A golden year of innovation? 25 of the biggest trends shaping 2023.
More than 25 operators at leading tech companies share their top predictions for the year ahead.
Ollie leads our global community with a focus on making Antler the best ecosystem for founders on the planet. He was previously at Molten Ventures (formerly known as Draper Esprit). In his spare time, he loves traveling and meeting new people. Contact him at email@example.com.
January 12, 2023
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In 2022, companies of various sizes experienced a range of difficulties—from widespread layoffs and plummeting valuations to macro-economic headwinds and the rise of fierce competition.
To gain insights into the trends most likely to shape 2023, we asked our global network of operators at leading tech companies about what they are most excited about for the coming year.
Our network of Antler Operators was established 18 months ago, now consisting of over 220 operators who mentor Antler portfolio founders. So far, they have hosted over 1,500 one-on-one mentoring sessions, totaling 750 hours of mentoring. We are a small fraction of the way towards building our operators community, so if you are interested in venture capital, mentoring founders, and helping fuel day zero innovation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
When we asked our operators to share their thoughts on the most exciting sectors and trends for 2023, it is no surprise Generative AI featured as the top sector to watch this year, fueling one of the hottest discussions in tech and beyond. The creator economy is also an area operators are keeping a close eye on, with climate tech following suit.
Let's dive into their predictions for these sectors.
Tech moves towards hardware
“If the last 20 years was the age of software, the next 20 years would be the emergence of the machines. Machines will become far more invested in our day-to-day lives, reducing human efforts and increasing productivity multifolds.
In the last 20 years, the virtual world of the internet has developed, but the real world has been left for us humans—for good or for bad. Autonomous cars help us not only reduce our labor, they can also help reduce our carbon emissions and save human lives. The metamorphosis of machines has just started.
On the Kardashev scale, humanity would improve by leaps and bounds and finally accomplish seemingly impossible goals like becoming a multi-planetary species or building a dyson sphere.”
—Raman Walia, Software Engineer at Meta
"Generative AI for X”
“We have unlocked Generative AI as a technology. The future is in its application to a real problem or to a vertical. We will see more "Generative AI for X" (similar to Uber for X) ideas coming and solving real world problems with the depth versus just a generic chatbot or tool—e.g., customer support Q&A, creating simple legal agreements, personalized marketing content, code review, etc.”
—Mayank Yadav, Senior Director of Product at Turing.com. Subscribe to Mayank’s newsletter here.
“My focus remains on the financial industry, where the proliferation of challenger banks, increased competition, and heavy adoption of technology are all contributing to democratizing finance. I am optimistic that the ongoing development of this sector will keep on lowering barriers to entry and leveling the playing field, ultimately leading to greater financial inclusion of underserved communities.”
—Lorenzo Mengolini, Senior Product Designer at Revolut
Driving the next billion users to digital wallets
“This rise of mass-market use cases like Starbucks Odyssey will drive the next billion users to digital wallets and wallet interoperability. Wallets will become a setting/toggle on web2 applications. I'm excited about non-transferable tokens/Soulbound tokens as proof of fandom in the creator<>superfan space.”
—Sebastien Penot, Product Manager at Spotify
Variable Recurring Payments as fintech game-changers
“In 2023, we will see open banking move further towards open and embedded finance—where the processes behind user flows such as onboarding, payments, and loan origination are invisible to the naked eye. VRP (Variable Recurring Payments) will for sure be one of the game-changers!”
—Klas Jangsell, Commercial Team Lead at Tink
Making an impact on climate-tech startups
“The $370B Inflation Reduction Act is a game-changer for decelerating climate change and climate startups. Till now, most of the work has been focused on EVs and generic carbon accounting. Next year will see an increased focus on residential electrification, affordable energy sources, and industry-specific accounting.”
—Rohan Katyal, Product Manager at Meta
Another crypto winter?
“I am paying attention to the evolution of DAOs. Crypto had a tough year in 2022, but DAO creation and activity is one area that has been still growing very quickly.”
—Matty Taylor, Head of Growth at Solana Foundation
Non-traditional borrowing with a recession looming
“I'm excited about the developments in alternative financing. As a recession is looming, businesses are increasingly looking into means of borrowing outside of traditional banking. 2023 will bring new (embedded) financial products that are adapted to an increasing demand for convenient and forward looking credit solutions in the b2b space.”
