2022 Perspectives: what’s top of mind for trailblazing GPs

At this point in 2021 it seems silly to make predictions for the year ahead. We are ending the year on another big loop in the COVID rollercoaster (screaming all the way down as Holiday and Q1 plans change, again). Whoa. You want my VC predictions for what happens in 2022?! Haha, no way.

It’s been an intense year-end in venture too. Fundraising bonanza, the web3 tidal wave, new funds on the scene and a red hot talent market. With the number of fundraising rounds already teed up for Q1 ’22 and the influx of venture capital in the ecosystem I expect 2022 will be just as fast-paced as 2021 but I will spare you the hyperbolic VC twitter takes here.

Instead, I asked 10 trailblazing GPs that I deeply respect and admire to share their perspective for 2022.

  • What tech trends inspire them? What’s top of mind for investment?
  • What are they having fun with and want to dive into in 2022?
  • How is the future of work shaping up?
  • What’s next in VC ecosystem?

The GPs below are some of the most thoughtful, influential, quietly badass and awesome-human VCs in the industry today, leading and building seed stage funds. Read their perspectives below.

(Founders, you want these GPs on your cap table and in your corner.)

Deena Shakir

Partner at Lux Capital

“I am super excited about the investor and innovator appetite for technologies advancing health equity. From maternal to mental health, Medicaid to Medicare, there has never been a more urgent time to build for and with the communities that need it most.”

Deena Shakir

Sarah Smith

Partner, Bain Capital Ventures

“With prosumer venture fund admin tools from Angellist, Carta, and Sydecar, the proliferation of solo capitalists and super angels will continue. Founders are also giving up less ownership per round creating intense competition for lead and angel checks forcing all VCs to be even crisper (and referenceable) about their differentiated “value-add”. I expect the most interesting seed rounds will be done with no single lead and instead a dozen powerhouse super angels and solo VCs.”

“I’m inspired watching the adoption curve of Web3 play out with the latest wave of NFT ownership as a form of identity and attracting a diverse customer base. I love collections released by artists (Clone X, Robotos) and celebrating diverse women (World of Women, Crypto Coven, Women and Weapons).”

Sarah Smith

Lan Xuezhao

Founder & Managing Partner, BasisSet Ventures

“I’m personally very excited about digging into and investing in all kinds of infrastructure transformations (e.g. developer infra, commerce infra, fintech infra, manufacturing infra) anywhere in the world (e.g. U.S. Southeast Asia, LatAm). Infrastructure revamps every several years now and companies working on these are getting bigger and faster than ever.”

Lan Xuezhao

Sierra Peterson

Founder & Managing Partner, Voyager Ventures

“What inspires me for 2022 is the recognition of both the urgency and financial opportunity in systemic decarbonization! Climate tech is a community of fellow travelers, and I’m delighted that so many incredible people are joining the movement.”

Sierra Peterson

Elizabeth Weil

Founder & GP, Scribble Ventures

“A trend I’m watching closely is the unprecedented explosion of entrepreneurship in the U.S. Though the upswings in tech pre-pandemic might lead you to believe there were more startups than ever before, for years the rate of new business formation was actually declining. But the pandemic appears to have reversed that trend in 2020, and in Q3 this year, nearly 1.4 million new business applications were filed — the most through Q3 of any year on record. Now we’re seeing a new generation of creators enter the economy at the dawn of Web3, NFTs, cultural acceptance of remote work, and the technology infrastructure to support it. And as young children observe their parents starting more new companies than ever, I expect we’re at the beginning of a long wave of new technologies and new entrepreneurs to invent them. The future of work in 2025 and beyond will be marked by more entrepreneurs, and more startups, than ever before. (So perhaps the explosion of new VC funds will prove to not be “frothy” after all.)”

