Investing In The Cultural Revolution

In a talk with Erick Schonfeld at Disrupt a couple weeks ago, we talked about what is coming next for the Internet. Erick asked me what I thought was coming after the infrastructure and application phases of the Internet. I talked about Carlotta Perez' work and suggested that if past technological revolutions are any guide, that we are in for cultural revolution next.

A scan of Techmeme this morning suggests that it there are certainly signs of it out there:

Techmeme #1
Techmeme #2
Techmeme #3
Techmeme #4

The Internet is not controlled by anyone or anything. It is a highly distributed global network that has at its core the concepts of free speech and individual liberty. This ethos, which includes but is not limited to hacker culture, is in many ways at odds with big companies, instiutions, and governments which seek to control, regulate, and "civilize" the Internet.

In the middle east, we've seen the power of the Internet in the Arab Spring. I believe we are in for a lot more of that sort of thing and that it will not be limited to repressive governments, but to all large institutions that seek to control people and their free will. This is the cultural revolution that I referred to in my talk with Erick at Disrupt.

I think investors should be aware of what is coming and seek to invest in it where it is investable. I'm curious what the AVC community thinks of this investment thesis and where we should be looking for opportunities that fit into this thesis.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Druce

    Privacy and security? Wish I had an app where I could tick off my social network privacy policies (or for kids) , and it would audit everything and make necessary changes. Or kids/personal reputation monitoring.There’s a story going around about how RSA SecurID was broken, and the Chinese hacked into defense contractor networks, which seems like a hair-on-fire situation. Anonymous Internet is cool and everything, but at least corporate networks might have to move to a new security model where only trusted devices can connect.http://jeffreycarr.blogspot

    1. fredwilson

      no question security is a big investable theme in all of thisbut that’s not where my head is ati’m thinking of going with the disruptors, not against them

      1. Druce

        something like PGP is security, but could be considered on the side of disruptors… Darknets like Tor … but even PGP fell afoul of the law, and that was before 9/11, and today a Phil Zimmermann would be labeled a terrorist.The whole email/IM/SMS seems ripe for reinvention, Google tried and failed with Wave, so it’s a tough nut.

        1. fredwilson

          i agree that cryptography is interesting. bitcoin uses crypto as the basis for an untraceable currency

          1. ChuksOnwuneme

            Bitcoin —very interesting stuff. Did you see Jason Calacanis’ take on that i wonder what the wider community thinks. Reactions from governments? Institutions? Would be interesting to see.

          2. Seth Elliott

            I’m concerned that Bitcoin itself will (if successful) find pressures to “inflate” irresistible (I understand the model suggests that this will not occur).This is simply a specific example. However, I think it illustrates a broader point – namely when “going with the disruptors not against them” it’s important to evaluate whether a company is likely to fall into a pattern of behavior similar to existing institutions, or maintain it’s disruptive culture.

        2. Druce

          But I like where your head is at.Bitcoin is interesting, if overhyped… could see something like that having a use in closed shadow anonymous Internet economies, not in the real world, where currencies need a central authority and strong stable economy behind them.

  2. hungrygardener

    In a word — Africa.  Specifically, sub-Saharan Africa.  With its growing economies, mobile penetration, increasing middle class and a booming youth population that is slowly awakening from manipulation by tribal elders/politicians, Africa presents a unique opportunity across the entire spectrum of infrastructure, applications and the cultural revolution of which you speak. The best investment opportunities address all three layers — simultaneously.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great thought Brian. are there any particular countries that are the most investable right now?

      1. Emmanuel Bellity

        I hear good things about Kenya: (great post in French : Africa as well

        1. hungrygardener

          Yes, So Africa should also be include especially with Mxit and Naspers. However, I feel the real action is going to be in sub-Saharan Africa nation due to reasons I stated above.  Naspers is particularly well run and has ventures targeting, classifieds and electronic commerce in Kenya and beyond.

      2. ChuksOnwuneme

        Fred, think Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal. These changes are beginning to happen there right now. A far cry from what it was when I was a kid growing up in the region. We aim to capture some of that tide with what we are trying to do with our Seattle based

      3. hungrygardener

        Yes, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.  Nigeria is particularly interesting as just had most successful elections in history, has oil and projected to have population of 160 million by like 2015.  (Currently Nigeria has 1/6 population of all Africa (total pop 840 million).  Lagos is center of “Nollywood” that churns out low budget movies for all of Africa. Its just matter of time before distribution via mobile.  Kenya is also huge opportunity as Nairobi is rivaling Cape Town as center of mobile development.  Kenya’s m-pesa mobile money is hugely popular and just one example of things to come. Kenya is set for elections in 2012.  Ghana is stable and affluent and also is center of software development.  Rawanda and Tanzania are also interesting for different reasons.  Advanced communication systems may finally provide way to build ‘regional markets” across borders for agricultural and other products thereby providing an alternative to exporting to developed countries which has always been problem as Africa is primarily agrarian and does not have artisans on which to build a manufacturing economy.  I could go on but you get a bit of the picture.

        1. tyronerubin

          Sir I live in Africa and worry about the fact that of the 840 million people in Africa, you mention, a very low percentage have web access. Yes they have mobile phones but I dare you to guess what percentage of the 840 million people in Africa have decent internet access. 

          1. ChuksOnwuneme

            Tyrone, we are speaking of “progress”. it can happen slowly, or quickly. Progress is definitely happening in many places in Africa. Some places more than others. But the point is that it is happening.The wave of change has come, and for some reason, I seem to believe this time it is for real. With change comes disruptions to the “traditional” way of doing things. It is exactly this that Fred is speaking of. My prediction is in the areas of internet and mobility.

          2. Aaron Klein

            Give it time.I’ve spent time in South Africa, Zambia and Ethiopia. I’ll make my third trip there in August.Look at how quickly SMS spread across the entire continent.Data is coming and there are going to be legions of kids who run around holding their computers in the palm of their hands.It’s a world changer.

        2. ChuksOnwuneme

          You totally get the picture, Brian.Rwanda is a particularly interesting case. Since emerging from a decade-long civil war, the thirst for knowledge and investment has reached an all time high, particularly in the high tech sector. Mobility is a clear winner here.Nigeria has always been the powerhouse of innovation and wealth in Africa, but mostly due to corruption and poor management, it hasn’t discovered its potential. This is beginning to change. You speak of “Nollywood”. Absolutely. Aside from its oil, that industry is beginning to be one of Nigeria’s greatest export.Ghana is also a place to watch. Met with a few young tech entrepreneurs from there recently in San Francisco. Some really interesting things are beginning to happen there in the area of mobile tech.Other countries that have traditionally relied on tourism as a life blood are beginning to open up the economy in other areas.  Think Tanzania, and as you mention –Kenya.

      4. tyronerubin

        I live in Cape Town, I would say Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, some say the Silicon Valley of Africa. We really appreciate our ability with mobile and the web to be able to compete in business with the rest of the world. The main problem in South Africa is our lack of broadband. Yes mobile has insanely high penetration but still even with mobile devices we lack access to the web. I am fortunate to have semi-decent web access but with America complaining about being 18th place in terms of web speed, Africa is very problematic. The problem is that without drastic web penetration we are going to continue to not only remain where we are but slowly start digressing if we continue to lack web access for the people in Africa. South Africa is definitely starting to have better broadband for those who can afford it but on a whole with Africa’s population around 750 million people, mobile is being penetrated but not web access at all. 

    2. Flow Simple

      One can only hope Africa goes through an economic growth like we’re seeing in China, Brazil, etc. That will be something else wouldn’t it?But I don’t think that’s next. I don’t think it’s going to happen in our life time. Perhaps a generation or two away.

  3. Brad

    I believe that we are finally breaking down barriers and creating a much flatter playing field. The ability for free speech and smaller companies to compete against larger ones should be the role and function moving forward. Rather than larger amounts of political or invested capital, those that out perform should be the litmus test for success.

  4. David Haber

    I’ve had the pleasure of spending the past two weeks here in China and a few days in and around Tsinghua University campus (China’s MIT) meeting with a bunch of young and talented entrepreneurs looking to start tech companies.While the ecosystem is growing – it’s clear that the government’s censorship policies have stifled a lot of the free thinking / free market environment that you’re observing.  Is the political ecosystem one of the things you’d consider if you were to make these types of investments abroad?Do you predict a similar grassroots revolution to take place here in China?  If so, when?  And is it investable?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know what is going to happen in China. but i don’t want to invest in China (even though it is incredibly profitable to do that right now). i don’t want to invest in a place where things aren’t truly open

      1. David Haber

        Ya – if people think valuations are crazy in the US – they should come to Beijing.  I assume you’ve seen…

        1. fredwilson

          As long as china focuses on cloning American ideas I’m not excited about it

          1. JLM

            Of course many of those ideas came to America via Europe which borrowed them from the Chinese in the first place.China was an incredibly well organized and effective society when Americans were eating w/ their hands.

          2. Guest

            To borrow a phrase from a wise man I recently met … ” well played “

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Ha!Leave it to you to set the record straight.

          4. fredwilson

            Yup and they should aspire to get back to that place

          5. Emmanuel Bellity

            Well Americans copy American ideas too… but there are often many executions around a simple idea and that’s what makes a difference. Recently I’ve been pretty amazed by AppAnnie for example which to me as a mobile dev is the best product in terms of app store analytics and they comin out of China.

          6. fredwilson

            but it is iPhone onlyi wish it were cross mobile platformsi’ve been pushing Flurry to do that

      2. Druce

        FWIW I blogged about why there will be no Jasmine revolution in China very soon – a nutshell, people don’t rise up against competent governments that deliver the goods.Over a generational time horizon, as more people travel to places like Hong Kong and the US, if the system does not adapt to change, then the system will be overthrown. 

        1. JLM

          Brilliant comment.What is missing in evaluating the culture and freedom of governments is their COMPETENCE.A Thomas Jefferson democracy which is unable to foster sound currency and orderly markets fails to serve its people though those same people enjoy huge freedom.A Chinese dictatorship which crushes its people but competently delivers a great leap forward; (not that Great Leap Forward) which translates into a better quality of life for many though it represses their freedoms will provide a difficult dilemma for judgment.China is about 20 different countries simultaneously with a capitalist regime within 100 miles of its coastline and a backward 7th world country in its hinterlands but it has a government which though repressive as hell is exerting considerable energy moving the entire nation forward.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          “…as more people travel to places like Hong Kong and the US, if the system does not adapt to change, then the system will be overthrown.”Powerful observation.The difference is that people are traveling to places they’ve never been without leaving the ground.  The internet is creating a less boundaried existence (exponentially more so than other media), resulting in increased awareness –> dissatisfaction with the status quo.

          1. Druce

            less so in China due to the ‘Great Firewall of China’, see for instance -…and 2nd note here about recent crackdowns on VPNs and stepped up censorship of other sites.…And if you’re Chinese looking only at Chinese language sites, you will never come across certain information and never know it’s missing. Per Fallows, kids born after Tienanmen have never heard about it.”Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I knew deep down as I was typing that comment that my ignorance would be somewhat apparent since there are obviously many places in the world where the awareness/freedom created by the internet is not yet being realized. Thanks for the links. I am a little less ignorant now. 🙂

          3. Druce

            lol your point is valid, just less so in China.22 years ago yesterday, in Beijing – the tank man was out there – maybe he still is – deserves a thought and a toast, wherever he is -

      3. markslater

        i dont get it either. 

      4. Patrick Dugan

        LatAm is the next China. 

  5. slowblogger

    I agree. The key development will be in areas where the voices of people are not heard. Facebook and Twitter are starting points, but not the end.

  6. Philip J. Cortes

    The protection(s) that the “right to bear arms” used to provide us with are now deeply embedded in our ability to get access to information and the power of sharing it.

    1. JLM

      Well played.  A brilliant insight.The pen being mightier than the sword, no doubt?Of course, I also like the arms themselves.

  7. Philip J. Cortes

    The protection(s) that the “right to bear arms” used to provide us with are now deeply embedded in our ability to get access to information and the power of sharing it.

  8. Philip J. Cortes

    The protection(s) that the “right to bear arms” used to provide us with are now deeply embedded in our ability to get access to information and the power of sharing it.

  9. John Frankel

    “I believe we are in for a lot more of that sort of thing and that it will not be limited to repressive governments, but to all large institutions that seek to control people and their free will.”  Great sentence.Institutional control that is effective is reflective in the ability of their messages to influence people.  Governments have tools that can coerce institutions can only influence and so have to be far subtler in getting their agenda out there.  Klout can measure this influence and so analytical companies like Klout can be used to see which institutions are effectively getting their message out there.

  10. Danny

    I think there’s an opportunity to invest in companies that more directly drives real life behaviors. Facebook probably thinks they do so, and Twitter and Groupon are definitely examples of companies showing the potential of harnessing the distribution of the open web to align actions in real world environments. However I think the real winners in this are going to be solutions tailored to the mobile environment at their core.    

  11. Paul

    If you invest in revolution, be quickly prepared to invest in the next stop on the cycle, the cleanup. That’s where the real value will be, until the next revolution. Same as it ever was.But cultural revolution is not assured in the West. What makes you so sure? Hackers, which dominate your Techmeme page example of the rumblings of social revolution, are nihilists, no? Not so sure if nihilistm will ever get us anywhere interesting — or profitable!

    1. fredwilson

      Hackers are the leading edge of something that is much bigger than hacking

    2. danielharan

      Why assume that hackers are nihilists?

  12. raheeln

    aren’t revolutions called revolutions because they are rare? where is the equilibrium? i don’t see any let up — all i see are the wheels of the cultural wagon speeding up…

  13. Ed Buchholz

    The biggest thing I take away from recent headlines is a sheer outbreak frustration.LulzSec and others are frustrated with the opacity and deceptive nature of governments and corporations.Arab Spring is a manifestation of frustration over government control, rising prices, lack of employment.The far left and the far right leaning media outlets in the US are anchors and representations of Americans frustrated with government and inaction (or too much action depending on how you lean).Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and social technology in general are incredible outlets for people to vent, realize that their feelings are not unique, and organize. This is dangerous to the people who benefit from the status quo, so there’s bound to be controversy and conflict.Investing in impartial ways to increase social discussion and debate is a no-brainer at this point.

  14. David Semeria

    I think this “world changing” aspect of the web is very interesting, but equally hard to monetize.For what it’s worth, I see value in leveraging it in a similar manner to how freemium works.For example, a project I’m working on will offer a series of analytical tools which will be of great benefit to public institutions (schools, hospitals, etc). These will be free for public bodies, but not for private ones.In this way we can hit two birds with one stone: help improve the world as a whole (for free), but at the same time advertise these tools to those who could (and should) pay for them.

    1. Rohit Mishra

      Great strategy David. Wish you all the luck. 

      1. David Semeria

        Thanks Rohit

    2. Karen

      I like the idea of your strategy: it appeals to both business sense and ethics.What I have difficulty with is the problems that small startups are going to face unless they target B2B sales from the very first. It’s hard to give something for free to members of the public unless you already have a very profitable product.Cheers,

      1. awaldstein

        I think one variation of the model is a b2c2b model. Businesses are looking hard to find ways to make the social web actionable. If startups can aggregate social traffic around contextual nodes (or interests) that traffic or access to that community has intrinsic value to the business.

        1. Robert Thuston

          I like the b2c2b model, because the b2c and the c2b can be valuable to the “customer”. is a good example.  Programmers present and answer questions on the site.  Answers are rated by peers, and programmers receive overall peer rating scores.  The website monetizes by giving access to the overall ratings to companies looking to hire good programers (for users who would like to share their resume).I believe I may have a detail or two wrong in how I described this, but you get the gist (as recalled from a recent interview with the founder.)

          1. awaldstein

            Thanks Robert. I’ll check out them out.I dig into the B2C2B idea a bit deeper in my last post. It may be of interest to you:Context not content is king @

          2. Robert Thuston

            Arnold, nice post. very relevant with some of the thoughts flying around in my head. i.e. platform that collects users around interests as opposed to friendship. Thanks for sharing.

      2. David Semeria

        That’s a great point Karen.The whole strategy is predicated on first achieving scale. The free-to-public-bodies approach is also a way of achieving this.US investors are happy to fund the scaling process as long as the momentum is there. Unfortunately European investors are less inclined to do so.

        1. awaldstein

          This difference between the investment strategies for seed or early stage web startups between US and Europe is puzzling me.Platforms are global. Behaviors are global for consumer mostly. Models are models. Dollars are Euros.What am I missing?

          1. William Mougayar

            The cultural differences are deeply rooted. It’s a different mindset. 

