Forecasting the Future

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Mon, 07 Jun 1999 11:30:53 -0700

I meant to FoRK this a long time ago. No cite, but the quotes
are all tagged.


So what happens next? We polled some of the leaders of
the Internet Economy and asked them that question.
Here's some of what they said.

Looking Ahead at The Next 12 Months

"VCs will begin to lose patience, winners will pull away
from losers and we'll start seeing market consolidation ...
You might say that in the next 12 months the Internet
economy will get real."
Hal Varian, dean, UC Berkeley's School of
Information Management and Systems

"Businesses are moving from a wait-and-see approach
to viewing a strong Internet presence as a strategic
imperative. It's the biggest change we've seen so far this
year. It's not just concluding that being online will
enhance your productivity it's the recognition that if
you don't, one day you'll wake up and a startup will
have taken your space."
Bob Pittman, president and COO, America Online

"Content will become more important than navigation.
Content is the 'there' of navigation. It is the reason
people go on the Net."
Jake Winebaum, chairman of Disney's Buena Vista
Internet Group

"All the barriers to consumer confidence on the Internet
will be broken. At the front end, the consumer
experience will improve. And at the back end, fulfillment
services will emerge in a more developed form."
Tim Koogle, chairman and CEO, Yahoo

"Middlemen will start to feel the heat in a meaningful
way. Until now, realtors, stockbrokers, insurance
agents, retailers, et cetera have not felt Internet
competitors affecting their wallet. As consumers make
the Internet the first stop for more of their purchasing,
that will change."
Julio Gomez, Gomez Advisors

"In the next 12 months you will see the rapid
dissemination of 'always on' connectivity. Within two
years, 100 percent of all business-to-business
transactions will be conducted entirely on the Web or
will be Web-supplemented."
Reed Hundt, former chairman of the FCC and venture
partner at Benchmark Capital

"The biggest trend is stickiness. Sticky Web sites,
sticky games, sticky mail lists and, hopefully, sticky
Guy Kawasaki, CEO,

"People will start looking for business models that
produce profits, as well as valuations."
Esther Dyson, chairwoman, EDventure Holdings

"Music is already the second-most-searched commodity
on the Web. With the record industry in turmoil over
MP3, and with RealNetworks and Microsoft sharpening
their hatchets for the battle to offer a 'safe' alternative,
there's likely to be a bloodbath."
Thomas Dolby Robertson, founder and chief beatnik,

"The Internet has an enormous capability to
communicate to common people. We have a meeting in
Chicago every Saturday morning. We did a regular radio broadcast, and we now
broadcast across our Web site. You don't have to go to a regular television network and
you don't have to buy any advertising. In the next 12 months, one is going to see a more
common use of the Internet."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the
Wall Street Project

"Growing use of Internet technologies in nontech sectors will change business models
throughout the economy, transforming the basic ways that companies make products
and serve customers. The 'net' impact is tremendous wealth creation and
Bill Whyman, Legg Mason Precursor Group

"Today, e-retailers get a bunch of products, then try to find customers to buy them.
That's the traditional retail-store model: Find products you think will fit
needs, present them to customers and hope they'll buy. In the future, you'll have
infomediaries that aggregate consumer data, then look for a product that fits their
Will Lansing, president, Fingerhut

"E-commerce from home will double or triple in 1999. We will see not just mainstream
America shopping from home, but a lot of younger kids, teenagers and younger
shopping from home with their parents participation."
Idit Harel, CEO, MaMaMedia

"The single biggest trend will be a focus on earnings. A lot of companies are
valued on
their top line, with the implicit assumption they have margins backing that up, when
they don't. Sooner or later, the Street will figure that out."
Evan Thornley, CEO, LookSmart

"The days of casual use are over. People will demand from the Web the same
they seek with a telephone dial tone."
Doug Hickey, president, Critical Path

"Managing growth will be the biggest challenge facing businesses over the next year.
The simple fact is that consumers will continue to suffer from the industry's
pains. Still, scalable e-commerce technologies are emerging, and competition is
added features and smart design, so I think the customer experience will improve
by 50 percent over the next 12 months."
Julio Gomez, Gomez Advisors

"Rather than just 'eyeballs,' we will talk about 'closeness to eyeballs' and
intercepts.' This should enable a wave of Internet promotions and coupons, and the
revenues from promotions will eventually exceed advertising revenue on the Net."
Steve Jurvetson, partner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

"A lot of what you see today on the Net is inhibited by the 28.8 least common
denominator. As broadband is deployed and more people have high-speed access, there
will be more interesting applications, more interesting advertising. Content
quality will
go up there will be more graphics, more interactivity. This will lead to more real
communication on the Net not ICQ and e-mail but real-time voice and video
Bob Metcalfe, technology pundit and VP of technology at IDG

