Three Sectors to Watch in 2021 Being Driven by Tech Originating Outside the U.S.

December 29, 2020

We are approaching the end of the year, so every other article is industries, companies, trends and prognostications for 2021.  Hey, we’re not whining – here are three tech sectors to watch in 2021 being driven by tech born outside the U.S.:

  1. The nerve center of the gaming industry is moving east, folks
  • For context, 2020 was the most profitable year for the video game industry.

  • Tencent, the Chinese conglomerate, is the world’s biggest video game publisher.

  • Turkey’s first unicorn is a video game company called Peak Games which was acquired by Zynga for $1.8B.

  • The Asia-Pacific region is projected to account for $80B in worldwide gaming revenues in 2020 which is about 50% of the global total revenues. In 2023, there will be more gamers in the Middle East and Africa than in Europe.
  1. The world of surveillance tech
  • Clearview AI has a database of 3 billion photos pulled from social media profiles. If that doesn’t get your attention, then this will – U.S. federal and state law enforcement agencies are already using the database in investigations and prosecutions.

  • Hikvision, a Chinese maker of surveillance cameras, has been accused of developing software toautomatically identify Uighurs a minority in China. Dahua, another Chinese video-surveillance company, supplies security cameras across the country for the government, including nearly a thousand that have been installed at mosques in western China.

  • Demand for surveillance technology by state actors is a booming business. Even though it’s on a U.S. blacklist, Chinese AI giant SenseTime expects sales to increase 80% this year. Oh, and facial recognition technology is getting smarter.  So much so, that one some AI cameras can even recognize people wearing masks.
  1. The venture capital mega-bet model may be on its last legs 
  • Softbank’s lost big on WeWork but hey, nobody’s perfect.They turned it around somewhat with DoorDash but this wasn’t enough.  Their failure to raise a second Vision fund is already in the rearview mirror.

  • In a seeming acknowledgment of the failure, Softbank is going the SPAC route.According to Bloomberg, they filed to raise around $525 million in a SPAC, but there is a Masayoshi Son spin:  the prospectus says that “we are not prohibited from pursuing an initial business combination with a company that is affiliated with our sponsor, officers or directors.”  In other words, Softbank SPAC could buy Softbank-backed company. 

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