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Venture capitalists are in the business of placing big bets on new technologies. That’s why it’s fun to get their yearly predictions — and then assess how well they forecasted the future.

Just as 2018 began, GeekWire asked six Seattle-area VCs to put on their fortune teller hats and make some predictions about everything from Amazon’s stock price to the most overhyped technology of the year.

Read on to see how they fared, and stay tuned for 2019 predictions that we’ll post on GeekWire in the coming days.

Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane helps ring the opening bell earlier this year. (NYSE Photo)

Spot-on:

  • James Newell, partner at Voyager Capital, said Avalara and Docusign would go public — they were indeed two of four Washington-based companies to IPO in 2018. Bill Bryant, partner at DFJ, also correctly picked Avalara and Docusign, in addition to Smartsheet, but missed the mark on Avvo (acquired by Internet Brands), A Place for Mom, and Adaptive Biotechnologies.
  • Amazon’s stock closed Friday at $1,478, up 26 percent this year. Len Jordan, managing director at Madrona, and Dan Levitan, general partner at Maveron, both predicted that shares would reach $1,500 by Dec. 31. Geoff Harris, partner at Flying Fish, said it would be $1,450.
  • Microsoft’s stock closed at $100, up 16 percent this year. Jordan, Bryant, Levitan, and Pioneer Square Labs Managing Director Julie Sandler were perfect with that prediction.
  • Many predicted that cryptocurrencies would be overhyped or crash, and they were right. Bitcoin’s price fell from nearly $20,000 in January to below $5,000 this month; the larger crypto market has seen similar losses. “Blockchain might have utility if it can support orders of magnitude more transactions than is currently the case, but crypto and ICOs are in Tulipville,” Bryant predicted.
  • Sandler said there would be “a major overhaul of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives” this November. She was correct — the Democratic Party won control of the House with a net gain of more than 40 seats.
  • Bryant picked Lime to win the bike-sharing market in Seattle — the multi-modal company did just that, beating out Spin and Ofo. Now Lime is testing a car-sharing service in Seattle.

Missed the mark:

  • Sandler said that OfferUp, Remitly, and Rover would go public in 2018. Harris also picked Rover, in addition to Accolade. None went public in 2018, but perhaps they were just too early — see this GeekWire analysis about Seattle-area companies that could go public in 2019.
  • Levitan predicted a “breakup of big tech as we know it,” spurred by Washington D.C. and European countries. Several people made the case for this movement, but the tech giants remain giant.
  • Bryant said Seattle would overtake Boston, Austin, and Los Angeles to become the “unquestioned No. 3 startup geography behind Bay Area and NYC.” There are a bevy of ways to measure a city’s startup geography, but it would be tough to make the case that Seattle trumps those three cities. Boston blows Seattle out of the water when it comes to venture capital dollars — Boston-area companies raised $8.9 billion in venture financing through the first three quarters of 2018, compared to just $2.5 billion for Seattle. Both Los Angeles and Austin were featured in a recent list from 24/7 Wall Street that ranked five metro areas attracting the most startups — Seattle didn’t make it. And Austin’s expanding tech scene was the focus of a story this month in The New York Times.
  • Harris said Tom Brady would get his sixth ring — the Patriots quarterback came close, but New England fell to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl in February. And Newell said NFL TV ratings would drop 5 percent — the opposite has happened this season.

Stay tuned for another round of predictions for 2019, coming soon on GeekWire.

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