With 2006 just a few days away, I asked seven top entrepreneurs to make some bold predictions for the new year. Some of their forecasts include IT budgets increasing, growing adoption of open source and even one of them predicted a couple of big acquisitions.
I am really looking forward to 2006 and maybe more so after the seven entrepreneurs below predicted what could happen over the next 12 months. They include: Todd Masonis, Founder and VP of Products, Plaxo; Kathy Brittain White, Founder and CEO, Rural Sourcing; Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor; David Spitz, founder, Netsation and WindWire; Cary Chessick, CEO, Restaurant.com; Billy Marshall, CEO, rPath and Jeff Reedy, CEO, Overture Networks.
Here are the thoughts they shared. Comments/more predictions welcome!
Todd Masonis, Founder and VP of Products, Plaxo
Web Services - As more apps move to the web, many of their operations will be implicitly exposed as simple APIs. I think this will eventually lead to a huge explosion of mashups and applications that could not be possible before everything moved to the web. I think this will lead people to realize that many download apps and client apps are actually the same thing sitting on different sides of the http divide (e.g. IM vs. social networking).
IT Budgets Increase; Boards Create IT Committees; Growing Adoption of Open Source
Kathy Brittain White, Founder and CEO, Rural Sourcing
Information technology budgets and capital expenditures are increasing after five years and that is good news for technology companies. After the e-commerce boom and bust---there is widespread recognition that it is a technology that is powerful for even the most traditional business models.
Web development, new internet products and integration along information pipelines will be a focus of new development in 2006.
Companies are creating board of director information technology committees for oversight and to assist in the recognition of emerging technologies as well as technology innovation. Although technology companies are leading this trend, I believe adoption will follow in many other industries. This is a signal of the growing understanding that most companies (regardless of their products or services) must utilize technology to be competitive.
The growing adoption of open source/Linux opens up tremendous opportunities for new technology products to help customers transition, link and fill out functionality.
High Profile IPO in RTP in 2006/2007, Large Internet Players to Locate in RTP
Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor
In the Bay area, 2005 saw a surge of new companies being founded and funded. I'm optimistic this wave will reach RTP in 2006 and we'll have some exciting new companies to watch and nurture for the back half of the decade.
Simultaneously we have some very interesting and rapidly growing companies in the "2000-2004" vintage that we could see make strides towards liquidity events this year. I'm optimistic RTP will have a pretty high profile technology IPO in 2006/2007 which will be great for the area and help keep RTP on the high-tech "radar".
Finally, I predict the allure of RTP will bring some of the large internet players to the area that are interested in taping into our wealth of intellectual capital. This could start another boom-let for the area that will be really exciting and bode well for 2007.
Apple Buys Netflix; Cisco Acquires MobiTV and Number of Blogs Exceeds Human Population!
David Spitz, founder of both Netsation and WindWire
1. Apple iTunes will deliver 250,000,000 paid television episodes to consumers, and every major network will cut a video distribution deal with Apple before the end of the year.
2. Google will launch paid search video ads, inserted into video content.
3. Cisco acquires MobiTV to extend its reach into consumer media.
4. Verizon and Cingular will finish the year with more wireless broadband data subscribers than all paid WiFi providers combined. WWAN speeds increase to 6Mbps.
5. Apple buys Netflix and offers full-length DVD-quality movies through iTunes.
6. First hacked Skype call is recorded and leaked to the Internet.
7. Early-stage venture investing reverses its slump, jumps 20% over 2005; broadband video emerges as major investment theme.
8. Google launches an integrated, browser-based developer platform. Creates a new platform arms race between Google, Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Salesforce.com.
9. The number of blogs exceeds human population for the first time; machines begin writing and reading blogs, eliminating human involvement.
10. One out of ten of these predictions actually comes true.
Technology Released that Combines Internet, Cell Phone, Home Phone, Music, Email, Cameras and Video
What I have noticed in 2005 is that the public has caught up to and caught onto to communication and entertainment based technologies. The iPod is an obvious one, as well as cell phones with video and email, digital photography, and VOIP telephony. I think there were monumental leaps in consumer confidence and lifestyle that made each of these technologies more mainstream in 2005. I think 2006 will see consumers embrace "one stop shop" technology that combines the Internet, cell phone, home phone, music, email, cameras and video.
The Year of the Software Appliance
Billy Marshall, CEO, rPath
I predict that the software appliance concept will emerge as the next generation of software as a service. A software appliance combines a software application and a streamlined version of system software (OS, file system, application server, etc.) that readily installs on industry standard hardware (typically a server). The customer receives all service and maintenance from the application vendor, eliminating the requirement to manage multiple maintenance streams, licenses, and service contracts. Widespread adoption of virtualization technologies like VMWare and Xen coupled with easy access to high quality open source infrastructure components such as Linux, Zend, Apache, etc. will lead software vendors to deliver their applications as software appliances, assuming complete responsibility for the customer experience.
Network Transformation to Pick Up Even More Steam
Jeff Reedy, CEO, Overture Networks
I have never been so fired-up about my industry – the networking industry -- since I saw my first Ethernet cable connecting a bunch of Altos computers at graduate school back in 1980. There is a huge transformation underway from circuit to packet for voice, data and video networking, and everyone seems to finally understand the basic cost benefits and potential for enhanced applications. This includes the people who actually need to buy this stuff.
A couple of events occurred independently in the last 12-18 months to create a tipping point in the transformation. First was the decision by SBC to adopt IP-TV as the platform for competing against the cable companies. All of a sudden it was in vogue to think about packet technologies as the way to enhance the networking experience. Another subtle decision affecting corporate users and the carriers servicing them was the decision by Cisco and Lucent to stop investing in their frame relay and ATM switch technology. As a result, corporate wide-area networking with Ethernet and IP emerged as really the only viable candidate for faster speeds and multiple services.
I think 2006 will see the network transformation pick up even more steam as corporate IT spending accelerates, and the next 3 years will seem chaotic for everyone in the industry, but it’s about time we had some excitement!