not about watching movies in 3D or 3D games. It’s a development platform that has inspired thousands of developers to create new apps. I think that’s what Facebook bought into.

          3. CJ

            In 3D…

          4. Dave Pinsen

            In 2012. Gravity came out in 2013. Did you see it in 3D? I wasn’t a fan of 3D before that either, but Gravity was the first movie I’ve seen that nailed it. Can’t imagine seeing that movie any other way.

          5. Susan Rubinsky

            So that’s a case where the content (or “message”) was tailored to the medium.

        2. awaldstein

          Each to their own.Done right–Avatar–it’s a dream.

        3. pointsnfigures

          If you like to throw up, go to a 3D movie.

          1. JimHirshfield

            “If you like to throw up…”What passes for entertainment these days!

        4. CJ

          The newer stuff is pretty good if done well. Mr. Peabody and Sherman was awesome in 3D. My son loved it and so did I. When 3D is done to tick a box it most often sucks.

          1. JimHirshfield

            I guess it’s hereditary. My son removed the 3D glasses in the middle of the movie last time we went. He liked it better without the glasses!

          2. awaldstein

            Not possible to see other than with a blur without them Jim. That’s where you get headaches.

          3. JimHirshfield

            Ha! Tell that to an 8 yr old. Wasn’t an issue for him. Perhaps he’s wired differently.

          4. awaldstein

            If your family hates them, save the money and don’t go is the easiest solution.

          5. awaldstein

            btw–check with your family eye doctor as I think it is not healthy for the eyes to do this.Will confuse the optical nerves I bet big time.

          6. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. We haven’t been to a 3D movie since. And likely won’t anytime soon.

          7. awaldstein

            I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours I’ve been in this debate.With theatre owners, directors, camera and pre and post productions folks, sub tilters, issues with ads, brightness on the screens, what to do if you are color blind, if you already wear glasses. Health professionals, critics–everyone.Not for everyone. Actually the market for the systems and the films is really exploding in Asia and Russia big time.

          8. ShanaC

            I’ve also been getting migraines recentlyfrom movies. I think it is the fact that they are shot much faster now

          9. LE

            Presentation is good enough with the existing (non 3d) as long as the content is good.You know it’s kind of like any entertainment or art.The joke is funny. Sure it’s better in person but the joke is what matters. (You can laugh at Portlandia or Children’s Hospital in a small youtube video and be totally immersed).The sports game is important sure it’s great to see it on a plasma but it’s really the game that matters.With music it’s the music. Take the greatest music in the world (that you don’t like) and pump it through the best sound system (or in person) and it’s just noise to you.Same with food. Same with many things. Although food has managed to gain greatly by moving in the direction of entertainment and experience for sure.Only exception I can find might be something where the enhancement removes a negative. For example where the iphone made the experience better because it removed things people didn’t like.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        3D in theaters works for me with some films. Gravity was awesome in 3D. Many 3D films, not so much.

        1. awaldstein

          Absolutely! Gravity was great. Avatar was amazing and Cameron is doing 3 others to follow up. He’s a master storyteller in that medium.I still though get a thrill thinking about the premiere of Chicken Little and realizing that the projectors, screens, glasses, cameras and approach to storytelling all had to change in order to pull off something new.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            He kind of missed the boat (so to speak) with the 3D Titanic re-issue.Yes, I saw Titanic in 3D (it’s complicated).

    2. ShanaC

      and expensive as long as it remains niche

  10. JimHirshfield

    Social Network + Virtual Reality = Friends + ExperiencesAnd it won’t be long before we have immersive dating apps on top of FB.And…

    1. Drew Meyers

      I just watched Her about a week ago. Kinda crazy to think about..

      1. Guest

        Her is just a point of view of future Luddites.

    2. jason wright

      is that joaquin phoenix?

      1. JimHirshfield


  11. Twain Twain

    The next big thing may not be about the distribution channel (Web, mobile, wearable — Occulus falls into the latter) but about the intelligence of data structures…….and the roots of how those structures are derived.

    1. William Mougayar

      Smart comment.

      1. Twain Twain

        Thanks, William.According to McKinsey, “data is the new oil”. What if the data we’ve been pumping and distributing through the channels is actually water rather than oil?Water’s just as essential to an engine (an economic system) but oil’s richer.

  12. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

    This buy is going to be a bit dicey for FB.Unlike Instagram and Whatsapp where the apps were already at scale and needed only consumers, Oculus is yet to be there (at scale with consumers) and BADLY needs support of the developer community who apparently really hate FB. Especially as FB practically crushed all those developers that build on them.In my opinion, it was a bit early for Oculus to sell. If the first pushers of the VR platform gamers, refuse to support it, it will never get to the point where it can be applied to other consumer products.I would have thought Valve and Microsoft would have been better partners or better still, they go it all alone.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree with all of that. but when an entrepreneur, particularly a 21 year old entrepreneur, is offered $2bn, all that logic goes out the window.maybe he wants to own a basketball team 🙂

      1. JimHirshfield

        Is that a reference to the young Mark Cuban? 😉

        1. LE

          Cuban is an intuitively smart operator.He started and sold [1] a grind it out business (before where he was on the street and he learned on the streets. Not a web business but a business business. As a result he had the intuitive feel to extract money from Yahoo and know exactly the right point at which they might walk. Even so, without knowing the details, it’s entirely possible that he took on to much risk and should have sold at 1/2 the price that he did. Very possible we might never have heard of Marc Cuban.[1] Cuban started a company, MicroSolutions, with support from his previous customers from Your Business Software. MicroSolutions was initially a system integrator and software reseller. The company was an early proponent of technologies such as Carbon Copy, Lotus Notes, and CompuServe.[19] One of the company’s largest clients was Perot Systems.[20] In 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe—then a subsidiary of H&R Block—for $6 million.[21] He made approximately $2 million afte taxes on the deal

      2. Richard

        Great innovators are not “one shot” wonders. My guess is that he has been working on projects B,C etc contemporaneously.

      3. Hrishi Mittal

        Unless that 21 year old is Zuck. Major kudos to that man.

        1. LE

          See this is exactly the problem.Let me ask you do you have any data at all on the people that passed on offers and then failed? I don’t mean things you read about but things you will never read about. What makes you so sure that since n=1 here that it couldn’t have very easily turned out the other way?

          1. Hrishi Mittal

            That’s a strange way to use survivorship bias, but I see a lot of people do it now.First, I give kudos to Zuck for at least taking the chance. If he didn’t, then it’s a moot point.Second, yes it is a chance, not a guarantee. Of course, it could have turned out the other way. But it didn’t. And that’s reason to give *more* kudos to him.If you succeed at doing something extremely difficult, I respect you for it, instead of dismissing it as luck, which is merely a force multiplier.

      4. pointsnfigures

        tell them to buy the Knicks. You could be GM and find the really next big thing.

      5. LE

        particularly a 21 year old entrepreneur, is offered $2bnIf I had a friend or relative at any age that was offered a huge payday and was likely to pass and take a gamble I would stop at nothing to make sure that that didn’t happen.Fundamental error that anyone passing is making is focusing on the upside and not the downside. Surviorship bias and all of that.

      6. William Mougayar

        Aside from that, isn’t MZ super inflating valuations with these head turning numbers? I get it that the price is relative to the value perceived by the buyer, but the stakes are pretty high at these prices.

  13. Richard

    Building products that users “pay” for has to be on the minds of google and facebook, particularly with their vulnerability to ad spending and NSA?

  14. ErikSchwartz

    I would be really curious to get Jaron Lanier’s take on this.

  15. David Semeria

    Geez Fred, it’s obvious. The next big thing will be a platform where people can predict the next big thing. It’s platforms all the way down.

    1. kenberger

      Let’s name it TurtleTech.

    2. William Mougayar

      Yup. The future is a boomerang. McLuhan said “The future of the future is the present.”

    3. jason wright

      futurology is for doesn’t predict the future; many make it.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      And then we’ll need another platform to validate the predictions of the next-big-thing-prediction platform. I’d say that validation platform will really be the Next Big Thing (*), because people will pay chump change (a,k,a, a billion or two 🙂 – or more – to use it. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)…(*) Caps are required, BTW 🙂

    5. ShanaC

      Yup. Hype

    6. Sebastian Wain

      Or may be the next big thing is not a business at all.

  16. JLM

    .Not the next big THING but convergence and continuous iterative improvement in everything is a huge WAVE.I have 1 gig Internet service right now in Austin, Texas. [On Earth as it is in Texas, ya’ll!]It was huge when Google announced ATX was getting Google Fiber and then little Grande Communications beat them to the starting line and the finish line.The installation, startup and use of the 1 gig service was the best interaction I have ever had with a cable company. It was perfect.I signed up. Got it. It works like freakin’ magic. It is not like the discovery of sex but it lives in the shadow of it all.Everything I use in technology just keeps getting better and better. I am such a gadget pimp and now it is really fun.JLM.

    1. fredwilson

      nothing like competition to make our lives better.the answer to better bandwidth in the US is lighting up competition in the last mileyou are proof of that

      1. markslater

        and then you order the wolf of wallstreet through your xbox one and have to reboot the machine 5 times during the movie because comcast is traffic shaping…..

      2. JLM

        .It is free market capitalism.We should remember that free market capitalism has delivered almost all the big advances in our lives.As a VC, you go home every night with the sweat of free market capitalism on your brow like a King’s Crown.It is really stupid to see how many times we turn our backs on free market capitalism thinking there is some better “regulated” way to do things.Free markets can stand a bit of regulation. As you know, I am in favor of public beheadings and chopping off hands for securities fraud at a certain level.Nonetheless, it is free market capitalism which has delivered the lifestyle you and I enjoy. I am not embarrassed to say “thank you”, Free Market Capitalism.JLM.

        1. LE

          We should remember that free market capitalism has delivered almost all the big advances in our lives.Actually I like to pin the medal on men and their wars.Much of the advances that we enjoy are a result of warring nations. We owe so much to the Russians, the Japanese and the Germans. And all those that came before that.

          1. JLM

            .Fair play.One of my favorite facts is that the American involvement in WWII was only 3.5 years. Today that would be the 30 Years War.JLM.

          2. LE

            Not to mention who you would be today if you hadn’t served in the military (or your father)?

        2. mdelvecchio

          er, the internet and global positioning satellites are two major advances in our lives — both researched & developed and launched by the government, not capitalism.

          1. JLM

            .Of course, you are right. Not absolutely right but right enough to be right. No argument on the big view. Let’s peek beneath the covers.The commercialization of research, whether done by a university or the government itself, is a normal exercise of capitalistic zeal.The money used to develop these advances? From whence did it come? Tax dollars?The cream of capitalism itself — taxing success. No problem with that.Governments do not have their own independent source of money. It is the capitalistic vigor of their citizens that is the source of their money.In that manner, even these advances which you so rightly identify are the spawn of capitalism.Is that an unfair characterization?JLM.

