Things were different in Silicon Valley in the distant year of 2012. Back then, a talented entrepreneur could walk into a venture capitalist's office, say his start-up was a mobile-first solution for pretty much any problem (payments! photos! blogging!), and walk out with a good-size seed investment. "That pitch was enough to get going," says Roelof Botha, a partner with venture capital firm Sequoia Capital (and the Pretoria-raised grandson of apartheid-era foreign minister Pik). "It's not enough anymore." Botha should know. Over the past five years he's been one of Silicon Valley's most successful investors, thanks to early bets on such companies as Instagram, Tumblr and Square, all successes owed to the mass adoption of smartphones. Now, though, smartphone growth rates are near zero in the US and falling around the world. And while there are candidates to succeed the iPhone as the next revolutionary computing platform (wearable gadgets, virtual reality), none has made a compelling...

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