Silicon Valley has its own unique culture that could be described as whimsical and nerdy, but also prone to excess. It's that last feature we may see dialing back in 2016 as tech startups begin to feel the reality of shifting investing habits among venture capitalists, and more people start to accept the word "bubble" as a household term. Here are six trends that could be on their way out in the new year.
1. The Soylent diet.
Soylent launched with a mission of providing consumers with a product that could replace the time-consuming chore of eating actual food, but has since realized folks aren't all that interested in subsisting entirely on thick, milky nutritional formula. The company recently announced the release of prebottled protein shakes. Looks like 2016 is the year low-tech eating habits make a comeback.
2. The word 'unicorn.'
The past year saw a record number of startups reach valuations in excess of $1 billion, reaching what was once the prize designation of unicorn. Now, instead of praising unicorn status, top venture capitalists get on soap boxes to warn against the dangers of working with investors who place too high a value on your company. In 2016, startups may start to shrink from the spotlight on valuations as higher numbers get read more as symptoms of a bubble than indicators of success.
3. Black turtlenecks.
It's not like everyone in Silicon Valley has a personal uniform, but there are those who take their fashion cues from a few particular executives. Gray T-shirts and untucked button-downs are likely to continue clustering at events like TechCrunch's Disrupt conferences, but black turtlenecks à la Elizabeth Holmes and Steve Jobs might fall out of favor following controversy over the science behind Theranos's testing methods and an unflattering biographical movie about Jobs that at least some people saw.
4. Free gourmet food.
Free Red Bull and Kind bars will always be a fixture in startup offices, but perhaps 2016 will be the year when we'll see a cutback on higher-end gluttony as a de rigueur perk. Hedge fund investor Eric Jackson recently cited Yahoo's nine-figure budget for employee meals as an example of extreme wastefulness. Snacks and meals are so plentiful at events like the Dreamforce conference put on by cloud computing company Salesforce that Bay Area nonprofit food distributors can't even dish out all the leftovers to the homeless centers and other organizations that feed the needy.
5. Startup names ending in 'ly.'
What's in a name? Among Silicon Valley startups, the answer is the suffixes "ly" and "li." The pairs of letters started appearing at the ends of names of Y Combinator startups around 2007, with 2010 emerging as the peak year for adverbification when four members of that year's cohorts included the letters at the ends of their titles. Another peak year was 2015, with three instances. At the very least, we're due for a temporary drop in uncreative assemblages of letters.
Tales of excess have a way of turning into warnings. If (when) Marissa Mayer is forced out of her role as CEO of Yahoo, that over-the-top Great Gatsby-themed company end-of-year party earlier in December is going to look kind of ridiculous. (Well, it already looks ridiculous.) And remember that luxury private bus service in San Francisco that tanked? Turns out you can't skirt transportation regulations in the name of overpriced services. Tech bubble talk isn't going anywhere in 2016. Showiness will take a backseat to restraint.