        3. William Mougayar

          Amen. All new upcoming technologies will be NSA-proof. All these back doors will soon close, because the centers will be hollow, and the edges will be where everything lives. More power to the individuals.

  17. JimHirshfield

    Going on the record here that this will be seen as a mistake by FB.- Biting off more than they can chew.- Distracting them from their core.- Much competition in the VR wearable space.- How many people are going to buy these multi-hundred dollar devices?- Vanity purchase by FB; now we’re cool again in the eye’s of the kids. (pun intended)Don’t get me wrong, VR is cool and a growing segment. But this was not the right marriage.

    1. awaldstein

      What is Facebook’s core?

      1. Drew Meyers


        1. JimHirshfield

          No. Disqus owns that space.#justsayin

      2. JimHirshfield

        Yeah, that’s my point.This purchase doesn’t solve that problem.

        1. awaldstein

          I think Facebook has a pretty good sense of who they are.Their challenge ( and upside) is exactly the same as every new gen company with a media model (including yours) where they are monetizing in traditional ways off of innovative platforms with new values.Figure out how to provide value to both sides with less friction is the win.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Hold the phone…er Oculus…I never said FB didn’t know. I highlighted that (apparently) consumers like you didn’t know (based on your question: What iis FB’s core?”).And so, I don’t see how this bridges that gap. In simple consumer terms, they’re a social network…no wait, they’re a gaming hardware/software accessory company. What’s next net-connected microwave ovens? (new meaning to having your friends cook you dinner).

          2. awaldstein

            Rhetorical questions are just that Jim.

          3. JimHirshfield

            Comments with ellipsis are just…

          4. LE

            You know what? I look at it simply. When someone does something wacky there is something about them you don’t know that makes them do something that doesn’t make sense from the outside.You have essentially a 20 year old that is very smart (obligated to say that) but really has very little experience outside of the cabin of the rocket ship that he is riding since college. And hasn’t really failed or experienced that much adversity. And he is being advised no doubt by all these sycophants who are blowing ideas and smoke up his ass. You know what if he waived money at me to help him I would stand up and tell him he was wrong. Actually I wouldn’t of course I would take the money and help him carry out his dreams. Or maybe I would feign a fight just so it wasn’t obvious.

      3. pointsnfigures


        1. awaldstein

          Nailed it!

          1. Girish Mehta

            Same for Google as of now, agree ? People – Intent and attention.

          2. awaldstein

            To me Google is all about information. And they are damn good at it.They are not so good at the social stratas of people at all.

          3. Girish Mehta

            Ok, I was thinking in terms of ‘intent of people’ rather than social…viz. their core business model today is about knowing the intent of people.

          4. Emily Merkle

            Exactly. Anf GOOG is only as good at “information” as the user is at manipulating GOOG.

          5. Susan Rubinsky

            Google’s strategy is so long term that it doesn’t matter if they own social now. Because they will own you later. To me it looks like Google’s long term strategy is to unite all data everywhere so that it enables everything you do in life. The vision is so long term we won’t even see the best of it in our lifetime.

      4. mdelvecchio

        no. it’s advertising. generating ad revenue is the core of FB as an entity — it’s why it exists, and learning now to do it better and more of it is their only objective and reason to exist.dont delude yourselves.

        1. awaldstein

          Not to me.FB ads are tolerated. That’s their revenue on top of their value not the value itself.

          1. Emily Merkle

            Facebook ads are what enable you to experience Facebook. They are far more than tolerated.

          2. awaldstein

            First I’ve heard this expressed as such from anyone.

          3. Emily Merkle

            “revenue on top of value”. Value is not money in the bank. The ad revenue keeps hosted. It is true that the draw of Facebook, what it “is” creates the metrics that set higher ad rates – visitors / time on site, etc. But only the ad revenue pays the electric bill at Facebook.

          4. awaldstein

            We look at this different that’s all.Spread sheets on business plans bore me and I see scads of them.Value that can be monetized is my way in to choosing my investments and my clients.

          5. Emily Merkle

            …and the value of FB is monetized by ad sales. At this juncture.Rather curious, being bored by the numbers when investing. Sounds luxurious.

          6. Timothy Meade

            How is that functionally different than ‘ignored’? Ads should get you to want the product, know about the product, like the product (actually, like, not like ‘like’)With all their data about you and your friends, Facebook could do a much better job choosing what ads to show at the right time.

          7. awaldstein

            I agree completely.Parsing social data is a bitch. They nor anyone does a good job at it.

      5. Emily Merkle

        What is Google’s core? Nay, nearly its entire revenue source?Advertising.

        1. awaldstein

          Not to me.I go FB for the people and Google for the information.As a user, their revenue models doesn’t aid me at all. Except of course that it keeps them in business!

          1. Emily Merkle

            Last I checked, advertising accounted for greater than 94% of Google’s revenue. Same with FB. There would be no “there” there for you to find your people or look up your information, without advertising.

          2. awaldstein

            Advertising fails without the people.The people are the chicken, ad revenues are the egg.

          3. Emily Merkle

            Not sure what your point is here.

          4. ShanaC

            is tech just new mad men then?

          5. Susan Rubinsky

            Tech is whatever revenue model it chooses to be. If it chooses to be free to consumers then consumers should expect that they are part of the currency.

          6. Richard

            Yes, but the herd does respond to ads.

          7. awaldstein

            How do you know?

          8. Emily Merkle

  …Revenue from advertising was $2.34bn, a 76% increase from the same quarter last year, and mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 53% of the total, up from approximately 23% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

          9. awaldstein

            I’m asking about data on usage and engagement, not spending.

          10. Emily Merkle

            What do you mean? Spending on what? Usage of what? Engagement with what? FB ad revenues last quarter were 2.34b. It takes a herd of users interacting with ads to generate that kind of ad revenue.

          11. Richard

            See Ad Age

    2. LE

      Agree. In a sense it kind of shows you that Zuck hasn’t grown up and his priorities and interests are aligned with a younger crowd that is into gaming and he is trying to justify and rationalize the purchase as having value beyond that.To wit:So imagine chatting with your Facebook friends not just via instant messages or VoIP calls, but by settling into a virtual café with them for an imaginary cup of coffee. Or visiting a doctor halfway across the world and explaining your symptoms in a virtual examination room. You can visit a doctor now by video chat but guess what you can’t? Not enough doctors interested in doing that. Doesn’t fit into the reimbursement model. And that idea (video diagnosis) was floated as a business idea (and failed) when I was in college by Ed Moldt (who I interviewed) who turned up later to head the Wharton Entrepreneurial center. Still not happening.(In all fairness I’m not sure that is Zuck or the writers narrative..)As a general rule people don’t want to load a big thing on their head. Not that they won’t but I don’t see this as having large scale adoption. And big things on your head are all messy and need to be charged and get all tangled. The lack of even that simplicity can be a killer. Many of the things we use today that we like are simple and that is why they have mass appeal. Plus you don’t lug around a headset to show others (like you can with a smart phone, jewelry or fashion item) so it’s not going to spread that way.As it is we still haven’t integrated the internet into the tv set experience. And it’s what 17 years after the Internet came about?Add to your excellent list my other point elsewhere:- They need to do something because they see the end of the gravy train.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Good points.

      2. Dasher

        Most technologies do start out cluncky – computers, laptops, cellphones were all very bulky in their first incarnation..Having said that I don’t think Oculus is a strategic fit for FB in the short or miedium term.. This is a way for FB to get into the hardware platform game where Google and Apple have an advantage. It is more about acquring competency in a critical area (hardware).

      3. ShanaC

        It might – one health insurance company in NY, a venture backed one I beleived, is doing video doctors as part of its coverage

    3. Doug Gibbs

      You said it before I could. It is playground rules. Larry and Serg have cool new glasses, we need cool new glasses. They can afford it, so spread the cash around. Maybe the Rift founders will use the money for another hardware oriented VC fund.

    4. obscurelyfamous

      Disagree that this is a long-term mistake. I think this is a great bet. It can be argued on whether the price was right for this bet though.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Let’s Disqus it over beers in 5 years. Until then, ping me before you acquire any headgear companies, k?

    5. Donna Brewington White

      Maybe MZ is hedging his bets. Paving the way for his next venture? There is a lot more that FB could be doing to maximize the headway it has made in relational connections and “social.” Although I don’t know the ROI for them of diving more deeply. And I have to wonder if MZ ever gets bored with this business. I mean did he ever really have a burning passion to create what Facebook represents?

      1. JimHirshfield

        I think he’s very passionate about all of it.Don’t think there’s a next venture for him; FB4Life

      2. Richard

        At some point MZ jumps ship. He had has too much talent for the job he is doing. He can’t possibly want to do be a CEO of an ad platform.

  18. Julien

    I still question that “mobile” is the next platform. It’s not that the web became mobile, it’s the phones that become smart.The stack from ’99 is still mostly the same today, even when consumed from a mobile device. Today’s phones, however have very little to do with the ones from ’99.So, I won’t be looking for the next platform which would “replace” (sic!) mobile or the web, but I’m looking for places where the web is not yet and where it will soon be ubiquituous. It may be the (after such a long wait) the TV, or the cars, or even our homes, but my bet is on our body itself.And now for the crazy part:It started with all these smart bands or the ‘quantified’ self things. Soon (if not already) these devices will be “embedded” in a way that *we* are next!

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Resistance is futile.

  19. Steve Poland

    This is likely a question that is elementary at this point, but have operating systems always been platforms? It does seem they are, although I just never thought of them that way. Back in the day you could tap into DOS users, by having a DOS app they could use. Ditto on Windows 3.1, ’95, etc. Tapping into those users, as well as the computing possibilities of those machines.Thus, today, iOS and Android are considered platforms, but just not in the same way as Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare?Is a car considered a platform? I can modify my car — improve speakers, engine, muffler, etc, from a variety of third-party suppliers making parts that plugin or replace.

    1. Steve Poland

      Starting to have a mind mush meltdown at the moment. Everything these days is a platform, right? Difference being closed- vs open. The web is open. Anyone can build on the web and no one can shut them down, unless illegal activity and the feds come after you. Limitless.Limits: Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter.. these are really closed, in a form. Your app could be rejected from working ontop of them. iOS is closed. Android is open?

  20. jonathanmendez

    Facebook is an ad platform. Google is an ad platform.

    1. Richard

      Yep . My guess (and I could be wrong) is that it MZ, LP and SP will consider their success suboptimal until such time that they their revenue isn’t fed by preying “modern day housewives” to purchase things that they don’t need.

