The Next Chapter in Tech is Convergence

Convergence and Combining

The next chapter in tech is all about convergence.
This is what Karim Nurani, Linqto’s CSO, sits down and discusses with guests Rumi Morales, Partner at Outlier Ventures and Sujoy Sarkar, Director of Corporate Development at BYTON, an electric SUV tech company, in this ‘behind the scenes’ preview from our Global Investor Conference. Little by little, we find that everything is starting to consolidate into one hub of technology – all needing to interact with one another – and it’s really exciting to see what happens when these different technologies converge. 

“My brother is an architect. I was in financial services and we found ourselves on the same panel together about smart cities. He was building buildings with tech and I was investing in the tech going into those buildings.” – Rumi Morales, Partner at Outlier Ventures

Rumi tells us it was a situation that neither she nor her brother imagined, but it’s representative of the convergence that we are now seeing in tech. It’s the area that she’s most excited about. She asks questions such as: how does blockchain interact with AI, what does that look like? What does the combination of crypto, blockchain and finance look like? What do architecture, tech, and space have to do with one another? And, why on earth is her brother, who is the architect, 3D-printing in space!?

It’s true that no technology exists in isolation. Nobody knows this better than Sujoy Sarkar, Director of Corporate Development at BYTON, an electric SUV tech company. It seems that the future of mobility is not just about getting from A to B, but rather, having a seamless digital journey. Hence, it’s no surprise that Tesla is no longer valued as a car company but as a tech company. Self-driving cars are a reality now. Their future, however, entails questions all about convergence.

For instance, let’s say a self-driving car can pay for its own electricity. How does that happen? What’s the technology for that? What payment is used for that? Does the car care that it’s using dollars rather than pounds? Financial technology is now integrated with mobility, which is indicative of how we’re starting to mix technology in all sorts of ways. Then, there’s predictive maintenance – now, if there’s a systematic issue inside your vehicle, you should have knowledge of that before any error actually happens; the AI gets to the issue before any service dealer does. Enormous amounts of investment capital are thrown at this space, not because the future of mobility is THE arena to invest in but because it’s an area that’s tackling multiple human needs at the same time; a consolidation effect. 

Tech, Convergence, and Human Needs

This is one of the main ways Rumi identifies investments; does it solve a human need? If we look at patterns of history and see what’s been successful in the past then it makes sense to apply that pattern into the future because human needs are never going to change. From Facebook to Uber to Airbnb – solving communication, movement and shelter respectively; they all make basic things a little more efficient. “I didn’t study finance or tech at school and somehow I’ve ended up a Tech investor,” she laughs – and we’re thankful for her philosophical guiding vision. 

SPACS (blank check companies) have also highlighted a growing need – a need for capital. Sujoy points out that EV companies require A LOT of capital; you need to build the platform, then the vehicle, then you need to scale it – how do you manufacture? That requires funding that you don’t see replicated in software-based tech companies. EV companies are going down this SPAC route because it’s not only hard to raise funding in the private market but also it provides a near term solution in terms of immediate capital. But is this good for the future? Will it make markets more open? Or is this just a different kind of trend akin to the reverse merger from the 90s or the ICO from 2017? 

What’s the most exciting trend we’re seeing? Awareness. COVID-19 has drawn people’s attention to the necessity of technology and made acceptance of it so much greater. It’s no longer necessary to educate people because we’ve all reaped its benefits rendering technology finally no longer futuristic. And ultimately the risk of not participating outweighs the risk of participating at this point.

Tune in to this podcast and find out more.

More About this Podcast’s Speakers:

Rumi Morales (Partner at Outlier Ventures)

Rumi Morales is a globally recognized leader identifying and cultivating the emerging industries that will define our next generation. A long-time financial executive with deep expertise in economic policy and capital markets, she has built businesses across three continents and launched transformational initiatives in legacy institutions.She is currently Partner at Outlier Ventures, and previously led the venture arm of the CME Group. A proven entrepreneur herself, Rumi established the Global Markets Institute during her tenure at Goldman Sachs and launched her own data innovation consultancy and economic research firm. An early specialist in digital currency and blockchain technologies, Rumi is also a leading early investor and educator on artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing as they will affect established industries and government policies. Institutional Investor noted her as one the “most powerful dealmakers in financial technology” two years in a row, and Crain’s recognized her in their esteemed “40 Under 40” list.Rumi is a member of the Boards of the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Negaunee Music Institute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the BitGive Foundation, and serves as an Advisory Board member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received her MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. 

Sujoy Sarkar (Director of Corporate Development at BYTON)

Investment professional with over 10 years of investing and operating experience, including direct private and public investing, scouting new companies, corporate development, M&A, investment banking, business development & strategy, and fundraising. Currently the Director of Corporate Development at BYTON, where he leads strategic investments, M&A, and partnerships across North America, Israel, and UAE. Prior to BYTON, he helped start a quantitative macro hedge fund and investment research company, Quantamize, LLC. The company was acquired by Forbes. Investments across consumer, internet, software, fintech, and mobility industries in U.S., China, and Latin America. Sujoy began his career working in investment banking at JPMorgan and RBC Capital Markets specializing in both debt and equity products across internet, software, and consumer companies. 

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