With the announcement this morning that Bayer will finally buy U.S. seed maker Monsanto in a $57 billion dollar all-cash deal, the consolidation of the ag market is fully underway.
As a result, gone are the days when we could expect big, industry-shaping innovation to come out of corporate R&D departments like the one at Monsanto. There just isn’t enough competition anymore. The market has changed forever.
The companies, again like Monsanto, that led the development of agtech and the entire agricultural market for the last 50 years are no longer in the innovation game. Now, as the massive corporations they have become, they’re in maintenance mode. They know what they do well, they know how to drive profit for their shareholders and they know that expensive, risky gambles aren’t their business anymore.
This is good news for the rest of us.
Scratch that. It’s great news.
As a direct result of this industry consolidation, innovation in ag is finally going to decouple from the big, entrenched players that have dominated the space for so long. This is opening the door for smart, nimble startups to enter the market and make real impacts, driving the entire sector forward through innovation and technological development like never before.
I like to make the comparison to 1980. Back in those days, personal computers were still a proprietary product, developed, branded and supported by a small group of companies. When you bought a Wang computer, you ran Wang software on it and connected it to other Wang-branded hardware.
That all changed with the creation of the PC platform around 1980 that allowed software and hardware from many different makers to work together. This opened the door to an entirely new industry — universal software — and made millionaires of a new generation of entrepreneurs. Few people saw this shift coming, but Microsoft and others did and were able to make billions, as the market moved from one that was dominated by a few major companies to one with many smaller, growing players that were focused on excellence in specific niches.
It was just like the breakup of the Bell System in 1983 too.
It didn’t happen overnight, and it caused a lot of concern at the time, but eventually the telecommunications and IT industries that emerged out of the Bell System’s wake grew beyond our wildest dreams, well beyond 100x what it was before.
We’re at a similar transition point right now for agriculture, and I for one couldn’t be more excited to get started.
Here’s what we know: Investing in early stage companies drives economic growth, attracts innovation, and generates the kinds of success and jobs that we can all share in and be proud of. Monsanto started this trend in the agriculture business, with industry-changing innovations that drove crop yield and created the entire agtech industry as we know it.
But today, thanks to the Monsanto-Bayer merger, new innovators are going to be stepping up to take the lead and are deserving of investment.
At iSelect, we’re already investing in the companies that are going to change this world. Learn more and sign up to help here: www.iselectfund.com.