'Ambient' Computing, Disruptive Banking Startups Top VC Predictions

By David Needle  |  Posted 2015-05-25 Print this article Print
Tech Predictions

The End of Auto Nation, Self-Driving Cars and Hyperloop

Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark Capital, thinks that in the next five years ride sharing and other transportation services like Uber (in which he was an early investor) will put a dent in the long-held trend in America he called Auto Nation that most every adult owns a car.

“The 230 million cars in the U.S. are idle 96% of the time, that’s a huge waste” he said.

Jurvetson, a believer in self-driving cars championed by Google and others, thinks the “rise of the Robocars” is inevitable. “I’ve been in several self-driving cars and I think they are already safer than driving with my parents. Every automaker is working on this,” he said.  

Last year Tesla founder Elon Musk posted a blueprint for Hyperloop, a high- tech vacuum tube network for personal, high speed transportation. Pishevar sees it becoming a “fifth mode of transportation” in the next five years.

Hyperloop Technologies, a company he co-founded, is working on a two-mile track designed to transport people at 700 miles an hour. “If we can move cargo and people at those speeds, you could get from L.A. to San Francisco in half an hour,” he said.

Jurvetson lauded the idea, but thinks that even if a working hyperloop system is built, it won’t clear regulatory hurdles in the next five years.

The panel reacted positively to Lynn’s prediction that in the next five years 50 percent of computer science graduates will be women (less than 10 percent are today). She cited Girls Who Code and other programs designed to encourage girls to try coding.

Native Mobile Apps Dominate

Gurley predicts native mobile apps will dominate the mobile Web alternative. He said studies show consumers vastly prefer native apps to using a mobile browser, which he said can be “a huge pain because you have to log in and search for what you want.”

Lee was a bit skeptical. She says she already has 50 apps on her smartphone and it’s hard to find the one she wants at any given time.

Jurvetson expects that billions of people will be connecting to the Internet for the first time in the next five years thanks to the advent of low-flying satellites and new airborne transponders.

“The entire earth will be bathed in broadband and that will be profoundly important for people not online already,” he said. “They can have access to online education, be entrepreneurs and bring the American dream to everyone on the planet.”

Gurley said he admires anyone willing to make the effort but said it will require a “herculean effort” and doubts anything like it deployed in the next five years.

Jurvetson said the Skynet concept isn’t anything he’s invested in, “but I believe in it.”



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