Eric Schmidt: Future Unicorn Companies Will Use Information Crowdsourcing & Machine Learning

Five years ago, Eric Schmidt mentioned publicly that mobile and apps will run the tech world. Though he didn’t predict exactly what products would dominate the industry, he was right on about users spending more time on smartphones. “Mobile is eating the world,” predicted Andreessen Horowitz Partner Benedict Evans, and Schmidt’s predictions for this new world are big.

After 15 years at Google, Schmidt revealed his bets on what the next $100 million companies will look like - and the founders that will lead them - at the Startup Grind Europe Conference. Here are our highlights.

The Next Billion Dollar Company Secret Sauce

In 5 years, “we will be talking about systems that use Android and iOS, fast networks, and powerful machine learning….they are going to use the crowd to learn something.” This knowledge will become a marketplace.

For example, “I know nothing about dermatology and I have $1 million,” proposes Schmidt. “I am going to run to dermatologists and pay them $1 to categorize skin samples. I am going to put them in a machine learning system, run the samples, have them categorized, and I am going to sell the same service to the dermatologist because my system is more accurate than the individual dermatological categorization.”

To build the next $100 billion business: crowdsource information, learn it, and then sell it.

The Type of Founders That Schmidt Would Work With

Before Schmidt joined Google, he saw the potential of Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s vision and execution. When Larry and Sergey interviewed Schmidt, they had a whiteboard with his background. They examined his career and disagreed with some of the products he was building, he described. This was one of the most interesting conversations Schmidt had for decades and the reason he joined them.

  • The entrepreneurs that Schmidt would work with are brilliant, visionaries, frugal, and aggressive.

  • They are willing to take risks that nobody else would.

  • They surround themselves with people smarter and clearer than they are.

  • They are self-evolved. They know they need help and ask for it.

  • They build scalable long-term plans.

If you are a small company, the most important thing to have is a functional product and a compelling strategy. Funding, then, is a symptom of these two achievements - not a goal.

What’s Next For Eric Schmidt & Google?

For the last few years, Schmidt spent a lot of time in public policy. He met with Senators and House members discussing a range of topics including education, immigration, health care, and privacy and consumer issues. He ultimately decided to return to science and technology, with excitement around AI, machine learning, and biology.

“As a society, we spend a lot of time complaining about how things are rather than fixing them. Smart people find solutions to solve these problems. The more emphasis we can put as a society in those, the quicker we can make this world a better place.”   

Google is now putting a lot of energy on machine learning. Steven Levy from Backchannel mentioned that “for many years, machine learning was considered a specialty, limited to an elite few. That era is over…. Google is committed to expanding that elite within its walls, with the hope of making it the norm.”

Google has enough resources to hire the most talented people in the world. They’ve been leaders in machine learning for a while but now, their recruiting efforts are getting much more serious. Don’t forget that Google is also a leader in hiring the best in the industry.

Schmidt and Alphabet are 5 years ahead in terms of planning. Developing bots and apps are secondary projects now. Is machine learning next to eat the world? Tell us what you think.