  21. Brandon Burns

    Too. Much.You posted something a couple weeks ago, an interview that you praised because the subject said something along the lines of, “People want to move on to the next big thing too quickly. There’s so much to do with what we already have.”I’m not saying its right or wrong for Facebook, Google, etc. to be making the deals they’re making. But I also think there’s lower hanging fruit. There are still so many opportunities that can be realized via both the desktop and mobile web. Healthcare is a mess. Government is a mess. Shipping and logistics are a mess. Education is too expensive. Energy is too expensive. And just because these problems are beginning to be solved by startups doesn’t mean that we’re even remotely close to the solution. The problems still exist, as do the opportunities.And most importantly, in the end, no one “owns” a platform or channel. No one “owns” the web, no one “owns” mobile, and no one will “own” VR, AI, drones, or any platform. But you can build businesses that solve problems via these channels.The focus should be on building meaningful experiences — making healthcare more effective, transportation cheaper — and not trying to own the channel on which we experience it. In the end, no one can own the channel anyway.

    1. Richard

      Yes but what does MZ know that gives him a competitive advantage to solve any of these problems. Look into the history of corporations and you’ll see many who have wondered the desert when going beyond their core competency.

      1. Brandon Burns

        True. I’m not knocking the Oculus deal at all. Just knocking the logic that it means everyone else should be looking to the future in the same way, with the same sort of deals. We should take it for what it is: an anomaly.

    2. CJ

      There is a lot of money to be made simply by being first. The only reason we even still talk about Blackberry is because they were first and made so much money they can still hang around.

      1. Brandon Burns

        True. But, still…

      2. Susan Rubinsky

        I disagree, first to market often fails. Consumers and/or businesses often don’t understand the value of what is first to market. For example, iPod was not first market. Other technologies appeared first and failed but paved the road to consumer adoption. Napster introduced the idea that everyone could have digital music. It’s failure was an international media event which further promoted the concept to the masses. Apple just combined a bunch of things that already existed at the right time and place. (I would even argue that iPod is really just a glorified transistor radio.)

    3. LE

      But I also think there’s lower hanging fruit.Not to mention that 2 billion can make many more bets than in one company and idea that is by no means assured of being a hit.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Thinking about the 2,000 companies that could have received a $1m check vs. one $2b to Oculus makes me sad.

        1. CJ

          I don’t think it’s either/or. Those companies, if working on noteworthy stuff, will still get funded or purchased.

          1. Brandon Burns

            You’re right. It’s not either or.And, really, its great that Oculus is building new cool things and they’ve got the support of Facebook to move forward.However, I’m having a knee-jerk reaction to Fred’s logic that this somehow means that we need to begin a search for the “next big platform.” I believe that kind of logic is dangerous, for the reasons I previously pointed out.

          2. LE

            Fred says:a game to be playing is building a platform that can plausibly be the next big thing.I’m guessing that that’s the “we” in your last paragraph.The “who’s we sucka” in that (see Dirty Harry) refers to Fred.For Fred it’s good if people chase the dream.For me it’s good if people chase the dream.For AWS it’s good if people chase the dream.For Sara Lacy it’s good if people chase the dream.But it’s not necessarily good for the one chasing the dream if it doesn’t work out.I think it’s fine to chase the dream if you fall into a specific category of “ain’t got nothing so you have nothing to lose”. Other than that I’d be a bit careful though.

          3. Richard

            There are no bigger interests than self interests.

          4. ErikSchwartz

            Or not. The meritocracy is hugely overstated.

          5. CJ

            Maybe, or someone else does it better or later. But I don’t think the idea dies and I think Facebook just made a few more people very rich, people who will soon look for returns on their money. So on and so forth.

          6. LE

            Those companies, if working on noteworthy stuffNot true. Definitely not true. If Harvard expands it’s class size more people can go to Harvard.If more money goes chasing deals then existing players will have to take chances on more deals.Imagine for a second that there were only 10 VC’s doing investing. Now imagine that there are 1000 VC’s. Seems to reason that more deals will get funded, particularly more marginal deals and more things will stick. No question about that.

          7. CJ

            Talent will find a way and money will find talent. That’s my opinion. With returns being what they are I think more edge cases are being funded and that makes deals like this one good for everyone.

        2. obscurelyfamous

          That only greatly increases innovation if you think this type of innovation is both inevitable and can be randomly attributed.In other words, it’s often true that a $500k engineer will get you the results that 5 $100k engineers won’t.

          1. JamesHRH

            Exactly Daniel.

        3. Teren Botham

          Or how about a dollar to 2 billion poor people around the world. Trust me that it would feed them a week

        4. JamesHRH

          Those $1m checks don’t get signed without the prospect of someone else signing a $2B check.For reals.

    4. Alex Wolf

      I agree we have to get healthcare and education into this century. It would be nice to see this as a real investment into our bodies and minds as part of well run families, communities and larger groups.And energy, really, this country is shameful. Especially when the north of Europe is wiping the floor on clean and green.

    5. Dave Pinsen

      “There are still so many opportunities that can be realized via both the desktop and mobile web. Healthcare is a mess. Government is a mess. Shipping and logistics are a mess. Education is too expensive. Energy is too expensive.”How are shipping and logistics a mess? Seems like UPS, FedEx, etc., have them nailed down pretty well.Healthcare is complicated, but that’s partly because health itself is complicated. And it’s hard to see how info tech will lower its costs considerably when a lot of those costs are shaped by government regulation and reimbursements.Government is messy because we’ve got a diverse, representative democracy. As we become more diverse it’s likely to get more messy. I’m not sure how info tech changes that dynamic.Education has probably never been cheaper, if by education you mean self-directed learning. If you mean formal education, like health care, its costs are shaped by government policy (for example, the government making cheap loans available to every college student).As for energy being too expensive, where? And compared to what? Our home electricity prices have come down considerably over the last few years, with the drop in natural gas prices. And most of the energy ideas promulgated by prominent info techies would make energy more expensive by requiring more use of solar, for example. The real tech that’s been lowering energy prices recently has been done by the oil & gas industry, not by Silicon Valley.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Okay, fine, everything is great as it is! There are no more problems in the world and all opportunities have been milked try, so clearly its time for everyone to focus their attention to the new frontier of virtual worlds! Healthcare, government, education and everything else are as optimized as they can be, and will simply work themselves out in the end, so its okay for us to stop innovating in those areas and focus on pushing augmented reality forward!****I’m being facetious.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Okay, so responding thoughtfully to your comment was a waste of my time. Noted.

          1. Brandon Burns

            No, your response was not a waste of time. And my bad if you thought my response back wasn’t thoughtful.You dug into each area I mentioned and made an argument for why it’s not useful to innovate any further in those areas. I think that argument is (way) off base, and used some hyperbole to illustrate just how off it is.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            I didn’t say it’s not useful to innovate in those areas, but that there are limits to the impact of IT innovation in those areas. Nest is a nice example of IT innovation related to energy, for example, but it’s not going to make energy less expensive. Innovations in fracking and horizontal drilling have more impact on energy costs.

          3. Alex Wolf

            I’m still confused why the US doesn’t do more wind and solar. We seem to equate energy with digging for things underground when there is so much power to be harnessed above ground.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            We’ve been doing more solar in particular – solar panels are everywhere around here, and one array over a parking lot collapsed during a recent snow storm – but solar and wind are more expensive and less reliable sources of energy in most cases.

          5. JamesHRH

            @fredwilson argues that SW = music.Less art, more hard innovation is needed. Less coding. More science.Nuclear fusion anyone?FWIW, this guy –… – tapped on our table at a dinner and said (roughly) – ‘there is enough energy in here to go to Mars.’

          6. Richard

            Visit Palm Springs.

          7. Amar

            I disagree with “there are limits to the impact of IT innovation in those areas”. I do think we are exhausting the low hanging fruits. The IT led innovations that can be turned into a profitable revenue model within 12 – 18 months.The problems are still hard, the potential impact is enormous but sources of funding are lacking ( contrary to what is being said here… ). We as a society value wealth and the perceived autonomy wealth confers on its owners. The quickest way to acquire wealth is still wall street or more recently mobile and social startups.

        2. SamT

          Brandon, I liked your original point. But I don’t think it’s either/or. VR can be a platform that intersects and helps solve some on your list of problems. Does not take much imagination to see how Oculus could evolve into a VR platform that some day helps to reduce healthcare costs dramatically.

      2. ShanaC

        logistics are hard if you are small. But I would say it is hard because you are small, not because logistics is hard

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          There is still a lot to be done with logistics, most especially on the large scale. Think about moving the correct supplies to the correct locations after a natural disaster. Example: trying to get drinking water to thousands of people within 24 hours after a disaster hits.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        Organized inefficiently vs. efficiently is another way to look at it. If done efficiently then should be more cost effective for the end consumer. There are problems with existing systems.

      4. Susan Rubinsky

        There was a fascinating piece put out by McKinsey the other day about the next big thing in energy and resources, “Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.”…

    6. Salt Shaker

      Solving the probs you outlined is def a worthy pursuit, but none likely are part of FB or Google’s charter or core biz strat, which primarily is to drive ad rev and enhance shareholder value. Not to suggest that providing solutions for education, healthcare, energy, etc., couldn’t possibly be a means to that end, but that’s letting the tail wag the dog. That said, both companies do aggressively invest in social and philanthropic causes, so it’s not as if they’re without conscious.

      1. Brandon Burns

        I agree with you.However, the title of this post is “The Search for the Next Platform.” It takes FB’s individual interest in Oculus and pushes it into a generalized hunt for new platforms, when 1) we already have some big fish to fry, and 2) no one can really own a platform anyway, is detrimental.Many VCs and entrepreneurs read AVC, and are reading this post today. Fred is a thought leader, and the words they find here will shape their thinking for the days, months and years to come. And in the blink of an eye, the new trend could very well be “creating the next big platform” — and people stop building and funding businesses solving existing problems.These things happen all the time. A few years ago, the tech community deemed “social” to be “dead,” and moved on to other problems. Meanwhile, think of all the privacy-first “social” apps that were probably created and went no where, because new trends arose and took its place. I’m sure there were thousands of Snapchats and Secrets before these two took off. But no one wanted to listen to them at the time, despite the fact that it was still a genuine problem. It was passé. “On to the next!” everyone said.This is why that kind of thinking is detrimental.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Thoughtful comments, Brandon.However, I don’t think Fred asking “what’s the next platform” question was meant to suggest or imply the answer is at the expense of solving education, healthcare, energy, etc. (The platform and sector answers are mutually exclusive….or possibly not.) Many start-ups unknown to us today are trying to address those sectors as we speak. Meaningful Use protocols are a good example of incentivizing companies to develop healthcare solutions, and presumably other sectors also have incentivization opps, whether in the form of grants, foundations, charitable trusts, etc. Practical solutions unfortunately are slow to evolve, and fraught w/ politics and bureaucracy.

        2. obscurelyfamous

          > people stop building and funding businesses solving existing problemsYou really think that’ll happen? That, with advocacy of big ideas, people would stop working on lower hanging fruit?People are opportunists and there will never be a shortage of people chasing solutions to existing problems. And if there’s a big business there, investors will be there.

