At Tech Conference, Search On For Next Big Thing

By: Julia Boorstin

At the Montgomery Tech Conference, 170 startups are presenting to an audience of venture capital investors, media and tech executives, all looking to find the next big thing.

The ultimate goal is to discover the next Facebook, the $70 billion juggernaut. But potential investors or acquirers here aren’t focused on social media—when I ask what’s the next Facebook, the answer is usually: Facebook is the next Facebook.

Instead, the dozen investors I’ve talked to are pulling out smart phones and iPads, talking about the new way content is delivered and saying ubiquitous mobile connectivity is creating a wealth of new opportunities that startups are cashing in on. And for companies to deliver services or content to mobile devices, that likely means leveraging the cloud, since you can’t save any data on that slim iPhone or tablet.

Here are picks from three of the leading VC names here at Montgomery Tech:

DFJ Managing Director Tim Draper says he likes companies which have original software that has the opportunity to spread to the hundreds of millions of people with Internet-enabled phones.

His top pick is a company called “Splashtop”—its Splashtop Remote service delivers access to all the content on your desktop from any smartphone or tablet. Download the software to your desktop, then you can access your iTunes library or work on your documents from any remote location.

Kate Mitchell, the head of the National Venture Capital Association, pointed to a company that’s designed to cash in on the growing amount of mobile activity, called MBlox.

It’s the world’s largest mobile transaction network, managing more than $500 million in SMS billed transactions each year. The company partners with telecom and mobile carriers and manages payments for everything from streaming video and concert tickets to mobile ticketing for trains.

Benchmark Capital General Partner Mitch Lasy singled out a company I’ve been hearing a lot about here, called “Gaikai.”

The idea behind Gaikai is that it’s a hassle and time consuming to download game or other software to your desktop, and it’s virtually impossible on a mobile device. That acts as a major barrier to entry.

So Gaikai instantly streams content from the cloud—like Electronic Arts’ [ERTS 18.62   -0.1275  (-0.68%)   ] ‘The Sims’ game or software like Adobe [ADBE  35.13  -0.16  (-0.45%)   ] Photoshop. This technology allows company to market their software by enabling sampling on the likes of Facebook or other websites. Gaikai just signed a big deal with Electronic Arts which it expects to drive more software sales.

Check back in—I’ll be writing more about more hot companies drawing buzz among the VC community here, including:, Gogii, and Yume.

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