Venture Capitalists are Spreading Bets Across Technologies (including Ag) Where Path to Profits is Unclear

Rolfe Winkler reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Venture capitalists are always chasing the next big thing. Of late, they are struggling to figure out what that might be.

“Nearly a decade has passed since the smartphone sparked a startup gold rush. Silicon Valley investors have yet to identify the next product that will spawn a similar wave of tech companies and lucrative returns.

“Venture capitalists are spreading their bets across technologies where the path to profits is unclear, including self-driving cars, drones, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, even food.”

The article noted that, “Veteran investor Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson said his firm is backing companies in agriculture, robotics, artificial intelligence and aerospace. ‘A ridiculous amount of money will be lost foraging into all these areas,’ he said. ‘But the greatest opportunities are in those sectors.'”

The Journal article explained that, “Venture investors are getting antsy as they sense a lull at the end of an investing cycle, said Elad Gil, founder of cancer-testing software startup Color Genomics Inc., and an investor in highly valued startups Airbnb Inc. and Pinterest Inc.

“‘Trying to find what’s next, you start investing in a lot of stuff you don’t understand,’ said Mr. Gil. Venture capitalists, he said, are sitting on funds they feel they need to deploy.

“Mr. Jurvetson said one way to avoid bad bets is to steer clear of capital-intensive projects, a mistake his firm and others made when they bet on some early clean-technology companies.”

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