          2. Matt A. Myers

            I see it more being the U.S. has been at leading edge of developing business metrics via capitalism / strong focus on business-rights (over consumer-rights). In Europe there’s much more focus on the person being taken care of than businesses getting their way. That is why the U.S. attracted that kind of opportunity-seeing minds (away from places where faster growth and resource amassing was hindered), and those people metrics lead to further more nuanced metrics evolving – and the system continued to work.Meanwhile, it only then takes 1 or 2 people with theories to be successful to open up the eyes of the masses (Re: Fred with “don’t care if they have a revenue model, yet”). And then it will take any number of years for those theories to come to fruition to draw the masses’ eyeballs – and then the ones who can understand the ecosystems will learn and adopt them as best they can. The first person to understand and get the theories right will have a big head-start though and may dissuade competitors from entering the same market. So I agree with you William – apart of a cultural thing. 🙂

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Actually replying to @twitter-115424261:disqus  — Disqus won’t let me below.You are REALLY back!  Great comment.(Okay, I really AM logging off now.)

          4. David Semeria

            Beats me.Name one European startup (apart from Skype) that your mother will have heard of…. 

          5. awaldstein

            True…this will change. You are going to change this 😉

          6. David Semeria


          7. Matt A. Myers

            It depends where your mother’s from. 🙂

          8. fredwilson

            You could say the same thing about NYC but with tumblr, etsy, Foursquare,gilt, huffpo and more we are changing thatShapeways and Souncloud are two euro startups that I thing can join Skype onthat list

          9. Greg Gentschev

            Good question. I don’t really get it either, but I do think there are a couple of differences at work.National borders and languages significantly dampen network effects in Europe compared to the US. Everyone speaks English, but a tweet in German doesn’t go very far in France.Here in Belgium, at least, I’m told that there are far fewer early adopters, so getting initial traction may be harder. Seems true of other countries as well.As an aside, I’m starting to think the main difference at later stages is that many entrepreneurs (and investors) aren’t as ambitious. They’re often content to sell to their US counterparts.

          10. awaldstein

            You’ve hit on something I think.The US market, especially big dense cities are great sandboxes for social web, connected on/offline apps.I’m wondering from an adoption perspective if that doesn’t play into this. There is a trend (I bet) for US VCs to invest in European startups and invariably some/many of them create US HQs. (True also for Israeli startups certainly.)

          11. RichardF

            Your missing the fact that there is virtually no angel finance by comparison to the US.  The angels that do exist are older and more conservative.Money is jealously guarded in Europe.  Unlike in the US, new money, read success,  is not something that is celebrated.There is plenty of “old” money but the people who have that money are not risk takers.You have a self perpetuating start up eco system in the US.  Young guys who make money from their tech start up are more willing to go out and help their peers to succeed both in terms of money invested and advice.Where are the Brad Feld’s, Mark Susters’ and Ben Horowitz’s in Europe.  All blog freely and are out there funding tech start up’s.Sure you have Niklas and Janus with Atomico and I’m not belittling what Saul Klein with Seedcamp and Robin Klein is doing at TAG and Index but it’s just not enough.Wealth is truely concentrated in a few hands in Europe. 

          12. David Semeria

            Bloody well said!Hat lifted and forelock tugged.

          13. awaldstein

            Thanks for the education Richard ;)I tend (wrongly) to view the world through the nitch lens of NY/LA/SF. Good to be reminded that this is not the whole planetBut..what about new money from Russia? Seems to be a change from how you describe it.BTW…industry (and old culture) common sense claims the artisanal wine industry in Europe can’t compete on a global market. They are starting to be proven wrong. Not quickly but after a long period, especially in NY it is becoming an ‘overnight success’ story.And models like are laying new commerce ground rules to challenge the system.Change is not only possible, it is essential.

          14. RichardF

            Couldn’t reply to your response directly Arnold because Disqus wouldn’t let me!The Russian oligarchs have certainly spent their cash on London property but I’m not sure about start up’s.Thanks for the tip on I am definitely going to buy some from them.  Great site too.

          15. awaldstein

            Hi RichardI met the Naked folks last winter in Austria and blogged on them here:Naked Wines…a social approach to online wine markets that really works you live in the UK, a great source of artisanal wine and a fun community. I would join if I lived there.If you are interested in social design, they are a great study of a social supply chain and  well suited for the distribution, access and cultural uniqueness of the UK wine market.

    3. fredwilson

      A good model david

      1. David Semeria

        We need to give it a name.Since “freemium” was coined on these very pages, here’s a great place to start.I’ll open the bidding with “probonium”…

        1. fredwilson

          It doesn’t roll off the tongueHow about the give and take?

          1. David Semeria

            Um. Where’s the marketing man when you need him?Arnold ?

          2. awaldstein

            Sorry….life interrupted my Saturday hanging out on;)And the trail of this string is pretty cold after 5 hours.I’ll dive in later… but this just might end up being a case of definition by first mover success.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Impressive, David.Slapped myself for calling you “Dave” in a tweet recently. 😉

      1. David Semeria

        I was mortified Donna 🙂

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Figured you would be.  Slapped myself and took away my dessert!

  15. leigh

    I’m very confused what you mean by “cultural revolution” – the introduction of any new  medium has had a profound effect on the way we communicate – this has already happened and the cultural changes and effects have been happening over the past 15 years.  I think many of the investments you’ve already made (Twitter as the biggest example) have been technologies that have had a significant cultural impact.Am i misunderstanding your meaning?

    1. fredwilson

      No you understand it. But if you go beyond media to money and values andtrust what are the twitters of that?

      1. leigh

        values & trust – say Etsy & Kickstarter would be in that category wouldn’t they?

        1. fredwilson

          I sure hope so. But I’m looking for more bets to make. Those two make money.They don’t need investment

          1. leigh

            my 15 yr old signed up for @grafigthers:twitter   but hasn’t gotten into the beta yet.   It seems like a pretty rockin’ idea……

          2. fredwilson

            I’m meeting the team this week

      2. William Mougayar

        I might be a contrarian on this one. I don’t think that technology can have an answer to everything. Mobile & micro money, OK. But values & trust are tough ones as soon as you venture outside of Western societies. They mean so many different things to different cultures.

  16. Adam Besvinick

    Not only is it a cultural revolution, but it is also a different kind of tech boom altogether. In 1999, the bubble was driven forward by new technology and the entrepreneurs creating it. I believe the critical difference comes from the fact that this startup revival is all about people – not technology. While that notion may seem counterintuitive given that the debate is over a technology bubble, let’s take a look at the very nature of these “bubblicious” startups. Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Groupon, LinkedIn, Foursquare, AirBnB, the list goes on – they thrive on and are sustained by human interaction both on the Internet and in real life.As evidenced by the list of startups above this tech boom is being driven by advances in social media. Yes, these startups are founded and run by great technologists who are doing incredible things, but almost all the companies at the forefront of this tech revival are dependent upon network effects and a growing user base. They depend on people interacting, meeting, communicating, sharing, etc. on their site in order to generate revenue and sustain themselves. The tech craze of 1999-2000 couldn’t be pushed forward by social media sites and, frankly, couldn’t sustain itself at all for a very fundamental reason…there simply weren’t enough users to go around. In 2000, there were only a little over 360 million Internet users worldwide, which is only a little more than half of Facebook’s worldwide users alone. At the end of Q1 2011, worldwide Internet users had grown about 480% since the end of 2000 to a little over 2 billion users. More people online results in more users helping social media sites to grow.Bubble or no bubble, you can’t argue with the fact that we’re experiencing a boom unlike anything we’ve seen in a decade, but this time it’s driven by us, the users, not the technology we utilize every day.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Great comment.This especially jumped out at me:”I believe the critical difference comes from the fact that this startup revival is all about people – not technology.”You are right — it is not about the technology but what the technology empowers and those who are using the technology.  More and more, I believe that the actual technology will begin to hum along in the background.  Nothing against hackers in tech.  They are heroes of a sort.  But I believe that the new hackers will be the cultural and social hackers.

      1. fredwilson

        Agreed on that last point. That’s what I’m looking for

        1. RyanComfort

          There is no better word of mouth catalyst than starting a revolution that energizes an established network of passionate people.  And best of all, it’s amazing to wake up every day knowing that you are going to help them accomplish their goals.

  17. Andrew J Scott

    The challenge for big business here is that so many of the demands of “the individual” are at odds with the way businesses are both run and the core driving forces behind them.The ‘quarterly report’ culture which underpins the stock markets, often actually damage the very companies which are trying to maintain their market share or recover from a declining share price. That’s something by co-incidence I’ve just written about and how it affects the overall brand value from the consumers perspective I feel also that there are some bastions of corporate power which look ripe to be disrupted and it would be wrong to assume the status quo will remain so; i’m thinking banks, government (especially local government policy, where more direct democracy could potentially work), the payment ecosystem (see Square) and the populous cultural response itself – Twitter and Facebook seem to me the very first steps on this evolution, not the destination.”Culture” as a word seems a bit of a moving target for an investor (or any observer!) as a label so I’d argue your call deserves another more in depth post on the topic(!) but for the us entrepreneurs (especially as some of us get older 😉 our personal cultural challenge is not to fall into the trap of seeing all the problems with an idea, rather than the vision and a new solution.

    1. fredwilson

      You’ve got the model right. You are looking at the right things to disrupt

  18. ChuksOnwuneme

    As the internet “belongs” to nobody, there is a certain sense of democratization that occurs there. “Cultural revolution” is somewhat similar to “coming of age”. One of the things we have taken for granted here in the United States is the freedoms we have, or think we have. The cultural revolution that is taking place worldwide, aided by the adoption of the social web, is inevitable. It’s all about freedom, one word which has eluded so many in other parts of the world. As these freedoms begin to spread, opportunities that never existed in far out places like many countries in Africa, will begin to emerge…unhindered.In the areas of technology as far as I can see, the internet and mobility will be centerpiece to everything that happens out there. Solutions that take these into account is exactly where we should be looking at.

    1. fredwilson


  19. andyswan

    We are in the 1st inning of a big, world-wide, cultural shift from reliance on large institutions (govt corp or otherwise) to individual empowerment in business and otherwise….companies that take advantage of this will win big. 1.  Individual Business/revenue Etsy/ebay/cafepress etc is a great start but I think there are many many more opportunities.  Huge2.  Education could be in the midst of a MASSIVE shift.  People are seeing the devastation of $120k loans for $60k entry-level jobs.  “And 80% of that was learning bullshit I’ll never use!”.   Customized, niche education and mentorship/apprenticeship is a huge opportunity.3.  Elite mobility.   Highly affluent people (rightly or wrongly doesn’t matter) are seeing the value of mobility more than ever.  Volatile and confiscatory tax schemes, military interventions and economic protests/riots underscore this.  Big opportunities in services and technologies that make mobility for the wealthy easier and more effective.4.  Obesity.  I don’t know what the deal is here, or how to take advantage of it, but I cannot believe what I see at the average restaurant on an average weeknight.  Maybe opportunities in niche exercise chains, medical breakthroughs or XL coffins?

    1. rh0dium

      Well said. Agreed on all fronts. The challenge as an individual is getting your ranking up high enough to get noticed…

    2. markslater

      Andy – did you read the big short? i just finished it and came away convinced that higher education is the next one.- diminishing return on the investment of a degree- rising costs- disruptive technology clouds on the horizon. black swan event?

      1. andyswan

        No I didn’t but I might now thanks

        1. Otis Funkmeyer

          Big short is great

        2. markslater

          Do – one of the guys who shorted CDS’s – last name Eisman – just came out shorting the for profit colleges (devry, phoenix) – and sais the next big bleeding scab is education debt. 

      2. fredwilson

        I’m with you guys

      3. Aaron Klein

        I sit on a community college board of trustees out here in California.I’ve been talking about the need to build a 21st century model of educational delivery for seven years now.Nobody has moved a muscle.The disruptive opportunity there is HUGE.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          “The disruptive opportunity there is HUGE.”Word.+1

        2. sigmaalgebra

          For each ofGRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT,develop a course of study with reading lists.Try to get the community college to set up something like old ‘correspondence school’ courses.  Or just direct students to correspondence courses offered by the state college.  I HAVE to believe that there are plenty of well run correspondence courses available CA.  Let the students at least get a little feedback.  Some sets of exercises and tests along the way would be helpful.Entrepreneurs:  Set up fora for each of GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT. 

        3. K.Aisersouzee

          Aaron do you think this has anything to do with the apparent lack of concern for much needed funding for education in preference to funding defense projects or?

          1. Aaron Klein

            No, not at all. It has to do with the fact that some of the stakeholdershave an intense interest in maintaining the status quo. We need to have aneducation system built for the students, not the adults.

          2. K.Aisersouzee

            Its a shame the stakeholders cannot see past maintaining thier current wealth / Status and look to future possibilities of improved education,your 100% correct we do indeed need education built ‘for’ the students with thier futures in mind and not that of stakeholders, but do you really really think it will ever transpire that way?With regards to ‘Status quo’ “You know, that is Latin for the mess we’re in” (According to Ronald Reagan)

          3. Aaron Klein

            Yes.In the same way that market forces are revolutionizing and democratizing financial services, operating systems, mobile phones and telecom…I firmly believe that wave will eventually crest over both education and health care, the two segments of our economy still largely untouched by innovation.It’s just a matter of time.

      4. FantasyDecathlon

        Khan was just on colbert the other night.  i think he’s emblematic that higher education is no longer restricted to those who can afford to invest 4 years of their life + $120k.  Now anyone with the internet can become wicked smart.

        1. Guest

          My wife & I taped it and just watched it last night. Pretty interesting effort. What did he say on Colbert? Something like 2,400 courses/classes/lectures available now.

          1. fredwilson

            kahn and colberttwo of my favorite people on planet earthi gotta find that and watch it

          2. Guest

            Do! It was pretty interesting. Khan had this one self deprecating moment that was almost as if pure HONESTY was shooting across the airwaves – well, cable lines … you know what I mean.{UPDATE: correct misspelling – Kahn to Khan}

          3. fredwilson

            thanks so muchi’ve got it queued up to watch this morning

          4. teacher

            Not so sure Colbert is a fan of Khan from his line of questioning. What did you think? I mean, if you want to disrupt institutions, it’s going to be a little harder than making a whole bunch of 10 minute video lectures with info you get from Wikipedia. Let’s be realistic. 

          5. Guest

            It didn’t sound like Fred had seen the episode based on his comments. I don’t how Fred could reply without seeing it. I did watch it though. I don’t think Khan was even saying its a replacement alternative. He mentions the fact that teachers are using these sessions as outside schoolwork so that when the students are in class they don’t have to hear a lecture from the same person over & over. The scene you describe is the one I referred to yesterday about this moment I thought there was complete honesty. I don’t think Khan’s expression or verbal reply to Colbert’s questions intimated it is an immediate alternative to replace traditional schooling/education. But it could be another tool for the tool box and a launch pad for other approaches & methodologies.{Update: I am personally still somewhat conflicted by the term disrupt education. I do not fully buy in with what some are calling “Silicon Valley’s approach.” First I am not sure it is ‘their’ approach. Through my work with a charity I co-founded with my wife, we both see how HARD teachers work to help educate children. I also think that a concept like tenure is not necessarily bad in and of itself … educators should not be in a position to sell a grade, or teach a particular subject due to unwarranted influences. That said it is clear we need to continue to refine and improve and always keep raising the bar.}{Update 2: LOL, I see from Fred’s latest blog entry he has seen the Colbert/Khan episode now.}

          6. fredwilson

            i just posted the interview on AVC.comi think colbert is a big fan of Sal

          7. teacher

            check further this:…

          8. FantasyDecathlon

            Honored and flattered that you have similar tastes and would then share the Khan video in a separate post.

    3. ErikSchwartz

      Hey Andy, I saw an article via HN yesterday that is apropos to your education comments.…The challenge of course is motivation, the tools are now easy (I suspect that’s the issue with the obesity problem too). 

    4. Oli Lalonde

      I’d pick “Education” as the next big thing. Hopefully… 

    5. fredwilson

      I love your attitude andy. Its infecting!

    6. Aaron Klein

      I especially love points 1 and 2, but I’d add one more.I think how we deal with personal finance and investing is ripe for a cultural revolution. Particularly on the investing side, we’re moving toward a world that you need to know how to make your money grow, because Social Security ain’t gonna do it for you.And yet Wall Street seems to prey on investors who float between buying what’s hot based on emotion, or “buy and ignore” – neither of which work.Investing is broken.I think helping investors answer the question “what should I be invested in?” with deep and direct personalization is a huge opportunity.(And I should add, one that I just embarked upon, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is.)

      1. Guest

        Good comment.  Kudos and good luck on your new adventure too btw.

        1. Aaron Klein


      2. heuristocrat

        Great idea Aaron. There’s been some progress on this but we have a long way to go. Would be interested in learning more about your venture for our research coverage of that when the time is right. You can find us by googling “Research 2.0”.  

