We’re at an inflection point. The buzz around generative AI has founders and investors scrambling to find promising applications for the technology. In Q1 of 2023 alone, $1.7 billion was invested in 46 generative AI companies. As startups continue to proliferate and money continues to flood the space, we want to take a broader look back at lessons learned from previous platform shifts.
For the past 20 years at Emergence, we’ve witnessed many trends and hype cycles that haven’t lasted, but also many that have. We see many similarities between the platform shifts of the past two decades and what we’re seeing unfold today with generative AI. From the advent of horizontal cloud software in the early-2000s to the promise of industry-specific cloud software in the late-2000s, one thing is evident: specialized software builds tremendous value.
During each platform shift, early companies started by building broad solutions, and only as the technology matured did companies start to build more specific software for industries or targeted jobs-to-be-done (JTBD). We think the same applies to today’s generative AI hype cycle. In this piece, I surface the throughlines between these platform shifts for founders to apply as they think about building in the context of generative AI.
Generative AI will create broad and specialized winners