For the next couple of weeks, we are sharing the opinions of some of the top influencers in Southern California's high tech community. We asked the same five questions of a variety of top technology entrepreneurs, investors, and others, to hear what they're thinking about, and are sharing it here over the next two weeks.
Yesterday, we heard from Scott Painter of TrueCar. Today, we spoke with Mark Suster, a venture capitalist at GRP Partners.
1. What was the biggest news for you/your firm this year?
The IPO of EnvestNet. We actually had three big exits: EnvestNet, IFCO, which was bought for a billion dollars, and we sold our position in ULTA, returning $320M to shareholders.
2. In your opinion, what events, companies, or people made the biggest impact on the technology world in 2010?
The obvious one is the iPad. The introduction of the iPad has completely revolutionized our mobile experience. I think that we now recognize that mobile is a much bigger opportunity than even the wired world. The one other company I could say in the mobile space, which has driven lots of innovation despite the hype, is Foursquare. The rationale there is the features they are creating--game mechanics, location based check-in, and location services.
3. What was the biggest lesson you learned over the past year (good or bad)?
Having great relationships with entrepreneurs is not good enough, you need to have equally good relationship with other VCs and big companies.
4. Who are the people here you think will most influence the technology world in the coming year?
Gil Elbaz at Factual, a portfolio firm of ours, because he's a big thinker solving complex problems using technology.
5. What are the technologies, companies, or things you think the community ought to pay the most attention to in 2011?
Number one is the disruption of digital television and film industry. I am looking at low cost video production and distribution, and I'm looking at new models of consumer consumption of video. The second is I continue to be very bullish on the build out of mobile applications and mobile infrastructure.
See more insights from the Southern California high tech community in our continued series tomorrow!