Ankit Jain is Founding Partner at Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI venture fund.
Sramana Mitra: What you’re describing is not contrary to the point they’re making. The point they’re making is that we’ve gone through a 30-year extensive innovation phase. The company that really disrupted Nokia is Apple. To some extent, the Samsung world followed. Sitting in 2016 and looking ahead, it seems like there is a bit more of too many superstars dominating and playing monopolistic roles in their individual areas.
Facebook doesn’t really have a competitor right now. Google doesn’t really have a competitor in search. These are dominant industries. On the cellphone side, there’s competition. The business software faces a lot more competition. There’s Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP. They’re all still acquiring companies and staying relevant. >>>
Networking giant Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) has had a remarkable year so far. Its stock has climbed nearly 18% since the start of the year as the company transforms itself to adapt to the newer technologies. Cisco has been moving away from its traditional business of supplying switches and routers into newer areas of cloud and enterprise collaboration.
Sramana Mitra: It seems like Veeva is a big partner of yours.
William King: Yes, Veeva is a great partner. We’ve got several great partners. You talked about customer relationships. That’s exactly the kind of thing that we can help with. Veeva is an important software partner that relates to that engagement. We have data partners like DRG.
We also have partners in multi-channel marketing. Just a face-to-face visit isn’t always the most effective and certainly not the most cost-efficient. How can people learn online and how can they leverage digital medium? Then, we also have partnerships with services companies that are doing good old consulting. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Talk a little bit about your investments. First and foremost, what have been some of your most interesting and satisfying investments so far?
Don Hutchinson: If I look at deals that have graduated, I would say Sugar Media would be one. They’re a software stack for managing personal media at home. It was sold to 2wire. It was a really good outcome. It helped accelerate the management and the installation of higher-order applications and fundamental broadband hardware in the home. 2wire is the preferred hardware and software on the media sell side and others would be for cable. It helped move the market forward.
At the same time, it was a very good outcome for the company and investors. Recurrent Energy is very active. I actually put a team >>>
Steve Beck, Managing Partner at Serra Ventures, discusses his firm’s non-Unicorn investment thesis. Refreshing to hear.
Sramana Mitra: I was actually reading last week’s Economist expose on superstars. Being a history buff, you may have already read this. Every time there is a major technological revolution, there’s this very disruptive period of 20 to 30 years when there’s a tremendous amount of startup activity and experimentation. Then, that period settles into an oligopoly.
Right now, we do have a bit of an oligopoly in tech. We have four or five companies that are in very dominant incumbent positions that are very difficult to compete with. The amount of data that Facebook has accumulated and the amount of precision with which they’re able to target ads is impossible to compete with. The only other people who have even a remote chance is Google because of their search and intent data capture. >>>
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