On Monday at the Digital East conference, the obligatory VC panel answered the obligatory question on what the new, new thing is going to be. These sorts of panel questions usually lead to the same answers -- cloud services, social media, programmable web, hey I hear cleantech is going to be big.
But for some reason, this panel gave what I thought were some particularly insightful insights.
- E-Commerce is ready to start attacking hard businesses. John Backus of New Atlantic Ventures started off the discussion with one of my very favorite themes. Selling books and cds on the web was very web 1.0. Selling shoes and clothes on the web was very web 2.0. It's time to figure out how to sell the tricky things -- the unique items, the vintage items, the mass customized items, the collectors items. In particular, John called out fine wines as an area that he thought the web was ready to solve. I can think of a half dozen other areas.
- It's time to take another look at digital media. John Backus also hit one of my other favorite themes right on the head by noting that digital media is just beginning to take flight on the internet. The ad spend in digital media is finally gaining momentum and the predictions and trends are all beginning to come true. My sweet spot in this area is digital music -- as I've told anyone that will listen, digital music is still fighting World War I. It's time to get out of the trenches and embrace some of the new technological developments to harvest the money that is becoming available.
- The new internet is perfectly situated to provide the "last mile" of bricks and mortar commerce. Don Rainey of Grotech Ventures discussed this hyper local meets internet 2.0 trend, my third favorite theme. Using an analogy to the last mile of phone and internet services to your home, Don noted the many tools that the internet was developing for small and mid-sized business to reach out to and acquire customers in efficient and inexpensive ways. He also noted how the internet can help these small businesses with time sinks such as appointment setting.