Venture capital isn’t a monolith, but startup investors are compared to lemmings for a reason. Once a trend gets hot, every firm needs to make a play, or come up with a good excuse for missing out.

(To be safe, if the firm does miss a trend, its partners should privately trash talk it to anyone who will listen.) Investors continue to aggressively pour money into startups. As of the third quarter, US investors were on track to match or exceed 2016’s $69 billion in investments, according to the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook. For startups, riding a trend such as artificial intelligence can be the difference between a hot round of funding and no investor interest.

Founders have spent the last year throwing terms like blockchain, neural network, and machine learning into their pitch decks in hopes of attracting investment. Those trends show no signs of slowing in 2018.

To those, we’ve added other themes that investors will be tracking in the new year. With the price of virtual currency bitcoin hitting new highs every other day and money raised from “initial coin offerings” for new cryptocurrency projects surpassing that of early-stage venture funding, venture investors are scrambling to develop a cryptocurrency strategy.

Most firms can’t—or won’t—buy digital currency like bitcoin directly. But they’re high on the potential value of the underlying blockchain technology, and finding creative ways to pour money into the sector. Read more from…

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