Mark Randall is a serial entrepreneur and leading technology strategist. At TNW2011 Randall will share his extraordinary journey and the powerful lessons learned. Randall also reveals his prediction for the next billion dollar web opportunity (no, it’s not social, mobile, location, e-commerce or gaming). We asked Randall a few questions about these audacious claims:

Boris: At the conference you’re going to be revealing your prediction for the next billion dollar web opportunity. Can you give us any hints?
Mark Randall: No way, that would be telling! But I can say that most people aren’t thinking about this area yet… and they really should be. I’ll lay out my case for why I think it’s going to be big, globally important and insanely lucrative.

Boris: What’s this about losing $650 million? Did you leave your wallet somewhere?
Mark Randall: Well, I didn’t lose it all by myself! I did have a few friends helping me. It was certainly a life changing experience, although not in the way most people think. It’s often said that one learns more from losing than from winning. I guess I was chosen by fate to test out the idea that the *more* you lose, the more valuable the lesson.

Boris: You sold your last company to Adobe and are now Chief Strategist for digital media there. What does it take to be a good strategist?
Mark Randall: Tiger blood! (laughing) Ok, maybe just an inquisitive mind and deep experience in a wide range of technical and business roles. A very nice co-worker of mine once commented, “Your answers are alright, but your questions are awesome”. I think that says a lot about how a strategist can generate value as part of a team. In today’s world, better questions are increasing in value faster than better answers.

Boris: What else are you thinking about these days?
Mark Randall: The rise of touch devices like tablets is clearly an important trend. I’ve made my living in the software industry since the days we turned my mom’s kitchen table into an assembly line so we could stuff 5.25 inch floppy disks of my first programs into plastic bags. I think the next few years may hold one of the more significant shifts the industry has seen since.

There are three fundamental factors emerging at once. First, there are the technological shifts around touch interfaces, constrained hardware capabilities and tablet form factors. Second, we’re seeing the introduction of new direct distribution channels such as app stores and lastly, with apps we’re seeing demand for a new category of software that typically delivers fewer features and capabilities but at a lower price point.

The average app does less than the average desktop program, so the amount of time users spend with apps versus desktop software is also lower. This creates an interesting usage pattern I think of as “app snacking”. Taken together, these factors have the potential to create significant new market opportunities and I think that’s pretty exciting.

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