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What Ideas Are Trending Among Tech’s Biggest Influencers?

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Y Combinator, one of best-known Silicon Valley accelerators, has an impressive track record of success. With well-timed investments in Dropbox, Stripe, and Airbnb, the startups in the company’s portfolio are now worth an aggregate of $600 billion in market capitalization.

While Y Combinator has made a clear impact on the tech sector, the company also launched an internal side project in 2007 that would end up becoming highly influential in a different and surprising way.

Its user-powered news aggregator called Hacker News, which is now visited by 20 million people per month, has become a mainstay for entrepreneurs, tech professionals, and venture capitalists around the world. Using a Reddit-like interface, users can upvote and downvote articles that they think have the most relevance to trends and issues affecting the tech sector.

Data Mining For Trends

Today’s charts come to us from Variance Explained, and they help to paint a picture of what topics have been trending on Hacker News over the last 3.5 years.

Using data from over 1 million subject lines, we can see which topics are being mentioned with increasing frequency by the site’s community of technology influencers.

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As you can see, words like “AI”, “artificial”, “bot”, “deep”, “neural”, and “learning” are key terms that have growing interest within the community. It shows that the buzz around AI and deep learning is widespread and happening on multiple fronts.

Donald Trump was also a hot topic of debate in Hacker News, as evidenced by the increase in mentions.

Cooling Off

Here are some of the words in the community used with decreasing frequency over the same 3.5 year timeframe:

The fastest-declining words in Hacker News titles

Over time, as the rubber hits the road, we get to see which ideas have staying power.

Google Glass, as cool as it was, ended up not directly revolutionizing how we use augmented reality. Likewise, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and surveillance seemed to have also dropped out of discussion.

On the flipside, some of these concepts also seem to have transitioned to the mainstream. Bitcoin and other altcoins, for example, are now more popular than ever before with a market capitalization of over $100 billion. Likewise, iPads, Gmail, and Kickstarter are pretty ubiquitous, but it could be argued that discussion on these topics is now pretty staid for the idea-hungry folks that frequent Hacker News.

Blockchain vs. Bitcoin

It’s also interesting to see the contrasting popularity of two related terms among Hacker News participants.

Bitcoin-related talk, at least on Hacker News, was hot in late-2013 after the price skyrocketed for the first time. The blockchain, on the other hand, took some time to pick up steam among influencers.

The popularity of Blockchain vs. Bitcoin on Hacker News

Fast-forward to today, and the concept of the blockchain is much more fleshed out.

It took time, but the blockchain is now considered to be a foundational technology that is affecting everything from how how stock markets work, to the proof of ownership for digital assets.

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Amazon

The Impressive Stats Behind Amazon’s Dominance of the Cloud

Do you watch Netflix or use Facebook? If so, then you are indirectly leveraging Amazon’s incredible scale and dominance of the cloud.

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To the average person, cloud computing must seem quite magical.

All at once, the cloud provides instant access to all of your data, photos, music, and applications, without you having to store any of that data locally. In fact, users can access the cloud from practically anywhere in the world, and across multiple devices and platforms.

Yet, this all happens without you actually seeing any visible infrastructure. With data now being created at record speeds, where the heck is all this information being physically stored?

The Rise of AWS

Even though you can’t see the vast infrastructure that runs the cloud, it does exist somewhere.

As today’s infographic from RapidValue shows, much of this infrastructure is owned and operated by Amazon, through its extremely profitable subsidiary of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Here are the key stats on this dominant service that powers much of the internet today:

The Impressive Stats Behind Amazon's Dominance of the Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) quietly launched in 2002, and in a short time has been able to scale into the largest single player in cloud computing (IaaS, PaaS).

While it is a well-known name to software developers, AWS emerged on a more mainstream basis once its financials were separated from those of parent Amazon.com.

Even in 2018, AWS delivered most of Amazon’s operating income.

AWS By the Numbers

To understand the true scale of AWS, you need to look at the numbers.

  • AWS has over 1 million active users in 190 countries
  • AWS has 5x more deployed cloud infrastructure as their next 14 competitors combined
  • Each day, AWS adds as much infrastructure as they used to run in total 7 years back
  • Amazon S3 is designed to deliver 99.999999999% durability and scale past trillions of objects worldwide
  • AWS partner, Netflix, accounts for up to one-third of Internet traffic during peak usage times
  • AWS accounts for 41.5% of the public cloud market, bigger than Microsoft, Google, Rackspace, and IBM combined

Through incredible economies of scale, AWS has decreased its prices at least as many as 60 times since its launch – and despite this, AWS generated a whopping $26 billion in revenue for parent Amazon in 2018.

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Chart of the Week

Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Which U.S. startups are best poised for growth and spin-off success? This chart shares insights from over 500 tech founders about the state of startups.

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Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Today’s tech founders have unique insights into the evolving arena of innovation and are keenly aware of why some companies succeed more than others. Many have worked with multiple startups and have gone on to invest in successful tech unicorns.

This week’s chart comes from First Round’s State of Startups 2018 survey, in which 529 founders shared their predictions on the tech startups best poised for growth and spin-off success.

Tech Startup Valuations

Stripe, the payments startup darling, has already grown from $1.8 billion in valuation in 2013 to over $22 billion today. According to the tech founders surveyed, 19% see Stripe continuing on this path in the years to come.

Q: Which U.S.-based tech startup’s value will increase the most in the next 10 years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Stripe19.0%
#2SpaceX12.7%
#3Coinbase12.1%
#4Slack11.3%
#5Airbnb9.8%
#6Palantir6.8%
#7WeWork6.3%
#8Uber5.3%
#9Lyft4.7%
#10Pinterest1.6%
Other10.3%

It’s worth noting that this list includes some startups that have already IPO’d since the survey was released in December 2018.

In fact, in the first half of 2019, we’ve already seen Pinterest, Lyft, Uber, and Slack hit the market. Slack’s public offering was the most notable, as they chose to go the direct listing route. The share price still jumped 48.5% less than 24 hours after they went public.

The Next PayPal Mafia?

The PayPal Mafia is a legendary group of billionaire investor-entrepreneurs that have had far-reaching influence in the tech world since they parted ways with PayPal.

Not only did members of this group go on to start many major unicorns, including YouTube, SpaceX, LinkedIn, and Palantir, but some members have invested in over 100 startups each. This “giving back” has had a monumental impact on the Silicon Valley ecosystem, planting the seeds that would emerge as many of today’s star companies.

Q: Which U.S.-based company is most likely to spin out the next generation of notable founders over the next five years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Uber22.5%
#2Slack15.7%
#3Stripe15.2%
#4Airbnb13.9%
#5Coinbase10.6%
#6Palantir9.1%
#7SpaceX4.2%
#8Lyft1.8%
#9WeWork1.8%
#10Amazon1.1%
Other4.2%

Current tech founders predict that the companies listed in this survey will be perfect launching points for many of the world’s future tech founders.

Of all U.S.-based tech startups, Uber is predicted to be a top contender for producing the next generation of startup talent by 2023.

Other Survey Findings

Interestingly, over 60% of founders believe that the world is in a technology bubble, with evenly split reviews on whether it’s either nowhere close or very close to popping.

While 57% of founders believe the U.S. will continue to dominate the tech world, 39% predict China’s growth will become the world’s hub for tech innovation by 2028.

Only time will tell, as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to heat up, and the global recruitment of tech talent becomes increasingly competitive.

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