Our overarching investment in cloud is based on the “Everything as a Service” thesis we wrote over a decade ago. As business leaders are challenged to do more with less, companies have focused on their core competencies and have outsourced the rest – many to cost effective services available in the cloud. We call this the “Out-Services” era, where outsourcing is being enabled by Cloud Services.
The Out-Services Era
As the Out-Services era has played out, we continue to update our thesis to look ahead for the next decade. We see the critical need for “Trusted Cloud Intelligence” to make sense of, manage, and benefit from a period when every person, place and thing that can be connected will become part of the trusted cloud with the intelligence to serve their needs.
Trust is fundamental to all businesses. The notion of creating and exchanging value between businesses is based on the trust of delivering and securing value. In the past, this required central currencies and intermediaries to manage the supply and value chains. In the future, blockchain will not only enable this in a decentralized manner, it will enable distributed blocks of transactions, programmable smart contracts and applications that embed trust throughout their indelible chains. This will be as foundational as the internet itself, providing a new level of architecture for business to build on and also for consumers to enjoy in everything from education to entertainment.
As connectivity among machines, devices and processes increases, everything will stream data to the cloud. Whether it’s the Fitbit on your wrist, the NEST thermostat in your home, the beacons in a store or the sensors and instruments in a laboratory, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continuously monitor our world and record an unprecedented amount of data. This torrent of data will be our most prevalent currency. But to realize any value from it will require a new level of Cloud Intelligence to filter for the usable signal in the cacophony of noise. The intelligence required to find that signal in such high volumes, velocity and variety will require beyond human, Machine and Deep learning to derive actionable insights. The resulting actions will, in turn, drive business process improvement and optimization, continuously modeled and monitored in a self reinforcing machine learning loop.
New Applications and Micro Services
As we learn how to optimize our businesses around these new and better informed processes, it will give rise to new kinds of SaaS applications, which to be modeled more granularly will drive the use of micro-services that can me more tightly fit to the unique needs of both businesses and consumer engagements.
New Business Models
These cloud-based applications and micro services will be monetized around new business models with new systems of record, reference data, new linkages for trust (such as blockchains) with new kinds of micro-payments, long running transactions and even entirely new value chains built around network economics.
New Creation and Delivery Models
Discontinuous innovation and models for co-creation such as Open Source will continue to be a disruptive force as large communities address problems too broad for any one organization to tackle alone. The possibilities for data driven, network enabled, community powered applications are endless.
These new applications can be served in increasingly mobile, portable, wearable, Augmented or Virtual (AR/VR) formats. As part of this we expect to see both disruptions in existing hardware and software categories and the combinations of the two in things like smart devices, robotics and autonomous vehicles. The computing, sensory perception and other analog digital interfacing required to power these different applications and form factors will open up new fields such as quantum computing and drive new categories of investment opportunities.
Trusted Cloud Infrastructure
All of this – the IoT, AI / Machine Learning for Actionable Analytics and the resulting new Applications – will require an underlying Cloud Infrastructure that is both agile and adaptable, yet secure and reliable. In short, trusted.
This infrastructural trust will need to run parallel to the business trust that blockchains will drive, requiring Development, Operations (DevOps), and Security products to become more integrated for continuous delivery of Trusted Cloud intelligence at increasing scale as the connectivity to the cloud and transactions thereon multiply exponentially.
We are in the early stages of a multi-hundred billion dollar Trusted Cloud Intelligence transformation and we will continue to invest in it for years to come, by partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs supported by the Underscore VC community and specific Core groups focused around everything from Blockchain, to AI/ML and Applications like Commerce at the top of the stack.
Yet, it’s always still about underscoring you.
While our thesis is based around investing in Trusted Cloud Intelligence, we are foremost seeking to invest in bold, brave entrepreneurs who have their own vision formed from understanding problems deeply, challenging the status quo and thinking big about the impact they are going to make when they execute persistently. If that sounds like you, we want to hear how we can support you in your mission!