          1. Susan Rubinsky

            Agreed, but what about the problems which aren’t profitable? What about the problems that are being solved with the wrong solutions because those solutions are more profitable than the right solutions?

          2. obscurelyfamous

            I’m sure that exists. What example did you have in mind?Non-profits/charities are the right route for orgs to provide the right solution even when the solution are very unprofitable. These problems tend to be big socioeconomic issues.For many other problems, it depends, but it seems that if the problem is far reaching, there’s a big business in the right solution

        3. ShanaC

          It doesn’t seem to me that oculus is a platform quite yet. And facebook may have nipped its plaform status in the bud

        4. JamesHRH

          Fred is also pretty transparent about his thought process. Just because you like to polish things before setting them free on the web, does not mean he likes to do that.He likes the mess.

        5. Richard

          When you hear its over, be grateful. You have the new ocean to yourself.

    7. fredwilson

      i hope i didn’t suggest that i am advocating for this behavior. i am just trying to make sense of it.

      1. LE

        I kind of took it that way by what you wrote. 1. Except for the people who collect that chump change for selling them an option on the next thing.2. It’s real money to us. 3. a game to be playing is building a platform that can plausibly be the next big thing. 4. It’s a risky game. 5. But the payoff can be large. 6. And you can even start by crowdfunding your first round. 7. Man I love this business.”You can even start” and “Man I love this business” is pretty close to a marching order I’d say.

      2. obscurelyfamous

        Nothing wrong in advocating for the next big thing. Building new platforms is hard work, so most enterprising opportunists are going to tackle easier problems anyway. There’s certainly no shortage of that to be worried about.

    8. Matt A. Myers

      It’s because Facebook et al don’t really know what they’re doing, so you can’t solve for when you a) don’t know what you’re doing or don’t have the structures to learn and evolve your thinking and practices, and b) when you’re properly aligned with the problems that exist, the real problems that exist.

    9. JamesHRH

      Wow, Brandon – totally disagree.Google pretty much ‘owns’ internet search. FB pretty much ‘owns’ the concept of an internet rolodex of friends.The habits formed by the billions (trillions?) of instances of use make these market positions / offerings virtually unassailable.#1 rule of new markets: you do not create a massive new trend market, a well positioned market leader lets you do it (IBM & Xerox are the poster boys – in tech – for this rule).Lots of arguments that you cannot be all of the next thing; but trying to be some of it seems better than sitting on the sidelines. Mr Zuckerberg is inefficiently, but possibly very effectively, trying to stay in the game of the further.Oculus is a joke, FWIW.

    10. Reda Benembarek

      Great point.

  22. Simon Edhouse

    “The next big thing” has to be about a leap toward more decentralization, and empowerment of end users in new ways, and I’ll throw in ‘inclusion’ of hundreds of millions of ‘non-consumers’ of today’s big things. That’s why the ‘facebook on the prowl’ theme here is interesting, because this type of opportunity is counterpoint to Facebook’s more centralized DNA. ~ The ultimate question is: How do you give almost all control to end-users and still retain the thread of a vital control point to make a great business? Consumers have become much more savvy, and the blow back against big data collection by companies like Facebook and Google, (with the issues of NSA back-dooring etc) is definitely a meme that’s on people’s minds. When a well packaged and highly value orientated consumer platform comes along that let’s them bypass the old, it could be quite compelling.

    1. CJ

      As a whole the user doesn’t want control, they want easy, seamless and engaging. Ubiquitous helps too but that’s a catch 22 equation.

    2. William Mougayar

      +1 for decentralization. it’s unstoppable.

  23. pointsnfigures

    Ha. I brainstormed similar today at my blog. The interesting thing that I am starting to see is all these advances in social media etc being redirected into B2B. Every industry has “social networks”, and there are efficiencies that can be brought by utilizing tech in new ways. Saw a “Nest” for water out of Gener8tor in Milwaukee the other day.

    1. Richard

      Just played around with a Nest in a condo that I was looking at in LA. If is inviting to the touch. Looks like apple designed it. Building owner said that he needs to post a note on it as everyone is touching it (and not resetting it back it 73 deg.).

      1. mdelvecchio

        a note is not necessary — the condo owner should just set program it where he wants during the times of the day. very easy on Nest. additionally, he can set locks on it to prevent changing.

  24. jason wright

    what did you have for breakfast?

    1. LE

      To much sugar I suspect. (Sorry Fred..)

      1. jason wright

        maybe the wrong porridge.

  25. LIAD

    Such a lovely post.

  26. AlexHammer

    Mark Zuckerberg learns pretty quickly. They did fall behind on mobile, and I’m sure that he doesn’t want to repeat that by falling behind on what may be big beyond mobile as well.I still think Facebook is potentially highly vulnerable, relative to competitors, in the mobile space:

    1. Timothy Meade

      The part about ‘the price of not having a mobile OS’ is right. Facebook could partner with Mozilla on FirefoxOS and ship their own fork of it without Firefox branding (except the browser if the terms allowed.) They could actually build their talked about Android derivative. They could own the lower end of the Android market pretty cheaply. (Start with buying a low end MVNO)

      1. AlexHammer

        This is interesting. How well do you think the FirefoxOS would compete and what are the reasons that Mozilla would wish to do this?

        1. Timothy Meade

          FirefoxOS is basically the Gecko rendering engine wrapped in a graphics compositor and resting on top of a stripped down version of the Android distribution.I think a new OS could compete in the low end segment (as in, against ZTE smartphones on prepaid and unlimited lowcost plans) if it had better screen, better camera, and faster connection, without needing to compete head-to-head with iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.It would either need to support Android games (which I think FirefoxOS could if it wanted to), succeed in getting ports of the same leading games (which would require supporting native as well as HTML/XUL-based rendering and WebGL), or offer compelling alternatives (unlikely).It would build its story around being a messaging device, which integrated the Facebook contacts, Instagram and WhatsApp, and the newsfeed (probably through Paper). As part of your $40/month unlimited talk you would get unlimited WhatsApp messaging, including to SMS users.As for Mozilla, I don’t see why they would object to a commercial distribution of their platform if it followed the license, did not use FirefoxOS branding (but kept the Firefox branded browser as delivered by Mozilla), and did not egregiously violate the user’s privacy (though I don’t see how this would become a legal objection if the fork was not friendly.)Facebook could of course do the same thing with an Android derivative directly, but supporting HTML5-based applications would be a better sell for their content partners who already develop HTML5-based games in the Facebook ecosystem.FirefoxOS could also support signed xpi’s with native components, though they do not currently do so. This would allow developers to create one-off plugins for their games wrapping the native functionality in HTML5 rendered pages.As for the MVNO part of the plan, it would involve acquiring one or more small mobile operators with an existing customer base and gradually introducing Facebook Phone options into the mix, with a better messaging package or even a lower price than some of the other devices they would begin to supplant the low end Android phones on that carrier.Screen-size and perceived quality are paramount here, as this is often the only differentiation between devices on these low cost carriers.

          1. AlexHammer

            You are a very smart man. Maybe you should follow this up.

  27. airmanchairman

    Bill Krause, veteran of Ethernet, 3Com and HP, recently admitted to missing a $100 billion opportunity because they were focussing on “networks of PC’s” when Cisco came up with “Networks of Networks” (they had a company with a competing technology to Cisco at the time, but didn’t push it).So maybe a “platform of platforms” is the concept behind the next big one?

    1. CJ

      There are a few companies out there that are trying to tie together disparate web services aka platforms. I think there is a real future in that, IFTTT is a good example of this at the consumer level.

      1. ShanaC

        ifttt still isn’t very mainstream

        1. CJ

          True, but it’s still consumer focused.

    2. William Mougayar

      What would be an example of that?

  28. johnsmartypants

    “What does a Apple-style proprietary closed thermostat have in common with Google’s mobile strategy?”Everything to do with it. It has to do with Google’s idea of Android @ Home that has been brewing for some time now and has been very public.Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus is basically saying to Facebook shareholders .. “Hey guys, we really have NO CLUE where we want to go so we are spending a shit load of money on everything that looks cool in hopes that we might have something to work with”.Google, Larry and Sergey know really well where they are going and they have shown it. They are taking over your home and powering it with Android. Their strategy is to tap into all your devices and power it with Android and the benefit for them is that Google will then provide you with relevant searches and context sensitive information (ads?) to things you are missing in your home.Google’s acquisition of Nest was logical for several reasons. With the growth of Android and it’s use throughout the household (Chromecast, GoogleTV, Android tablets, Android phones) the next logical step is to get into home automation. Remember the Android powered light bulbs from a while back? Well this is just an extension of it.Now, take a look at Facebook. They bought Instagram because Zuckerberg was afraid that Instagram would grow furiously and endanger facebook. Then he gave an insane amount of money to WhatsApp in hopes to get the messaging app that doesn’t suck since they’ve been failing with messaging for years now and releasing atrocious applications like that Android for Home Screens and their own Messenger app that nobody uses. So in desperate attempt to prevent WhatsApp in taking over the world with messaging Zuckberberg buys it.Now Oculus, which honestly doesn’t fit anywhere. Introducing and highlighting some kind of “vision” of social interaction with VR is ridiculous. Nobody is going to use it as we have already seen similar things done. Sony tried with their Playstation Home virtual environment that felt more like an interactive world and nobody used it.Just 2 cents as to why I disagree with a certain part of your post.But I will agree that it’s an amazing time for anyone in technology business and entrepreneurs. It’s a revolutionary time where ideas are simply blowing up from tiny ones to world changing ones. And that’s definitely something we all love.

    1. mdelvecchio

      Their strategy is to tap into all your devices and power it with Android and the benefit for them is that Google will then provide you with relevant searches and context sensitive information (ads?) to things you are missing in your home.Nest doesn’t run on Android. and it doesn’t need to for google to do the things you’ve defined. it’s all data-driven, and Nest and other non-android offerings can contribute that data.Remember the Android powered light bulbs from a while back?the ones that nobody sells and aren’t a product? no.

      1. johnsmartypants

        the ones that nobody sells?…Welcome to the present. Where were you? Sleeping?I guess, cause most of the uninformed dumbasses are..It doesn’t matter that Nest doesn’t run on Android.. it might in the future or it will simply integrate with Android OS by exposing intents so you can control it.. Either way it’s clear where Google is going.Get informed a bit more and then we can talk.

