Friday, January 27, 2006

Tech Prediction Events Are Pointless

I attend a lot of entrepreneurial networking and technology events. This past month a recurring theme has been "What are the hot technologies for 2006." I must admit, I don't really understand the point or attraction to these types of events and sadly not only have there been many themed events on this topic, the question has also crept into many other events Q&A. I guess its an easy event to organize because it doesn't take much thought, they attract bluechip VC speakers and they sell out. That makes sense, but why exactly does anyone attend them? In my case, I'm an addict. I'll attend any event featuring an investor that I want to meet and I really can't help myself... but if I did have the choice, I'd stop attending these boring events and ban the predictions question from ever being asked at any event again.

Here's why I don't like predictions events.

First, what changed? Did hundreds of new companies get formed on January 1st to drive the need to make these predictions? A new year is really pretty insignificant from my perspective. As a startup, we don't take any holidays or have any revenue so new years is just a rough day to work through with a hang over. Its just an arbitrary date change.

Second, aren't these events designed to help entrepreneurs learn something? Even if I had been living in a blackhole and found the predictions to be new and interesting what am I learning? Will anyone shift their model or product focus because cleantech is hot? If we've got 4 of Silicon Valley's most famous VC's in a room cant we find something more compelling to talk about? Imagine the knowledge these guys could share with all of us eager entrepreneurs. Its kind of a shame.

Lastly, the predictions are too predictable. Web 2.0 is hot to some but others are predicting a bubble. Cleantech, Nanotech, and mobile applications are definitely hot and enterprise software is dead. Is there anything on this list that is surprising to anyone? Also, are these predictions any different from last year's? The Churchill Club managed to put on a good event (despite the food, which was terrible) but it was the individual panelists, and not the topic, that provided the entertainment. I hope that some day soon I can shake my addiction because I think I'm developing the entrepreneurs version of tinnitus from hearing the same VC predictions over and over again. I'd love to hear someone surprise me and say that SGI is making a comeback and IRIX is going to K.O. Linux. That would be interesting. All of this agreeing is boring.

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