—Max Schertel, Finmid
Digital health available to all
“I'm really excited to see the continued progression of a society-wide move to preventative treatments and the growing role of digital therapeutics in this. Instead of spending billions on reactive care when people get ill we are seeing a growing trend of tools to help people self manage their care in ways that can lead to huge cost savings and improvements in the quality of lives for people.”
—Andy Freeburn, Head of Product Design at Vinehealth
Tough times fuel new levels of creativity
“The Creator Economy is not exempt and will follow the power law: the few whales will continue to thrive and become entertainment companies, the middle class will continue to struggle creating a reliable, and sustainable income from platforms that are fighting for their own survival. The silver lining is that in tough times people will turn to creativity for sanity, for community, and new products that might have never been imagined will be born.”
—Peter Wang CTO at Buzzfeed
Collaboration in an unprecedented world economy
“I am curious to see where the markets are going to settle. Will recessionary pressures continue to drive caution and divestment from markets to bonds? Or will we see a steady return still in 2023? This is an unprecedented time for world economy, and how we collaborate across countries and governments will determine the next economic cycle.”
—Antonio Forjaz, Head of Lifecycle, Amazon Prime Video
The impact of fandom
“Influencer marketing was, is, and will be hot. Influencers are building up larger audiences in a more and more cluttered advertising landscape. They can help marketers to reach their target audiences by breaking through the media noise with organic seeming content.”
—Henning Mohr, Marketing Director at Henkel
The longevity and reach of Generative AI
“Going into 2023 it’s hard not to be thinking about chatGPT and the emerging generation of tools/companies that will be built on extraordinary AI and how small teams leverage it to punch way above their weight. How will we individually use it as a thought partner and/or creative companion to expand our ideation capacity? Instead of asking AI for directions to a fixed place (google maps) or to play a song we already know (Siri) new AI fill in knowledge gaps on things we never learned, like writing code, writing music, writing a film script, etc. My phrase going into the new year is “we overestimate what we can do in one year and vastly underestimate what we can do in ten.” My sense is in the next five-to-seven years computing will be on a whole new level to make our current world look like how pre-iPhone 2005 does to us now. There are advantages to the early adopters. Notion and Descript are just a couple I see who are making exciting early moves.”
—Andrew Owen, Head of Community at mmhmm
New income streams for creators
“I hope to see more creator collaborations in 2023. As Covid lockdowns eased in 2022, we observed lots of positive energy in real-life events and meetups, with many creators seeking to connect and learn from other creators. There’s business opportunity in combining audiences through collaborations, and also more creative possibilities by combining different skill sets and styles.”
—Ayumi Nakajima, Head of Content & Creators at Pinterest, SEA
Accounting becomes verticalized
“Fintech 2023 bet: verticalized accounting solution. No matter what industry you work in, the one thing you can’t avoid is bookkeeping. There are many industries that are growing that are run by solopreneurs with no back-office staff (e.g, spas, therapists, insurance, construction). They want most of their time to be spent running their business, not managing their accounting. With that in mind, there’s a vertical approach to building a solution to help them close their books. In the future, it also opens up the opportunity for these businesses to manage the whole financial side, whether it’s managing payroll, taxes, client payments, or procurement.”
Flourishing through a recession
“This year I’m thinking about the creativity needed to succeed in this economy. With constrained staffing, marketing budgets, and customer spending power, how are companies using their product to solve customer challenges and drive growth?”
–Emma Northcott, Slice, Staff Product Manager
Steep growth and reliance on the work tech stack
“As hybrid workspaces become more prevalent, companies will rely on niche tools for knowledge directory, discovery, and collaboration within specific teams. In traditional finance and supply chain sectors, we will see a steep growth in workflow tools that facilitate collaboration and offer a better user experience, while in the B2B tooling space, user experience will continue to be a differentiating factor, with designers focusing on personalized UX and the humane aspects of products. The importance of creator tools and their infrastructure, as well as the integration of community aspects, will also continue to grow.”
Financial data and AI to power customer-related decisions
“I believe that a strong trend for the fintech industry is the use of financial data in decision-making in the relationship with the consumer. Financial data allows us to unlock a huge potential to develop marketing initiatives focused on engagement and conversion. As machine learning models go beyond mitigating risk management, the greatest value will come from creating highly personalized experiences for your customers, using AI to gain insight to improve customer relationships by offering appropriate service and products.”
