This is part two of a three-part series on entrepreneurship. The parts:
- 'Is it too late for me to start my own business?', and other sheepish questions (Lucky7 post)
- Who this new generation of aspiring entrepreneurs are and the new Golden Age of tech
- How I define the soul of entrepreneurs: you change the world
We live in very interesting times. It's 2010 and I'm at a family reunion. We've just barely survived the most cataclysmic global financial crisis in the modern history and one of my cousins asks me, "How can tech be doing so well while the rest of the economy is doing so poorly?". I did my best to answer but the question kept eating at me. I remembered Michael Porter's Harvard Business Review article about the Internet being the sixth force - and how it would disrupt all of the previous five forces cited in his famous strategic model.
Fast forward just four years later and a five-year old company, WhatsApp, is bought for $19 billion by Facebook, a company that itself is only ten-years old at the time but worth a mighty $170 billion. Just two years earlier, when Facebook went public, the media was asking for Morgan Stanley's head - and sometimes Mark Zuckerberg's or David Ebersman's (CFO of Facebook) head - for what was perceived at that time as an overpriced IPO. Except that it wasn't... and any investors that held on to their IPO stock should now be very happy campers.
When five and ten-year old companies are valued at $19 billion and $170 billion, respectively, sometimes I hear the "bubble" word. This is a word that has very personal meaning to me. I lived through the ultimate "bubble" popping when I lived in San Francisco from 2000-2003. I remember going to Starbucks and the barista lamenting that they used to be one of the heads of marketing at Pets.com (remember the sock puppet?). I remember how one person I knew, Tony Perkins (the founder of the VC blogging network AlwaysOn), called the ball in his book The Internet Bubble in November of 1999. Almost no one believed him at the time, and then - WHAM - it happened. It was very painful. I had to let 70% of our people go at Coremetrics while our dot-com client base very rapidly dwindled from 100 clients to 2. We survived... barely... to fortunately thrive later.
But today I believe we are in the opposite of a bubble - I believe are in the new Golden Age of tech. While it always makes one nervous to make a forecast like this, I think the years ahead will be some of the best ever for tech entrepreneurs. And I've been putting our money where our mouth is on this with Hurt Family Investments and our growing portfolio.
To understand why, first you have to understand what is happening with exponential, digital, and combinatorial technologies. The book review I wrote on The Second Machine Age explains this - and the book itself is a must-read on this topic. We live in an unprecedented time and everything is speeding up - and not just with Internet technologies. When I was a kid I would tell my elementary school teachers that computers would transform all industries. That as they speed up, all industries would change more quickly. I was too young to use words like "disruption" but that is exactly what would happen - at an accelerating pace. Whether it is the "Internet of things", smart-phone and tablet adoption, the social revolution, 3D printing (including food and organs), personalized medicine, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and machine learning, or any number of fields computers are rapidly changing, it is happening... everywhere.