        1. Aaron Klein

          Sounds great Kris. E-mail me at aklein AT (and if you want a backstage pass to check out the product, sign up at

    7. Guest

      @andyswan:disqus I am not sure I understand #3 in your post completely. Everyone benefits from mobility. Do you have time to elaborate a bit?

      1. andyswan

        Yes everyone benefits but since uberwealthy have most to lose (motivation)and most to spend (means) I would focus on them.I don’t see Joe upper middle class spending to prepare for black swan events

        1. Guest

          OK, gotcha … thanks.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Read a quote just a few moments ago that in effect said that wealth is not about having money but about having options.  That’s the essence. The type of mobility you reference is one of the ultimate options, but it costs.  Immortality would probably be THE ultimate option. Of course, no one can deliver this but attempts to simulate or replicate some of the effects might be profitable. (The boom in various types of anti-aging treatments has shown this.)(The quote was actually from Chris Rock — someone shared in my Twitter stream.)

          1. andyswan

            Yep. Its not piles of gold to swim in….it’s being able to swim whereveryou want, whenever you want.”f-you money”, to use the parlance of our times.

          2. fredwilson

            The lower your personal burn rate is the less money you need to say fuck you

          3. Guest

            This statement should be required reading at every level (grade) of education up through & including death bed! #KUDOS

          4. Prokofy

            Actually, Fred, when you get down to a burn rate where you are trying to get $25 a day to feed your family of three, you actually are even more free to say “fuck you” than if you require $250.

          5. Jamie Lin

            And fuck retirement and fuck saving for it. It’s a scam.  Why would you lie around doing nothing?  It’s so much more fun when you’re actively creating value, which I plan to do for the rest of my life.

          6. Matt A. Myers

            What?? I can’t live forever?? 🙂

          7. Donna Brewington White

            You’re back!Living forever?  Another discussion for another time. 😉

    8. Dave ML

      Mobility is real and important. But within the US it is worth noting that taxes must not be the only driver, as there has been an increasing concentration of talent in California, Boston and other markets that are not low tax by any means. If taxes were the only driver, many Midwestern states with low taxes would be doing better and Southern states with low taxes would have gutted California in the quest for knowledge workers.  Frankly, if a functioning effective government was even important California would be gutted. Part of mobility is being able to work from anywhere, and/or move to a place that has a high concentration of similarly minded people. 

      1. Guest

        Good points Dave ML

      2. andyswan

        Definitely not only driver by any stretch ….though flight from ca ny andnj to fl and tx is real.I would keep focus on global mobility.

        1. Dave ML

          Agreed re global mobility. It is one of many reasons why the US also needs a rational immigration policy designed to attract and retain knowledge workers. We cannot train enough in this country for a bunch of reasons (which reinforces your education point), and really need to focus on attracting and retaining people. Canada has set an interesting example attracting great talent and wealth from Hong Kong and other places, which we would be well served to recognize. If we can combine a rational immigration policy with a free and open culture that is particularly attractive to knowledge workers and continue to have the best global access to growth capital, perhaps the US can extend its tenure as the leading global player. Your points are great Andy. We can probably agree to disagree on the scope and impact of flight from CA/NY/NJ to FL/TX. Certainly a lot of people have moved and wealth has moved, but much of the data I’ve seen reflects that more as a retiree wealth move. Important, but not the type of people and talent you need to grow the next generation of major businesses, which have increasingly concentrated in fewer markets in technology–CA, Boston, increasingly NY and some of the other secondary hubs.

      3. fredwilson

        Quality of life trumps tax rates every time. I’m a classic example of that

        1. FantasyDecathlon

          Too quick to dismiss the mobility point.  I’m starting to see the first wave of people leaving the Bay Area and head to Nevada. Why?  We’ve already had the internet gold rush and now the economy is headed into a long winter.  0% state tax rates are meaningful to a lot of people.  Call it the Donner party in Reverse.  Or Donverse.You can now start a company in latin america, using programmers in the ukraine, and work from wherever you find a fast internet connection. My question for you… now that the Groupon biz model has sailed, what are the best of the rest consumer internet biz models to launch in other countries?

          1. fredwilson

            i think its best to launch something original, not something copied

          2. Rupert

            What do you mean when you say “something original?”   Original is a very subjective term.e-commerce Groupon model works well as a pure biz model (although you wouldn’t know it by their S-1)? So launching a daily deal site with a huge twist? would that be considered original? or a copied? and if copied why is that bad?social web. a 4square type social game is that considered copied or original? with activities etc.Do you consider something “original” that takes principles of other things and then puts there own spin on it. I am currently struggling thru this right now. Thanks!

          3. fredwilson

            original is subjectivebut i’m not taken by business plans that start with “we are the x of y” whenx is a well known webservice

          4. NMM

            Fred I have an original idea for you. Let retail investors build their own BDCs (Business Development Company) using a Prosper/SecondMarket type platform. Person2Company Lending, Investing and Trading.

          5. FantasyDecathlon

            So should I not open up a pizza joint in the States because there are already a couple really good spots in Naples?Pizza can taste pretty good in other countries.….

          6. fredwilson

            you can do that. it will be a nice pizza restaurant. but not likely to bemore than that.

          7. Archer Daniels Midland

            I’d imagine the reason you’re seeing a wave of people leaving the Bay Area for Nevada is because foreclosure rates are through the roof in Nevada.  Lots of cheap real estate to be had.  Not sure what the end result is since most of my Bay area and LA friends who are buying up this foreclosed property are not relocating to Nevada. 

      4. BillSeitz

        There’s been a lot of emigration from California to nearby states for decades: Colorado, Utah, Nevada, etc. It’s just that Internet-triggered immigration to SiliconValley, and immigration of Mexican and Asians into the state overall, have trumped that.

    9. Tereza

      Andy re: #4 but touches on the other too — there is the Quantified Self movement.  My “emotional web” thesis falls in this (or is an umbrella around it) but at its core is using web tech to transform/improve from one state to another more advanced state.Think ‘self help’ on steroids.  Oprah created the market in daytime talk.  But this can be delivered to your pocket and made faster/better/cheaper and customized to you.Once you’re tracking things and if you can apply frameworks we know about to that data we can serve up specific actions people must take to move to the next level.Also I see an eBay for locally delivered services — the people who can help you get there, and they’re in your neighborhood.



        1. Alex Murphy

          Iterating on Friends … that should go in Eric Ries’ new book.

          1. ShanaC

            Apparently you change friendgroups every 7 years anyway.Besides, I don’t think your life (or any life) can be optimized to such a degree as @Fake Grimlock would imply

          2. Alex Murphy

            The wonderful thing about life is that we are not locked into one friendgroup so to speak. I would imagine that this change of friends every 7 years is related to changing jobs and moving every 7 years too.

        2. Prokofy


      2. Tim Galvin

        Interesting thoughts here, Tereza.Would you mind elaborating on the “eBay for locally delivered services” thought?

        1. Tereza

          We see mechanical turk models for lots of kinds of work and the Gerson Lerman model but there are many large pockets which still will be disrupted.

    10. Jojo

      andy, with regard to #1, “individual business/revenue etsy/ebay/cafepress a great start but i think there are many more opportunities. huge” …can you elaborate on where you think these opportunities are?

    11. ShanaC

      Education is huge…I keep thinking about that in terms of dating. If I were dating someone long-term, eventually I would have a discussion about kids, and then educating said kids. Being myself, I would hope to give my kids all the opportunities I didn’t have, which requires an education. I’m at a total loss as to what ends up being important to teach to a kid succeed, so how am I supposed to evaluate a potential spouse that way?



        1. Alex Murphy


        2. ShanaC

          I will tell my (nonexistent) kids that.  However, I don’t think the world works that way- look at the curve of income distribution worldwide….

          1. sigmaalgebra

            You were talking about education, and now you are talking about income.  You are trying to change horses in midstream!Mostly to make money, start and run a business.  Ten fast food shops will do nicely. 

          2. ShanaC

            Life, happens.

    12. Donna Brewington White

      I hope you are right about obesity.We’ve gotta fix that.All judgment aside.



    13. JoeKorzeniewski

      Regarding the education conundrum, I think people have been looking at this from the wrong angle. The problem isn’t that people aren’t able to learn what they learn for that $60k entry-level job without a college education. While autodidacts have a huge advantage over their counterparts in that the price to gain knowledge is significantly cheaper, they are challenged by the fact that there are no cookie-cutter ways to prove their credentials.The big problem that needs to be solved before the bachelor’s degree is a thing of the past is finding a way to validate a baseline of knowledge and a proven ability to finish what they started for less than tens of thousands of dollars and a minimum of four years of their life. Actually a degree isn’t even that great a validator of these things anymore, but I blame that mostly on high schools and parents which push kids to go to college that have no business being there.Although tuition prices are inciting a revolution on the talent side, the business side is by and large sticking to their demand that to command high salaries, you either need a degree or a hefty number of years experience doing similar work. What I could see tipping the scales is having a credential that could prove a baseline of knowledge and drive that was relatively inexpensive money-wise, but more accurate than a degree. The kicker is that it needs to be so simple, that you can pick it from a drop-down box on a web form. When we see that, expect to see university enrollment drop back down to more realistic levels. I doubt we’ll ever get away from neurosurgeons and nuclear physicists needing a degree, but at least us computer science people won’t be stuck paying a couple thousand bucks for intro to philosophy. If I really cared about Kant, Nietzsche and friends I could find plentiful information about them online for the cost of an internet connection and computer.Unfortunately, I’m embarrased to say, especially as an aspring entrepreneur, that I have no idea how to fix the problem without creating ten times more problems than it solves. I know it will happen eventually and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        “While autodidacts have a huge advantage over their counterparts in that the price to gain knowledge is significantly cheaper, they are challenged by the fact that there are no cookie-cutter ways to prove their credentials.”GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT?Submit work samples?Publish some papers in peer-reviewed journals? 

        1. JoeKorzeniewski

          Unless I’m mistaken, those four tests you mentioned are entrance exams for graduate school. What I was getting at was having something similar to a GED to show in lieu of a college degree. You’re getting at something with submitting work samples or publishing in journals. Although work samples and published papers would be very good windows into the world of an applicant, most resumes get 15-30 seconds on the first pass. To check over the portfolio of every applicant would be fine with ten applicants, but with a hundred or a thousand portfolios would be far less practical. A degree requirement serves as one vetting criteria that’s effective in getting that pile of hundreds of applicants down to a smaller number where it’s practical to take a closer look at them.That’s why I’m saying that whatever comes along to substitute for a traditional college education has to be so simple and uniform that you can select it from a dropdown box. If a hiring manager can check off that requirement in the first pass in less than five seconds, we have a potential winner. Right now a bachelor’s degree means the same thing no matter whether you are a radiologist, a historian or a mechanical engineer. When you can say the same for a bachelor’s GED or whatever they would call it, you’re on to something.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            “Unless I’m mistaken, those four tests you mentioned are entrance exams for graduate school.”Yup, but I want to use them also for something else, in particular, as the solution you are saying you are looking for.Or, the tests as “entrance exams for graduate school” just test what a student learned in college, and that’s the main basis for a Bachelor’s degree. You can think of the tests as essentially just final, comprehensive exams for college; this is especially the case for the GRE.”What I was getting at was having something similar to a GED to show in lieu of a college degree.”Okay, do well on several of the tests in the GRE, maybe math, physics, chemistry, biology, history, French (I’m not looking up the full list of their subjects) and their verbal and math aptitude tests, and then call that “in lieu of a college degree.”E.g., I took one bucket-load of math as an undergraduate and got 800 on the math knowledge part of the GRE. [Note: That was a good score and maybe still three standard deviations above the mean, but it was not necessarily the best score because test went up to scores of 1000. I could have been a ‘better student’ but then didn’t really know how.] I liked physics more than the math, but in physics class I kept doing an upchuck at how badly they did the math (a common situation — I didn’t yet know how to work around it). I took nearly as many physics courses as math courses, but the GRE was smart: I got a lower score on the physics test than the math test.Point: My evidence is that basically the GRE tests work as we would want. Net: Get an applicant with no Bachelor’s degree, a list of good GRE scores, use that as a substitute for a Bachelor’s degree, congratulate them on their good independent work and no college loan debt, and f’get about their not having a degree.”A degree requirement serves as one vetting criteria that’s effective in getting that pile of hundreds of applicants down to a smaller number where it’s practical to take a closer look at them.”Right: So, cut the pile down to people with a 3.5 GPA or better in their major and/or good scores on the GRE.”You’re getting at something with submitting work samples or publishing in journals. Although work samples and published papers would be very good windows into the world of an applicant, most resumes get 15-30 seconds on the first pass. To check over the portfolio of every applicant would be fine with ten applicants, but with a hundred or a thousand portfolios would be far less practical.”So, use the GPA and/or GRE to cut down the pile to “ten applicants”, and for the people who are left look at their work samples and/or published papers.But, some employers are screaming that they can’t find good ‘programmers’. Well, a high GPA or even the GRE might not be the evidence some employers are looking for, but some work samples should do better. E.g., the ‘work sample’ might be just a URL of a Web site the candidate constructed. E.g., Fred has written that he wants just a few foils and then a DEMO. So, what pleases Fred for a check for $2 million should also please employers well enough in Fred’s portfolio! Or, it would be curious that it would be easier to get a check for $2 million from Fred than a job in programming.”That’s why I’m saying that whatever comes along to substitute for a traditional college education has to be so simple and uniform that you can select it from a dropdown box.”Okay: The report of scores from the GRE will fit on a 3 x 5″ card. It’s more succinct than a college transcript.”If a hiring manager can check off that requirement in the first pass in less than five seconds, we have a potential winner.”Fine: Given good GRE scores on a good list of subjects and good GRE aptitude scores, all on a 3 x 5″ card, any “hiring manager” who can’t do the “check off” “in less than five seconds” needs to look for another career. E.g., can he say, “Can I super-size that for you?”.”Right now a bachelor’s degree means the same thing no matter whether you are a radiologist, a historian or a mechanical engineer.”I can’t agree at all: What the student majored in in college is just crucial. I concentrated on math and physics, took one course in chemistry, and otherwise did the absolute minimum on everything else. “Out out brief candle” wasn’t nearly “brief” enough for me. L. Wittgenstein on science? I concluded that he didn’t know much science. The psychology people knew something about smelly rats but not much about people — bummer. European history? The course spent a lot of time on Mesopotamia but never got past 1900 — bummer. The course never mentioned the roles of science, technology, or economics on history, but war and the economy were big drivers of technology which was a big driver of history. History sucked at history. But the math, physics, and chemistry were solid; big difference.”To be or not to be” definitely was not “the question”; the real question was to get back to physics lab and finish the work in time to get home and finish my differential equations homework so that the next morning I wouldn’t fall asleep in the shower or in class (and have the prof tell me to leave and get some sleep).If I am to hire someone with a college degree or equivalent, then definitely I will look at what they majored in.Again, you wrote:”While autodidacts have a huge advantage over their counterparts in that the price to gain knowledge is significantly cheaper, they are challenged by the fact that there are no cookie-cutter ways to prove their credentials.”Again, there is a way: The GRE.But there are some severe challenges for “autodidacts”: They need (1) to know what materials to use, (2) how to learn from those materials, and (3) how to stay motivated. Net, only a tiny fraction of the population will do well getting ready for the GRE on their own.So, for the people screaming about ‘improving US education’, by which they mean helping the bottom 1/3rd or so, independent study for the GRE is not the first step in a solution.But for the people who can do well learning on their own, standard tests like the SAT, CEEB, and GRE are a terrific opportunity (assuming ‘reliability’ and ‘validity’ of the tests). Some of those tests saved my tail feathers at least twice.In the end, knowing well the lessons of how to do well at independent learning is not too much to ask. It will usually take students some time and experience to learn these lessons, but for anything like a professional career the lessons and their application are crucial. So, one goal of classroom education should be to get students going on the lessons and then cut them loose to learn.

          2. Guest

            I’d recommend a good liberal arts education for you; that way, you might learn to express yourself more succinctly. 

