What Mattered in 2010: Greg Martin, Archer Venture Capital

All this week, we are sharing the opinions of some of the top influencers in Southern California's high tech community. We asked the same five questions of a variety of top technology entrepreneurs, investors, and others, to hear what they're thinking about, and are sharing it here over the next two weeks.

We last shared the thoughts of John Babcock at Rustic Canyon Partners. This morning, we're sharing the insights of Greg Martin, a venture capitalist at Archer Venture Capital.

1. What was the biggest news for you/your firm this year?

2010 was a momentus year for me personally. I left a great firm, Redpoint Ventures (after 11 years), to start a new firm, Archer Venture Capital. At Archer we are focused on working with southern California's best entrepreneurs at the earliest stages to build disruptive new businesses. Coming off a very successful exit with Networks in Motion at the end of 2009, 2010 has been a very exciting year for several of my companies, Socialvibe, 2tor, Leadpoint, Webvisible and Impact Radius. These companies have all experienced growth and we're expecting substantial value creation in 2011. I have also been working with a couple entrepreneurs on some exciting new businesses that will be launched in early 2011. Stay tuned.

2. In your opinion, what events, companies, or people made the biggest impact on the technology world in 2010?

So many important companies and products come to mind in 2010, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, the iPad, Android, but I think the company that had the biggest impact was Groupon. The Groupon business model (now copied by nearly 1000 companies) was genius. Using the social web to fill excess capacity that exists in nearly every business was one of the best uses of the web that I've seen. The iPad was the greatest new product in the last 10 years in my opinion, and I think the applications that will be derived from that will be far-reaching.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned over the past year (good or bad)?

In a year of transition, it's simple: follow your instincts. Leaving Redpoint and starting a new firm was a daunting prospect, but now that I am out on my own as an entrepreneur again it's been incredibly rewarding. We are sometimes held back by over-thinking the opportunity when our gut tells us what we should do. As an investor and an entrepreneur you have to pick a path and go.

4. Who are the people here you think will most influence the technology world in the coming year?

Not to be coy, but I think the top influencers of 2011 are secretly working on the next great applications of the internet that will drive disruptive new business models. We've seen a lot of innovation come out of Los Angeles in the past few years, with Demand Media, Socialvibe, Zag, ShoeDazzle, Factual and many others. Pay attention to what Los Angeles entrepreneurs are doing, it's going to be an interesting 2011.

5. What are the technologies, companies, or things you think the community ought to pay the most attention to in 2011?

The continuing rise of smart phones and iPad-like devices has created enormous opportunities for the mobile web. Great things will emerge there. Pay close attention to Hulu and the emergence of internet connected TV's; this will shape how content is consumed and paid for.

Pay attention to education and how the use of technology and the internet will dramatically change the way it is delivered. One company I've invested in is called 2tor (with substantial operations here in Los Angeles). 2tor is partnered with USC and other high-end universities to deliver full, high-quality Masters degree programs, completely online, to their students. We are revolutionizing the way higher education is delivered. The next ten years will be really interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if a very large percentage of all degrees are granted via online programs in 10 years.