The Breakout Tech Company Of 2022

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2022-12-03 20:00:20

Each year, when the summer ends, I begin to think about what I’ll write in this annual “breakout company” post, which has turned into a mini-annual tradition for me here on this blog. Until a few days ago, I kept thinking – just like in 2015-16, I don’t think I’ll be able to declaratively write, “this company is breaking out.” Over the last 15-year bull run, entrepreneurs and VCs all but harvested the consumer spending wallet share, with travel/transport, food/delivery, and nearly everything else imaginable. As a result, the technology sector has, for the past few years, been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next great platform only to be somewhat disappointed.

That changed this week with a new product release. Each year at this time (well, all year), I text voraciously with my old friend Josh, where we debate this post (and he should get some extra credit here for that). For this year’s pick, Josh summed it up nicely in text: This year’s pick “gives us the most exciting glimpse into the future.”

Now, is OpenAI technically a tech startup? Isn’t it a foundation, or a capped profit company? Didn’t they raise hundreds of millions of dollars? Frankly, I don’t know how to classify it. It is not a conventional pick (before you send me a text about that), but 2022 wasn’t a conventional year, either. Before we get into it, I wanted to note that honorable mentions are warranted this year, companies such as BeReal (a super fun product), Handshake (quietly becoming next the LinkedIn), Replit (a fascinating vision for the future), Hugging Face or (insane early growth), for instance, were on my mind as candidates, but the spirit of this post is to isolate the newest company that is putting technology into peoples’ hands at the fastest rate – this year, I couldn’t find anything that held up to OpenAI. I don’t want to get into technicalities here this year on this dimension, given there wasn’t a clear, traditional choice, and also the overwhelmingly positive and potentially-game-changing implications to OpenAI’s signature releases this year.

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