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Jim,”I’d recommend a good liberal arts education for you; that way, you might learn to express yourself more succinctly.”Well, let’s entertain your recommendation:Let’s take an exercise from math:Suppose X is a nonempty set and S is a subset of 2^X such that (1) X is in S, (2) for each A in S, X – A is in S, and (3) if, for each positive integer i, B(i) is in S, then the union of the B(i) is in S. Show that S cannot be put into 1-1 correspondence with the positive integers.Now for being ‘succinct’, let’s compare with something from the liberal arts.  I select one of my wife’s favorites, ‘The Golden Bowl’ by Henry James, that she read quickly, easily, for fun, and there the single sentence:”She had got up with these last words; she stood there before him with that particular suggestion in her aspect to which even the long habit of their life together had n’t closed his sense, kept sharp, year after year, by the collation of types and signs, the comparison of fine object with fine object, of one degree of finish, of one form of the exquisite with another–the appearance of so me slight slim draped ‘antique’ of Vatican or Capitoline halls, late and refined, rare as a note and immortal as a link, set in motion by the miraculous infusion of a modern impulse and yet, for all the sudden freedom of folds and footsteps forsaken after centuries by their pedestal, keeping still the quality, the perfect felicity, of the statue; the blurred absent eyes, the smoothed elegant nameless head, the impersonal flit of a creature lost in an alien age and passing as an image in worn relief round and round a precious vase.”The math is shorter and quite solid, and James is not solid at all.  So, here on being succinct (and solid) math beats the “liberal arts”.Next and more specifically, you responded to my post:…which was just a longer version of my post:…where my part was just three lines and, thus, nicely succinct.So, since apparently you didn’t notice my three line version, your background in succinct liberal arts seems to have left you with some deficits in reading comprehension.More generally, I went to a liberal arts college and remember their main lessons well.  So, I vividly recall that the liberal arts students would read through a 300 page novel in two hours while the math and physics books I studied could take two hours a page.Of course, maybe I was a slow student.  I confess:  The first time I solved the math exercise above, it took me more than two hours.  With the advantage of your liberal arts emphasis, let’s see you get a solution in less than two hours.  At the rate liberal arts students go through novels, you could read that exercise in a few seconds.Or, for something else succinct, show thate^(i pi) + 1 = 0argue why some people have said that this shows that God exists, and make the connection with this thread.It is the humanities that are verbose and math and the physical sciences that are succinct — and, crucially, in addition, solid. 

      2. Derek Scruggs

        This is really intriguing. I was a music ed major who later discovered he was good with computers and had an intuitive grasp of business. Nonetheless I never found a decent-paying “business” job until I was five years out of college, and I left a year later to start my own company. I made lots of mistakes in that first venture (like all entrepreneurs) but I thinkg I would’ve made fewer had I spent my first five years out of college working in a tech company. Alas, I had practically zero success convincing companies to event interview a music major, much less hiring me.The transparency of the Internet has made life a lot easier for people like me.  In the early days I learned pretty much everything about business from Inc Magazine, the WSJ and a few textbooks. And I had no outlet for demonstrating my knowledge (like a blog).

    14. awaldstein

      Andy…late to the party here but wanted to comment on item #4 with a twist.The mainstreaming of niche (hyper healthy/weight loss savvy) food cultures, especially raw and ‘green’ food from tiny hole-in-the-walls in LES and East Village is a huge trend in waiting.I’m a believer/user and considering one project here personally.One to watch or invest in.

      1. andyswan

        Very interesting. I don’t know much about it!

    15. BillSeitz

      re #1 yes I totally agree. I think that systems/tools/platforms that help small/loose ventures form and govern in a lightweight way could have huge value.* biz-network ReputationManagement tools could be interesting. LinkedIn helps work your network, but lacks sufficient detail/honesty to help people find each other. There are new reputation-focused players but none seem terribly effective yet. Maybe some sort of eHarmony match-market based on a long survey, esp if combined with some sort of 360-deg-review?* tools/practices to allocate rewards without human-customized legal contracts could be big. JohnRobb’s doing some interesting dirty-hands work.…

    16. NMM

      I thought Fred was going to disrupt education. What happened with that? Edu and banks are a trillion dollar disruption opportunity!

      1. heuristocrat

        Education is so ripe but it sure seems to resist change. I saw Rupert Murdoch make a great speech on it a week or two ago at the eG8 conference in Paris.Professor Gelernter has been a leading thinker in higher education for some time now. He makes the point that we need to break apart how we do it today. Right now your advisor that plans your curriculum as well as the people that deliver the courses and even the certification authority are all centralized and tied to a brick and mortar campus.  This is like the mainframe days in computing. I captured some of what Gelernter said in my notes from the 2009 Gilder Telecosm and just posted it to get them out there. (link: http://blog.research2zero.c… )

        1. NMM

          I don’t think any of that matters. If employers start to value another form of education on a resume, it will directly compete with centralized education. Right?

      2. fredwilson

        still working on it. nothing happens quickly

    17. John Rorick

      Regarding #2As a refugee from a university administration vocation I can say with more then Weiner’s “certitude” that you could tap 60% of the administration folks on the shoulder at a large university and exit them out without so much as a hiccup in the daily operations. I yearn for a day that disruption occurs and gets back to the efficiency of a strong vocational, technical or liberal arts education without the unnecessary 60% markup on costs that presently exist.Olin College has done some great things in this regard to shift some of the higher education mindset, but the economy has provided them with some hurdles this current academic year.The challenge is once education is discussed in “online”, niche or apprenticeship terms the general academic and extended community presume that somehow cheapens the product. All of the educational technology advances I have seen over the years and had some very limited exposure to years ago were only incorporated if it mirrored the antiquated model and processes of the university.For a commmunity of supposed left field thinkers and new insight seekers, they bristle when an alternative to academic delivery or disruption is suggested. Maybe it would help if new ideas for education were not sought and validated utilizing the arcane research/white paper model.I also agree that America is fat…

  20. paramendra

    What you call cultural revolution, I call group dynamics…… My Web Diagram…

  21. Guest

    As always, I like to play Devil’s Advocate. What if the revolution is against too much intrusive tech, not supported by it? “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”  R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron…

  22. Charlie Crystle

    The revolution will be mobile and highly distributed, and not on iOS (rattle your jewelry, Westerners)Interesting trends already, to throw into the mix:: –mobile minutes used as cross-border currency in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. –sharing of mobile phones as a business model in Bangladesh–financing by banks of mobile phones as business investment (Grameen Phone)

    1. fredwilson

      No doubt that the rapidly developing world will be our guiding light here.Great comment Charlie

      1. Charlie Crystle

        a friend of mine is working on the low-level bandwidth issues (in Lancaster of all places!). He’s on sabbatical, heading to Africa and India for some basic research this summer. He thinks he can solve the bandwidth issues in the developing world…pretty awesome stuff. Get rid of that bottleneck, and a new wave develops…

  23. Denim Smith

    Individual long-term storage & archiving that protects individual freedoms and privacy with hooks into the social web for control and maintenance of your personally generated content.When you look back at the global disruption over the past Century, who *owns* the facts, data, storylines, commentary, and content surrounding events like the Vietnam war and protests, civil rights, or suffragette movements, for example?  The future of oral history will be colored with technology and multimedia and will not be centralized in big media companies or controlled by government regimes – it will be controlled by the individuals – and we’re seeing the power is already shifting from big brother to the little brothers and sisters. Individual storylines will be powering our future memories.

  24. awaldstein

    If you define cultural revolution as empowering the rights of the individual, this is both viable and economically powerful.To me, Etsy is a case-in-point. Empower the individual and artisanal and it aggregates into a market.The social web x’d out the Company and put the Customer as the the center of the world’s markets. That one step to individual power reconfigured commerce.The interesting fact that makes this work is that individuality groups into communities naturally and that will drive markets and commerce. Once there is freedom of choice, groupings around context are inevitable and stronger. The effects of social gravity towards the group.The tools are in place to both drive the cultural freedom, aggregate the populations and discover new commerce models. A canvass with lots of gravitas.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I thought about you as I was reading this post — glad to see your input.Plays along with some of the observations about the focus shifting from the company and brand to the individual and consumer, etc. — much of this empowered by this new version of “social revolution” we’re in.Interesting how the empowerment of the individual actually leads to more emphasis on community.  

      1. awaldstein

        You are right on Donna.The freer you are to choose, the more your gravitate towards nodes of connection aka communities of interest.I’m becoming a strong believer that this concept of social gravity, this natural migration of people towards passionate interests is the key to social design, a new backbone for finding markets and marketing itself. 

  25. Eric Brooke

    Transparency – I think we will see a lot more transparency especially in systems that support companies.  You can already start to see the people turnover andpromotions in companies through linkedin.  I also think will start to seemore transparency of process of creation.Consistency – We have already being greatly affected by Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter in terms of our behaviour.  We are learning more about people we have never met through multiple status updates.  Facebook so are you boyfriend and girlfriend now?  Linkedin youronline resume, is now checked against the resume that you send in, and in mostcases they are different (as you often focus your skills on what the job is),causing dissonance right from the outset. It is also becoming harder to reinvent yourself.Dialogue Marketing – We are moving from a propaganda-marketing era to one of dialogue. For example people build corporate websites like brochures and then have a separate’on-line community’.  I think they will come together in future corporatewebsites, as corporations realize its customers that end up defining your brandwith or without your permission.Merging of consumer and enterprise Internet – I think we will start to see enterprise B2B products taken out by consumer facing offers (because they are easier to use and moreflexible). They may also take away control from the company and put it in thehands of the employees.More places to hide – We don’t want to all conform. We don’t want all to live in the sameinfrastructure.  Past infrastructures were harder to change than they are now. More places will be built so we can talk to whom we want to talk.  A bit like what has happened in TV and its movement from few channels too many and very specific. So big platforms (few channels) like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin but many sustainable niche ones also.The Evolution of Language – The barrier of language will disappear and it will become more of a your style of communicating, the way you think and your values.Infinite diversity infinite possibility – I will think we will see a greater merger of national cultures online; currently it is very English speaking American.  We already see it happening with entertainment.  Bit by bit I see more trends coming out of smaller countries in terms of word usage, behaviors, etc.Evolving Communities – A lot of product and services are built in a western methodology in terms of process and systems.  I think we will start to learn more alternate ways of encouraging community and collaboration from Asian countries.

    1. Charlie Crystle

      nice use of space.

    2. fredwilson

      Some good ideas in there eric. Thanks!

    3. Donna Brewington White

      This is an amazing and insightful comment.Re one point you made:  “It is also becoming harder to reinvent yourself.”In the context you stated, I get what you are saying, but I believe it is actually becoming more possible to reinvent yourself.More than ever, with the internet and social media, we can choose our communities — well beyond geography — and this influences how we are perceived and the opportunities available to us. I am not the same person I was two years ago as a result of the internet and social media.  (Okay, basic character, background, history, etc. — the same, but context — much different.  And sometimes context truly is everything.)

      1. Robert Thuston

        I agree, it’s easier to reinvent yourself, I believe online access to new communities and new information can be truly transformative for an individual.If I were a betting man, and I am on occassion, I would bet that Eric meant that it’s more difficult to reinvent yourself in a way that changes people’s perception of your image across 5 different networks, etc.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Thanks.  I understand.  

        2. Eric Brooke

          You bet well 🙂 Robert.

      2. Eric Brooke

        Sorry I tried to make a very big statement without backup!I agree with much of what you say, let me explain my context of reinventing.So in the past you move town or a new job, (in the past) no one knows you start to make friends and the personality they get to meet is the latest you.  There was no online way to check you out.  I agree with you that we are ‘hopefully’ constantly growing and stepping into new environments or channels allows us the opportunity to change ourselves e.g. I will be less shy and show when I am happy.Online environments which rely on peer connections e.g. blogs, twitter, facebook or linkedin ‘may’ enforce your previous behaviours and hinder you from starting afresh.  You may delete the content but some system somewhere may not.Its also that social network is helping us develop an online personality and once stated often enforced, through peer expectations. This personality can be very different from our own face to face personality (Virtually You by Elias Aboujaoude is a good read on this).

  26. Josslossboss

    This time around the Revolution will not be televised… It will be Shared!The ‘institutions’ depriving free will are not necessarily political. The social layer is bubbly, but the verticals remain mostly untapped and investable.Cultural capital, the engagement between creators and audiences, in the verticals is yearning to be fostered and released.

  27. markslater

    what are the next big pillars ripe for implosion that will have truly significant cultural impacts?government? education? We can look at repressive governments as the low hanging fruit, but our form of democracy has fat that can do with a trim. look at representitive government. We fire an individual in to his or her seat and send them off to washington – empowered with looking after our best interests. The internet will provide ways for us to have our on say no?

    1. JLM

      The common denominator with all governments — both good and corrupt — is the desire to perpetuate themselves.Both at the institutional and granular levels.While being a big proponent of defense in the US, I cannot imagine the DOD budget could not be cut in half for the next 4 years but that is only because I know how it works and could resist the unending faux patriotic bullshit of those who think the military deserves milspec paperclips even if they do cost $10 each.Governments, to perpetuate themselves they have to control the money and the messaging.  Again at the institutional and granular levels.Beware of changing governments in the Middle East.  The next wave is at least as bad as their predecessors.  This is not a Jeffersonian uprising.  This is gang warfare.  The Bloods are not better than the Crips.

      1. markslater

        i agree. the common misconception is the overthrow of a dictatorship = a democracy. its simply not the case. the implications that an “arab spring” equals a better form of more representitive  government is patently wrong.

        1. JLM

          It is made even worse by the fact that the US has developed a “working” relationship with some real bastards who have embraced these accommodations because they serve their other purposes.A working relationship — even w/ a bunch of shitheads — is better foreign policy than having to engage and educate what will undoubtedly be just a new bunch of shitheads.The fact that the Egyptians made peace of some form w/ the Israelis is not driven by the fact that they are peaceful or have change their views of the Israelis.It is because theri leadership got a sunburn in the Sinai and knows how vicious another war w/ Israeli might be and because we have made their military our bitch w/ military and foreign aid.The uprising in Egypt was caused because a General (Mubarak) wanted to be succeeded by his son — not a General — and the military did not want that to happen.We really didn’t want it either.So what was the big democratic stroke?  A revolt of Generals, who have now promised to hold elections within 6 months!That is not Jeffersonian democracy in the trenches.New boss…old boss.And we dopey Americans think this is progress!?

  28. Guest

    The next big shift will be decentralization of online identities and open data. This will level the playing field for app developers and entrepreneurs by removing the network effect. Companies will compete on features rather than defensibility of their network. The greatest feature amongst any app will be their ability to curate the open data; creating very personal / intuitive experience for the user. Facebook / eBay / Twitter / etc were necessary thus far to reach mass user adoption of core features, but now they are stifling innovation.There are a bunch of people and companies working to decentralize online identity and data right now. Diaspora, Locker Project, and many others ( here’s a big list: ).One way or another, I think this is going to happen. The problem is, in order for this to succeed, you really can’t invest in the network itself. If you try to control and profit from the network, you will spawn competition, which will negate the effectiveness of each system. Instead, although smaller individually, there will be many more opportunities to invest in the companies which build apps on top of the decentralized platform, with the biggest opportunities being those companies with the ability to analyze the wealth of signals to provide a better user experience.My submission to make this happen is to create a crowd-sourced API clearing house; a distributed translation engine that knows how to talk to every application and identity provider on the web, in whichever communication style the author chooses. I’ve started to blog about the system which I’m calling the Palmetto API

    1. fredwilson

      Ive spent a lot of time thinking about and looking around in this space. Itis a big opportunity but hard to nail

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      You have my support in spirit!

      1. Guest

        Thanks Dave!

    3. Alex Murphy

      Open Source, Open Access … call it OpenData.

      1. Guest

        Yep, and it’s about much more than just web app interoperability. I’m also very interested in helping progress open education and open government data →

        1. ShanaC

          You need to talk to the project VRM people, as they are worried about the security of data in this sort of setup

          1. Guest

            Hi Shana, I’d love to, can you please share a link?Security and privacy are absolutely paramount in this construct. All data will be fully encrypted by default and access to data is controlled by the user. By default, all implicit signals are completely anonymous. It’s up to the user to allow an application or person access to their identity.

  29. Emil

    Beside the greatest thing this revolution brings, the freedom, it also makes this world smarter by making every individual smarter, but even more by leveraging the wisdom of crowds. It is believed that a whole group is always smarter then even the most intelligent member of the group. Check out “The wisdom of crowds” from James Surowiecki. For about 20 years, like child, the Internet was learning and now enableed with knowledge and his “social” skills is ready to act. For the first time in history people are empowered to gather in meaningful groups around common need or idea. That’s a nightmare of any ruler or center of power. Political, media, commercial, even religious. By faking peoples groups on national and religious base they where actually manipulating them for centuries.So I believe that there will be opportunities to invest in platforms that will make easy for people or consumers to gather in groups, around common need or idea and demand what they want and coordinate their action. Because they are smarter, for what they want, then any politician or even the best R&D department.We are working on this kind of platform for consumers and I would be happy to send you our product def in your inbox and see you opinion.

    1. Coen Hyde

      Divide and Rule. Well, not anymore! This is a revolution indeed, the feedback loop has started. It’s empowering to see others empowered. I find it interesting how these center’s of power behave when faced with loss of control. Unfortunately it’s all too predicable. 

