37 thoughts on “Memo to John Doerr: We Are Well Into the Third Wave”

  1. THE evolution really is mobile. I’m not sure why Doerr was so non-specific. Pick a horse… and mobile is the horse to pick. Mobile is re-defining commerce (Square, mobile payments, mobile donations), advertising (Google had to acquire Admob to catch up and Apple Quattro), devices… look at every new phone after the iPhone… UI rich, and app-tastic!

    I have been in the mobile space since 2003. Every year I hear the proclamation that it is the “Year of Mobile”…. but if you look around, the shift already happened. It happened so fast even Mr. Doerr missed it.

    The iPad has kicked off a tablet market that thrives on a user experience that is inherently mobile.

    If the third wave of the internet evolution were a hollywood blockbuster, the through line would be mobile.

  2. Om, I wrote a long post in April with my thoughts for the potential Billion dollar opportunities in the next decade – most of which aren’t pure “web” ideas but most of which do involve the pervasive Internet in some capacity (or pervasive & ad-hoc networks – not just “the Internet”)

    see http://shannonclark.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/billion-dollar-ideas-for-the-next-decade/

    I’d love your thoughts/reactions/feedback on my predictions – I’m certain I’ve missed some huge opportunities.


    1. nice post. I like some of your themes!

      I think the point of “waves” is that they are not billion dollar ideas but they are hundreds of billions of dollars over many years, So yes, Internet is a big wave and everything follows in its wake. So if the big “third wave” is really a wave, we are way into it.

  3. I agree with your observations. Very marginal comments from John. I didn’t get the feeling that he really understands the social movement all that well.

  4. hey om, i think charlie is awesome too. and john yep. but here’s the thing – sometimes charlie rose as an interviewer is like an ADD teenager. it’s like he’s not even listening sometimes. i mean what was that non sequitor question about “what is it with steve and adobe?” so I think part of what made this frame a little less crisp and sharp was that instead of doerr engaging with a technologist who gets it and can unpack the discussion and doerr’s thoughts like a pro we got what rose readily admitted was “a layman’s approach” to exploring these topics. I don’t think doerr is losing his edge or behind the curve; I think charlie didn’t bring out the best and deepest thinking in his kind of flitting questions and while I love charlie I think he doesn’t need to keep changing the subject – sometimes he should go deep…

  5. I think that the next wave will involve the relationships of data with genetics. computers and software is just part of it now! the manipulation of life will be bigger than the computer revolution.

  6. Om, the 3rd wave will be Semantic Web. We see early uses in the Zemanta and Thomson Reuter’s OpenCalais services. Twitter’s annotation feature and Facebook’s Open Graph will bring partial implementations to a much broader developer community and demonstrate the scaling value of Tim Berners-Lee’s vision.

  7. What about 3D internet and the internet moving to mobile phones completely, net games over the phones??

  8. to come :
    – Augmented reality goes mainstream
    – Sensor detection in every device
    – Machine to machine > human communication
    – Artificial inteligence everywhere (like robot journalist)
    – new designe for mobile device (data > voice -> 6sens by MIT)
    – auto login with biometrie everywhere (using cam for eye recognition)

    But the main thing is that Internet gonna be used outside of the computer : mobile, car, terminal like surface or iPad.

  9. Nice post, Om. Well I think it is very hard to speak about future, as for me I think that next 10 years Twitter will be #1 position, and if google doesn’t change something and will not create a great service like youtube or something else Twitter can easily conquer them.

  10. I believe the most compelling big trend is the actual take off of the internet out of the computer coming to new set of devices. Setting the internet free from the computer and making it present everywhere is what is radically changing the game: the iPhone is the obvious part, but think of game consoles, tvs, tablets, cars,…The everything connected is in my mind the biggest thing ever happened to the internet since it was created (originally for computers)

  11. You’re right, “we” (quoted purposely) are already into the third wave. Been so for a while now but that is “us”; early adopters and those on the cutting edge of technology availability.

    John talked about smartphones like they are just coming out and you know what, they are “just” coming out. Feature phones still outweigh smartphones and so the third wave for those that haven’t migrated over to smartphones is just occuring.

    And that brings us to the “we” I quoted above.

    “We”, as in those that read tech blogs, are inside the bubble (hate to say that word) of technology and because we live it everyday we believe everyone in the world is in the same state, which is not true.

    John in all his wisdom was probably trying to convey that the emergence of smartphone technology, which provides increased levels of social, comms, & commerce, is becoming more commonplace as average joe’s/jane’s start migrating off feature phones and into the 3rd wave.

    “We” have to keep in mind not everyone is bleeding edge or completely into all this techie stuff. If we don’t keep that in mind we can get disappointed when someone of John’s caliber gets on the stage and says a new trend is just starting vs. in our minds has been ongoing.

    1. Ben

      I respectfully disagree. I think the iPhone launched in 2007 so it has been 3 years as per “third wave.” But we are assuming that rest of the world doesn’t exist.

      If you look at the growing sales of mobile phones, data connections, broadband connections etc from 2005 onwards, you are off target in saying early adopters. I think a whole lot of places (South Korea, parts of Europe, Japan) were already very connected.

      Further more, a Wall Street firm has put together a “research report” which is normally way late into a trend 🙂 If someone like JD is going to make a pronouncement, I would like to get it ahead of the curve not 5 years into it. That said, I think the whole concept of 3rd Wave if marketing speak.