  29. William Mougayar

    Fred, I don’t know that these acquisitions are about the next platform. They are not.Typically, new platforms and next big things are created from scratch, from the ground-up, and take a hold and and a life of their own. Next platforms are not acquired at $2b-19b. They might be acquired when they are embryonic technologies and still carried risk (e.g. Android). Twitter couldn’t be “bought”. It had to be invented.These acquisitions are because Google / Facebook or whoever is acquiring, is filling a hole in their offerings, or want to protect a front they are weak in.For the next platforms, the smoke signals are coming from the Decentralization movement. Everything that can be decentralized will get decentralized. Financial services will be a first beachhead, aided by Bitcoin and related blockchain-enabling technologies. Peer-to-Peer on everything is all about decentralization, and we have barely scratched that surface.The network is attacking itself, and it will shed and reject centralization pieces that are no longer necessary for its survival.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Why can’t you link technologies that compliment each other to build a platform? I think Oculus has the potential to decentralize A LOT of things.

      1. William Mougayar

        Do you have examples? The next big thing could be a movement, a way of thinking, a new habit, new beliefs. What is social media? It’s about sharing stuff, which is a human instinct. It’s just enabled by technologies.

        1. pointsnfigures

          I dunno, you could go shopping with your Facebook social network in virtual stores using Oculus.

          1. William Mougayar

            You could be buying a real estate property without visiting it. But you don’t need the social network.

          2. Richard

            Really? Who would do that?

          3. William Mougayar

            Asians are doing it. I know an Oculus app developer who is working on that specific App for that purpose. You take a tour inside / outside the property with the Rift on your head.

        2. lisa hickey

          I think it could be an organized, collective, collaborative way of solving social problems.

    2. LE

      These acquisitions are because Google / Facebook or whoever is acquiring, is filling a hole in their offerings, or want to protect a front they are weak in.I look at it as clear evidence that they know something about their current business model and the direction that it’s heading in. They can read the tea leaves. They know that the gravy train will be ending and they have to find something else in order to continue to exist in their current business model.Now of course you can look at it differently. You can say they are doing this because they are simply trying to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant. But I honestly don’t think that’s the case. Especially with Facebook and to a lesser degree with Google.Back in the 80’ls “In search of Excellence” was touting “stick to the kniting” as the reason for success at companies that it wrote about (many by the way which went down hill in later years in all fairness). But the fact is those companies could stick to the knitting because the business that they were in had staying power. They just had to play it the right way.

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s about diversification, no doubt. Facebook wants to be become like a Google. They were a one-trick pony. Now, it looks they can do more than one-trick. Fred won’t be able to say anymore that Facebook is a photo-sharing App.

        1. mdelvecchio

          how is google anything but a one-trick pony? where do they get their money? advertising. that is their core business. building flying cars and all this stuff is just google *spending* money, not *making* money.

          1. William Mougayar

            But they are trying like hell to diversify. At least 100 ways. FB is just getting started, maybe.

      2. ShanaC

        you could have said that about time and aol – and that was a disaster.Just because the puck is going in a direction doesn’t mean you should go there too

      3. William Mougayar

        My image of MZ is one of a greedy gambler.

      4. Richard

        Yep. Kodak

    3. awaldstein

      What else besides financial services?

      1. William Mougayar

        Many services – eg storage, law, contracts, trust, regulations can be further decentralized.

    4. Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey

      I agree William that decentralization and financial services are a promising “next” platform. People who try to bend bitcoin and other disrupters into the existing biz models simply don’t understand.

    5. obscurelyfamous

      Facebook isn’t buying a new platform. They’re buying Oculus — arguably market leaders to a potential new platform — to drive progress on what may play a huge role in the next chapter of computing.>These acquisitions are because Google / Facebook or whoever is acquiring, is filling a hole in their offerings, or want to protect a front they are weak in.I find it very hard to argue this with the FB/OVR acquisition. It’s a big bet for something that may not show its relevancy for a long time, or at all, but I think the snarky “virtual reality advertising” comments are far off the mark. There’s no hole to fill here.

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s a bet on diversification. Oculus is like an Android of sorts. It enables innovation via applications. What’s uncertain is how big is that market going to be.

  30. Barry Nolan

    The next big thing remains the computer in our pocket, supercharged by Moores law, connecting the next two billion, and connecting us effortlessly to the things arounds us, and the things important to our day.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      It was charged by Moores and is supercharged with Law of Accelerating Returns.

  31. LE

    So a couple billion here or there is chump change. Except for the people who collect that chump change for selling them an option on the next thing. It’s real money to us…….Man I love this business.I can sense the excitement and mania. Suggest you don’t make any important financial decisions today. Emotion like this shouldn’t really drive buying decisions.

    1. mdelvecchio

      I’m sure he’ll be ok.

    2. Richard

      This is the new R&D model. The issue isn’t just what FB paid, it also includes what they saved in not having 10 R&d projects going. Look at google annual report. They spend less on R&D than you would think.

  32. Bala

    Don’t we overestimate the next 3 years and underestimate the next 10 years?

  33. Olivia Dufour

    It’s a wonderful industry, indeed! I think I’m closer to getting a Makerbot and to using Amazon Air than I am to Social VR. We’ll take and share pictures differently, in deeper ways, allowing people to immerse themselves in a moment, on the beach with me in Brazil, while it’s freezing here on the East Coast. But that implies many software/hardware/behavioral changes. I’m excited for an Oculus Shopping “platform ;)”. It will know my measurements and I will virtually try on a clothes and see how it fits through the VR glasses. I could move, turn, dance and perfectly visualize if this dress fits well, even shop with a friend. This would be a huge step forward in e-commerce.

  34. Dave W Baldwin

    I think the subject of “Search For Next Platform” is being looked at wrong by some. The fact is Facebook knows what Google will be able to do. Remember it wasn’t long ago that all things were Apple and Google was crazy having this Android thing that doesn’t make sense floating around, no profit and so on. Then we see how Google Now is a league ahead of Siri. Now you can put the basics from Google on you TV via a $35 device. Google can be a threat to Facebook big time and that doesn’t even include gaining a military contract (Boston Dynamics) and their coming venture into health plus automated cars and so on.The proper statement would be, “keep your eye on the upward evolution of the platforms, because the big money is going to acquire those products/services that make those platforms better.”Plus, something left off, Facebook has even started an AI (hard?) lab.

    1. awaldstein

      Dave–all of these platforms are ad models–no?If that’s the case, then they simply want people and attention. If it fits that bill it’s the right thing.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        True, my point is build something toward the higher platform. My money is on Google because Facebook will be trying to do catch up for some time.

      2. Emily Merkle

        much easier said than done.

  35. Cam MacRae

    I would have loved to have been in the room when they told Carmack he’d be working for the Borg.

  36. patrick parodi

    What if the next platform were a “Registry” instead of a platform?… I told a VC in Silicon Valley that we were building the “Network Solutions for the Internet of Things” and they asked me “who is Network Solutions?”… DOT COM and the ensuing revolution could not have happened without NetSol… Where is the DNS of things?Excitement about the Internet of Things is at an all time high….But the term is wrong… Not everyTHING that is part of the so called “Internet of Things” has to be connected to the Internet… We can leverage the Internet to “discover” and become “aware” of all the wireless things around us through the simple detection of the signals emanating from these things and the resolution of their “identity” as the result of a “DNS” like infrastructure. We’ve called it The Wireless Registry.

    1. William Mougayar

      You’re talking decentralization. Can you elaborate or is there a link?

  37. ErikSchwartz

    The tough part about this one is it is not clear there will ever be a mainstream market for immersive experience.The growth in mobile is largely predicated on the exact opposite of the immersive experience. People are consuming short little bites with very high frequency. They are mutlitasking. Their digital consumption is integrated into everything they do.The immersive experience is the exact opposite of this. It is time consuming. It blocks out the rest of the world. To do it right stereoscopy is just a tiny piece, without full haptics the visual input will fight with the other senses.

    1. leapy

      When I can sit down to dinner with friends and family currently in the UK, Turkey, US and Brazil then I will die a happy man. End of. …

  38. Salt Shaker

    They buy these companies, well, because in part they can. Whether the acquisitions are considered R&D, part of a company’s growth strategy or a defensive measure is truly anyone’s guess (including theirs), but the bottom line is many of these acquisitions (presently) seem ridiculously overvalued. They certainly can afford the risk and indulgence, but for some of these investments (e.g., Oculus) craps in Vegas prob has better odds.

  39. DanielHorowitz

    Nice Post. I agree 100% Love what FB and Google are doing.

  40. Morgan Warstler


  41. Tom Hughes

    I won’t enter a guess into what the next platform is, but I keep thinking about something William Gibson said: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

  42. majgr

    Look at your phone – do you see reality? Move it so it is an inch from your face – smartglasses (ohh and I can use my desktop too). Healthbook, Homebook, iBeacon(Local)Book. What is important: will it be skeuomorphic or flat?

  43. 3agonists

    Congrats to Oculus and its investors. Btw, Larry Page at TED said he would give his money to capitalists like Musk with big ideas for changing the world. Aren’t there many real matters to deal with first than virtual reality ones: health care and etc. Human and financial capitals can be better used to make this real world a better place. Unreal things are unreal in the end and cannot replace real things.

  44. Terry J Leach

    The next platform is a contextual engine using mobile, sensors, and data it will surround us and augment everyday human tasks. I think “feedback” will be integrating principal for the “Next Platform” which will create a human computing symbiosis.The Internet of Thing (sensors) component of a contextual engine platform with great feedback functionality and a large and growing developer base will the next frontier.

  45. howardlindzon

    Time will tell if this is a correct future but the other choice sucks. In 2007 I used to Love crox – wallstrip – and i remember writing how silly they would look if they did not spend their $80 stock to get out of the rubber shoe business. They Could have bought someone like underarmor for nickels. but hey, underarmor made stuff for athletes and had nike on the brain…no fit!!!! ya right. Crox went to $1. woops

    1. Timothy Meade

      Funny, I heard of both through Cramer’s show. Immediately UA looked like the next Nike, and I never liked Crocs, looked like wearing heat-resistant material on your feet.I guess Crocs is big in some professions though, and do have more stylish options now.

  46. howardlindzon

    i still think its around communications and video – reimagined 24/7 networks

  47. Terry J Leach

    The next platform is a contextual engine using mobile, sensors, and data it will surround us and augment everyday human tasks. I think “feedback” will be integrating principal for the “Next Platform” which will create a human computing symbiosis.The Internet of Thing (sensors) component of a contextual engine platform with great feedback functionality and a large and growing developer will the next frontier. Google has Glass, Nest, and some deep bench of robotic firms, while Facebook keeping to it’s roots in social as Oculus, but it also has messaging giant WhatApp which could underpin a sensorplatform.

  48. Brandon Edwards

    It is good they are looking to the future, but when they lose focus on their core businesses that’s when WE grind out their market share with the next ginormous platform. HEEEEY MISTER WIIIILSON!! ITS WEB 3.0 The Menace..(just trying to get attention) Is there any chance I could chat with you about how I am extremely serious about this comment…. I need a mentor that is interested in a Prosperity Revolution & a philanthropic legacy that would make Andrew Carnegie proud & Mother Theresa blush. —->high ROI X Venture Philanthropy & I come bearing a $B+ exit as well. Please take 5 to find out more. TY-B.E.

