What was the most significant tech event of 2012? No, neither Apple after Steve Jobs nor the Facebook IPO. Not at least according to John Borthwick, the CEO of Betaworks and one of the shrewdest observers of the tech scene. Borthwick came on my show to look backwards at 2012 and what he saw was mostly an abundance of tablets and the Facebook-Instagram deal. On the hardware side, Borthwick saw 2012 as the year of the tablet when “everyone gets a fucking tablet for xmas” and when mobile products become so ubiquitous that 2012 might be the last year when we even use the word “mobile”. But it’s developments on the software side that most intrigues Borthwick – who counted, amongst Betaworks’ most significant 2012 accomplishments, the acquisition of Digg. On the software side, Borthwick told me, the billion dollar Facebook acquisition of Instagram is critical for three reasons. Firstly, it underlines the centrality of mobile; secondly, it shows how quickly upstart companies like Facebook have to shift to defense in today’s fast paced economy; and thirdly, it is a demonstration of the remarkable speed with which startups like Instagram can get to scale.
Next week, Borthwick looks into his crystal ball and predicts what will happen in 2013.