  30. Jeff Jarvis

    Fred: I think the key is to provide disruptive competition to those who still try to make their businesses on control. He or she who manages to disrupt the duopoly of telco and cable internet access — who can craigslist it — will bring freedom and better service and force the legacy players to open up. God’s work. I’d hoped Google would do it but now it’s in bed with Verizon. Pity, eh? The issue here remains capital and licensing, of course: who can afford to triple-build markets. It has to be an alternative method. We keep hearing about mesh networks as this disruptor. What would it take to blanket a city and provide open competition. And how could that network be supported (advertising? shared capital outlay by the users?).I know you’re not fond of content businesses, but I think we’ve only begun to see the disruption possible in media, which still refuse to see themselves as platforms rather than as controllers of content they create. At the e-G8 Zuckerberg said he’s looking for media companies that act like Zynga, that understand both people and content. I’d look for plays in music, TV, and also news. I think Andy Carvin at NPR is important because he adds value to the reporting that is already going on, reporting that mimics the architecture of the net: end-to-end, witness-to-world. Models that do not depend on the centralized gatekeeper appeal to me. Governments are in for as much disruption as corporations, conglomerates, and industries. See my post about the e-G8 here:… What does that yield? I’m moderating an all-day summit on the postal industry in Washington on June 15 (odd that I’m doing it but some folks asked what a Googley post office would look like; I respond that it would be no post office, it would be a network). So what functions are there: identity, security….? See http://postalvision2020Bitcoin and Facebook may challenge government-issued currencies. Big but complex opportunity there. Facebook gets grief for not enabling anonymous accounts. Well, that’s what Facebook is built on: identity. I wonder whether there is an opportunity for new and open (necessarily agnostic) platforms for political organization: how do you scale Obama and Tahrir Square?The next big problem for Egypt is, of course, not revolution but nation-building. The problem for many bankrupt American cities is rebuilding. Are there platforms that enable citizens to take on talks that were assumed to be government’s up to the use of taxation or law: identifying problems, collaborating on solutions? See Beth Noveck’s Peer to Patent. I know USV is already interested in education as a disruptive play. Universities — and I’m in one — are vulnerable to more open and collaborative and useful structures. I point many to the lessons of your Hacking Education day so I need not point you there. But once the marginal cost of teaching is zero (as the marginal cost of sharing information in news and media also become zero) then there are opportunities to add value, find efficiency, and disrupt. But at the bottom line, the most disruptive invention of the last millenium — particularly in cultural terms — was the Gutenberg press. That has already been reinvented. It’s even called Movable Type (et al). So I don’t think the key platforms have to be reinvented to fund the cultural revolution. I think what’s most needed is the means for openness to flourish. I’d invest in Creative Commons content plays, for example. Sorry for the meandering. It’s a very big question.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      The post office is already a network, one for the distribution of physical objects. If Google ran the post office at each terminal node of the network the information in a piece of mail would be separated from its physical manifestation.

    2. fredwilson

      Lots to chew on Jeff. I like content if its peer produced. SoundcloudYouTube WordPress twitter. That’s my kind of content

      1. Prokofy

        Peer produced? By which peers? Oh, I didn’t realize you were watching my son’s stupid kid trick videos on Youtube, Fred! Is that what you REAAAAALY watch?Like I said, curated channels on Youtube aren’t even as good these days as Blip, Fora, etc. for serious content.

    3. Guest

      @twitter-11435642:disqus could you elaborate bit on this statement you made? I undertook a project a couple of years ago that I have recently started working on a again and am curious. Do you mean creating new political organizations (e.g. parties) or do you mean a new way for folks to organize around politics as subject matter/interest?”I wonder whether there is an opportunity for new and open (necessarily agnostic) platforms for political organization: how do you scale Obama and Tahrir Square?”

      1. Jeff Jarvis

        The latter. I’m looking for ways to disrupt the parties and elements of government. I don’t think that will happen by putting forward a presidential candidate. It will come with more parties in legislatures. It will come with creating shadow organizations (e.g., why don’t the geeks create their shadow FCC to set their own policy recommendations?)

        1. Guest

          Thanks for replying Jeff. Even though I have changed the direction of the project from its initial conception it still does not take on the flavor of what you describe in your reply. It is more along the lines of social gravity and an emotional web that @donnawhite:disqus and @Tereza:disqus are discussing in their replies & posts.Thanks for the reply & further explanation.

        2. fredwilson

          Are blog communities shadow organizations?

          1. ShanaC


        3. Alex Murphy

          At some level, the geeks are creating a kind of common regulatory body.Look at email.  The Can Spam act tries to stop spam.  But every email marketing practitioner will tell you that it actually “allows” emailers to send spam, so long as they allow an opt out and a physical mailing address.Whatever!The industry (the geeks) have a different standard that deals with complaints, deliverability, etc that goes far beyond the Can Spam.  This is the community saying “don’t send me your crap” and the geeks making that happen.  Email marketers are dealing with the industry line in the sand.

        4. Prokofy

          Jeff, your friend Obama already essentially did this by putting “his people” from his old DSA stealth socialist networks in charge of FCC and FTC. What more do you want?!But hey, what makes this country great is we have separation of powers, and a system of checks and balances, and the judiciary was able to trump this silly “net neutrality” stuff.

    4. ShanaC

      What does socialized content look like? I have this idea that you are talking about a studio model along the lines of Jeff Koons’s for art.

    5. Prokofy

      There’s at least 100 things wrong with what you’re saying but there isnt’ time to address them all. You are labouring under the notion that content control is somehow a brake on innovation or freedom. But Andrew Keen explains pretty well how the incitement of the masses to upload content doesn’t lead to an awful lot of value. Blip.TV and Fora.TV and Ustream are now more interesting to watch that Youtube because they are curated and the ad share deal is better (content has to get paid!) instead of just inciting copying and crime in general.Beth Noveck’s Peer-to-Patent is merely a neo form of collectivization — the same advance guard of the workers coming in and displacing the authentic revolutionaries who showed up for the “here comes everybody” — it’s terribly manipulative.”You say you wanna revolution/well, you know/we all wanna save the world” — and so on.

  31. William Mougayar

    I’m not sure that cultural revolutions themselves are monetizable from a technology perspective. It’s not what about the cultural revolutions themselves because they are just an event that will pass. It’s really about what happens after these revolutions succeed. The more we have open societies that willingly take to the Internet as an enabler, the better it is for the global world. So, the markets gets larger for everybody, but the various ways of adopting the Internet will be the same everywhere. Facebook and Twitter are used the same way in Syria, Egypt as in the US and Canada. The difference is that it is becoming more effective in Syria/Egypt. But beyond the cultural artifacts we are seeing, there are societal, geo-political and religious undercurrents that are fuelling all of this.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It’s more looking at what technology makes become possible – it’s theorizing / seeing / understanding where the cultural revolutions are going to lead things, and then monetizing / building for those future points.

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      @twitter-115424261:disqus is right William.  Per the Plaza outline I did way back, there are so many offshoots (hor/ver) that go from transfer of thought/product that all the industry changes.Match that with the fact you do not (with right idea) have to IPO necessarily as we move forward and you can merge connecting dots, the dots representing more than an app code breaker.Give the people what makes their life ‘groove’… and you have something.

  32. Tom Labus

    Banking, please.  This industry is so embedded and entranced that after the largest financial disruption in history nothing has changed.  There is no or little traditional bank financing for SMB’s. In many cases, banks prefer to invest with the Fed rather then put their capital work at companies.The political chances that a GS or JPM could be “broken up” are zero at this point but new banks could reinvent traditional services that helped fuel that US growth in the past.Why this isn’t happening is beyond me but we should all be screaming to make it happen.This post should top patents in comments.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Tyler Hayes

      Maybe not entirely what you’re looking for/talking about, but there are some real-world executions happening (as opposed to, say, bitcoin), e.g.,

    3. Donna Brewington White

      You are right.  The lack of disruption in this industry given what we’ve just gone through is baffling.

    4. RichardF

      +1 could not agree more

  33. RussellF

    “It is a highly distributed global network that has at its core the concepts of free speech and individual liberty.”Fred, no disrespect, but you’re kidding yourself.Any repressive government that has a level of technical intelligence severely limits what information and transactions flow through the network (e.g. China) or uses the internet for subversive activities (e.g. China … allegedly). Some (not all) governments in the Middle East are just catching up. Yes, there’s a window of opportunity for people at the grassroots to take advantage of their governments’ incompetence and make change – which is very exciting – but once those Middle Eastern countries with more-repressive governments gain the technical expertise to control the internet within their borders, the internet will be a tool for propaganda and subversion (the not-good kind of subversion, that is).Let’s hope that they’re kicked out of power first.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m an optimist Russell. Its not about deluding oneself its about imaginingwhat could happen and betting on it

      1. RussellF

        Optimism is definitely good. But if we’re considering what to bet on as a result of the demonstrations and potential government overthrows in the region, history is a solid indicator. Our US government has a track record of supporting such popular uprisings – at least in press releases and public statements – which is a good thing. What’s not such a good thing is how our government ends up handling such situations. Because the Middle East is such an important strategic region for the US, there is no possible way that our government will let democracy reign for the simple fact that democratic opinion in the region – and this is documented in many polls – is that the US should get out and stay out. That simply isn’t going to happen. Our government will not allow it. We need access to the resources of the region. So democracy needs to be crushed, or at least supported in a public way but undermined behind the scenes. This is not new. It happened with the Shah in Iran, it happened in Central America many times: Panama, Guatemala. Even Saddam was supported by the US when he was doing our government’s bidding, even while he was killing thousands of Kurds … a position which quickly changed when he  foolishly took aim at another strategically important US ally, Kuwait.So where to invest? If this historical analysis applies to the new set of uprisings and protests in the Middle East, the US will step in and make sure that the current set of despotic leaders in the region are replaced by a more controllable set of despotic leaders. Civil wars will break out – due to the populations rejecting this new set of dictatorial leaders – and some cross-border battles may possibly emerge. The big winners in this will be – as they have for decades – defense contractors. I would be investing heavily in the biggies – Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon.As this article points out –… – even though the US is spending less on defense, big defense contractors are making record profits. It’s not coming from the US taxpayers, at least not directly. So buy Boeing. Buy Northrop Grumman. But most importantly, buy war.

        1. fredwilson

          how will war be fought in a world where information is the most valuableresource?

          1. RussellF

            I’m not sure what your question means. But I don’t think this world in which information is the most valuable resource will ever exist. If anything the Internet has commoditized information. Your blog is a wonderful example of that. We’ve all learned a great deal from your sharing of insights and experiences. And for me and your readers, this is almost free. Beyond your blog, when so much information about the world, its history, its politics, its physics, are shared via the Internet, that information loses its value. It’s no longer scarce. Wars will and always have been fought over that which is scarce. Land, food, oil. The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East – a region that our State Department once called “the single greatest prize in world history” – are a sad testament to that.Fred I really appreciate your optimism and perhaps the reason why I continue this dialog is that I hope your sentiment is the one that carries the day. Please continue to inspire us to think bigger and to support a better future. I wish it were not the case but given the extensive history of our government’s actions, in the middle east in particular, I have a less upbeat attitude about the potentialities.

          2. Alex Murphy

            I don’t think that information is the most valuable resource.  However, the velocity and free exchange of that information is.Think of it like the light from a candle.  It is not the candle, or the fire on the candle that is powerful.  It is the ability for that single light to be spread from candle to candle to candle with no cost on the first candle that is so powerful.

          3. ShanaC

            Also, it isn’t just the velocity/ free exchange – knowledge is created by digging deep over time.  You need that velocity and free exchange to build up resources to parse through

          4. Prokofy

            Turning off the electricity? Worked great in Belarus and Syria recently.

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          @fredwilson:disqus is right Russell.Unfortunately, we can keep in the 2 dimensional Cold War and be a bear.  Or we can get in the present/future and be honest with ourselves.I like the demagoguing of China, yet Western Fat Cats buy the Virtual Trinkets Chinese Prisoners earn being forced to play the games.China will change… and it will change a lot faster than 2D thinkers realize.In the MidEast, it (as China) will be from within.  Right now you have some guys/gals with real balls in Iran hacking the bosses.  You have tribesman looking to kick the bastards out in other countries. In Africa, the mobile revolution is happening… and all we do is have our rich folks go over and throw money at whatever with no true focus.Last, the conspiracy theory saying those govs will crack down on the internet… the people wanting change will figure a way around it.  The happening of 2011 showed trying to choke the mobile/internet ability only made things worse.  Along that line, if your comeback is, “oh, there is no Fb or Twit in China!” …they are simply doing their own. I won’t go into the higher level of Art of War… @JLM:disqus 

  34. Mfmartin

    “The Internet is not controlled by anyone or anything. It is a highly distributed global network that has at its core the concepts of free speech and individual liberty.”Free speech, yes. Individual liberty, maybe. Are we witnessing emancipation from central control by institutions, or the substitution of central control by one group of institutions by another? The Internet amplifies social proof and cross-links clusters of people at the same time it undermines conventional modes of social control (propaganda, censorship).The church didn’t disappear after the printing press. Rather, we got a multitude of churches.

    1. fredwilson

      Well that was progress

      1. Prokofy

        Here we go again with this anti-Catholic bunkum that Clay Shirky spreads.Do you guys realize that the chief beneficiaries of the printing press was the Catholic Church and the monasteries?! For printing all those indulgences. You know, the cards where you say a zillion Hail Mary’s and get somebody 300 days off purgatory.

  35. Patrick Dugan

    Ultimately, this is why I got into game design. Games demonstrate a tool-box of behavioral organization that I think can be applied broadly to economic and socio-political organization in a decentralized and efficient way.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      This is actually pretty profound.I was once agnostic toward gaming but then began to realize that it was…well, what you said.  

    2. fredwilson

      Yup. Virtual currencies in games are a particularly interesting example

      1. Patrick Dugan

        Most of the successful virtual currencies so far have been non-redeemable deposits akin to pre-paid gift cards, but I think redeemable forms like betting chips, loyalty points and micro-equity will be interesting applications in the very near-future.Also consider that most of our economic problems derive from the non-linear excise that the financial system administrators extract for their “services”. Creating money based on debt and paying exponential interest made sense when the state-of-the-art IT was the printing press, but now I think decentralized credit systems like those described here (… will proliferate. I’m very interested in BitCoins as well.

        1. fredwilson

          You are on to a lot of interesting stuff 99

        2. Prokofy

          You’re right that Internet acceleration accelerated debt beyond manageable proportions, and it is really the Internet that is to blame for the global recession now. But your notion that it’s only the printing press and not human nature is of course too techno-centric. Humans have been buying and selling and racking up debts since time immemorial and will go on doing so. BitCoins is a pyramid scheme as has been amply shown. You need identity to handle money in an economy, not anonymity.

  36. bitcoined

    invest in bitocin infrastructure!

    1. fredwilson

      What is the best way to do that?

  37. Ted Carroll

    Like the “The Network Effect” in communications field, the ancient concepts of trust, credibility and reliability underpin and support scaling projects in the information field. As an example, witness the historic decline of the Hearst newspaper empire in the last century and their “yellow journalism” tactics and the rise of AP and UPI and later other centrist mass media radio and television networks as indicative of a shift in the “breaking-news” info category.  An increasingly educated world population knows a con job by any other name and in any language. Thus they seek out reliable trustworthy conduits of information be it on stone or iPad tablets or anything in between. Technologist inventors can easily miss this principal and subvert their inventions and their long term information segment values. As social networks compete for user attention the one you trust most will I feel be the biggest long term winner. I believe Facebook may have undermined their long term prospects by flawed early execution in their revenue model involving user data trust issues. Hope I’m wrong. Also lacking in today’s distributed digital data world is a rock solid reliable, trustworthy permissions system to keep confidential information confidential and public information public and widely sharable and writable. This is key where repressive governments seek to undermine free speech and literally kill off the opposition. To do this credibly a reinvention of current conventional data management can relieve a multitude of issues. Changing the world as it stands is always difficult but big problems are where big rewards come from. That’s why the partners at our traditional institutional media focused investment firm have personally backed Terry Jones’s Fluidinfo. Hope we’re right.

    1. fredwilson

      Fluidinfo is a disruptive idea. I’m rooting for terry

    2. sigmaalgebra

      “As social networks compete for user attention the one you trust most will I feel be the biggest long term winner.”Well, the long term winner will likely be a source that is highly trusted.But for a given user, the source that is the “long term winner” will be determined by focused content for focused, personal interests.More generally what will matter will be just getting people the information, entertainment, etc. they need.  So, net, the challenge is working effectively with ‘information’. 

    3. sigmaalgebra

      “Also lacking in today’s distributed digital data world is a rock solid reliable, trustworthy permissions system to keep confidential information confidential and public information public and widely sharable and writable.”What’s wrong with trusted, third party authentication, Kerberos, public key cryptosystems and traditional (Multics) capabilities and access control lists?  Most or all of this is shipped with Windows Server now, right? 

