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Azeem Azhar – Saranac Partners client event

Saranac Partners was delighted to welcome Azeem Azhar as a guest speaker for a client event in July. Azeem is a journalist, advisor, entrepreneur and investor focused on technology. He was formerly a journalist for the Economist and the Guardian, serves on the editorial board of the Harvard Business Review, is a partner at Kindred Capital and an advisor to the CTO of Accenture.

Azeem hosted a thoughtful and wide ranging discussion on the pace of technological development, the impact on our economic and social landscape and some perspectives for the tech investor.

  • We are in the “age of technology”. The history of technological developments can be characterised as a series of periods of immaturity, followed by a sustained and fundamental shift in social and industrial fabric once the technology matures. We are now in that period of fundamental technological change post the ‘false start’ of the early 2000s.
  • We have seen a decade of exponential change
    • In 2007, Microsoft was the only technology company among the biggest in the world. In 2017, the largest 5 businesses globally are tech firms.
    • Our use of technology as captured by metrics like smartphone usage, YouTube / Netflix viewing and data created has grown exponentially over the past 10 years.
    • Products have been created, disrupted and ultimately been rendered obsolete by the development of computing power and multifunctional devices.
  • The pace of development is not slowing down
    • Key drivers of technological change such as chip size, hard drive storage capacity, fibre optic capacity and Li-ion battery life continue to increase exponentially.
    • Furthermore there is a convergence of exponential technological development which is having a compounded effect.
  • This change will have widespread and transformative impacts
    • Industries and business models will be reconfigured.
    • Incumbent business will be disrupted.
  • Coupled with extending lifetimes, people will live through more of these changes, disruptions and innovations than at any other period.
  • While change is certain, the implications are unknown
    • The knowledge / technology age has not yet stabilised.
    • Hard to predict specific outcomes as non-linearities and second–order effects abound.
  • For investors, the picture is similarly exciting but unpredictable. The tech / venture / start-up space is vibrant with significant capital and accelerating value creation, but winners are hard to pick.
  • The pace and nature of change poses some fundamental questions for society including environmental impacts, the nature of work / income and social inequality. At present the pace of technological change is outstripping policy and social responses to that change.

For further details or content, please email [email protected] for a copy of Azeem’s highly engaging and visual presentation. For insights on technological development and innovation, please visit Azeem’s newsletter – The Exponential View http://www.exponentialview.co