Dear Joe: What Tech Bets Are You Making In 2015?

Several readers have been asking me a few closely related questions. They go something like this: What technology bets am I making for 2015? What tech stocks are you buying? Where should I.T. entrepreneurs spend their R&D dollars?

While technology waves come and go, my overall strategy each year has a pretty predictable starting point. My checklist goes something like this:

1. Is my family safe at home?: Before I start chasing shiny tech objects, I ask myself a simple question: Are all of my bills paid? Is debt super-low? Did we put a few bucks away for our kids' college fund? Are we funding our own retirement? Until I'm able to make sure my family is "safe at home" I really don't worry about much else. 

2. Did I Diversify -- At Insanely Low Costs?: Am I leveraging the lowest-cost, highest-quality investment tools -- items like exchange traded funds (ETFs) and platforms like Wealth Front or rival options.

3. Did I Seek Expert Guidance?: I'm frugal (item 2 above) but it's also great to pull in some professional paid advice. Before making any financial decisions for a New Year, my wife and I review financial statements and other items with a professional advisor -- someone who can give us the big picture on current-year progress, long-term financial trajectories, etc.

Now, Onto Those 2015 Tech Bets

4. Bet On Yourself First: Assuming you've got your personal financial house in order, it's time to bet on a tech company. In my case, it's After Nines Inc.

Co-founder Amy Katz and I are reviewing 2015 cash flow, R&D goals and key projects now. It will cost a few bucks to develop... well, you'll have to wait and see.

5. Then Bet On: While there are no "safe" bets in the tech market, if I had a few extra bucks or the R&D knowhow, I'd put my money on...

  • Docker: The open source container technology seems set to redefine how applications are built, tested and moved across the cloud.
  • Hadoop: Yes, the open source Big Data platform also has momentum. But be careful. I think Hadoop will succeed long-term, but some of the individual distributions will struggle and implode, similar to how some of the early Linux distributions from the 1990s imploded.
  • Next-Gen Cloud App Monitoring: Names like AppDynamics, NewRelic, Boundary and Splunk come to mind.
  • Microsoft: I always loved Microsoft's cloud strategy (Azure, Office 365). Now, I'm falling for Microsoft's cross-platform mobile strategy -- including the Acompli mobile app buyout for iOS and Android.
  • Facebook for Work: I just get this strange feeling that the business-oriented version of Facebook will click with business users.
  • Apple WatchKit, HealthKit: WatchKit is for writing Apple Watch apps. HealthKit is for HealthApps. I get the sense that Apple is about to recruit and empower the next generation of App developers -- with Google Android Wear also gaining some momentum.

I'm sure I'll think of some other key bets in the days ahead. But again, most of my time and money is tied up in (1) keeping the home-front safe and (2) building out After Nines Inc. with Amy Katz.

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