  49. Brandon Edwards

    Mr. Wilson. It is time for the ALLEY TO BOOM. Lets lead a political, economic, & social Revolution. I am that dude.

  50. Bill McColl

    Great post. My 2 cents on your next big thing question – The combination of IoT e.g. via drones, together with powerful new forms of machine learning, search, and augmented reality, are together going to create amazing new data services that are going to drive new extreme levels of productivity in every industry worldwide. At least that’s what we’re betting on at Palo Alto Data.

  51. Emily Merkle

    Man, i love this business, too.

  52. Jeff Pester

    The thing is, Google’s acquisitions look like opportunity-based offense designed to create the future while Facebook’s look like fear-based defense designed to protect against user migration away from the mothership.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      Yes! Yes! Yes!

  53. Emily Merkle

    The next thing is what makes life for “the everyman” – Easier. Simpler. More enjoyable. It will be – Accessible. Affordable. Eminently scalable.

  54. Mike Bestvina

    “And all of these big tech companies are looking for the next thing to make sure they don’t miss it”I agree with this, but it’ll be interesting to see if the acquisition price is worth it. Google bought Android for $50m, Apple built mobile in-house.So the question is – is “the search for the next platform” a model that actually proves to reduce risk?

  55. Donna Brewington White

    Whatever the next big platform is I have very little doubt that this is one of the first places we’ll hear about it.Secondly, note that this the second big exit announced this week in Southern California. It is amazing what is happening here! And Oculus is in Orange County… NOT a place considered to be a tech startup hot bed.You ought to hang out here more often, Fred. 😉

  56. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Love the last line “And you can even start by crowdfunding your first round. Man I love this business.” I found that super interesting when I read that Oculus start this way! It is an interesting point of view to look for Google and Apple investments as guidelines for the next big thing. Still, it is extremely difficult to predict and the next big thing might come from a completely unexpected source.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I wonder if that last line is innuendo — one of USV’s portfolio companies, CircleUp (crowdfunding site), just closed a $14M Series B round.

  57. Bruce Warila

    Big Food is in line for disruption. Marketplaces that match local and niche supply to local and niche demand (business and consumer) will transform the food supply chain. It’s a huge opportunity and consumers are begging for more and healthier choices.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      This goes counter to the current urbanization trends. Despite window boxes and backyard chickens Brooklyn is screwed if it needs to feed itself. It’s a great niche market but to feed everyone we need large scale production.I see big opportunities in big food, I see little opportunities (still worth pursuing) in localism.

      1. Bruce Warila

        I guess if you define local with a tape measure 🙂 I am thinking of a much wider radius. I live in Lancaster, MA, which is about 35 miles from Boston. My neighbors are farmers. They don’t grow food for Boston. They can’t anticipate supply, demand, or prices. It’s just easier to grow corn for cattle. Their land is under-utilized. Meanwhile, tomatoes are trucked in from Mexico…during our growing season. Yes, labor is part of the equation, but so is organic, local, sustainable, and diversity..

        1. ErikSchwartz

          The problem is one of consumer demand. People in Boston don’t want tomatoes 2-3 months a year, they want them 12 months a year. New England going to be pretty crabby if we go back to the historical local winter veggies of dried apples, beets, and potatoes served with salt cod.:-)

          1. Bruce Warila

            You take healthy, local, organic when it’s available and practical. You supplement with Taco Bell. I just noticed we have mutual friend on FB. Small world.

          2. ErikSchwartz

            Now I have to look you up on FB.

          3. Richard

            Supplement with Taco Bell?

          4. Bruce Warila

            Supplement with what’s available when the good stuff is scarce… (Taco Bell was tongue in cheek.)

          5. ShanaC

            Thank goodness I like dried apples

    2. ShanaC

      hard to do because of the USDA once you scale up. They have rules.

      1. Bruce Warila

        hard problem, big opportunity, plenty of detractors…perfect!

  58. im2b_dl

    Not that hard… It’s all the same thing they are banking on… Both Google Glass & facebook’s Oculus are coming at the cubic web (web³) from two sides. VR & AR are the same thing… As will be hypervideo. They all know what the platform is that is coming but until they (I know self-serving but true) see how cubic/layered media will work and what shape it is in… They don’t know the shape of the channel.

  59. ErikSchwartz

    ” “Nobody can say it doesn’t matter – everyone has a number,” Luckey admitted. “But I don’t think there’s a reasonable number that would make me say, ‘You know I was going to change the world with VR and try to change humanity forever but here’s a number. It really is about making sure that we get to deliver our vision of consumer virtual reality.””-Palmer Luckey 3 weeks ago.Now we know the unreasonable number.

  60. sigmaalgebra

    Education? VR? I see no significant role for VR!Improve education? I see some major opportunities for much better results, much faster, for much less effort and cost. For those better results, all that is needed is just some organization making use of educational ‘techniques’ that have long been well known. Mostly the bottleneck is getting stuff installed between a pair of ears, and for this nearly all the effort is between that pair of ears.Here I outline a proposal for such an improvement in education. The improvement can be from maybe grade 3 through Ph.D. and well into a career.I spent too much time in education so know a lot of stories, but the one I know best is my own so sometimes I’ll use that as an example. Net, mostly I taught myself from working with good materials alone in a quiet room. For me, that was nearly sufficient for a BS, MS, and Ph.D., and my view is that it is also nearly necessary.There was also a bottleneck finding really good materials. Some of the materials I tried to work from were not good; when the materials were good, I did well.Maybe a little in college helped me get started and be self sufficient in more in learning, but I was also quite self sufficient from grades 9 through at least my first year in college.Where the best of college and graduate school really helped me was that I went to some high quality schools and they had some good views of high quality materials.This matter of being a self teacher self sufficient in the learning is a much bigger deal now as mostly people learn what they need in how to write software via self teaching, even if they are in a college computer science program.Here’s a way to make a big splash in education:(1) Get some really good people, that is, who have some of the best backgrounds in their subjects and a good view of learning and applying learning.(2) Have the good people recommend really good courses of study from, say, 10,000 feet up. So, for (A) traditional arts and humanities, (B) social sciences, (C) mathematics, (D) physical sciences, (E) engineering, (F) technology, (G) life 101, (H) business 101, have some good overviews and guidance.(3) Have some good materials; mostly select from what is readily available and otherwise commission some new writing. For the form of the materials, any of books, PDF files, Web sites, Kindle, are sufficient. A few video clips for overviews, inspiration, excitement, etc. might be helpful, but otherwise video clips are just irrelevant down to wastes of time. That is, if someone has something important to say, then instead of just talking about it, just write it down, get it clear, polish it some, provide references, etc., and let others just read it.Most needed laboratory access might be obtained anywhere it is available, community college to university, or maybe just in some companies.(4) Have some good testing and, then, respected certification. For a Ph.D., the certification process is in place now: Publish some papers.If some entrepreneur can come up with materials, etc. that clearly help the learning, e.g., as measured by the respected certification, then fine. E.g., for college calculus, there has long been a huge stack of highly polished texts, but nearly all of them could use a ‘introduction’ that covers (A) where did calculus come from, (B) what are the main ideas, at least intuitively, (C) what is the role of calculus in the rest of mathematics, pure and applied, (D) what is the role of calculus in science, engineering, technology, the social sciences, etc., (E) what is the role of calculus in computing, and (F) what might be the future of calculus?With this proposal, mostly the students learn, one at a time, working through the materials, alone, in a quiet room. This proposal is not trying for any other means of learning: The proposal is essentially just to take good materials and work through them carefully, alone, in a quiet room, guys. For the needed learning, that’s essentially necessary and sufficient, and there’s no royal road here. Sorry ’bout that.Does this approach to education solve the problem of poverty, low graduation rates, crime, etc. in the poorest neighborhoods? In some rare cases, yes, but mostly no. If in such a neighborhood a guy can be highly motivated, be self taught, and get really good at basketball, then he can do the same for calculus, linear algebra, advanced calculus, abstract algebra, mathematical physics, computer science, etc. In time, maybe some such students will do such things.What does this approach to education solve?(A) A good student can race ahead in some area where they have talent and interest. We’ll see some good research, published papers, and Ph.D. degrees among teens. Also many more good startups, with quite well educated teens.(B) Through grade 12, sitting in classrooms is baby sitting and otherwise 99 44/100% a huge waste of time and money and a huge obstacle to the students in their just getting on with the learning as in, did I mention, working through good materials, carefully, alone, in a quiet room?So, yes, I know, my proposal saves a lot of time and money but, we have to understand, the results can be much, much better. Yes, yes, yes, I know; I know; the present, traditional way takes much more in time and money but we have to understand, it is also much less effective than possible and, really, often, especially for good students, quite harmful.Basically with some good leadership and guidance for parents, we should be able just to pull the rug out from under much of the wildly expensive, wasteful, and, really, destructive, whole K-college ‘teaching enterprise’. Ah, we should be able to lower taxes needed to support the present ‘education industry’!Basically what we need are forms of self learning from some really high quality guidance and materials. Then most reasonably concerned parents should be able to do quite well as a ‘leader’ for any of their reasonably normal children, all the way through Ph.D. qualifying exams.Again, nearly all that time in classrooms just sucks: Or, instead, all that was needed was just, “The test will be on Friday of next week and will cover calculus chapters 3-7. See you then, guys!”.Basically about all the student can do is take such a statement, get out the calculus materials, and work through them alone in a quiet room — the time in class is nearly all a waste of time and money and otherwise often harmful. I learned next to nothing in classes and, instead, learned from quiet study. All that time in classes took away from the time available for learning and was a really severe obstacle. Besides, once a person gets out of traditional schools, they have to learn mostly alone anyway, and for research, that is something nearly always done alone.Role for VR? The way to learn is to study as I have outlined here. But, that way takes, right, some work. So, there have long been various ideas that would improve the situation. The ideas don’t help; instead, it is essentially both necessary and sufficient just to study as I have outlined, that is, in traditional education, just to do the darned homework. The learning is from doing the homework, not sitting in class.At times, it can be a lot of fun to sit alone and learn. Heck, the college I went to for my freshman year insisted that I start in some college algebra instead of calculus. But the high school I went to was relatively good, by far the best in the city; MIT came recruiting; the year ahead of me, three guys went to Princeton and ran against some fourth guy for president of the freshman class. So, the four years of math I had in that high school covered all but tiny parts of the college algebra I was forced to take. Bummer. A girlfriend was also in the dumb class and told me when the tests were, and I showed up for those.Since I didn’t want to fall behind in college, I got a calculus book, in retrospect not the best but okay, and dug in. It was fun, a lot of fun. I could learn that stuff, understand it, work the exercises! I continued in the summer, and there Mom didn’t like that I was sitting in a comfortable chair in the den, quietly, alone, having a great time with calculus. So, she kept finding excuses for me to stop my study, carry out the trash, sweep out the garage, make the bed in my room, whatever. Finally Dad slowed her down and let me work. For my sophomore year I went to a much better college and started on their sophomore calculus. Did fine. So, I never took freshman calculus and, right, never got credit for it! Fine with me.Had I done more study like that, in that chair, I could have made much more progress much faster.In my college senior year, I got the most respected book in topology and started in, as a ‘reading course’. That meant that I learned the material alone and gave a lecture a week. At least one prof listened, and sometimes two. The profs did me no good at all; I taught myself.Later I discovered that researchers continually do something similar: They don’t stop learning at the end of their Ph.D. coursework and, instead, usually have to keep learning throughout their careers. Commonly they have to do this learning from just books and papers, without any ‘teacher’ around; that is, they have to learn the material from self study. It’s expected that a good researcher can do this learning. So can good students. The assumption that there always has to be a course with a teacher is just false and wasteful.The main way I got through my Ph.D. coursework was from such independent study, mostly from before I went to graduate school.Computing? Taught it at Georgetown and in a graduate seminar but never really took a course in it. So, I was self taught in computing, right, heavily from D. Knuth — good materials.Ph.D. research? Did that independently, as ‘self study’, in my first summer in graduate school.What I need to know for my current project? Sure, 100% self study.Self-study has long been the main source of technical training for the whole US computer industry. Somehow, then, we might notice that self study is powerful stuff.What else is needed now for students to take advantage of self study? Sure, (1)-(4) above.Will this proposal work for all students? At least for now, likely no, but it can work very well for a significant fraction of students. It will be clear early on the students it is working for.

