Placing Your Bets: Where Will the Smart Money Land?

06/02/2004 7:00 PM Robert Metcalfe, '68, General Partner, Polaris Venture Partners; Founder, 3Com Corporation; Ann Winblad, Co-founding Partner, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners; Guy Kawasaki, Managing Director and Chairman of Garage Technology VenturesDescription: In this freewheeling conversation, three veterans of the IT and venture capital worlds describe the current state of technology investing, and make a stab at predicting the next hot markets. Ann Winblad points to wireless as a sector that is breaking open and offering "lots of important, small problems to solve." New companies will emerge as customers demand solutions to security and network management. Guy Kawasaki says the "sale of digital content is another hot area." When someone wants to glimpse a piece of video on a site like CNN, "They say you have to pay 9.95 a month when all you want is to take a sip." Metcalfe raises the possibility that "all information will be stored forever," creating an opportunity for businesses to manage content in new ways. He also worries that "we'll be buried by longitudes and latitudes from all the global positioning satellites." Winblad agrees that we now have "the ability to track anything or anyone, anytime, anywhere, and to remain connected to a network." However, there aren't enough innovative companies devising ways for consumers to use these new tracking technologies, she says. The group debates whether investing in hardware, particularly routers, will prove profitable. Software-enabled improvements in switching and routing might be the better risk, says Winblad.

Bob Metcalfe developed Ethernet as a standard for connecting computers for high-speed data transfer. He joined Polaris Venture Partners in January 2001. Before that, Metcalfe was Publisher/CEO for IDG/InfoWorld. His weekly Internet columns for this publication have been collected in his latest book, Internet Collapses and Other InfoWorld Punditry. Metcalfe founded 3Com Corporation in 1979 and stayed with the billion-dollar company through 1990. Metcalfe received bachelor degrees in electrical engineering and management from MIT (1969), and an M.S. in applied mathematics and Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University.

Ann Winblad's firm Hummer Winblad Venture Partners focuses on software investing. It manages $1 billion in capital, and has launched more than 90 software companies. Winblad has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry as a successful software entrepreneur, strategy advisor, author and venture capitalist. She has consulted for such clients as IBM, Microsoft and Price Waterhouse, among others. Winblad is co-author of the book Object-Oriented Software and has written for numerous publications. She received a B.A. in mathematics and in business administration, and an M.A. in education and international economics from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Kawasaki was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, and a founder of various personal computer companies. Kawasaki is a columnist for Forbes Magazine and the author of seven books, including The Macintosh Way, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy and Selling the Dream. His most recent book is Art of the Start.
Kawasaki holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Stanford, an MBA in marketing from UCLA, and an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Host(s): Alumni Association, MIT Enterprise ForumTape #: T18755.


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