While the Venture Capital community may have come down a few steps from their Bubble-era Masters Of The Universe status, the flow of investment dollars remains a key feature of the technology landscape. Would following that flow be a good strategy for predicting the success or failure of new technologies?

The Table · In this table, a technology gets a ten if Kleiner Perkins and J.P. Morgan are both trying to get into it; a zero if the CEO is waiting on tables and living in his parents’ basement.

Winnersscore Losersscore
Unix/C 4 4GL 8
Open Source 0 AI 10
PC Client 8 VRML 8
WWW 10 iTV 8
Java 8 Ada 0

Discussion · This one is quite a bit tougher than the others, since the information is hard to come by. Also, the technology-investment world went through a sea-change in the late nineties; the WWW got immensely more investment, qualitatively and quantitatively, than anything before or since, but that was in part a function of the times. So I’ve tried to give a feeling for the investment intensity relative to the historical period.

Conclusion · This one kind of surprised me; whatever one may think of the practices of the VC community, you’d expect them to be among the most intensely focused and motivated observers of technology trends. And yet we see the VC feeding frenzies on AI and iTV. On the other hand, the zeros for losers Ada and SGML are interesting; the only zero in the winner column is for Open Source, which for reasons that should be obvious has always been a lousy investment target.

So while this is not obviously a useful predictor, I’d be nervous about technologies that have notably failed to attract investors’ interest.

author · Dad
colophon · rights
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January 09, 2004
· Technology (90 fragments)
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