  38. Bill Ferretti

    In China, VPN’s offer people freedom from a government frightened by Facebook and other social media. Perhaps Stealth VPN’s offer investment opportunities, Fred.

  39. Greg Gentschev

    I’ll vote for education, but not primary or higher education. More like self-directed training. There seems to be a huge mismatch between employer needs and worker skills, and the existing educational and job training systems don’t seem to be able to really address it. It seems ridiculous that there should be a shortage of machine tool operators in the US, but I recall reading about it recently. Meanwhile, why are so many people still getting liberal arts PhD’s for which there aren’t any jobs? Maybe higher education is partially a consumption good, but there should probably be a way for those people to hedge their bets with practical training on the side. It’s a tough nut to crack especially because the practical issues are mixed with identity and motivation. Just giving someone content to learn probably isn’t enough.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Robert Thuston

      I agree with having more self directed training.  I think we should have more self directed education also. I’m fascinated with the concept of self taught – autodidacts.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Much of the blame has to go to the employers:  Commonly they are asking for the impossible.  A classic was the when Java first came out and people were asking for programmers with three years of Java experience.  Unless they were prepared to hire James Gosling, they were being foolish.For the machine tool workers, what kind of careers have they had over the past decades?  My guess is that a huge fraction of them got laid off and forced to do something else — auto body repair, erecting prefabricated steel buildings, driving a truck, clerking in a hardware store, etc.For self-study, yes, that is crucial, even when in school.  Learning is not a spectator sport.But there are some big issues:  What study materials?  Then, even given good materials, what to emphasize and what to skip over lightly?One example is the AP Calculus materials:  I took calculus, advanced calculus in several versions and much more, taught calculus in college, applied calculus in business and the military, and published peer-reviewed original research in math where calculus was included.  So, I understand calculus.  Then for the AP materials, I conclude that the people who wrote those materials did not understand calculus at all well.  In particular, they couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  Nearly all students will come from an unguided tour of those materials with poor understanding, hating calculus, or both.  For something much better, just pick any good freshman calculus book by any of the famous authors, e.g., Thomas or Protter and Morrey.Good materials are not so easy to find.At times, I got some bad materials and wasted time and got some bad information.  At other times, some of the details were badly written but not important, and I spent too much time wrestling with them.  In the end I did very well with self-study but conclude that the best courses I had were crucial foundations on how to pick materials, how to learn, how not to get stuck, etc.If there is to be a lot of largely independent study, then for reasonable effectiveness the students will still need some guidance. 

  40. kidmercury

    Monetizing the revolution involves virtual currencies, civil disobedience, and exit strategies that do not involve wall st. Most everyone is too afraid and willfully ignorant to operayte along tthis trajectory. As the dollar collapse continues we will seemore real progress. Remember the real revolution is wall s/banking vs the people.And of course, 911 was an inside job. That’s always a good litmus test: if you cry and wet your diapers at that ststatement, I doubt one is preppared to be a meaningful part of the revolution. If one understands it as the truth that enables moral authority to be transferred to new organizations, then one may be capable of making a real contribution to the revolution.911 was an iinside job. Only the truth can set you free.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Just like old times.  The convo is never the same without you, Kid.@twitter-7759822:disqus was commenting here on the lack of disruption in the banking system, especially given what we’ve just been through.

    2. ShanaC

      I have this book you really need to read….

  41. Jan Schultink

    Dreaming a bit here: a reputation scoring system that is objective and universal. Smart people do not have to pass Harvard entry exams to be recognized as smart. Brands to do not have to invest $s anymore to be recognized as good. The best local coffee shop will surface instantly. A client who does not pay suppliers will not get any customers anymore.Transparent reputation currency.

    1. Erik Peterson

      I’m with Jan on this. Ever since I read Daemon, I’ve thought there would be huge benefits in a standard reputation scoring system.

    2. fredwilson

      That’s well on its way. But I agree about its importance

      1. Guest

        The problem with reputation is that how others react and show respect to you (or not) based on your reputation has a lot to do with how their rep is perceived, and so on recursively: your rep only exists as seen through everyone in the entire social group, then how your group is viewed by the rest of society.

      2. Guest

        The problem with reputation is that how others react and show respect to you (or not) based on your reputation has a lot to do with how their rep is perceived, and so on recursively: your rep only exists as seen through everyone in the entire social group, then how your group is viewed by the rest of society.

      3. Guest

        The problem with reputation is that how others react and show respect to you (or not) based on your reputation has a lot to do with how their rep is perceived, and so on recursively: your rep only exists as seen through everyone in the entire social group, then how your group is viewed by the rest of society.

      4. Jared McKiernan

        The problem with reputation is that how others react and show respect to you (or not) based on your reputation has a lot to do with how their rep is perceived, and so on recursively: your rep only exists as seen through everyone in the entire social group, then how your group is viewed by the rest of society.

        1. Jared McKiernan

          Apologies about the quad post of this comment- iPad apparently let me quad-click while submitting…

    3. Robert Thuston

      Jan, you’ve got my wheel turning.  What information or social data could an individual’s reputation be built on over time?  Thanks, Robert

      1. Guest

        I wrote a blog post recently discussing the characteristics of context as it relates to online activity. Determining reputation based on implicit and explicit actions is a relatively easy algorithm. The hard part is getting to the signals as they exist in defensive silos now.Here’s my post on the topic: universal and objective – yet anonymous – access to these signals is one of the core tenets of the Palmetto API. By linking common data across all applications and user profiles, we will be able to create incredibly personal experiences, and provide automatic permission settings based on very detailed and relative reputation.I made a diagram overview showing how reputation will flow between users and application here:

        1. Robert Thuston

          Interesting… its a lot for me to digest. I’m getting a sense of what you are doing.  I like how you grouped information into common categories rather than websites (thinking in terms of the raw data as opposed to the silo websites).  You talk about the missing piece of the puzzle being the “explicit relationships”.  Do you mean quality as opposed to the quantity of interactions?Brian, what would be the risk in developing the first version of this just based on known implicit relationships (interactions, etc.)?  Maybe there could even be a small “gray” area where the user would be able to make approvals on access (if I’m thinking about this correctly).

          1. Guest

            Yeah, all data has certain common attributes that can be shared across platforms; we simply need to define the necessary translations and means of transmission. As I’m conceptualizing the platform, I’m trying to imagine all use-case scenarios including mobile devices, smart objects in the home / car, and even app to app communication where no user is involved in the transaction.You are correct: explicit signals relate to quality, as defined by real people. Implicit relates to how often “things” interact (data, app, and users), the relatedness of the things, the time since the interaction, and the geographical relationship (both online and offline) of the things.Not only would there be no risk in developing the platform with implicit-only signals to start, but it would also be quicker to launch. In fact, it’s most likely necessary until the user base is substantial enough to draw sufficient conclusions based on explicit reputation given to actions and data by the user.The user will ultimately have complete control over access to every part of their data. Application architects will define the standard levels of permissions based on the combination of implicit and explicit signals, but the user will always be able to override these settings. This is the part I’m working on next. I’m going to create the application UI/UX to demonstrate how a typical app will behave. I’m hoping this will help relate the purpose and usefulness of the system a little better.Thanks for taking the time to look through the specs! I’m trying to get all the feedback and help I can.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      There is at least one way to proceed, but just some ‘one dimensional’ scale can’t be very effective because of the variety of ‘meanings’ of ‘reputation’ the users will want to use.This situation is general:  Broad popularity doesn’t do much for an individual looking for something. 

  42. Tereza

    That’s easy. The Emotional Web. I am writing a piece on it right now. Here are some high-level points.Look at Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The web handles the bottom three: L1 (Physiological), L2 (Safety) and now with web 2.0, L3 (Belonging).Humans whose physical needs are met yearn to be confident and happy. The current web processes facts but not emotions and is not set help humans, in a scalable way, advance further upward to L4 (Esteem) and L5 (Self Actualization). The next wave will take facilitate and curate emotional snippets, helping individuals process them so they can evolve to the next level. It’s kind of like taking various aspects of therapy online, and employing game mechanics and the power of mobile to manage emotions on the go and reduce stress.Some brilliant startups solving for dimensions of this in very clever ways: How to make your relationships better? How to identify, understand and moderate your feelings? How to make better personal decisions that are true to you? (this last one is HonestlyNow so I like to put us in this group). Incidentally, it’s a gaggle of insanely accomplished women hatching these — former VCs, early YouTubers, early AOLers. It turns out last fall Vinod Khosla said the next wave would be grounded in emotions. Hmmmm.We’re each finding that, consistently, dude investors think we’re crazy. I say that’s an EXCELLENT sign that we’re onto something.Release the Kraken!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I have part of a draft blog post which would fit under “The Emotional Web” that I should try to finish.Please let me know when you’ve published the piece or let me know where I can find it!And hi!!

    2. fredwilson

      This dude investor does not think you are crazy

      1. Tereza

        :-)I actually knew that. But it’s always great to hear!

      2. Cindy Gallop

        Fred – I echo Tereza in saying, good to hear!  Like Tereza, I believe the Emotional Web is the future ( I characterize my own startup IfWeRanTheWorld as emotional software: the synthesis of technology and psychology). And like Tereza and the many other brilliantly innovative women founding startups in this area, all of us talking to each other and sharing our experiences as we slog our guts out to make our ventures happen, dude investors thinking we’re crazy is a depressingly regular experience. 🙂

        1. Rupert

          Dude investors think you’re crazy, cause most investors are dudes. People think your crazy cause you are an innovator, has nothing to do with male/female, please stop the violence.Everybody thinks I’m crazy both male and female for trying to build a better social shopping experience.  Its part of being an entrepreneur.  Before you go any further with the emotional web, i’d figure your own hangups find your sense of SELF and be fearless.Good luck to both of YOU!

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Yes!Exciting times as this emerges. Thanks for being part of making it happen and raising awareness and taking some of the flack along the way. It’s not easy being a trailblazer.Even harder being a maverick.  Tag, you’re it.

      1. Tereza

        Oh shit. The pressure!I will tell you this. I’m sitting at the town pool with regular families all around me and talking to them. At the same time all the tech trend stuff is in my head. Such different worlds.I love weekends where I can imagine how these worlds mash up.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Mashups, markets, mavericks and motherhood.Has a certain ring to it, wouldn’t you say?

        2. Wardrobert

          I couldn’t agree more. So many people out there with no knowledge of what is happening in the tech world (or the knowledge worker world).

          1. Tereza

            It cuts both ways.But these are highly skilled knowledge workers. Just not high-tech.

    4. jackO

      How does the web handle human physiological needs???

      1. Tereza

        Web-connected supply chains

        1. jackO

          Are you talking about something like

          1. Tereza

            Very funny.

          2. jackO

            LOL, I was actually being serious! I’m not sure if you’re using “human physiology” as some kind of a metaphor, or if it’s a new business buzzword, or something else.  The two things that popped into mind were: a), which delivered food, which is necessary for human life, which is, I guess, indirectly connected to human physiology.  Or something like webmd which delivers medical advice — “the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book where every ending is Cancer” — which is, I guess, also indirectly connected to human physiology.

          3. Tereza

            I was talking global supply chains being radically restructured and redistributed in web 1.0, not last mile. And in 2.0 we’ve seen lots examples of capacity of goods and services be chopped up into smaller/cheaper consumables and remnant being sold, net result more people can access just what they need for lower price (I call it SAASification of everything).

    5. RichardF

      I agree with you wholeheartedly Tereza but I also think L2 is where there is a huge opportunity at the moment.  There are a lot of people in the Western world who are looking for job and financial security.

      1. Tereza

        Great point — evolution of web will continue there too as needs and crises are cyclical

    6. jon

      @Tereza:disqus, I totally agree.  No surprise most dude investors don’t get it. Great to hear @fredwilson:disqus does.

      1. Tereza

        Incidentally there could be a powerful male spin.Lots of men want/need therapy or coaching. But I’ve been reading that those fields have become overwhelmingly female-dominated. VERY hard to find a male therapist.And it’s totally fair to say that a guy may not relate to, or feel comfortable with being totally open with, a female therapist. An individual requires a safe, judgment-free place with free range to explore topics like sex, etc.. A woman may not be able to make him feel safe to go there.So — I think a chunk of men’s ‘talk it out’ and emotional problemsolving needs could be met with the help of tech.

        1. jon

          Agreed about the complexities of different relations between the genders.  Personally I’m typically much more comfortable (and more open) with women but many guys prefer male/male connections for some or all kinds of emotions.  And of course it gets all the more complex once you throw in additional genders — and orientations.So yes, there are huge opportunities available for emotional software.  Historically too many decision makers have been trained to suppress emotiosn or see them as weakness (and yes I think there are some big gender differences due to socializaiton).  It’s great to see that changing!

    7. ShanaC

      The other issue I see this addressing is that previously, your local community supplied the top parts of Allow’s pyramid. We killed that with a trend towards mobility… and we need to fix it



  43. Sebastian Wain

    Beyond the Middle East uprising. I am waiting for revolutions on current democracies. Many times I think democracies need revolutions because they are very conformist ala Amusing Ourselves to DeathSpeaking specifically about investments, I am waiting for government/bank/financials/transparency oriented open source software. The worldwide government sector is behind the private sector, just thinking that Facebook has more than 500m users but the government sites can’t tolerate such traffic.

  44. Ron Williams

    I’d first offer up George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years as required reading for this topic. Understanding the demographic and geopolitical pressures is an important foundation before wading into this as an investor or entrepreneur.Second, if the goal was to support the hastening of a cultural revolution then investing in long range secure wireless networking that has user end points which can be coverted to carrier-free backbones would be a boon to any group trying to move things along.Third, in the broader sense of the theme I’d think about social networks with decentralized control and infrastructure (data not in the cloud, but point to point).

    1. fredwilson

      You and my partner brad think alike

    2. Robert Thuston

      Ron, please expand some on “social networks with decentralized control and infrastructure… point to point”.  It’s got my wheel turning, and I’d like to understand your thoughts around it more.  Thanks,

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Good way to put it Ron.  If I follow the P2P, it is a matter of the random finally moving forward, rather than redigesting what has been said/heard and then turned into a marketing push… fads will develop shorter shelf lives.This gives us a push in the creative.

    4. ShanaC

      The other thing is to get the equipment for that wireless network to a) be really cheap and b) simple enough to install that my aunt can do it.  Basically, get the situation to be such where lots of people are empowered…

    5. FlavioGomes

      Wow…from edge to cloud back to edge.  The cloud movement over already?

  45. Wiley E Peyote

    How to profit from investing in a cultural revolution?   One way might be to invest in companies that create advanced social media tools that allow for finer-grained communities.  I suspect that in the future, we’ll have more fragmented societies, where people spend even more time with like-minded people. At some point people will want to experiment in other communities, but not be sure where/how to do so.  Tools which enable this might prove  very profitable.

    1. Guest

      I think I understand where you are coming from in your first paragraph and agree about the fragmentation anf finer-grained communities.Regarding your 2nd paragraph. Disqus does some of what you mention now I think. Better enables the comments section of blogs, especially now with the mentioning functionality. I came to AVC solely as an experiment & really enjoyed the comments aspect … lively & for the most part very thoughtful.

  46. RichardF

    Education and Finance as many people have already mentioned.MBAMondays is a great example of education on the net and Stackoverflow is the second most useful site to me on the net after Google.I’d love to see more work done on translation and cultural understanding and integration.  The internet is making the world an ever smaller place but I still feel like it has a “western” feel to it.  I’d like to see some tools that helped me understand and communicate with other cultures.

    1. Guest

      @ RichardF you just made my “I really would like to meet X” list with this statement.”The internet is making the world an ever smaller place but I still feel like it has a “western” feel to it.  I’d like to see some tools that helped me understand and communicate with other cultures”Not that the feeling has to be mutual.  LOL

      1. RichardF

         I’d love to do a stateside avc meet up with the regulars here at some point Geoffrey.

  47. Semil Shah

    Dear Fred,I was at TC Disrupt and enjoyed this talk very much. The soundbite I recall most vividly is that, at the end your talk, you said you weren’t sure how to invest in this space. It is certainly a blue ocean. Earlier this year, after the events in Egypt, I tried to capture some of my thoughts about the space as well in this TechCrunch article:…There are some other opportunities that I would list broadly:1. Mobile Security – to protect phones (mainly Android) from malware, viruses, etc.2. Alternative Currencies – in many countries, currency fluctuations are either sometimes the result of or cause of massive swings in stability, but can all countries effectively manage their currency?3. Ad-hoc mobile communications – when a government shuts off the Internet or cell towers, how can hackers rig ad-hoc mesh networks to communicate?There are 100s more. Thanks for writing a/b this.Best regards,Semil

    1. fredwilson

      i read your TC postvery much simpatico (sp?) with this discussion

      1. Semil Shah

        I realize it’s a longer conversation, but briefly, do you believe it’s possible that social networks (in some countries) could redraw political/national lines?

