18 Predictions for 2018

Let’s Quibbl on it!

Every day, major news flashes across the notifications on my phone:

Hm…. interesting split in reporting

When I read the news, I’m never quite sure the spin & bias that comes along with the news media. I still want to understand the world around me, but how can I do this without being sure what’s real and what’s #FakeNews?

Working on Quibbl for the last ~9 months has profoundly shaped my way of viewing the world. I frequently stop to ask myself:

How do I think this situation will unfold? What is realistic? What is unrealistic?

If the unexpected happens (ie Trump 2016), who will be right / wrong, and why? Why will so many of us get it wrong? What does that say about the majority?

Who has the most accurate opinion I should consider when thinking about the future? How domain specific is this? Should ‘industry experts’ always be trusted?

At Quibbl, I don’t write many of the bets themselves — we’re bringing in part-time writers to do that — but I still want to join in on the fun. In both social and work groups, I am often the loud-mouth, opinionated, shut-this-guy-up-already prognosticator. By putting out my thoughts publicly, I can look back on my predictions and see how right or wrong I really am. In addition, it’s a humbling experience to look back and recognize your own biases and flaws.

With that, here are my own 18 predictions for 2018:

1. #MeToo

The #MeToo movement will expand, shining a light on more high-powered men in other industries. It will also experience a (larger) wave of pushback from men who feel it has “gone too far,” and “due process” is needed to ensure reputations are not ruined prematurely. Venture capital, media & entertainment, and politics have been the earliest and most frequently under scrutiny, but this makes sense as these areas tend to have people who are (generally) more progressive and aware of the issues.

2. Crypto

Cryptocurrency startups will begin to spring up, especially towards the end of 2018, but most of the real excitement will be on the back-end infrastructure. Next year, 2019, will be the real starting-gun for crypto startups. The space needs time to mature in the same way the cloud ecosystem needed a few years to build up infrastructure before widespread applications could be built. Small applications like “cyptokitties” will still sprout, but major movers are in incubation; the Facebook of crypto hasn’t even been started yet. Finally, we will still see a rise in casual / professional investor interest. My prediction: the “bubble” will pop, but it will be relatively small. I think there are enough hard-core believers that will hang on despite the turbulence.

3. Racial Divide

Race-related violence, like the violence seen in Charlottesville last summer, will flare up again this year. I predict Trump will respond better this time around, though my confidence level on this prediction is low. I’m banking on him learning from last summer. For people of color, this will be a year of organizing and mutual support, as groups with similar missions/intersectionalities stage co-rallies, events, and publications.

4. Mueller Investigation

Trump will not fire Robert Mueller; the optics would be egregiously bad, and his advisors will hold him back. Mueller will present evidence that Donald Trump obstructed justice. As a result, Trump will continue to deteriorate as a leader, pulling the GOP into two factions: those that stand with Trump and those that call for him to change his behavior/resign/impeach. Despite the turmoil, the Donald will still dodge indictment charges by Jan 1, 2019.

5. Nuclear Standoff

The nuclear standoff between the US — North Korea — South Korea will intensify but ultimately pass. A dialogue between the North and South has already opened up, and Trump’s erratic behavior will force (scare) leaders to the negotiating table. Talks will continue into 2019 with no clear outcome in 2018.

6. Oil Drilling

No major oil spills will occur as a result of the Trump administration’s announcement of off-shore drilling. This year will be relatively calm, but I predict 2019 will see a major accident as drilling activity intensifies.

7. Facebook

Facebook will stumble: the platform will decline in popularity as users move towards other applications with different engagement patterns, less noise and advertising, and more peer-to-peer interaction.

8. Tech trust

Users of media giants like Facebook and Google (everyone) will become increasingly more aware of the targeted advertising that pervades the system, souring consumer trust. There will be a major backlash, forcing the leaders of each company to take a stand. Mark Zuckerberg has already made it his 2018 goal to “fix Facebook,” though that will likely be difficult or impossible given its business model.

9. Cybersecurity

Cyber-security will continue to rise in importance, as more major players are hacked and users demand tighter control. The breaches in Equifax, eBay, Yahoo, Chase, are just the beginning, and another major company will be breached this year. Hopefully it’s not a company as pervasive as Google (for example), because the world might experience a psychological meltdown. Executive recruiting will increasingly emphasize the importance of data security in potential candidates.

10. Social Gaming

Copy-cats to HQ Trivia will emerge — live-streaming apps will ride a major wave of popularity in different formats and platforms. Users will continue to seek short, brief periods of activity to interact with other users in engaging experiences.

Note: the # uses and $ prize — in just a few months, HQ Trivia has grown to 750,000+ DAU and $10,000 in prizes

11. Voice

Voice becomes progressively more dominant. Smart speakers like Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomePod will expand in usage, and new applications, shows, and content distribution channels will open up. At least 30% of all Americans will listen to a podcast monthly. Better tools for data analytics on podcasting will continue to emerge, and savvy marketers will jump on it to optimize distribution & retention of listeners.

12. Mental Health

Mental health will see a surge in interest; meditation will rise in popularity, as more adults come to recognize their own inability to cope with stress, FOMO, and loneliness. On-demand health services will grow to meet the demand, but a robust platform will not emerge until 2019, at best.

13. Data Integration

Data integration will continue to grow as a focal point. As more applications move to the cloud, two-way sync and auto-updating will be prioritized, especially for applications in sales, marketing, and customer service. Applications like Zapier will see a huge rise in growth.

14. Midterm Elections

The Democrats will win big in the 2018 midterm elections, but fall short of gaining a majority. Voters will continue to distinguish between Trump and the rest of the GOP, voting for their local Republicans despite the party’s stumbles. While Democratic voter turnout has been strong in 2017, it will not be enough to make the gains Democrats will need.

15. Migration and Workforce Changes

The high costs of the coasts will lead to downstream changes. Virtual workforces will continue to become the norm, as employers pay cheaper salaries to employees in the heartland. Cities like Denver, Austin, Chicago, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh will experience an influx of talent as people move to cheaper cities.

16. Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving cars will rise in both popularity and fear — their presence will expand, but accidents and glitches will affect safety performance. The general population (outside of SF) will be reluctant to embrace the technology, slowing adoption.

17. Biotechnology

CRISPR will become a household name, as the technology will be used to make serious strides in genetic modification research. Combined with advances in machine learning, gene-editing will give us a glimpse of the Brave New World we are approaching.×1024.jpg

18. Net Neutrality

Changes in net neutrality will begin to be felt, but it will largely be unnoticed through the first half of 2018. Internet service providers (ISPs) will be cautious to make widespread changes immediately, preferring to experiment in localized tests that avoid pissing off all of their customers. By the end of 2018, we may start to see larger changes.

This wasn’t meant to focus to heavily on Quibbl — it just sort of fit with my world recently. It’s also just fun to think about the next 12 months, and then look back when it’s all over.

Where do you think I am spot-on? Where am I completely off? Call me out, challenge me, and let’s start a conversation. Heck, let’s Quibbl on it! Regardless of my own views and predictions, a major personal goal for 2018 will be to pressure-test my own thinking and make connections that might otherwise be missed. Please, help me do that by pushing back.

Thanks for reading!

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