Generally speaking, venture capital investing is a good leading indicator of tech’s growth patterns. While seed money often gets attention, acquisition news can offer even better hints of coming trends – as well as the resulting bump in jobs. Case in point: Gaming. As the industry has hit rough water, investments in the sector have slowed. “Last year, the U.S. couldn’t mint game developers fast enough to keep up with the tech recruiting demand for online, mobile, social and console games,” says Sam Hamadeh, Founder and CEO of PrivCo, a financial data provider on private companies. This year, the money’s moved into more promising areas.
Optical Recognition and Wearable Tech
Among those receiving a noticeable uptick in venture funding are companies in optical recognition and wearable tech related to mobile devices. Hamadeh says the industry has moved beyond the “novelty phase” as evidenced by building interest in Google Glass and the rumored iWatch. For now, experienced professionals in the space are few and far between, resulting in hefty paychecks for those with the right pedigree. The people in demand are comfortable working with emerging tech and are skilled in coding for interactivity, possess solid abilities in mathematics related to 3D interaction and have knowledge of mechanical and optical engineering.
With a $100 million fund devoted to the area, Intel Capital is one of the more active investors in cutting-edge “perceptual computing” — computer applications powered by hand gestures, facial analysis and voice recognition. Arvind Sodhani, Intel Capital’s President, has said the fund will invest in startups and provide business development support, a global business network and the technology expertise needed to scale their products for worldwide use. Professionals with experience in applications involving touch, imaging, gesture, voice, emotion sensing and biometrics are well-positioned to find work here.
Recent VC investments have also tilted toward mobile solutions. According to investment bank Rutberg & Company’s Venture Capital in Mobile Report, 75 private mobile companies raised $421.8 million in venture funding during March 2013 alone. Mobile messaging apps, app monitoring and testing, smart targeted mobile advertising, and consumer mobile health devices dominated the deals.