2020–2030: Predictions for the New Decade (Tech, Politics & Drugs)
I don’t believe it’s possible to foretell the future, but I sure think it’s fun to make predictions and see how they turn out. In the spirit of of coming into a new decade with a lot of exciting and terrifying trends coming our way, here are a few to keep any eye out for.
#1: Flying ‘Cars’ Will be Ready for Takeoff
Unless you’re involved in the space, you’re probably not paying much attention to the explosion in eVTOLs (eVTOL = electric vertical takeoff and landing). Over a billion dollars of investor money has already poured into both startups and corporate R&D efforts. Airbus, Boeing, Aston Martin and others are well on their way. Give TransportUp a look so you can get up to speed on what’s happening in this nascent industry.
#2 Crypto Finds its Footing
I don’t own any crypto today, but I’ve have made good returns from trading BTC & ETH over time. From my POV (as an individual investor/entrepreneur) it’s not really a space I want to play in longterm due to its volatility and regulation risk. However, sometime over the next decade crypto currency is going to have its real, true, ‘value prop’ moment. What will that be? If I had to guess, it will be as the store-of-value-of-last-resort / safe haven for a failed state. Perhaps Venezuela finally fails and the new regime reboots the economy on a Tether style stablecoin tied to USD. Or perhaps it turns out Crypto will make for a great cyber weapon — imagine US intelligence figures out how to get North Korea elites to shovel money into a DPRK crypto currency, only to hack it and set the value to zero. Crypto ain’t gonna go away — and it’s going to be a wild card for the next decade for sure.
#3 Alternative Protein & Food Technology Surprises to the Upside
What started as a some folks getting tired of walking around looking for food 12,000 years ago (aka the Agricultural Revolution), has now progressed to the point were food is being tailored specifically to our DNA. Over the next decade, especially if you’re at least middle class in America, your eating habits are going to start changing significantly. Plant based protein will continue to be ascendant — Beyond Meat was just an early big win. Since the food industry’s Total Addressable Market (TAM) is everyone and the value is a kah-gillion-zillion-dollars, a firehose of venture capital and corporate R&D dollars are funneling into food innovations that seem, for the first time, to be focused on providing you better food, not cheaper food that kills you. I think a sleeper hit area will be fermented foods that use bacteria to produce unique flavor profiles and nutritional content. We may also see fermented foods that have medicinal elements baked in. Think Kombucha that kills the common cold better than any remedy at CVS; or a food bar that gives you an energy boost while reducing inflammation in your tennis elbow.
#4 Capitalism Is Shaken by Generational Discontent
Millennials (I am one) and Gen Z are more and more comfortable with socialist policies and concerned the capitalism won’t work for them. And it’s not just the youth — 55% of women 18–54 prefer socialism over capitalism. What’s going on here and what’s going to happen? Well — clearly an economic system that has created income and wealth inequality not seen in the US in 100 years is causing people to question the system and seek change. The next decade will reveal the next stage in capitalism in America — our next recession will certainly hurt those who have little savings, while the wealthy will get through just fine; a dynamic that will further exacerbate the class warfare we’re seeing today. This will force this nascent desire for a new economic approach to a head and reveal itself in the ballot box and/or the streets. Perhaps we’ll see hybrid social-capitalist approaches that are sustainable. Or a breakaway subculture that refuses to play the capitalist game all together. Either way — this decade will be a time when we see these tensions laid bear; but we’ll not likely solve these systemic issues in this decade or the next. The question really is will capitalism kill the planet before we can find a sustainable form of it?
#5 Psychedelics March Out of the Shadows into Mainstream
MAPS, Compass Pathways, The Third Wave and various psychedelic journey businesses are just the beginning of a whole new “blow your mind” for healing, fun and profit industry. Psychedelics are just about to become mainstream, with Denver and Oakland in the US leading the way on decriminalization, with Portland, Chicago, Berkeley and Dallas next up on the roster. For a robust perspective on how this could play out (for better or worse) have a look at Auryn Project.
I’ve witnessed first hand many signals related to this trend this year. For one, Part of my network includes YPO and Tiger21 groups, which are mostly composed on high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals — my recent informal polling of these groups has show that somewhere between 20–30% of the folks have either done psychedelics recently, or is planning to. Secondly, It seems like a many of my SF tech friends are into LSD micro-dosing. And three, I was recently asked to speak at Columbia’s Business School on the topics of psychedelics and entrepreneurship — where the class was deeply interested hearing how CEOs are using mind altering substances for performance enhancement (see “Stealing Fire” for a book on the topic). And finally, look no further than New York Times Best Selling author Michael Pollen’s own journey, as captured in his book “How to Change Your Mind”.
To me, all of this looks and feels like where marijuana was 10 years ago. By 2030 we might be buying psilocybin from dispensaries, or through prescriptions written by a therapist. Today, in NYC alone, there are dozens of psychiatrists and psychologists who are already providing facilitated DMT, Psilocybin and LSD treatments for patients. What is currently underground, and for an elite crowd who can afford it, will soon become mainstream in the 2020s . And MDMA (while not a psychedelic specifically) is leading the way and will soon be fully legal for therapeutic use. It’s gonna be a strange new world for sure.
About the author: Peter Corbett is the retired founder of iStrategyLabs (ISL) — a digital agency that develops solutions to clients’ challenges and brings them to life in the online and offline world. In 2016, Peter sold ISL to WPP. His retirement announcement is here. You can find him online at corbett.vc and @corbett3000 on Twitter.