According to Dixon, New York, a technology scene that can’t be called ‘up and coming,’ will create 10 $1 billion companies in the next three to five years. Some New York-based firms have already broached the unicorn mark, making the point smaller than it might seem. Still, if New York can grow that many technology giants in the next half decade, it will prove that Silicon Valley isn’t the only tech game around.
Lawler asked why Dixon is uniquely qualified to invest in “weird shit,” a joke referencing Dixon’s penchant for investing in new and nascent categories. The venture capitalist said that he tries to find “intertwining trends,” and then simply looks for people who are working on those trends.
How does he find new trends to invest in? Dixon quoted the headline of one of his blog posts, saying that “[w]hat the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in 10 years.” So, if you want to invest like the a16z partner, all you have to do is spend quite a lot of time staring into the garage windows of your smartest friends without getting caught.
Lawler pressed Dixon on how to pick companies in a segment, once that niche has been selected as a place where capital should be deployed. According to the venture capitalist, with future-focused bets, you’re essentially making two wagers: The segment itself and the company that you pick. For his firm, a good example of this is bitcoin the platform, and Coinbase the investment.
Digging into the question of how to spot what is next, Dixon compared GitHub, a coding repository, to the storied Bell Labs. To see what is coming up, Dixon recommended the GitHub trending charts — where what developers find interesting is easy to spot.
Before leaving the stage, Lawler asked Dixon if the technology industry is currently in a bubble: Dixon said no.