—Brunno Oliveira, CMO at SuperSim
Solving information overload with AI
“One of my key theses going into 2023 is that we suffer from information overload in our professional and personal lives. This has ramifications for the workforce and for our mental health: we're less productive and feel more burned out because of the proliferation of technology. Thus, I'm looking closely at companies where AI has a practical purpose, helping to augment human intelligence and/or supercharge decision-making. How will AI better help us condense, analyze, and create vis-à-vis massive amounts of data? Companies focused on building a truly differentiated product with an AI-forward lens are going to win the next decade. AI can help us better collaborate with our teams, plan social events, manage our finances, make medical decisions, fight climate change, build self-driving cars, and more. In the future, AI is a horizontal layer not a product. Those companies that get started now will have an advantage in building something best-in-class that benefits their customers.”
—Judy Abad, Partner, Abad Capital
More clarity on the Generative AI hype
“Layer 1 General AI—I’m excited (and apprehensive) about where general artificial intelligence will go in 2023. This year, the latest iterations of language and text-to-image models burst into the spotlight. It became apparent to a lot more people just how much AI will impact our lives and careers. It’s still unclear what other problems will come along with AI advances. I believe 2023 will bring more clarity, and draw more talented people into the space to ensure it goes in a good direction.”
—Derek Yang, Group Product Manager at Discord
Exciting and new possibilities for Web3
“The evolution of identity—the intersection of how people express themselves online, what they choose to express, who they share with, layers of choice, privacy, and anonymity. Decentralization, interoperability, and the immutable nature of Web3 unlock new and exciting possibilities here, particularly around gaming.”
—Kristin Chen, Chief Product Officer at Metatheory
Unlocking new markets for renewed growth
“EMEA and APAC regions have traditionally been major sources of revenue for top-performing SaaS organizations, accounting for around 35-40% of global sales. However, as the business landscape evolves, it's essential for leaders to adapt and respond to changing market conditions. Private and public markets are now valuing sustainable, steady growth over rapid expansion at any cost. This is reflected in the flattening of valuation multiples and increased focus on free cash flow margins. The best leaders and businesses will acknowledge this global reality, focusing on efficiency gains and positioning their regions for renewed growth in 2023.”
—Tommie O’Brien, VP of Sales EMEA & APAC at Semrush
Remarkable products shining in a sea of mediocrity
“A lot of people are going to be watching ChatGPT and Generative AI in 2023, but I expect consumer interest in products using ChatGPT to cool off. This will happen because ChatGPT gives the most likely word to come next after a prompt…essentially the average response. Many of the products built using ChatGPT will fail to ‘wow’ their customers, instead giving them an average experience. As consumers get bored by the mediocre products, I'll be watching to see which products break through in 2023, with something that is above average and truly special.”
—Tyler Swartz, Group Product Manager at Reddit. Tyler writes a product-focused newsletter called, One Year Wiser, where he interviews founders and product makers one year after their product launch.
More effective marketing campaigns with Generative AI
“For me, I'm keeping a close eye on Generative AI. As a marketer, it's not something that I think will replace humans, and I hope that it never does. My exposure to it so far has been really valuable to my work—especially when it comes to generating ideas and suggestions for copy that I can then refine and build on, as well as generating imagery that adds context to a brief and aids visualization of concepts on a moodboard. I'm intrigued to see how this technology evolves and how it can help us create campaigns more effectively.”
—Vivian Lee, Performance Marketing Lead at Planera
A new generation of side hustles
In the coming year I expect to see an increased focus on mental health and side hustles. With layoffs happening fast and thick, employees' loyalty to company mission will start to waver and they will look for more physiological safety resulting in more side hustles. This likely to lead to more quiet quitting on one side but will increase micro businesses.”
—Varun Ghatge, BBC Head of Product
Adoption of USDC payments
“Excited to see increasing adoption of USDC in payments use cases, especially cross-border transfers. With the advent of high-throughput L2's, USDC can now be transmitted cheaply and securely anywhere in the world. As infrastructure to facilitate stablecoin transfers further develops, we will see growth in economic activity on-chain.”
—Justin Blumenthal, product Manager at Coinbase
The impact of community
“The trend I’m most excited to see is community ownership—enabling creators to own their audiences and distribute some of their proceeds to their most loyal fans. This will potentially create a whole new economy.”
—Ollie Forsyth, Global Community Manager at Antler
A huge thanks to our Antler Operators for their predictions.
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