"With Uranus in Aquarius, Jupiter in Aries and Taurus, and Saturn in Taurus during
this period, I'd have to say that the big development in the Net will be
contacts through televideo and voice communications."
Mike Sheller of The Astrological Investor, an online journal of market
metaphysics, analysis and opinion

"The world is moving to being online 24 hours a day everywhere. E-mail, Web, voice
and so on are still disconnected. They need to come together in one device."
Larry Augustin, founder, president and CEO of VA Research

"There are too many financial sites, and too many news sites. We're going to see big
consolidation. It's already happening."
David Gardner, Motley Fool

"In the Internet Economy, ideas and money are cheap. People are the x-factor in
success. I think you will see firms formed that invest people, not money, in
exchange for equity."
Bo Peabody, CEO, Tripod

Unexplored Territory: What's the Next Great E-business?

"Professional vertical segments on the Internet, like medical and legal sites where
information has high value. They've not taken off so far because companies have
appropriately been focused on serving the broad consumer base."
Tim Koogle, chairman and CEO, Yahoo

"In the public markets, it is wireless data. In the private markets, the answer
is the set of
new applications that have their genesis in always-on high-speed connectivity. New
technologies create new mediums of expression. People would never have written
novels on clay tablets. Without paper, storytelling would never have taken place
in a
way that makes the user capable of going forward and backward. Always-on high-speed
multimedia connectivity will create a new literature. This will be the literature
of the
ubiquitous Internet."
Reed Hundt, venture partner at Benchmark Capital and former chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission

"Providing services to people providing Internet services. There will be a service
economy for the service economy."
Hank Barry, head of the new-media practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

"Competitive intelligence. If you're in industry, you want to gather information
about what your competition is doing: what products they're selling, what prices they're
for and what discounts they're offering. An unrecognized fact of e-commerce is when
you make it easier for your customers to find out what you're doing what prices you're
charging or deals you're offering you're making it easier for your competitors to find
out the same things about you."
Hal Varian, dean, UC Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems

"The Internet is the perfect place to reinvent the music singles chart. Once a barometer
of popular culture, the national singles chart could be reborn on the Web. The digital
single can be an important medium for consumers to discover new music and for the
record industry to develop new artists. A format and business that is costly offline
becomes an attractive business online."
Larry Miller, COO, a2b Music

"I see the need for mobile, ubiquitous personal portals. Give me an application that will
run on the tiniest, most portable device and yet let me manage my life, my calendar, my
e-mail, my tasks, my contact information and all my transactions via the Net without ever
having to log on to the Web. Let me roam untethered, but let the Net work for me, taking
care of business behind the scenes."
Patricia B. Seybold, founder, Patricia Seybold Group

"Only recently have people focused on e-commerce fulfillment as a priority. They've
been focusing on getting customers, front-end marketing and Web-site functionality,
and taken for granted backend infrastructure like physical distribution and customer
service some of the more mundane pieces that are very important to the e-retail
Will Lansing, president, Fingerhut

"Customer service has received far too little attention. The sell-at-cost model can't
provide the service that online customers demand. Price isn't everything; online
consumers expect excellent customer service."
Darryl Peck, CEO, Cyberian Outpost

"Applications that take advantage of bandwidth and processor horsepower for unique
high-bandwidth uses, not just streaming video. Look for applications that are not
HTML-based but instead are actual software applications for travel, sports, music, food
and finance. New tools will be developed to create these applications based on game
David Goldberg, Launch

"Voice and audio. Whether you are talking about Net telephony, conferencing or Net
radio, I think this area is underthought and undercapitalized."
Bo Peabody, CEO, Tripod

"E-mail, the true 'push' medium. As e-mail evolves from text to full HTML, publishers can
deliver Web pages directly to users, rather than hoping and praying that they remember
to visit the site."
Lynda Keeler, Sony Pictures

"Creating multiple business-to-business auction markets and exchanges in specific
sectors, bundled with sector-specific 'business portal' content and services. Think of
them as 'New York Stock Exchanges' for business-to-business products chemicals,
steel, health-care products, trucking in addition to financial securities."
Bill Whyman, Legg Mason Precursor Group

No More Classrooms?

"Instead of putting the Internet in schools, we should be using the Internet instead of
school. A lot of money should go into that. Less and less learning is done in school. TV
has taken over a huge share of the learning market. This is not a good thing. We should
invest in the rise of the Internet as a place of learning."
Bob Metcalfe, technology pundit, VP of technology at IDG

"The global education market is absolutely massive and relatively untapped. The
Internet can reduce the cost of delivering education into developing countries so that
people can get a first-world education."
Evan Thornley, CEO, LookSmart

"The Internet business opportunity is for someone to challenge the existing university
establishment. Look at the top colleges and universities. Are they really preparing
students for the Net economy today? You have to wonder what would happen if there
was a Net business to keep the established players in check and on their toes. Nothing
keeps you on your toes like competition, and right now these folks have no
Angus Davis, cofounder, Tellme Networks