  61. reece

    i’m curious how “the next thing” intersects with the USV thesis (large networks of engaged users)…does it stick or does it need to evolve?

  62. Guest

    The acquisition has not gone over very well in the gaming community. Specifically, the founder Minecraft is not very pleased, and has decided not to deal with Oculus as a result. (…. Facebook, and social gaming in general, has had somewhat of a negative image in the gamedev community as of late.Personally, I find it to be very interesting. I’m not surprised that Facebook made an acquisition, given their excess cash reserve for such purposes, but I’m curious why none of the gaming companies made such an attempt. Perhaps because they lacked the cash to make such a move.

  63. Capitalistic

    The next “platform” is content-media.

  64. Emily Merkle

    Maybe the next big thing is a “platform” that reinvents politics; campaigning; elections; distribution and discussion of the issues with facts. Cable news / The Media and Washington are broken, and this country and the world suffer for it. Might not be as sexy as VR or smart cars, but it sure is a sinkhole in need of the best and brightest in technology and it’s associated circles.

  65. Ted Duchampe

    Zuck should cash in all his Fbook stock and buy bitcoins…then open an exchange called GPKOX…Garbage Pail Kids Online Exchange. Bicoins and lotto tickets baby, bitcoins and lotto tickets!!!!

  66. SubstrateUndertow

    Maybesimplified construction-kit assemblers for building outinternet-enabled, purpose-driven, neural-net-ecosystems(social-nervous-systems) of volitional-entities(stakeholders + virtual AI resources)largely targeted at distributively-synchronized bottom-up social control over political/financial governance at every level.Ultimately isn’t that the only truly new platform-disrupting social-territory being enabled via virtual network-organics.just for starters all those bar codes can be used as a double edged sword !

  67. Ted Duchampe

    Nest was strategic for Google. To control the temps of their Terminators. Maps + Ai + Boston Dynamics + webconnectivity everywhere balloons + Glass eyes + Nest temp control = Terminator. Trading terminators to the government in exchange to bless self-driving cars. Google is the future.

    1. ShanaC

      Do you think we’re really heading towards the terminator

      1. Ted Duchampe

        Based on the movie, yes. But as long as I own Google stock my kids’ trust fund will survive.

  68. Nate Henry

    I would argue that Augmented Reality has more applications in the real world. The future of Virtual Reality, and things like Oculus is definitely interesting, but I don’t see VR being used much outside of the home or a private setting.


    The future platform will rise as a way to transact globally. Financing innovation will be the next big platform to rise. So many with a lack of access to capital will not stand by and let others eat their lunch without a fight. When NJ sells to Ukraine & Nigeria delivered monthly the system works when its a vice versa trend as well.

  70. kevrmoore

    Next big thing… AUGMENTED REALITY OS platform.

  71. stevenwillmott

    Great post, I think this is certainly what this type of purchase is about. However, although I think VR will be huge it’s hard to see the platform nature of it – it is above all an interface technology – it’s hard to centralize commercial advantage there.If you want my bet for the next big platform it’s say it’s the API Economy – which is essentially the Web as a programmable platform. But then I have a bias there.

  72. Stanislas Polu

    I definitely agree with what you say here and would love to add some perspective to the discussion by describing the situation I am in:I started a company in France a few years back. After successive pivots we’re now 10 and on the path to profitability and/or Series A funding, which is great. But doing such pivots we made huge compromises. As the tech founder and an engineer, the closer we were getting to a viable business, the more distant I was from my core technical interests.There are a few things out there on which I’d really love have an impact. These includes distributed systems, in particular distributed storage and operating systems, everything that enables people to better leverage the computing devices surrounding them more transparently.That’s not at all what my company currently focuses on.Looking back at the past few years: I sacrificed my ability to work on these subjects on the altar of revenue and product market fit.Is it bad? Certainly not, because I learnt a whole lot of things, especially on myself. And without that continuing experience, I would not have had the audacity to maybe risk it all to work on these subjects. I would not have had understood that I’m in the business to have impact more than to make millions.As an engineer, I always had a few side-projects here and there. 6 months ago, I stopped everyone of them to focus on one “grand” side project: Build an experimental browser to experiment with cloud-based cookies/state storage and modular UI components. In other words, try to bend the browser into a distributed operating system. That journey led me to embed Chromium Content API into NodeJS to build that browser in pure Javascript, and make the whole project tractable by one (or a few) humans rather than a large team of developers. The project is called Breach, I won’t dive into the details here, and I wont argue that it’s potentially or not the next big thing, the only thing that matters for now is that it is kind of *my* next big thing, and I enjoy every minute I spend working on it!Now I’m able to allocate some time to focus on the technical subjects I care about!But it come with a price: Since then, I’ve continued working full-time on my company, I try every day to be the best CTO I can be (I only allocate side-project time to Breach) and it’s definitely hard to juggle between the two projects. It’s obviously a complicated situation to be in, but it’s fun and challenging. So I won’t complain.I guess just wanted to share that experience with you guys probably to push people to work on the projects they really care about without compromises. I’d love to see more people building incredibly ambitious stuff with almost 0 chance of success rather than aiming for the product that will sell and that will let you raise that big seed round… Ok that’s kind of cheesy, but I hope you get the point!

  73. Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

    The difference between earlier acquisitions is that they are symbiotic relationships, even the NEST-Google deal, which may not immediately be obvious. Once you realize what environmental information could potentially be gleaned from NEST and fed to Ads. Simply put: If the user is cold is does a user respond to an ad for a holiday or a pullover? Even having a small set of people who allow NEST to use the data to “improve” your experience can result in real revenue.I was amused the Pando analysis which basically says that OR sold-out their true believers, and believe there way be some truth to this.

    1. Richard

      Nope. NEST is not about data driven ads. Certainly not something as blantantly intrusive as a blanket. There are few products that you pay for that are tied to an ad network.

      1. Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

        The big sticker item either already are, or the manufacturers have spend the better part of the last 20 trying to be, tied to an ad network. Pick you favourite household appliance and prefix it with smart.It’s interesting you attack the simple example rather than considering that your communications device which I assume you paid for is hooked into an ad network.

  74. Jim Ritchie

    “One word: Plastics”…

    1. ztron…nothing wrong with starting at page 105,then if you decide to read the whole thing, not all of it is available as a preview,so it won’t take nearly as much time as you think.

  75. David Broderick

    I’m not sure you can crowdfund your first round. We just tried and failed miserably — and while that was partially because I failed to articulate our vision, it was also that the general public can have a hard time seeing that vision until it’s hoisted upon them. What has been successful in crowdfunding has been exclusively, “Here it is, it’s working,” and not, “This is what could be.”

    1. ztron

      IME with crowdfunding it’s how many near-supporters you have in advancebefore you push for funding.Kickstarter is a good example where it works best as a vehicle to appeal to your own established “crowd” while also exposing your idea to potentially unforeseen backers.You should already have almost enough likely commitments to reach your goalbefore you launch on Kickstarter, then with that momentum the unforeseen backers may push you well over your goal.Salesmanship is so critical that I see it being less important whether you are selling what works or what could be, as long as you can sell.A good salesman can thrive selling things people do not need, which do not even exist yet, while keeping customers happier than lower-priced competitiors.Seems to me if you fail (or decline) to articulate your vision, then you need to bump it up a notch further to sell customers their own dreams to an extent also.Aware of all this I personally have had a long career in natural science prevailing more from technical superiority than sales efforts. Basically, that’s the way I would prefer it to be, but it’s not reality. Technology which sells itself is so elusive that given the chance I wanted to live it while I was creating new advances so I could accomplish more with fewer distractions. The purpose of that was to have more to offer before entering a future sales phase, especially more to offer to an alternative sales target such as an investor, which at certain stages will be more important for growth or survival than a new customer.Going from service to hardware-as-a-service now it’s time for me to sell, sell, sell, and crowdfunding may not be the ideal first salvo, but I’m about in the same boat you are in.No matter what a first salvo accomplishes, it alone almost never wins without complementary barrages. The battle is on now, and it’s not over until you eitherwin or surrender.

      1. David Broderick

        That’s a fantastic response. Thanks! I can see and appreciate that now. But it highlights a flaw in the model:I’m part of a company that (like so many) believes it can provide the next platform. The result of our research is really unique and really compelling — but we’re really struggling for breadcrumbs. Considering the upside (trillions), shouldn’t it be easier to raise a round for a few thousand? Why is that piece missing?

  76. Matt A. Myers

    The winner of the next big platform will all relate to governance – regardless of it’s VR-related or something else. Technology plays a role to some degree, except it’s not hard to find multiples of brilliant engineers and thinkers to problem solve whatever needs solving for.

  77. Susan Rubinsky

    Just throwing this out there. Maybe we don’t know what’s next because we are lacking our next big thought leader.“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

  78. Peter Fleckenstein

    Love the post and all the great comments from the community. Such a rich experience.The human mind will not be confined to any limits. ~ Johann Wolfgang Von GoetheThe next big thing or search for next platform will be much different than any of us think at this point in time.It will involve small data (on-the-fly,customizable by the individual); Context will be king and will be the API for the individual. (It is now but companies & people don’t realize it yet); Ad based revenue will not be the norm (it is broken, fake in many instances, and has been for some time now); Privacy not anonymity will be a fundamental requirement (Yes, one can still have privacy and still share); Devices will not matter (It’s not mobile, it’s not VR, it’s not foldable screens, the individual will become the device but not be the device.)To paraphrase Fred’s last sentence in the post:Man, I love this life!

