The Montgomery Tech Conferenceis organizing 1600 one-on-one meetings for startups to pitch directly to investors. I've talked to more than a dozen VC investors here and the vibe is upbeat -- they're enthusiastic about the fact that startups can launch quickly and scale faster than ever.
What's different now?
New technology like Amazon web services and easy to use platforms like Facebook and the Apple's iPhone and iPad app allow ideas to quickly turn into revenue-generating businesses.
So what are VCs betting on right now?
When I ask what the next big thing is, many VCs I've talked to here pull their iPhones out of their pockets and wave them enthusiastically in the air.
Matrix Partners Dana Stalder tells me that Mobile is the most important trend of the next five years, and he's particularly focused on "native" mobile companies- those that from the moment of their founding, are entirely focused on mobile, not adapted to the mobile platform.
No surprise, another big trend VCs keep stressing is cloud services. JMI Equity's Paul Barber pointed to ServiceNow.com, a management software startup. Mayfield Fund's Navin Chaddha also stressed the importance of the cloud-- he's on the board of storsimple.com, cloud storage.
DISRUPTING FINANCIAL SERVICES
DFJ's Tim Draper is looking further afield than the expected mobile apps and software. He's on the hunt for companies that will disrupt Wall Street. He's already invested in two companies in this space: prosper.comenables peer-to-peer lending and XPertfinancial.com is working on a secondary market so companies won't be under pressure to go public.
The next generation of e-commerce isn't about moving shopping online, it's social, and it redefines how people find products and buy them. Highland capital Partners' Bob Davis is going all-in on what he calls "disruptive commerce," with investments in curated retail site Opensky.comand high fashion rental service RentTheRunway.comsubscription businesses are also getting a lot of buzz here, in part because Jessica Alba is behind one of them. She was here at Monty presenting TheHonestCompany.com-- a subscription service for non-toxic baby supplies, like soap, wipes, and diapers. Alba is working with the entrepreneur behind subscription shoe service ShoeDazzle, fronted by Kim Kardashian. Subscription services allow companies to manage the pitfalls of retail: they don't have an in-store presence or have to worry about inventory.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFRASTRUCTURE
And of course everyone loves to talk about Facebook. There are a slew of companies here built on top of the Facebook platform. Many of them offer the infrastructure for big brands and other media companies to interact with them. Gigya.comprovides the technology for websites to allow users to login using their Facebook login. Moxie Software provides the technology for companies to manage all their social interactions.
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