I joined Qualcomm Ventures 5 years ago because I thought the newly released iPhone would herald in an era where the web met wireless – and what a 5 years it’s been…
The first wave of companies, when I first started, were “mobile only” plays – they were remnants of the dumbphone age. I couldn’t have cared less – I was only interested the next wave: web services where the handset was the window into the service. One investment based on this thesis was we7 – a cloud based music service which became “a personal DJ in your pocket” a la Pandora for the UK market (we exited last year). Spotify is an excellent example of this type of business that more of you will be familiar with. We didn’t make many investments here, but lots of good companies came out of this space.
The following wave was mobile-only or mobile-first companies. Foursquare springs to mind immediately- and is an example I’ve used many times. They launched with a mobile-only offering, and have only recently added a website. We’ve made quite a few investments in this space – Viddy is probably our best known, launching on iOS only, growing to 25M+ users and then opening up content on the web to continue to develop the product and expand reach.
Things have continued to evolve, and I’ve basically stopped looking at apps and started looking at services – delivered via an app. A great example of this category is Citymapper – a London based company that crunches data in the background to optimize your journey using a combination of bus, train, tube, overground etc through London. I use the app every single day to navigate London. One of our better known companies is also in this space- Waze, which helps users “outsmart traffic, together”. And it really, really works. It’s saved my neck in San Francisco, L.A., San Diego and London as well – I wouldn’t think about driving in L.A without it. Waze takes all active users (drivers) at any given moment in time, and optimizes their route based on that data. It’s a lot of crunching. It’s an awesome service that’s made possible by millions of mobile devices. 34M users and still rocketing up. More users = more data = better service. I love it. Google Now is the last example that I’ll highlight – if you haven’t had a chance to experience it, have a look at this Google Now video.
And this is where we are now, smart, predictive services. They are what’s next in mobile- we’ll be seeing more and more of them.