On big startup ideas
NOSTRADEMONS: We seem to be in an interesting time where everyone is casting around looking for the next "big" idea, regardless of whether it works, and as a result the only way to do useful "small" ideas that work is to fund them yourself or get ordinary, non-import people to help fund them (i.e. crowdfunding or ICOs). All the attention is on flying cars, self-driving cars, killer robots, alternative currencies, artificial intelligence, 600 mph vacuum transportation, and missions to Mars.
The last time I can think of when the tech landscape looked like this was the early 90s, when everybody was hung up on artificial intelligence, pocket computing, handwriting recognition, voice recognition, WebTV, 3D graphics, and virtual reality. We ended up getting many of those, 15 years later, but the real huge story of the decade was the WWW, which was really unimpressive when it first came out (I remember comparing it unfavorably to Gopher in 1993; Gopher at least was semi-organized).
The WWW overshadowed everything else because the problem it was solving - which many people didn't know they had - was more universal than the problems solved by any other technologies that had just entered the market, and its solution was just barely viable enough to solve that problem. Meanwhile, the tech for many of the other much hotter problems of the time was 15-20 years out; they couldn't actually be solved by the processing power available in 1992. I wonder if there's a similar overlooked-but-universal problem that someone in a garage is working on now, that'll spark a new wave similar to the dot-com boom.
Judgmentality: So what do you think are the big problems being worked on today which people are overlooking because the technology isn't as sexy as self-driving cars? I agree with you that funding chases the flashy stuff, and real businesses are built on substance. I'm just curious what you think will end up breaking out from this era of funding.
Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but I heard an interesting tidbit from a famous investor about the dot com bubble: you either invested in Google or you didn't. I wonder if things will turn out similar this time as I still haven't seen a good IPO from a tech company in years (would love for people to provide counter-examples as I don't track this very closely).