I’ve seen the future, and it consists of a 5 foot eleven-inch “hologram” of Tupac rapping onstage with an incredibly stoned Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at Coachella. Despite all the (consumer Internet) startups I interact with — with the possible exception of TaskRabbit, Dropbox and Uber — this pretty old-school projection technology applied in this completely novel use case is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I live in the future.
I’m not alone, HoloTupac actually impressed KPCB analyst Mary Meeker, of all people, so much she included it in a surprisingly overlooked 50 slide portion of her famed Internet Trends presentation: ”The Re-Imagination Of Almost Everything” — as the “Re-Imagination Of Concerts.”
According to Meeker, society is currently going through a phase of innovation that will inevitably result in an evolution of almost all products and services, a phase which is being fueled by an explosion of new mobile devices, easier connectivity, a renewed focus on UI and design and a “what do I have to lose?” economic environment.
According to Meeker, we’re currently in the first generation of this re-imagination of everything — and she backs her argument with the fact that Encyclopedia Britannica JUST went out of print a couple months ago. To Meeker, taxis will eventually be Ubers, drawing with pen and paper will eventually be replaced by the app Paper, VCs will be eliminated by Kickstarter and notes will fall to the wayside as people warm up to Evernote. The sum total of this disruption of the way humans live will eventually result in an addressable market of over $36 trillion according to her calculations.
So here’s why I’m pissed: Arguably as I write this from our offices in SOMA, I’m at Ground Zero of this re-imagination (and across the street from the Creamery) but every time I go to a store (even said Creamery), I’m handed a paper receipt, which I may or may not recycle or toss.
Sure the paper receipt business is multi-million dollar industry that likely employs a multitude of well-meaning people, but it’s a business that couldn’t be destroyed a moment too soon. I mean think about how many receipts you’ve thrown away over a lifetime, now multiply that by a billion and think about the effect that has on the environment, among other things. Inefficiency at its finest.
And yet, it’s still happening, despite the existence of payments technologies like Square, just like I still use Post-It notes in addition to Evernote.
Every time a taxi driver bitches at me for using a credit card, I wonder why the “Re-Imagination Of Everything” hasn’t engulfed everything in its wake. Same deal with purchasing postage stamps and flying United (ugh).
The sad part is that the future isn’t here yet. So much so that using the more successful re-imagined products, like Postmates to pick up anything from anywhere, feels like going back to the future in a sense. It’s almost if we live in some sort of hybrid dystopia, with innovation only accessible to a wealthy, fortunate few, who even then have to slog through piles and piles of receipts to complete an expense report.
I guess the only recourse is to ask you guys (the entrepreneurs in the room) to hurry the fuck up. Please read through Meeker’s slides below, and leave your suggestions for other industries that desperately need re-imagination in the comments.