  79. Keenan

    Fred, I like you have no idea what the next big thing is, but if we look back I see two common themes to the “next big things;”They connect people – telephone, internet, social media, mobile phone, etc. (I also put TV Newspaper and Radio in these categories, as they connect people to information about other people they wouldn’t or couldn’t have connected to) People want to be connected, are always looking to improve their connection to their friends and family etc. Also, biz relies on connectivity of the masses (people)They move people – planes, trains, and automobiles, one could argue this is also connecting people, just in a different way. I put oil, gas, etc. in this category. Moving people faster, more efficiently, and cheaper has always been a”next big thing.”It seems to me that the next big thing will, like those before it, fit neatly into these tiny, yet GIANT spaces.Connecting people virtually or in person seems to have been a good bet for quite some time.

  80. thebigmix

    I can’t help thinking that something like Bitcoin is far closer to achieving “The next platform” status than a virtual reality technology or a ‘Nest’ acquisition. Everything FB/Apple/Google does does is playing on the same platform and within the same paradigm as before – please the shareholders. Bitcoin potentially changes the game itself. That sort of paradigm change is where these companies should be looking at innovating/investing their cash I think. If i were them I would pick education. Make space in education for debate and engagement, rather than just specialisation. They may well be doing some of that already? I don’t know enough. Fascinating stuff though – these companies are so powerful.

  81. ginsudo

    Larry doesn’t know, but he probably has a theory. Zuck doesn’t know, but he probably has a theory. The thing is, I think they have different theories. Your job is to guess what theories they have, and align your companies for the opportunity.

  82. Joshua Francis Whalen

    The swarm. The cloud is AOL on steroids, it’s the terminal model, it’s Larry Ellison’s thin client (obviously, since mobile and cloud arrived simultaneously) it’s the NSA, it’s….oh, let me stop before I say it’s the 1984 of platforms.The cloud has screwed me in a big way at least 3 times, with services I depended on just disappearing, and taking my precious data or connections (more precious!) with them.The NEXT BIG THING is freedom, the one thing the cloud can’t give me when I have to trust someone like Mark Zuckerberg or Eric Schmidt with my precious data and relationships.Give me swarm based publishing, and local backup. Give me back control of my data. Give me ebooks Amazon can’t disappear on a whim, and chat’s the NSA can’t spy on.It can be done, and it can be a gold mine. I just finished writing BIG article about one way to do it. You can find it here:http://occupyyourbrain.tumb…The first half of the article talks about Microsoft. the second half is about the swarm. I’d love to know if you think it would work.

  83. Steve

    Hi Fred:For the last few years our company, Gravy, has been playing a game called “Building aplatform that can plausibly be the next big thing” and we thought we’d reach out to make sure you don’t miss it. When we first started playing, we thought it was risky, but having already invested $2MM+ of our own money, we realize it isn’t… and the potential payoff is enormous!Although Larry, Zuck and you aren’t sure where the next big thing will come from, it’s clear to us it will come from… the Internet of things. How do we know? Because we know. Holymoly, the race for trillions in collective market capitalizations is on… and we’re in the lead! Perhaps you should take a look? Don’t worry… we’re not looking for a couple ofbillion (chump change) right now… we’re months, potentially years away from that.Wait…! You might be a “small picture” kind of guy and might not get it, oh well. But maybe… you’re not! But wait… there’s another problem… we’re new at this kind of thing. But… this is such a great product and plan; monkeys could execute this! But wait… we still only have the same amount of time to pitch the next big thing as the guys who pitch all the next little things and the guys who pitch all the next overlooked things and the guys who pitch all the next failures. Wow, now it’s getting scary.Lets start over… we’ve figured out how to build the next big thing, we’ve figured out how to monetize it (and how) and we’ve figured out how to acquire mass adoption at little cost. But how the heck are we gonna get in front of you? How do you catch a cloud and pin itdown? How do you solve a problem like Maria? We digress.Wait one more second… you’re the Fred Wilson we managed to get introduced to and respectfully responded that you were “only interested in networks” at the time. That’s right, we remember thinking… “If he only knew we are a network… we’d be set!” and saying… “Maybe we should have the guy who made the intro explain that?”… nah… “That would be awkward.”Are you really interested in the next big thing? Or are you just lucky we read your blog post (on CB Insights) which prompted us to write this response? Perhaps you’re both? The world will never know… Or will it?Team Gravy([email protected])

  84. Kathryn Shantz

    Facebook, Google, et al, have a vested interest in the next platform because it will potentially offer a clean slate and equal playing field. As their businesses mature, I would argue, its harder, not easier, to innovate as they compete and navigate around an ever-growing web of incumbent, aging products, and conflicting interests with existing employee groups and partners. When the new platform comes along, it will be so much easier to kill off older products/services. New platform means they can compete like a startup again.

  85. samof76

    Good to hear that, their vulnerability is that they are unable to predict the next big thing. But is that kinda bizarre that Zuck and Larry, have no clue but have all the money to invest on this vulnerability.I would rather say that Nest’s acquisition is clearly an investment for Google to enter our homes with a relatively passive looking devices but yet gather enough knowledge about us, which Larry was very candid in his TED interview, “We just don’t know enough about you”. And facebook taking over Oculus can throw up new means of social connections, image now you could VR poke someone, eat VR candy, and write to VR wall.I am sure though the premise is not clear to us, Facebook and Google are surely looking at with some focus.

  86. @metamn

    Microsoft doesn’t knows internet. Google doesn’t knows social. Facebook doesn’t knows privacy

  87. @metamn

    Microsoft brought computers home. Google connected them. Facebook connected us. Somebody will connect everything.

  88. @metamn

    So the new strapline is: everything everywhere

    1. @metamn

      Everything, everywhere, the way we want (privacy). Sounds like the bitcoin protocol on the internet of things.And the currency of the new platform? A shift from the egoistic and dumb Attention to something more real, better rewarding. Like money.

  89. K Chan

    big things occur randomly.

  90. Tom_Nocera

    I can visualize a possible application for the Oculus. It is morbid but with the Woodstock Generation approaching the batters box of life for their final swings – picture an end of life application – a review of all one has done, or ever connected to, a chance to vicariously experience one more time, or one last time the things that happened and have been documented both on your “wall’ and in your digital tracks over the decades? Could Zuck be thinking of mining that vein?

  91. ErikSchwartz

    Let’s not even get started on how hard it is to get basic science funded these days.

  92. Girish Mehta

    On exploring – “Mallory: And we went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?Sam Seaborn: Yes.Mallory: Why?Sam Seaborn: ‘Cause it’s next. ‘Cause we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what’s next.”

  93. Dave Pinsen

    I’m not sure if I’d call it a plutocracy, but you could argue (and some have), that it’s a top and bottom versus the middle sort of thing. Which pretty much describes the Democratic Party barbell strategy: win over rich lefties with social issues and then win the votes of the bottom ~40% with expanded food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other band aids patching up the economy the government has made a hash of for years.This is pretty scary, when you think about it, because it means that there’s little incentive for government stewardship to shape an economy that leads to broader prosperity. Just keep importing more poor immigrants who will reliably vote Democratic (because, when taking into account government aid programs, their standard of living is much higher here than in their former countries), and it doesn’t matter if long term unemployment remains at record levels. What matters is you win.

  94. JimHirshfield

    Um. Yeah. Being way ahead is just as bad as being way too late.

  95. awaldstein

    With some things though there are de facto owners/leaders.I wonder what the comment volume is on Facebook. Horrid system that gets used I think more and more.

  96. Brandon Burns

    “First, Facebook is not Google is not Apple. FB doesn’t need a mobile OS, nor does it need to be a cloud computing platform, nor does it need to ship a device. And it shouldn’t.”This stuck out to me, too. I hate the logic that a big company that uses technology needs to have its hands in **all** things technology.Apple makes devices. It makes sense for them to make an OS, i.e. the software that makes their devices operate. Google makes a lot of utility apps for the web, and it makes some sense for them to connect all those utilities into an OS.But those companies are rare. 99.99% don’t fit that paradigm.Facebook connects people. And its a big company. That doesn’t mean it needs to start making an OS, app store, search engine, or whatever. And the same goes for most companies.VCs and the media like to ponder things like, “who’s going to win mobile?” Or win AR. Or win drones. These questions are, frankly, silly. No one is going to win anything. And that kind of thinking is only distracting and detrimental. That’s the kind of thinking that sends Facebook on a 3 year journey to make an OS which proved to be a complete waste of time. And that’s the kind of thinking that’ll drive more VCs and entrepreneurs to follow in those fruitless footsteps.

  97. Dave W Baldwin

    Guys, look at this part of Zuck’s post, “But this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.”It is a platform within platform, going after the broadcast side of things where people can socially interact as they watch. On that note, Facebook can call something another name anyway and go after communication via direct, SMS, Video and so on.BTW, the 3D in Avatar (as well as plot) was not that great. So if you’re to do something that is all 3D, the bar is already set higher, like in Gravity how you are that close to the 3D feel without the glasses.@ccrystle:disqus, @JimHirshfield:disqus, @awaldstein:disqus, @domainregistry:disqus, @daveinhackensack:disqus

  98. mdelvecchio

    Facebook connects Facebook sells advertising. it’s an ad company that generates its revenue from advertising. the connecting people is in order to provide a product to their advertising clients.

  99. Dave W Baldwin

    Please remove the “guest” above. I was trying to get the “@” thing to work and deleted that post.

  100. Brandon Burns

    If you look at the world in that way, that means The New York Times, NBC, Conde Nast, Gawker, your favorite radio station, and any other media property is actually an “ad company.” That would also mean that Google, Yahoo, Twitter and other digital services that are mostly ad supported are “ad companies,” too.But that’s not really the case. These companies all provide different services and content, with different missions that define who they are as companies. Advertising is how they pay themselves to do it.

  101. Richard

    MZ hates ads as much as you do. In time he may just roll the dice and go to new revenue model.

  102. Susan Rubinsky

    The connected people are the product.

  103. mdelvecchio

    bingo — google & yahoo are ad companies. this is not controversial, this is what they are the product google/facebook provide to their customers. you are not the customer, you are the product.

  104. Emily Merkle

    If they had no ad revenue, they would have no services or content. Ad revenue drives all of media and a good deal of technology. If they had no ad revenue, you would be paying through the nose for those offerings. And those offerings would not be of the same quality or quantity.They are all ad companies.

  105. William Mougayar

    It’s early days. Agreed.

  106. JLM

    .The barbell observation is right on the money.Using the government’s money to shackle the “no information” dependency slice of America to their machine is the Democratic approach when viewed from a high vantage point.JLM.