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2017 predictions from 4 top tech investors

·West Coast Correspondent
Times Square, New York City (Photo by Louise Wateridge/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Times Square, New York City (Photo by Louise Wateridge/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

There’s always jittery anticipation about the unknown as we head into any new year. But, this year feels palpably different from others. With our president-elect so mercurial in nature, it’s unclear which policies he’ll actually implement once he steps into the Oval Office.

Despite the uncertainty, top tech investors have some interesting predictions about what we can expect in 2017. Ranging from Brexit’s impact on London as a tech hub to how tax reform can lead to more IPOs and mergers, here’s a breakdown of what’s to come.

David Golden, Revolution Ventures Managing Partner

More innovation in financial technology, though it could be the most regulation-prone sector

  • Many companies are working on elegant solutions to provide financing at point-of-sale that is either less expensive than today’s credit cards and/or available to consumers who may not qualify for credit cards. Loans will finally join the ranks of products and services available on demand.

  • Much of the fintech legislation to date has begun in the House or the Senate; the choices made at the bottom of the ballot are just as important as the one at the top, and investors and startups should remain hyper-aware of regulatory shifts.

  • Money center banks take the next step in 2017. We’ll see a handful of notable fintech acquisitions, but these companies will strive to continue to operate like startups, and will pay top dollar, in order to retain and attract top talent.

Raj Ganguly, B Capital Group Co-founder and Partner

A drastic shift in tech global power players

  • Because of Brexit, fintech companies are moving to Germany and we can expect more shifts as tech’s two largest hubs — the US and UK — concede to populism and a retreat inward. Technology companies including Uber, as well as Amazon’s drones, are on the cusp of disrupting even more US middle-America jobs, creating a deeper cultural and wealth divide.

  • Singapore, Canada, India, China, Ireland and other countries will double down on tech-friendly policies to fill all potential vacuums.

Bradley Tusk, Tusk Holdings Founder and CEO

Growing uncertainty

  • Worker classification (e.g. full-time, freelance, contractor, etc.) at both the federal and state level will be the main issue, with the unusual dynamic of workers and startups supporting freedom to give benefits and some unions opposing it by taking an anti-progressive stance.

  • Cannabis will continue to advance at the state level (both legalization and more rulemaking around implementation). But the move to reclassify the substance as schedule two (instead of the more dangerous schedule one) will be less likely under an Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

  • This is the first time we’ve seen a casino operator in the White House, which could lead to a broader liberalization of e-sports. But it could also lead to religious conservative judges ruling against states trying to expand sports betting.

  • There will be a reform in high-skilled immigration: the H-1B visa, which allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, may experience a shake-up. GOP control means comprehensive immigration reform is not a priority. Startups will also need to keep an eye on short-term visa changes.

Less regulation

  • Peer to peer lending will get a reprieve with the possible abolition of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The fintech debate will capture the larger debate for the soul of both parties: populism (many fintech products) vs. traditional capitalism (Wall Street).

  • Autonomous vehicle legislation will move forward in many more states and more deployments will occur in cities around the country.

  • We will see more mergers. An emphasis on business over consumers at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will mean deals will face less friction from regulators and lead to a boom in M&A.

Tax reform

  • Tax reform will lead to more IPOs, a bull market, a race by startups to capture the momentum and lower capital gains rates (since the only certainty in politics today is that nothing will stay the same for long).

  • Venture capital firms will be squeezed by Trump’s promise to close the carried interest loophole. If he carries it out, it will mean fewer VCs overall and a more difficult funding environment for startups.

Tony Tjan – Cue Ball Capital Managing Partner

Corporate social responsibility will take center stage

  • Employee engagement is broken, but therein lies a huge opportunity: We will see a huge expansion in the number of “Engagement 2.0” platforms and services and a plethora of charity and volunteering events to encapsulate a corporate’s social responsibility.

  • At a higher level, employers will look to extend the benefits of choice and flexibility to their salaried employees, and we may see W2s (the tax form that employers must send to employees and the IRS at the end of the year) will stage a comeback against 1099s (what independent contractors have to fill out).

What are your top predictions for tech in 2017? Tweet me at @melodyhahm.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Read more from Melody: