After The Unicorn Carnage


Predictably, the technology industry is going through an adjustment. Many public stocks in hot sectors like cloud computing have crashed. Overvalued Unicorns are experiencing down rounds, layoffs, and all the other unsavory stuff that they deserve. More Unicorns will turn into Unicorpses as the correction continues. You could say that the industry is in bad shape.

I disagree.

The industry, actually, is full of wonderful companies that offer robust value propositions and excellent business models.

It is the market and the speculators -- including the VCs who invested in the Unicorns at crazy valuations -- who ran amok.

Of course, you can't put the entire blame on investors and let the entrepreneurs off the hook entirely. If you accept cocaine, you should have to deal with the consequences.

At any rate, the correction was necessary.

Sanity is welcome.

Let's look ahead.

I have no doubt that new, exciting technologies will be brought about by new, exciting companies. There are two categories I am particularly keen to see unfold.

The first is in the realm of healthcare.

I am sick and tired of doctors trying to wing it when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. There are hundreds or thousands of symptoms, and about that many different drugs. Doctors seem to be fumbling with side effects of various drugs and how they interact in unison.

In effect, we expect our doctors to do a multivariate optimization of symptoms, drugs, side effects, cross effects, etc. in their heads.

It's not possible for ALL doctors to do a good job of this ALL the time. They make lots of mistakes. They miss lots of issues. And the loser is the patient.

Instead, all this needs to be done in software.

Key in your medications, symptoms, test data, imaging, etc. and let the software figure things out.

The doctors need help, and the software that can provide this help may be complicated, but not THAT complicated.

There is work going on in this realm. I hope it moves fast. As a consumer, I am more than ready to use it.

Doctors, instead of being threatened, should welcome this new, infinitely scalable, unambiguously useful innovation.

The second is in the realm of finance.

I am not impressed by the wealth management industry. It seems to be yet another set of humans trying to do multivariate optimizations in their heads in real-time with the markets performing gymnastics in parallel. Not possible. Cannot yield great results. This stuff should be handled by software.

Yes, a new class of robo advisors has cropped up in the financial sector, but they have a ways to go still.

There is a third category that is becoming vital to the future of world economies: training and education, especially online, scalable education. 

We're going towards a highly unequal society where only people who have 21st-century skills can thrive. The rest will barely survive. That means, hundreds of millions of people will need to develop these skills rapidly, affordably, democratically.

We've seen the first wave of online education innovations already impact large numbers of people. A lot more will happen in this realm. A lot more needs to happen in this realm.

Overall, I am bullish about the REAL Unicorns -- companies with REAL value propositions, REAL business models, REAL innovations.

Of the ones that have been hyped up without merit, I say, good riddance.

Photo credit: mollybob/