        1. fredwilson


  48. Peter Fleckenstein

    Great post Fred. I’d like to propose that we (humans) have always been in a cultural revolution. What your screen shot of Techmeme shows is that a Contextual Revolution is upon us. You’ve alluded to it in your post.You say “The Internet is not controlled by anyone or anything. It is a highly distributed global network that has at its core the concepts of free speech and individual liberty”.I agree 100%. So, expanding upon that, one can say that the Internet is controlled by the individual within the context of their own lives. Each person chooses how & when  to interact with whom based on where they are (mentally, emotionally, & physically).Tereza touches upon contextual relevance in her post about the Emotional Web and she’s started HonestlyNow. Aaron also talks about contextual relevance and has also started up a company (Riskalyze – you should check it out).It’s an unbelievably exciting time not just to be an entrepreneur, but to be a human being!

  49. ShanaC

    I keep thinking we are in a paradigm shift, much longer than that predicted by Dr. Perez, something more on the scale of Kuhn. It is much more than a cultural revolution (that screams the 1960s to me).I feel like i am in a shift so large that I think or definitions of human, humanity, and rights will change so radically, on par with the Enlightenment, because we are forced to interact with so much more (especially so many more people) than ever before.I already see locally people reacting quite negatively, something close to neo-ludditism. Even not so locally (end of the world prophecies, which become semihumourous memes.)We live in unstable times culturally.

    1. Guest

      Whoa @ShanaC:disqus , neo-Ludditism? Now you are stepping on my turf.  😉

      1. ShanaC

        Doubt it.  One of my local rags (go reading really bad newspapers) had the following article up:…The US national body body of Agudath Israel took down their (briefly) existing blog because they felt it violated their religious sensibilities.I should mention their Israeli counterpart is a political party with 3 seats in the Knesset (as part of UTJ) – and as a party they’ve been historical swing seats to build coalition governments.So, yes, if it were up to some people, we would definitely rewind the clock on the internet.  Unfortunately, it is too late for that.

        1. Guest

          @ShanaC:disqus Well when I have my momentary Luddite moments I will know now I am not alone and have company.  🙂

  50. sbepstein

    The post and the comment thread here are fantastic.I agree on the cultural, mobile, and linguistic matrices being added to the matrices of search, social networking, and user generated content.That is 6 dimensions or orders of complexity beyond the mid 1990’s web world.There are two more likely in the short term.location based services and Peer to Peer computing (bump -bitcoin-bittorrent and more…)that is 8.24 months and we will need to addInternet of things (m  2  m)  with  NFC or RFID with mesh networks of IP enabled cars, vending machinesso that makes 9so with 4 billion to 5 billion web enabled phones…(smart or feature w/ WAP)…..

  51. Tereza

    Also consider the aging U.S. baby boom, which will be a tidal wave of the special needs of seniors, and for the people around them to help them care for them and also dying.This will take a huge toll and tech needs to place a big part in softening the blow.

    1. Guest

      You are completely on target with this comment Tereza. For example, I  am curious to see what comes out of @Rock_health:twitter I must admit I have not spent enough time following this group myself to date. 

  52. vruz

    I would be looking for the next beats, hippies and punks rather than the next bean counting automaton, unless you’re in the busines of creating and selling bean counting automatons.(or today’s version of those: the non-thinking code monkey)The problem with unstable is that there is a lot of noise, but you can win big if you start to see patterns and you can benefit from a wave of cultural and political change. (an actual one) To make a music world analogy: think like Malcom McLaren.

    1. fredwilson

      yup, beats, hippies, and punks it isgreat comment vruz

  53. amit nanda

    Ad-hoc/”flash” group apps that leverage WiFi Direct would make it very difficult to control information flow.

  54. DailyPatricia1

    The internet’s definitely empowering a cultural revolution of sorts. Unfortunately, the internet can, is and will be controlled. It’s uniquely and acutely designed for it. This will increase in the coming years as the platform closes and more realize its real potential to control, limit, etc. The internet wasn’t created by entrepreneurs with good hearts, corporations, etc but a government (ours) — this is very important to remember. The only way to keep an ‘open’ web would be thinking and doing that far exceeds where the majority are now. It lies in both technology development, national and global legislation, and monetization. For example, the internet 2.0’s mentality that everything should be free is putting the internet squarely into the very thing that closed and controls the broadcast TV platform today.By the time much of the above is truly realized, it’ll be likely be too late to do anything. It’s unfortunate but true. Some things to look into:1. New boom in Internet infrastructure, particularly non-U.S., because of demand, dire need for improvements and as more realize the position of carriers (and subsequently the weak position of everybody else), as well as governments creating their own to ‘close’ information to/from their countries. It’ll likely move to satellite/something more sophisticated in the future. 2. Education 3. Cross device concepts — goes beyond ‘mobile’ as the web is device agnostic. in order to take advantage, people also need to stop seeing the internet solely as an info delivery platform.4. Utilities – and utility control5. Security technologies of all kinds, overall. Likely boom ahead in this for consumer solutions.6. Monetization — there are distinct, proven models for monetization over info delivery and communications platforms that have survived decades and will online. Watch for ideas utilizing these. Google search “Ad vs services play” for a blog post on monetization over platforms.

    1. Guest

      Very interesting comment”For example, the internet 2.0’s mentality that everything should be free is putting the internet squarely into the very thing that closed and controls the broadcast TV platform today.”

    2. sigmaalgebra

      “The internet wasn’t created by entrepreneurs with good hearts, corporations, etc but a government (ours) — this is very important to remember.”I can’t agree: When look at the origins of the Internet from packets instead of circuits, Kleinrock, ARPA-Net for the military, NSF-Net connecting the leading research universities, it is a long stretch to believe that any of those people had any very good idea of what the world-wide commercial Internet with mobile clients, a big role for clicks instead of bricks, of social, and of ‘new media’ via blogs, video via Hulu and YouTube, voice via Skype, video conferencing, etc. would be as it is today.The Internet is based on TCP and IP. The part about HTTP just uses TCP/IP, and HTML makes use of HTTP. So, the Web of HTTP and HTML uses the TCP/IP of the Internet but is not actually the Internet itself. In particular, the Internet was up and running long before HTTP/HTML.Still, much of the power of the Internet now is from HTTP, HTML, and Web browsers, and they didn’t start to catch on until 1994. Then, who knew? Did Kleinrock know in 1960? Not a chance. I doubt that Tim Berners-Lee knew, and he invented HTML. The phone people? They thought that a phone was just a four foot long black cotton covered cord connected to a black plastic set with a dial; look at phones and the Internet now. Net, back then, no one knew.The earlier time-sharing systems, bulletin board systems (BBSs), CompuServe, the IBM-Sears Prodigy effort, didn’t give much of a clue. The ‘walled garden’ of AOL was the wrong direction and really a big underestimate of the potential and what we see today.Also, our government was not much interested in the Internet while it was NSF-Net or younger, and by the time the Internet became powerful in politics and the economy, it was too late for the government to do much.Yes, various governments keep trying to grab control over some aspects of the Internet, but so far the governments are mostly too slow and clumsy and otherwise get beaten by wise legislators or technology tricks. E.g., the FCC of The Chosen One, Blessed Be He, keeps trying with Net Neutrality and The National Broadband Plan, but finally Congress wrote the FCC a letter saying that actions by Congress would be needed and, in the meanwhile, the FCC should cease and desist, i.e., take a long vacation and f’get about the Internet.Now Blessed of Oprah, God Willing, wants Internet security to be provided by the NSA; not a chance. If bad IP packets get to my computer, then I will scream to Cisco or Microsoft. For more in security there’s Pretty Good Privacy (PGP — public key encryption), virtual private networks (VPNs), and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). There is third party authentication and Kerberos, with PGP. There’s a lot of security available, and more can be developed.Also it might be tough to find what large corporations now ‘control’ the Internet if set aside, say, the core Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Juniper and Cisco: For the last mile, there are lots of players all across the US, but wireless is a big competitor to any wires in the ground. Once reach a peering center, it’s tough to find any simple description of the owners of the infrastructure.Also, long haul bandwidth is not a bottleneck and, thus, tough to control: Now as at…can put about 26 Tbps on one fiber and 144 fibers in one cable with several cables along a railroad line, long distance electric power line, highway, river, ocean coastline, pipeline, etc. So, say that HDTV is 22 Mbps. Then one cable could carry144 * 26 * 10**12 / (22 * 10**6 ) = 170,181,818HDTV signals, that is, a different movie to each of 170 million people at the same time. That should hold us for a while.Net, the Internet is a dream come true. Relax and enjoy it.

      1. DailyPatricia1

        I wasn’t alive or present during that time but that’s not the way it was explained to me. I spent 9 years in internet telecom engineering and info delivery/communications business as the commercial internet was being built. I’ve seen first hand how companies block packets over the platform to limit access, innovations, services, etc. and I’ve heard the accounts of the internet’s origin from the engineers I knew that were building it. They tell me the internet was originally created as a government platform for tanks to communicate in the battle field, and then went into research labs. Of course they could be wrong, but the government didn’t tell many of the people who created and dropped the atomic bomb what they were playing with either until it was detonated.Until users/people can block packets over the platform and not the other way around, it doesn’t seem likely that control will be in their hands. As for security, I don’t think we’re talking about the same things. You’re referencing viruses, I’m talking about when digital identity is a reality, governments tracking and potentially blocking user access to money, transactions, etc. What the internet can do and where is far greater than anything going on today. But that’s okay — we can agree to disagree :)I worked with the innovator who created among the first IP peering technology. The reason why it was created (at least by that company) was so that those who owned infrastructure could get paid along the way. I would think there’s a pretty clear cut ability to see who owns what on the back end given this.Where large corporations can and do ‘control’ platforms is by monetization. If you don’t think what we see/read over other platforms isn’t controlled by brands, take a seat with the head of a TV network and you’ll see what I mean. TV is a closed platform for this and other reasons.The internet is pretty magical, indeed. But that doesn’t change what it is and what it can do, or the likely future when it becomes that reality, no matter what we all want to think. I personally think understanding it from this point of view offers more opportunity than not, but we’ll see.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You seem to have two points:(1) “They tell me the internet was originally created as a government platform.”(2) Some ISPs have played with ‘class of service’ (CoS) and ‘quality of service’ (QoS) — blocked packets (you may have meant blocked addresses), dropped IP packets, out of order packets, packet timing delays, packet timing variations (‘jitter’), etc., all deliberate, all permitted by IP and for just data all but blocked packets or addresses corrected by TCP.For (1), we are in full agreement, and I outlined that with the early days of ARPA-Net and NSF-Net. Yes, the research was funded by ARPA near 1970 mostly for battlefield communications. By 1973, the Internet was up and running for military and some research university clients. E.g., in 1973, I flew to Glen Cove, LI to meet with R. van Slyke at Network Analysis Corporation to discuss integer linear programming set covering he was using for planning the ARPA-Net and that I was interested in for scheduling airplanes (extra credit for correctly guessing what airplanes).Near 1990 or so, IBM was running NSF-Net which is what ARPA-Net had become. Once over NSF-Net I got a sustained 14 KBps from my desktop in Yorktown Heights to an Amdahl mainframe in Columbus, OH to get a download of the old IBM Fortran Scientific Subroutine Package. So, by 1990, the Internet was up and running but still not on the radar of politicians.The first reasonably popular Web browser was Mosaic in about 1994. Still the politicians were not aware of the importance or potential of the Internet.Five years later, copies of Windows had a good TCP/IP stack; Netscape had done its big IPO; Silicon Valley was at the top of the Internet bubble; and even politicians were starting to take the Internet seriously.So, that’s more detail to my point: Yes, initially the US Federal government paid for the Internet, but the politicians did not notice the potential. By 1994 or so, NSF cut NSF-Net loose; the Internet became just the commercial Internet; and still the politicians didn’t notice the potential or importance. Five years later, the Internet was a huge thing; the politicians noticed; but it was too late for them to have much effect.That situation remains: The Internet continues to grow like a weed, and the politicians are too late, clumsy, and slow to have much effect. That’s my point.That point conflicts with the claim of the post I was responding to that we have to be careful about government control of the Internet because the Internet was created by the government: Yes, the Internet was created by the government, but the government didn’t see the potential, cut the Internet loose as just the commercial Internet, and has not been able to regain control since. So, now, for ‘control’ of the Internet, we can f’get about the fact of the early role of ARPA, etc. The baby grew up and left home and is no longer under the control of its parents. When the parents still had control of the baby, they didn’t see the potential of the baby or the importance of control; by the time the parents wanted control, the baby had left home and grown up, and it was too late for the parents to regain control. Net, now the parents are no longer in control of their baby.Clear enough?For (2), yes, those were unfortunate days. Why?Because the old telcos, Baby Bells, Bellheads, ILECs, CLECs, etc., wanted to keep up their revenue for voice long distance. It was tough for them to try if only because at its peak US voice long distance from the old telcos topped out at only about 40 Gbps for the whole country. But for the Internet bandwidth, 40 Gbps is small potatoes, has long been the bandwidth on one wavelength, of dozens, in ‘dense wavelength division multiplexing’ (DWDM) on one fiber of commonly 144 fibers on one cable.So, there’s this huge Internet bandwidth, and there’s little voice, only 40 Gbps for the whole country.Still, the Telcos didn’t want people using the Internet and IP for voice. So, how to stop that? Sure: Play games with CoS and QoS. Data via TCP could do okay with degraded CoS and QoS, but conversational voice would be ‘choppy’. So, the Bellheads thought that they were smart and had pulled a fast one by finding a way to permit the Internet but also protect their old copper, land-line plain old telephone service (POTS) at its now VERY high prices. E.g., what’s happened to their coveted ‘long distance’, where in the past I could pay several hundred dollars a month? Long distance is free — too cheap to meter or bill. Instead, just pay a flat rate and talk all you want anywhere. The Bellheads lost, totally lost.Then when some of the old Bellheads wanted to think that 56 Kbps to a home or a T-1 line at 1.5 Mbps to an office was a lot of bandwidth and some users were downloading movies, the Bellheads wanted to scream “bandwidth hogs” and put in caps, etc.Then for those and related reasons some people wanted to scream for Net Neutrality, a National Broadband Plan, etc.Again, the Bellheads lost. The efforts of government to get more control over the Internet has so far mostly lost. The reasons: The Internet and technology have moved too fast for the Bellheads and government types.Those days are over. Now over the Internet people are watching TV shows on Hulu and video clips and more on YouTube and using Skype for voice; also people are using the Internet for video conversations.E.g., my download bandwidth is a rock solid 15 Mbps, and that’s the slowest my ISP will sell me. That 15 Mbps is 10 old T-1 lines that used to go for over $1000 a month, each. My upload bandwidth is a solid 2 Mbps, more than an old T-1 line. Heck, in the early days of the Internet, parts of the Internet ‘backbone’ were T-1 lines! For another $55 a month I can get from my ISP 101/15 Mbps down/upload bandwidth and plan to do so soon.Next, if my ISP starts playing CoS and QoS service games with me, then I can use wireless. My ISP is already on good behavior because I might drop their TV for Dish or just use the Internet. Certainly in time we will all get our TV, on demand, over the Internet. The NBA finals? The coaches are eager to watch the ‘game films’. Well, so am I! I want to see, in HD, slow motion, from all dozen or so cameras, JUST what the heck happened, track where each of the 10 players were, etc.POTS is dead. So, the CoS, QoS games to protect POTS are over. Due to wireless, the monopoly of the last mile is over. People who watch video over the Internet are no longer “bandwidth hogs”; nearly everyone watches video over the Internet, if only in the ads. The reasons to scream for Net Neutrality are over. Or, borrowing from a sad source, “quantity has a quality all its own”, and 26 Tbps on one optical fiber is a lot of “quantity” that has a “quality” of making the 40 Gbps of the US long distance network a nit and a joke.But you seem also to have some concerns about security. Okay, speak up. But, caution: We need no guarantees at all, none, zip, zilch, zero, about the ‘security’ of the Internet itself. That is, we can have fully secure communications over a very insecure Internet. So far we don’t strictly need to take all the relevant steps, but essentially all the steps are readily available and can be taken if needed.For security at a server farm or client, that’s different, but there are solutions available there also. For a serious site to be ‘hacked’ is just inexcusable. For there to be security problems on a client is nearly as inexcusable.Now, what security concerns do you have?

