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Where to Find the Most Explosive Opportunities in Tech

It's the end of the Microsoft model and the dawn of a new technology era, says former AOL CEO Barry Schuler.

To find the biggest technology opportunities of the next decade, you have to understand the ways computer operating systems are evolving.

Barry Schuler, who as a former CEO of AOL is one of the pioneers of the modern internet, sat down with Inc. editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg to talk about the most exciting developments he sees in his work as managing director for venture-capital fund DFJ Growth.

In addition to clearly disruptive businesses like Tesla and SpaceX, both of which DFJ backed, Schuler pinpointed a sea change in computer operating systems as one of the key areas for startups and business growth over the next several years.

"Our whole worlds have really been driven by the Microsoft model," he said. But the concept of a desktop operating system with cohesive software and a server network has been upended by the rise of device-agnostic apps and cloud-based computing. According to Schuler, "That whole model, that monolithic OS model, and everything that plugs into it, that coherent world, is being exploded."

The reason? Schuler sees the classic "Mac versus PC" battle as increasingly less relevant in the face of advancing technology, universal applications, and how consumers use both. Today, said Schuler, "what you care about is you can get your stuff anywhere, everywhere, from every place you want it."

As the old divisions fade away and internet access points expand--cell phones, TVs, wearables--technology is entering everyday life in a way that it never has before, along with an enormous amount of data, which will allow customization on a massive scale.

"This signal and that signal can make everything work in a very customized way," Schuler said. Bringing big data-driven technology to everyday life "will be the big theme that drives the next decade."

Barry Schuler on World-Changing Opportunities in Technology

Where to Find the Most Explosive Opportunities in Tech

It's the end of the Microsoft model and the dawn of a new technology era, says former AOL CEO Barry Schuler.

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Last updated: Dec 10, 2013

BARRY SCHULER | Columnist

Barry Schuler is managing director for DFJ Growth and the former chairman and CEO of America Online. He is credited with being one of the pioneers of the modern Internet.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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