1.) New Lifestyle for Consumers
With the support from advances in cloud infrastructure, virtual private networks and telecom, corporate employees will increasingly demand remote working, flexible schedules, project-based work and passive income streams. Furthermore, they will transition from the desire to own to the desire to do as a result of their increased freedom.
These trends should drive demand for both sides of marketplaces that enable people to purchase anything from anywhere from anyone -- such as Airbnb, a peer-to-peer marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world, which I predict will eat the real-estate industry's lunch in the coming years; Vayable, an online marketplace where travelers can discover and buy, and local individuals can sell unique travel experiences including tours, activities and extended trips. I'm also bullish on 500px, a company that enables photographers to monetize their passion. They have a beautiful product full of stunning content as well.
This will present opportunities for companies that make marketplaces more safe and secure, as well as for companies that enable people to monetize their skills or assets in ways that complement the unbundling of the corporation into people and small teams.
2.) Hardware Meets Consumers
It's hardware's time to shine. Production costs are coming down, crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter are providing funding and fast customer feedback, and consumer demand will only be increasing. The Pebble watch and other similar products will make 2013 the year you'll see people checking a watch, necklace, or pair of glasses rather than whipping out their phone constantly.
The "Internet of Things" will connect objects and people to the web and mobile devices. Companies in this space include SmartThings, which provides a platform that enables developers and makers to build smart and connected devices, and create interactive and mobile user experiences for consumers; and ThingSpeak, an open application platform designed to enable meaningful connections between things and people.
3-D printing will also be a massive opportunity and will be extremely disruptive to physical distribution networks. Companies I like here are Markerbot, which creates affordable, open source 3-D printers and Shapeways, a 3-D printing marketplace helping anyone turn an idea into a physical reality.
The combination of these two -- making 'dumb' objects easier through 3-D printers and making dumb objects 'smart' through the Internet of Things -- will present some amazing opportunities.
3.) Social Graph As a New Infrastructure
Always-on mobile devices, widely available Internet access and massive amounts of publicly available personal data are enabling fundamentally new consumer experiences and will present a universe of new opportunities.
We'll see some form of the social graph become integrated with almost every transaction and interaction we have. Potential applications range from government to corporate governance to education to lending. The potential depth of coverage is in the trillions of dollars.
The factors described above, along with new distribution platforms, are shifting power from government and corporations to individuals. Individuals can now express themselves and drive society in ways they couldn't before.
Companies I like in this space are Quora, a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it; Klout, a company that measures an individual's influence based on the ability to drive action across the social web; and Entelo, a company that allows recruiters to search for software engineers and designers across based on their performance on sites such as Stackoverflow and Behance.
4.) Ignored and Slow-Adopting Industries Finally Catch Up
There has been so much innovation in slow-adopting industries like education and healthcare that hasn't fully taken hold. These are massive markets with plenty of problems for entrepreneurs to solve. In education, we still teach kids in classrooms designed for the 1950's using early 1900's psychology.
Education will become un-bundled -- and I expect educational content will eventually be free as new publishing and distribution platforms have enabled content to become widely disseminated by anyone. Educators will instead monetize through complementary services. Employers will have more effective and employee-friendly methods of qualifying prospective employees than college.
An industry I'm particularly interested in is agriculture technology. It seems to have been ignored by entrepreneurs when compared to areas such as restaurant discovery. There are massive markets that can now be exploited thanks to technology infrastructure advances described above. Farmeron ,a company that helps farmers across the world to manage their farming data online and do farm performance analysis, seems well-poised here.