  12. Maybe the next focus of attention for the market is the awareness of itself. Privacy issues and data mining, which has been around for decades will become a central topic once cloud computer and the sparse algorithm reach average Joe. Who owns what? Have you ever stepped over an ant’s nest? By the time of the realization one might be cover with them.

  13. actually, Om, I think he customized the message to that audience. To others, including Congress he plays more of a sustainability message given Kleiner’s 50+ investments in clenatech. He has other investments in healthtech, personalized medicine etc. So, I would argue there is a Fourth Wave of innovation coming soon after which is described in my upcoming book, The New Polymath as blending 3,5,10 strands of infotech, cleantech, nanotech, biotech to come up compound, exotic new solutions to solve some of our complex problems. I profile Kleiner, GE and many more who are already able to handle that breadth of disciplines.

    About your respect for John, it is a remarkable track record and what a sense for markets years before others. In recent years the gloss had gone off VCs as opportunistic, looking for the quick hits. When I interviewed Kleiner for their chapter in the book, I was struck with the breadth and frontier nature of their cleantech portfolio – they started investing heavily in 2003 and are up to 50 wide ranging investments in that sector. You can call it many things but not aiming for a quick hit.

  14. nice post. I like some of your themes!

    I think the point of “waves” is that they are not billion dollar ideas but they are hundreds of billions of dollars over many years, So yes, Internet is a big wave and everything follows in its wake. So if the big “third wave” is really a wave, we are way into it.

  15. As you can imagine I think about it differently.

    There is the Web and there is the internet.

    The web is published data, which are organized by humans (links) to reveal context (org. idea). Maybe from all the data on the web only 2% (to make up some data)is relevant to me at any given moment. Means 98% is irrelevant to me right now, as more data from diverse sources gets published as less relevant the overall data becomes to me. That is because context is organized data and as more diversified it gets as less relevant it is to me, since I have limited capacity and be bound to past experience. In other words the web doesn’t scale nor do search results. Specially if humans take advantage of ambiguity and are able to make money of it.

    Then there is internet which is just a set of open protocols which allow machines to communicate in an organized way. So far it has scaled to incredible levels. Now since human data organization doesn’t scale on a very large scale, specially with ambiguity, we have to use different ways to organize those data. Social graphs is one way, introducing trust and context (related people) and limiting ambiguity on how data relates. Subscription to streaming models is another way, which gives you basically a snapshot of “random” data of all new data created with a limited context of what you might be interest in.

    Local apps is just another way to limit scope and allow for better organization (UI) of the data.

    All of this boils really down to organization, and sooner than later we have to get machines involved to help out. The semantic web is only a very small thumbnail of that picture, since it requires to much human involvement. As sooner as we go beyond the believe that we can capture text as a boolean expression as faster we get to new ways to organize the worlds data.

    The next big thing is about new ways of organizing the worlds data.

  16. I believe the next “wave” is about hyper-localization…aka “the internet of things.” With GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth all readily available and the near ubiquity of a network connection, the next logical step is to start personalizing your surroundings. This will require objects we don’t typically think of as “computers” to “evolve” (much as the cell phone was just a few short years ago) and connect with each other.

    For example, as I approach a coffee shop, my personal device will notify the store that I’d like my usual designer cup of coffee (sans foam). As I enter the store, payment will be deducted from my account (possibly using voice print verification as I say “Hi” to the barista), and I’ll pickup my drink and be on my way.

    This will be a long wave (time wise), but a tsunami none-the-less.

  17. It’s important to note that these revolutions dont start when the early adopters take on a new technology but when the masses adopt it. Sure smartphones have been “online” for awhile but in the grand scheme of things they are still only a relatively small percentage of the population.

    1. Edgar, to your point you might want to take a look at:

      why @11min in. Are we at 15-18% smart phone penetration? And shouldn’t VCs identify trends before they reach 15-18% or are they all me toooo.

  18. Totally with you there Om! Was quite disappointed by John Doerr – he spent the bulk of his speaking time advertising the startups Kleiner has invested in and talking them up. I felt almost dirty watching it.

  19. From my perspective, the next evolution is the democratization of data, enabled by web technologies. The web will continue to transition from an information resource to a data synthesis platform, and elements like the social graph will be critical not for their information or visible connections, but as a backbone for predictive algorithms and a database of behaviors. The move of “quants” from Wall Street to the technology space will drive a tremendous amount of innovation very quickly.

  20. He forgot about the first wave with the mainframe replacing the poor people who used to calculate for a living.

    I’d say the next wave is about the intersection of the age of information abundance with the abundance of computing. This will intersect whereever and whenever we need it, possibly without “us” ever being in the picture.

  21. It may be possible that the really big waves of Internet change are actually over! The caterpillar has become a butterfly and will probably not become something else again. The web has already changed the world in a major way, and the future may be about tweaking and improving what we already have. Even the social networking phenomena that people are so excited about now is nothing new, and has really been the driving force of the web for many years. It’s just gotten more refined and easier to use for more mainstream users.

    We face a lot of challenges in the coming years that involve dealing with a changing and depleted environment that we all depend on for sustenance. As far as I know, no one has figured out how to actually eat the stuff they produce in Farmville. So the next significant wave of innovation may be coming from somewhere else entirely, and actually may have little to do with the Internet.

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