Fred Wilson (L) and Michael Arrington (R)

Fred Wilson, founder of Union Square Ventures and one of the first investors of Kickstarter, recently took the stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY with TC chief editor Michael Arrington to share their ideas of startup scene. Wilson also made some interesting comments on Chinese hardware sector in a backstage interview with TechNode.

When Arrington asked him to predict the future of Internet companies, Wilson said that Apple wouldn’t be one of the top companies by 2020 because it is too rooted in hardware, which is increasingly to become commodity. Apple devices is reaching a saturation point in western market and it can take years before customers to upgrade their existing devices. Apple will maintain its dominance in the near future, but it is hard to predict in the long term. He thinks Google Glass got the right direction but failed at implementation.

Wilson recently wrote a blog to caution against the overvaluation of startups and argued that too much money is the root of all evils. Startups should be careful about pushing valuations too high when they raise funding. He noted that maybe it is a better decision for startups to raise money at a lower valuation and to stick to one or two things, rather than to go aggressive and explore a bunch of different directions at the same time. That means be more efficient with your time and money.

Some industry insiders think Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is over-valued at over $4 billion. However, Wilson said to TechNode that Xiaomi is facing a huge market, it is able to ship hundreds of millions of products as it claimed, so it is unfair to evaluate Chinese companies by western standards.

Hardware projects account for more than 80% of the total programs on Chinese crowdfunding platforms, while they only represent 20% of the total on Kickstarter. Wilson noted that maybe that’s because hardware is the only kind of tangible project that users are willing to invest in. He added there are lots of projects on KickStarter to encourage investments in films and arts. It is a pity to limit the crowdfunding mode in hardware sector.

Union Square Ventures does not have plan to invest in Chinese startups or tap Chinese market now. “China is completely different from western markets and we currently do not have access to talents who can manage the market, he said.

image credit: TC

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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