Pay Attention To The Package
Tech investing is a lot about big trends and timing them.
We knew mobile was going to be a game changer as far back as the mid 90s, but it didn’t really take off until the iPhone came along in 2007
We knew personal computing was going to be a big deal in the late 70s, but computers didn’t become truly personal until operating systems got graphical user interfaces in the mid 80s.
The internet was super interesting in the late 80s and early 90s but it didn’t go mainstream until we had web browsers in the mid 90s.
Artificial intelligence has been around as a computer science effort for sixty years but it didn’t start impacting our every day experiences until it was packaged up (and effectively made to disappear) in web and mobile apps and increasingly cars and voice activated devices.
My point is that technologies present themselves as interesting investment opportunities long before they go mainstream and figuring out when they are going to go mainstream is a lot about looking for the right packaging.
Virtual and augmented reality has been an interesting and investable technology for the last six or seven years. But it hasn’t gone mainstream yet because the packaging of the technology remains problematic. At some point, some company will figure out how to package it up correctly and it will go mainstream. Until that happens, it is a difficult place to make money, even though a few entrepreneurs and investors have been able to do that.
Blockchain and crypto is in a similar state. Today, other than buying and selling crypto tokens, blockchain applications are clunky and hard to use. Centralized applications are way better than their decentralized cousins. When entrepreneurs figure out how to package up blockchain applications so that they are fun and easy to use, I think we will see them take off. My guess is that it will happen first in gaming and collectibles.
My point is that it is one thing to develop a technology that is superior to the current offerings, but entirely another thing to make it usable by most people. The first part is, in some ways, the more important thing (like Satoshi’s white paper) but the second thing is often where the investment leverage happens.