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What I look forward to in 2022

Francis Plaza
Francis Plaza
As we closed the 2010’s, I wrote about the lessons I learned over one of the most formative years of my life. It’s the time of year again: we’re at the end of yet another pandemic year. But this time, I’d like to write about the things I look forward to in 2022. Despite all the challenges this year posed, there is a lot to be hopeful about. So I’d like to close 2021 with another level of optimism.
From the astonishingly rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines to the extraordinary amount of new technological breakthroughs in 2021, there’s so much to look forward to in 2022.
More ventures will be built, especially by historically overlooked founders.
It’s now much more accessible than ever to start a company. Startup communities worldwide are growing, and creating generational companies is no longer the monopoly of Silicon Valley. More first-time founders are taking the jump, and they are getting younger and younger. We will see more Gen Z’s, now in their early 20’s, start their own companies.
The best graduates out of accelerators are no longer concentrated in Y Combinator. New notable startups, especially in emerging regions like Southeast Asia, such as AcadArena and Shipmates, are coming out of programmes like Iterative. Many first-time founders now have the opportunity to access resources they would otherwise never have had access to just five years ago.
New forms of funding will spur an unprecedented level of innovation.
Funding in startups has reached record levels in 2021. In Q3 alone, about $160 billion was invested globally. That’s a 78% increase year over year. Before 2021, global funding had never crossed $100 billion in a single quarter.
How companies are generating finance is also fast-changing. There are a lot of new mechanisms that connect companies to investors, from platforms like MicroAcquire to crowdfunding, ICOs and SPACs. The DeFi movement, which takes place through decentralised peer-to-peer networks, also drives many of these new methods.
There is so much cash around. By levelling access to funding, what used to be exclusive to a few elite groups of people—top-tier VCs, founders from branded schools, among others—are now available to the hands of many. As a result, more minds of different backgrounds will build new innovative products and services.
Companies will provide better flexibility at work and a more rewarding employee experience.
The way we do our work has significantly changed over the last three years, especially amid a global pandemic. Companies were forced to build a remote work culture. Team leads across smaller teams have been given more latitude to drive culture. What used to be hierarchical reporting lines have evolved into flat, small team structures that are more responsive to change.
More young people are joining the workforce. Many expect that the nature of remote or hybrid jobs will continue even as we come out of the pandemic. This trend will change the incentive structure and how organisations are run overall.
This changing nature of work will also pave the way for more tools and technologies to support evolving demands. Tools such as Slack, Zoom, Tandem and Gather continue to build products and features to support these changing needs. The demand for better tools will further grow, and more startups will be made to address the future of work in the coming years.
So I am personally bullish on newer innovations in the future of work; we haven’t even seen yet all the possibilities that can come out of this field.
There will be more improved interfaces between technology and our lives.
Breakthroughs such as sleep tech (ahem, Eight Sleep), wearable health trackers, personalised nutrition, brain interfaces like Elon Musk’s Neuralink and, of course, the metaverse have all become a craze in Silicon Valley. I mean, even Facebook has renamed itself to Meta to take advantage of the opportunity.
As the internet and technologies built on it become more accessible to many people and their distribution becomes more straightforward, the line between our physical and digital lives disappears. Computing performance will also continue to become better and cheaper. So more companies will follow suit in building interfaces that transcend beyond the limits of physical space.
More businesses will tackle more complex problems and exist for serving a grander purpose.
Gone are the days that companies were built for the sole purpose of making profits for their shareholders. Instead, consumers are increasingly demanding more meaningful connections with brands. With increasing competition, more startups being built and access to funding becoming abundant, companies will now look into serving a purpose for something better—be it helping solve climate change or cultivating a better world.
For example, Stripe has doubled down on its Climate product. This allowed thousands of businesses to allocate a fraction of their revenue to fund emerging carbon removal technologies. Businesses can build CSR projects without much work by joining programmes like this. In turn, they are incentivised to use Stripe instead of the other providers. This is a win-win not only for Stripe and its users but also for the community.
Companies that will start looking into more challenging problems like climate change, sustainability and long-term impact are more likely to win in the long run. Impactful companies will attract brighter minds, and consumers are more likely to connect with better and sustainable products. This creates a flywheel of impactful companies creating more sustainable generational wealth.
Impressive successes of vaccines for Covid-19, HIV and malaria will pave a new era of medical breakthroughs.
If there’s one extraordinary success that came out of this pandemic, it’s the impressive development and rollout of mRNA vaccines for Covid-19. While this breakthrough took years of research and experiments, this success paves the way for a new era of vaccine development.
New vaccines based on mRNA for HIV and malaria are currently underway. We can expect preliminary results on the clinical trials in 2022. I am personally excited to see this golden era of tackling diseases, old and new, that have long puzzled the human mind.
There will be a new level of curiosity and discovery.
On Christmas day of 2021, NASA and its other collaborator space agencies launched the James Webb Space Telescope on the Ariane 5 rocket to space. The telescope’s journey to its final destination will take about 29 days. The Webb will undergo a series of course corrections and critical deployments of its hardware throughout its travel.
The Webb paves a new era of discovery. It will help us answer some of the biggest questions we have about the origins of our universe. The telescope will help scientists look billions of years back into the universe. Scientists will now see images of the faintest galaxies, look at exoplanets and, perhaps, even find life forms beyond ours.
This launch sets a new stage for the human endeavour. Beyond rocket science, I am optimistic that this will inspire more people to ask grander questions. We will be more curious. By looking into a moment like this in history, we will no longer be afraid to raise the ceiling of our minds.
It was a fantastic year, and I probably have not exhausted all the amazing things the new year will bring us. But that’s okay. Surprises in 2022 will make this new year even more exciting.
As to what I look forward to doing this new year, I’m thrilled to get further involved through the new things we’re building at PayMongo—helping new businesses grow on the internet. I’m also excited to invest in startups a lot more, help crazy early-stage founders build generational companies and connect them to the rest of the world. This new year will pave the way for creating new opportunities and wealth, and I am humbled to be a small part of a much bigger story.
Now, for one last time in 2021, I’d like to extend gratitude and appreciation for what these past 365 days have brought us. On to the next.
Thanks to Josh Lee, Redd Claudio, Marvin Vista, Ryan Reb, Jolo Yulo, Joaqui Palaña, Abi Valte, Carlos Otermin Barrera and Poch Espina for reading drafts of this.
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Francis Plaza
Francis Plaza @fplaza

I live in Manila. I grew up in a humble town in Southern Leyte. I studied computer science at MIT and fell in love with technology since then. I write about whatever ponderings that come to mind.

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