Elizabeth Weil

Jennifer Neundorfer

Founder & GP, January Ventures

Gen Z creators’ side hustles are here to stay — in fact, they’re redefining the very nature of SMBs. I think 2022 will be the year the software tooling finally catches up to help these creators grow and scale their businesses in the unique way they are building them decentralized teams, distributed from the start, community-based decision making and revenue models, token-centric vs. fiat first. These changes make traditional SMB software solutions obsolete, and I’m excited to see the next-gen solutions that emerge to help Gen Z creators launch, scale, and manage their businesses.

Jennifer Neundorfer

Sara Adler

Founder & GP, Wave Capital

“There are so many options for founders when it comes to venture funding (crossover funds coming downstream, rapid pace of new funds being raised, solo capitalists etc). Going into 2022, the venture landscape will continue to turn into a barbell with mega-billion dollar funds on one end and small specialists at the other. Good news for founders!”

Sara Adler

Julia Lipton

Founder & GP, Awesome People Ventures

On VC trends — “Angels are crowding out VCs forcing VCs to rethink their models. Growth funds are investing earlier and ballooning companies’ valuations. I fear founders who are pre-product-market-fit, with huge valuations, will be in for a rude awakening in 2022.”

On Future of Work — “The traditional 9–5 is dying. Web3 is unlocking the next phase of the creator and passion economy. A year ago we didn’t have full-time DAO contributors, NFT traders, and chief meme officers. By 2025, people will be able to easily contribute and earn across project and roles.”

On what’s next — “I’m inspired by how decentralized networks can unlock human potential and new technologies. In 2022, I’ll continue to dive into DAOs, protocols, and Web3 products with strong UX.”

Julia Lipton

Cristina Cordova

Angel Investor & Advisor to Fintech, DevTools, SaaS startups (bio)

Developer & Productivity Tools: I’m inspired by the tools that enable builders to focus on getting their best work done. One of the aspects I loved so much about Stripe is how we we enabled developers who didn’t want to bother with payments to integrate quickly and get back to work on their core product. There are a number of products across productivity, security, compliance and recruiting/HR that ensure we can all avoid the trap of building every tool or feature in-house and spending far too long reinventing the wheel. I love when companies can build tools that are far better than what someone built as a side project internally and is now languishing in maintenance mode. It also makes you realize how much more productive we can become when we have the right tools from a team dedicated to iteration and innovation.”

Cristina Cordova

Sara Deshpande

Partner, Maven Ventures

“We all kept holding our breath in 2021 waiting for things to go “back to normal”… and I hate to say it but that normal ain’t coming. There is an incredible volume of great startups and fundraises move fast, so I think VCs need to continue to build their own path to conviction. One way I am doing that is identifying themes and sectors where we can move quickly with conviction. For me that is consumer applications of Web3, the future of digital health and personalized medicine, family tech, and founders solving major pain points for consumers where there’s an opportunity to achieve hypergrowth.

We’ll see new breakout companies building for families. Parents have been crushed by the pandemic and there are so many new ideas percolating to help them thrive as people, parents, and employees. Future of families tech is coming in a big way!

I ended the year minting my first few NFTs and am excited to see more women building, founding, and investing in web3. I see a lot more of that coming for me in 2022!”

Sara Deshpande

Now, I want to share what inspires me heading into 2022.

with Elizabeth Weil

We are living through a perfect storm of disruption that will create a more global, diverse, decentralized and creative tech ecosystem than ever before. REALLY! We have 5 major trends converging that make this possible — rapid digitization of traditional industries, distributed tech cities, globalization via remote work, web3 frontier and increasingly more diverse investor base. For the independent thinkers and avid builders out there, this is your time. Soon, we will all be a glad we’re not stuck in industry status quo of 2019!

With a few days left in 2021, I’m signing off to enjoy precious time with kids and grandparents and recharge personally.

Wishing you a rewarding and joyful 2022!

Investor, Board Director, former Tech COO and Business Development Exec. Hypewoman for Female Founders & Funds. Glass 3/4 Full. My personal views only.