"The universities and colleges are into this because they want some of the revenue.
They're fed a lot of palaver about competition from online education. Administrators are
just barraged with this type of propaganda and they're succumbing to it. In 1924, people
taking correspondence courses with private firms numbered four times the number of
people in college, universities and professional schools. This is not about technology;
it's about the commodification of instruction. It's not about technology; computers are
just the vehicle."
David Noble, historian and professor Generation Y

"Kids ages 2 to 22 are the first generation to grow up digital. For the first time in human
history, children are an authority. It's the intersection of a technology revolution with a
demographic revolution that is beginning to change every institution in society. It's like
we've all been sitting on the beach wondering what kind of day it will be, and no one
noticed this tsunami a hundred yards high just off the horizon."
Don Tapscott, chairman, Alliance for Converging Technologies

The Bandwidth Conundrum

"The most interesting thing about bandwidth is what to do with it when it arrives."
Thomas Dolby Robertson, founder and chief beatnik, Beatnik

No Respect, No Respect at All

"I'm on the board of an online travel company called Preview Travel. They have
thousands of new users a day, and they book travel worth hundreds of millions of
dollars, yet they have a market cap of under $300 million! I'm amazed that the online
travel industry isn't higher. I think it hasn't yet been discovered."
David Pottruck, co-CEO and chairman, Charles Schwab

The E-mail Blizzard

"The days of spamming are quickly coming to an end. It will be like junk faxes. They
were outlawed, so the problem is much smaller now. You'll see the development of opt-in
e-mail lists, and people will come up with innovative giveaways to get people to agree to
receive commercial e-mail."
Sanford Wallace, CEO of SmartBot.Net and father of spam

Danger, Will Robinson

"Melissa is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a tremendous amount of confidential
information that's just being stolen, but the theft is hard to document. Once the
Department of Defense discovers that there's a lot more going on than they thought,
they will have to take on all sorts of security measures."
Jim Bidzos, CEO, RSA Data Security

"If any of the pro-Internet policies were reversed it potentially would set the Net
economy back decades, back as far as you see the Net in Japan or other Net-unfriendly
places. If we decided not to put the Net in every class or we decided not to let ISPs use
the existing telephone networks, I could prove to you on the back of an envelope that
the Net would not be near where it is today. The FCC recently made a decision that
existing telephone companies would compensate the companies building the Net. These
policies mean the Net has taken revenue from existing companies and empowered rivals
and attackers."
Reed Hundt, venture partner at Benchmark Capital and former chairman of the
Federal Communications Commission

Paying the Bills

"Industry analysts forecast that the advent of electronic bill presentment will bring the
delivery of 500 million bills by the year 2005, saving millions on the part of billers and
consumers. We believe consumers will desire the ease of use and convenience of
receiving and paying their bills from one consolidated area anywhere and anytime."
Bill Harris, CEO, Intuit

"There's been a lot of hype about bill presentment, but not a lot of money going into
that market because right now it's only a one-way street. You have to go to the power
company or PacBell to get your bill. That's not logical. If someone sends me a bill and I
can click on it and approve payment, and behind the scenes I'm linked to my bank and I
only have to take one step, I would use it. But if I have to go to a Web page and
download my bill and interact with it and my bank and CheckFree, it becomes ugly. I'd
rather lick a stamp."
Doug Hickey, president, Critical Path

Listen to the Music

"MP3 will be replaced by superior compression schemes that provide better sound
quality and faster downloads. This could occur with the proliferation of shareware
encoders that provide the same opportunities for illegitimate use as MP3 has had. But
this movement to a new compression scheme will be accompanied by a shift to systems
that are just as easy for consumers to use and that respect the copyrights of the artists.
And significant amounts of repertoire from brand-name artists will be available to
consumers via digital delivery."
Larry Miller, COO, a2b Music

"One day, getting music will be like signing up for cellular service. You'll get it in your
house, in your car, on your Pilot, wherever you are, and you'll get billed at the end of the
month. The format is unimportant. You'll be able to get a certain amount free, but there
will be a 'buy' button if you want to keep listening. You'll have a 'stereo-top box' in your
living room with a large LCD screen and a remote control, to manage your inventory.
You'll get special offers of incremental goods like concert tickets and T-shirts. In theory
the best companies to offer this kind of service will be TCI, AT&T or PG&E."
Thomas Dolby Robertson, founder and chief beatnik, Beatnik

Taxing Proposition

"Our vision is the two-minute tax return allowing a consumer to download appropriate
tax information from employers and financial services companies into electronic tax
forms. Simply review, adjust and push a button to file electronically."
Bill Harris, CEO, Intuit

Think Globally

"The U.S. market is big enough that you can build a business here. But the global
market is where much of the opportunity lies. There should be real revenue growth in
these markets, like in the U.S. three to four years ago."
Evan Thornley, CEO, LookSmart