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- Background photography courtesy of Aaron Thompson
‘About 20 years ago, a close friend of mine, a chief executive of one of the bigger UK public property companies appeared at his annual shareholder AGM in a black polo neck sweater, the “dress down“ Fridays trend imported from the US was just starting to take hold, a bold statement from the CEO of a public company at his AGM. Was this a sign of a new informality which was even infiltrating the hitherto impenetrable UK public companies? Maybe, but who would have guessed this informality would 10 years later enshrine even their physical working environments. We did, and we started planning for this almost the moment Lehman’s doors were shut firm.
Software companies increasingly talk about being “AI first” but separating hype from reality is a challenge. Which AI-first startups are actually scaling?
At Dawn we still consider AI/ML to be nascent and best understood as a tool to make existing great businesses better. What we have now is not true AI – no machine has worked out Newtonian Mechanics let alone Special Relativity – and we are investing accordingly. Where machine aided decision making is extremely useful is to enhance existing processes, so we are sticking with ‘customer first’ and then figuring out what software tools can help them
“In terms of getting people through the door I think social media a critical part of any business. There are a lot of different approaches to social media and businesses that offer these services, but I like to keep mine quite succinct and work with a few specialists in this field. I find this gives the results that we need for the business.
What have you learned in 2018 and what are your predictions for tech in 2019, be it in the fields of Medicine, Energy, Data, Business or Government?
2018 has been all about backing ‘belief’ in every area of tech. Ambition in Europe is running high driven by some exciting ‘unicorn’ exits and that ambition means VC is becoming increasingly capital intensive. One the one hand that’s good – we are finally backing our entrepreneurs with enough capital to be successful on the international stage. On the other hand, there are some negatives – it’s as if all the lessons about being capital efficient from just a few years ago have been forgotten.