Startup takeaways from 2010

December 21, 2010, 10:08 PM UTC

By Rob Go, contributor

2010 was a whirlwind year for the tech industry. It was a whirlwind for me personally as I joined my partners Lee and David in the formation of NextView Ventures. But for everyone, it was a year of amazing excitement and activity.

Here are a few things that 2010 will be remembered for. These aren’t secrets by any means. But I do think that there are only a few developments every year that we will look back on and say “wow, that was really important.”

The rise of the micro VC’s (or super angels). Whether you agree with their strategy or not, a new breed of seed stage investors reached prominence in 2010. This group preached capital efficiency, entrepreneur optionality, and follow-on signaling risk. Nay-sayers warned of a bubble, rising valuations, the risk of cram downs, and strategy creep. Some great firms raised their second or third funds, and some new firms emerged. It will be exciting to see which firms endure in the years ahead.

Groupon and Twitter emerged as the “next” great Internet companies. In 2010, Groupon became one of the fastest growing companies in history, spawned many dozens of copycats, brought Internet fever to Chicago, and said no to the largest acquisition offer ever made by Google. Twitter’s own growth has reached staggering rates both domestically and abroad. It is deeply embedded into the very fabric of the internet and media, and is crossing over into the mainstream.

Lean Startup is now Mainstream. All investors and entrepreneurs are now espousing the wisdom of being lean, “pivoting” quickly to discover “product market fit”, and utilizing the practices of customer development. Will this methodology bring to life hundreds of enormously successful companies? Or will it fall out of favor as too many “features not companies” are brought to life and find no opportunity to scale?

New York – the secret is out. Amazing things have been happening in New York for years and years. But this year, we saw high profile financings from Etsy, Foursquare, Tumblr, and others. Top tier West Coast VC’s are pounding the pavement in the city, and are doing both high priced mid-stage deals as well as seeds. Urban hipsters are the new tech geeks. It’s fun to watch.

Android – the future is here. The inevitable rise of Android has been discussed by a bunch of folks already . The future is mobile, and Android is emerging as the leading platform. It’s pretty typical in industries for early entrants to win with vertically integrated offerings (ie: the iphone) but then lose share to more innovative and more open platforms. That time has arrived My next phone will run Android (yes, I am not an early adopter here).

Rob Go is co-founder of NextView Ventures, a seed-stage investment firm focused on Internet-enabled innovation. He previously was with Spark Capital, and blogs over at

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