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Social, mobile and other consumer technologies are inspiring venture capitalists to invest and changing the landscape of IT. Are you paying attention?

During my recent travels, I met with a leading angel investor and we talked about the amazing roll that the technology sector is on right now. Consider the incredible amounts of investment flowing into companies like Facebook, Jive, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yammer, Box and DropBox. Or spend a few days at events like DEMO (our Silicon Valley-based conference for emerging technologies), and you'll see why investors are so enthusiastically drawn to the technology startup community.

I asked my investor friend what he considers the "special sauce" that convinces him to buy into a technology startup. He replied with five simple words: social, mobile, geolocation, gaming and commerce (meaning both the online and mobile varieties). If a company does three of these things in concert, it gets his attention. Four of them and he's seriously interested. Five and it's guaranteed his checkbook will be open.

What is so fascinating about venture capitalists is that they always seem to be ahead of the market. How do they catch those waves so early? How do they know a certain company will be a hit while others will fizzle? My friend said it's not necessarily about the company or its leadership team, but about the trends themselves. In today's market, the business trends of tomorrow are being created by what's happening now in the social and consumer ecosystems.

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