Reflections on 2016: Greg Cohn, Burner

This holiday season, we are again sharing the reflections on 2016 from Southern California's technology ecosystem. Today's contribution is from Greg Cohn of Burner (, which develops both a software app to allow you to create temporary "burner" phone numbers, and a new app to auto-respond to aggressive or annoying texters. You can see all of our holiday reflections here.

What's was biggest news from you or your‏ firm this year?

Greg Cohn: Our release of Ghostbot, an amazing app that runs inside of Burner phone numbers and can auto-respond to jerks with witty texts. It's a fantastic demonstration of the potential of "open" phone numbers, which are traditional phone numbers enhanced with first-class consumer applications.

What's the biggest lesson you learned this year?

Greg Cohn: It's not a new lesson this year, but once again this year I had many opportunities to be reminded that people come before all else, in terms of the impact talented and motivated individuals can have on an organization, as well as the importance of hiring, engaging, and creating the right kind of culture for great people.

What's your favorite technology gadget, device, or innovation you ran across this year?

Greg Cohn: In 2016 it became clear to me that self-driving cars are something that's going to happen and that's going to be massively disruptive. There are a bunch of great companies and innovative technologies in this space, but if I had to pick one I'd definitely pick Tesla, given their software-based approach to the automotive industry overall, and also their innovations in solar energy production, storage, and distribution.

Finally, what do you think will have the biggest impact on the technology industry in 2017?

Greg Cohn: Nationally and globally, it's impossible to discount the impact the incoming Trump administration can potentially have on tech and the tech economy, across a whole range of things from critical policy areas like privacy, net neutrality, and immigration to more general arenas that could impact the macro-economy and our society as a whole.

More locally, I hope the Snap IPO spawns another generation of connected angel investors and new VC funds!