          1. DailyPatricia1

            This is my favorite conversation all week.I still don’t think we’re talking about the same things and I don’t agree with you but I can agree to disagree.The internet has some pretty sophisticated capabilities to track, monitor and control users. I don’t think that’s an accident. Governments certainly don’t seem to be lacking control over taking advantage of it — look to Egypt and Syria, or Estonia, who had a cyber attack a few years ago by another country over a statue that crippled the country for several days. Just because the U.S. government doesn’t appear or want to take control doesn’t mean it or other governments couldn’t.Of course people are migrating to watch TV, etc. on the internet — that’s why it’s here. It should be expected. But you can be sure it’s going to get crowded and competitive as this happens. The internet has remained widely open to date because there is really not much competition. It would be better to anticipate this change and be wrong than to assume it’s not going to happen.Hulu isn’t an ‘internet’ owned company — it was created by companies from the broadcast TV business. That’s an important thing to note in this conversation.But I love your knowledge and love debating what will be with anybody. You might be right, I might be right. We’ll see!If I’m wrong in the future come find me and I will give up a favorite pair of shoes in my closet as wager. 🙂 I stand on what I see.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            In a dictatorial country, the dictators can monitor and control nearly everything; as a special case they can do these things for the Internet, phone calls, etc. Nasty? Yes. New? No.”The internet has some pretty sophisticated capabilities to track, monitor and control users.””Track” and “monitor”, okay. There are some “capabilities”. “Sophisticated”? It’s not clear what that means or how significant it is.Here in the US, your “control” is a bit much.When you ask for data on the Internet, you send your ‘internet protocol’ (IP) address. That’s fully analogous to, when you mail a letter asking for a response, you include your return address. The way the IP addresses are assigned, your IP address can let the server determine your geographic location within, say, a county.With the usual ‘dynamic host connection protocol’ (DHCP), each time you connect to the Internet, you can get an IP address from a ‘pool’ of such addresses and likely different from the last time you connected. So, in this case, tracking you by IP address is not very effective.With a computer connected to the Internet as ‘always on’ commonly you can keep the same IP address for some days or weeks. Really with some connections it may be that you don’t get a new IP address until you push a button or cycle power on your connection (real experts, of which I an not one, know more).For a server to determine the geographic location of a wireless client may be more difficult (I’m no expert).Yes, if you travel around with a cell phone powered on, then the cells know where you are so that they can send calls to you. Yes, sometimes the police can get that data from the cells. If you are concerned, then turn off the power on your cell phone (experts know more; I’m no expert; I’ve never used a cell phone!).But your IP address doesn’t necessarily identify you very accurately. If at your ‘always on’ connection you want a different IP address each few days, then take steps to get this. On Windows the console window command line command IPCONFIG will tell you a lot about your IP connection and your current IP address. So use that or some such utility. Then contact your ‘internet service provider’ (ISP) and check how to get a new IP address each few days, say, cycle power.For “track” and “monitor”, that is done mostly via browser usage and, there, via cookies. Sadly, apparently Flash has cookie usage not readily controlled by users. Of course, Flash is just a browser ‘plug-in’ that you can disable. Then you won’t get Flash content, but you won’t get Flash cookies, either (I’m no expert on Flash cookies).For the usual browser cookies, your browser likely has options that give you quite a lot of control over those. If you look at cookies in detail, for their intended and usual usage, they are quite innocuous. But, yes, ‘third party cookies’ can let ‘behavioral’ data about your Web browsing history be known surprisingly widely. So, it can be good to block third party cookies. Some experts also know all about ‘cross site scripting’, but I don’t.But about all cookies do is tell some servers what Web sites you have visited, and that’s fairly innocuous. They want to use the data for ad targeting, but for that purpose it is not very effective data.If you want to browse the Web and let the servers have only your IP address, then in your browser just turn off all cookies and browser plug-ins (and then check with an expert). Also more recent versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have an option InPrivate Browsing that likely greatly reduces what the servers know about you. And there can be more: You can use an intermediate server that denies the usual destination server even your real IP address.”Hulu isn’t an ‘internet’ owned company — it was created by companies from the broadcast TV business. That’s an important thing to note in this conversation.”Of COURSE Hulu is not an “‘internet’ owned company”. It’s tough to see how there could be any ‘internet owned companies’. Of course, Hulu, like YouTube, Google, Facebook,, etc. is just a Web site with an IP address, domain name, and server farm that connects to the Internet. There’s nothing “important” about that to note.You can bring up a Web site in your home: Ask your ISP for a ‘static’ IP address, then pick a domain name and ‘register’ it with, say, GoDaddy for that IP address. Put some Web site software on your computer; on Windows, use ‘Internet Information Server’ (IIS) which is standard on most copies of Windows now. Then write some Web pages. The simplest site has just one Web page in just HTML in just one ordinary file; it is sufficient, although clumsy, just to type in the HTML using, say, Notepad. Then, presto, you will have a Web site. Send e-mail to a friend; include the domain name of your site; and let them connect. Hulu is much the same except with more complicated HTML, more that a user can do at the site, and more ‘scale’ for capacity. Hulu may be sending 15 Mbps to each of 5000 connections at once or some such.If you want much more, then assuming you want to use the Windows ‘platform’, dive into, say,Jim Buyens, ‘Web Database Development, Step by Step: .NET Edition’, ISBN 0-7356-1637-X, Microsoft Press, Redmond, Washington, 2002.then get about two cubic feet of other books from Microsoft press. From some Microsoft sites, download and install the free (‘Express’) versions of the .NET Framework, SQL Server, SQL Server Management Studio, and, if you wish, Visual Studio. Then use Google or Bing to find relevant Web pages at Microsoft’s documentation site MSDN and download, abstract, index, and read something over 2000 of them. Start typing in simple pieces of code, get them to work, and then do more. Then you will be on your way to bringing up a serious Web site.”But I love your knowledge”. Here I’ve written nothing from my areas of expertise. Instead, I’ve just related some simple, elementary material well known, just incidentally and without particular study, to nearly every technical person active in computing and the Internet over the past, say, 20 years. We know this stuff as well as how to tie our shoe laces.This blog and forum, however, in both its readers and writers, is special: Much of the cream of the world in information technology entrepreneurship — venture partners, CEOs, CTOs — is here. In expertise in the technology, the average here is high, and the best is world class.Different but comparable is Hacker News.”love debating what will be with anybody”.At the main level at which this blog and forum operate, mostly no one knows what will be. This discussion is at ‘the leading edge’. A large fraction of the people here are trying to figure out how to have a success big enough to happen only about once each 10 years, and that means that there is a lot of ‘uncertainty’. E.g., here Fred is asking for answers to some difficult questions. So far I have not directly addressed his query because I have no good, general answers. I have some specific answers from my own work, but I am not yet ready to share those answers here now. Indeed, here about the best way to know what the future will be is to make that future quite directly, and there are plenty of people here doing just that.With “Patricia”, you are likely a human female: Nerds, such as here, commonly say ‘girl’ instead of ‘woman’, and that’s because in some ways we still are operating like we did in the sixth grade. There are very few ‘girls’ here and, thus, each one is especially welcome! Here you will find some of the most well informed, intense, nerd, business ‘shop talk’ in the world.Here you can see some of the messy part of how the future is made.

        2. Guest

          @DailyPatricia1:disqus I do not know how long you have been in the AVC community ( I myself am pretty new). That said, please stick around. Personally, I like the perspective & info. you are sharing with all of us. A good healthy contrarian approach that is willing to be shared in a thoughtful, tactful manner is one of the best ingredients in the recipe of new idea generation. Just my two cents.

          1. Patricia

            Thank you. :)My companion in my debate below has left a final comment that doesn’t seem to allow me to reply to his last one, but a few thoughts to consider in this discussion:1. Mobile phones can also track people. The issue with the internet vs. mobile is that the internet is device agnostic and can go anywhere and into anything as well as foster a large range of applications, from financial transactions to shutting on and off your lights in your house. That’s much different. That’s what I mean by sophisticated. 2. People can and are tracked down to their homes or whereabouts today via the internet. There is a technology that does it as we speak to fight child porn on the web with accuracy and success.3. The reference to Hulu that I made is that yes, the internet is disrupting old platform business like television. But Hulu is more an example of an industry adapting to the disruption than the other way around, given that it’s owned by TV companies and not a true ‘internet’ player.4. HTML, Microsoft, etc. are things that sit on top of the platform. I’m talking about what’s under it.

          2. Guest

            @sigmaalgebra:disqus  contributes a ton on Fred’s blog. Stuff that opens my eyes. It is especially cool to see two thinkers with contrary viewpoints engage thoughtfully.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            It may be that, among your posts to, the one I responded to first was your first post to  In that case, I was, typical for a nerd, socially awkward in not welcoming you to Fredland.  I appologize.Women (nerds are likely to say ‘girls’) are especially rare and, thus, especially welcome!On 1., tracking people via their usage of a mobile device, experts may say that in the most common case now the device would have to be a cell phone with the power on (I’m no expert).  So, if there is a concern, then keep the power off on phones (and talk with an expert).Also of concern now could be GPS data:  So, e.g., some mobile devices know in real time their GPS coordinates.  [Note:  Early in my career I wrote software in the group that did the orbit determination computing for the first version of the GPS, the one by the US Navy.  That there could be a GPS receiver in a phone is mind blowing.].  There is some software that will send its GPS coordinates to, say, Google which can return a satellite image of the area around those coordinates with a pointer at the specific location, say, some one room of a house.  If there is a privacy concern, then don’t send GPS coordinates!For “sophisticated” applications, okay.  Controlling lights, locks, and cameras at home and getting feeds from home video cameras, doing all this while traveling might also be described as a ‘routine application of the standard Internet functionality’.For more, apparently some years ago, Jim Clark, computer graphics expert, founder of Silicon Graphics (SGI), founder of Netscape, had a sailing yacht built with all the sailing controls power driven with controls connected to the Internet and claimed that he could sail the yacht from his office on land.  Cute.  Maybe I’m missing the reason to endure all the cost of having a yacht sailing at sea and not be on it!  He gets sea sick?  :-)!Twenty years ago I proposed, in jest, that we could equip a car much as for Clark’s yacht, sit at a desk, and drive the car on, say, the Saw Mill River Parkway in NYS.  Then a concern was what would happen if we lost our communications connection while the car was going 60 MPH around a corner?In a sense, now more complicated, involved, and ‘sophisticated’ are the communications among Web sites and ad networks that select via ‘ad targeting’, in small fractions of a second, while the user is waiting for the page to be returned, what ads to display on the pages of the Web sites.Also somewhat complicated are what server farm to get the data from and caching the data, e.g., by Akamai.There will likely be still more complicated and ‘sophisticated’ aspects to the Internet.For 2., such tracking can be done starting with the IP address a user sends to each Web site they visit, etc.  So, look up what ISP has that IP address and then ask the ISP for which one of their customers, including name and billing address, had that IP address at the time that IP address connected to the Web site.  The ISP may have this data, but getting this data may require a court order.  My guess is that such accurate location is not avaialable routinely (but experts may know better).For 3., yes, Hulu is an example of a huge change in ‘old media’ or, if you will, the early signs of the death of old media.So is  I used to be a professor in one of the better MBA programs but have to conclude that, net, is a better source of information on starting and running a business than any one of MBA programs, ‘Fortune’, ‘Forbes’, Bloomberg’, or CNBC.  Shocking. 

  55. Alex Murphy

    The people that make money in a revolution are the ones selling the guns and the amo.In the gold rush, it was the ones selling picks and pans.In the Cultural Revolution, it will be those that are the enablers that make money or have an opportunity to make money.Great areas include:   new forms / methods of communication   data driven curation   tools that foster transparency   tools that leverage the crowd

  56. jonburg

    The big transition we will begin to see is not a push just towards openness and transparency, but mutual responsibility.  We as a culture will learn that it is far easier to tear down than to build, and that pointing fingers is not a productive pursuit.Looking at the cultural trends and drivers, we’ve seen the power of the masses to tear down that wall, but without a new one built in it’s place, people will look to the builders.  And the investment opportunities there  are incredible.  

    1. Guest

      The likely opposite will happen. We’re not going towards a more open web but a closed one, by pure nature of the internet’s design, where is in its proliferation as a dominant info delivery and communications platform in our society, and who/how those entering the space now (large corporations, governments, carriers, etc.) operate.Walls go up, not down, as platforms dominate in platform business. Television, print media, telephones, etc. were all ‘open’ once too.

  57. charlieanzman

    Fred – First time I’ve read ALL the comments on a blog post in a long time.  Good run here.  I think the ‘real’ investment is the unique people that can vision where all of this is going socially and otherwise at an incredibly hyper pace (IE: The Internet).  There’s simply no doubt that governments, social leaders and others needed a literal warning on how the Internet, tech and mobile were changing the landscape almost overnight.  Personally I believe this contributed to the recession (or depression as some may still see it) and not just the ‘banking issues’.  A quantum shift in the way we govern and do business that hardly anyone saw. There needed to be a flag for leaders in all sectors.  Maybe invest in a National (and Global) think tank?  There are some huge messages here, both good and bad …. and we can’t afford to miss them.  Just my two cents 🙂

  58. iamronen

    As context to this response – at the end of this coming week I’ll be moving out with my wife into an old Romanian village house. Yesterday I spent the better part of a day digging next to our well a large hole in the ground where we want to install a water pump!The whole discussion here has very little to do with my life – and that is not a coincidence but a long process of choices. Yet the Internet is at its core a key element that has made this life shift possible for us. This includes: – A tremendous process of re-educating ourselves on many topics which together form a fabric we believe will lead us to a sustainable, pleasant and abundant life. Most of that re-education has come from the Internet (both directly in freely available online content and indirectly by locating paid resources such as books). The main “Internet Application” for that is searching – and we do most of our searching on Google.  – We both run independent blogs (WordPress) which may directly or indirectly become sources of income. – We partake very lightly in social media – it is in indulgence that we could without and indeed as we get busier with the physical world so we become less inclined to partake in social media.The Internet is controlled by my last-mile service provider, by telecom infrastructure companies, by commercial corporations and in some places to different extents by governments. Any one of those components can potentially disrupt partially or completely my experience of the Internet. I am greatful to have a kind of unhindered access I have to the Internet but I also feel it is not an assured thing.I don’t think its a truism that at its core the internet is founded on free speach and individual liberty. I think that it is you as an individual/VC/USA citizen projecting your life values on to it. Mistaking your values as those of the internet is ultimately a form of digital colonialism. It may rundown other cultures but may also cause you to burn out!I don’t know if there exists an investment thesis that would enable you to touch my life. That bothers me. Does it bother you?

    1. fredwilson

      it sounds like you are designing your life to be more simple and more selfsustaining. that’s a good thing

  59. Bala

    the next billion people who are going to join the Internet are not native english speakers… all the things that make our lives easier using the tools provided by the internet localized for culture, language and tradition will have a big potential. You cannot predict what is going to be the next killer app, but we can make a good bet i.e the application layer that is going to sit on top of the Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iOS, Android or meshes them to create value. I coin the word value loosely, having a free society is valuable and societies that are not free have used the above tools in the middle east to start the process of empowering themselves, there are many issues and problem in each continent, country, city, community, family etc I look to the future with more optimism than I had before, I think great things are yet to be created and I am investing in those. Analyzing language and text is important so have invested in a Language processing engine created by a small company out of Iceland, Icelandic is one of the hardest languages to learn, @Clara ( does Icelandic better than Google does English, our next take has been to release our API to everyone to use… API is language agnostic so it does not care what language is pushed in it helps one visualize text in a beautiful fashion, I believe that being able to read through a lot of text and understand the summary of that is important…

    1. fredwilson

      that’s why the link to the story to Google’s language API was in the links Ishowed in the post

  60. Maarten

    JP Rangeswami talks about this revolution tohttp://confusedofcalcutta.c…And Project Vrm, is along similar lines:

  61. Youssef Rahoui

    Very interesting. Among many other things, that means that if you run a company in the internet field that has an impact on people’s lives, you just can’t hide anymore behing “we are just doing business”, “business as usual”, etc. You need a strong and clear commitment. Values can’t be corporate BS anymore because the internet will out you anyway.

  62. beat maker software

    This is actually pretty profound.I was once agnostic toward gaming but then began to realize that it was…well, what you said.

    1. fredwilson


  63. Paul Smith

    This is repeatable: For every wall built by a government or large market player (Apple, MS, Sony…), there are a number of business models in overcoming that wall. Some models make the wall superfluous, while some attack the wall directly.The greedy algorithm says you should make your customers captives to your platform, and leverage this captivity to wring more revenue out of each incremental sale. I think the opposite is more far-sighted… if Apple opened their m4a standard and eschewed DRM on the iPod early-on, I bet there would be a third as many personal media player models available today, and the Amazon mp3 store might have been delayed by years.

  64. Nate Boyd

    What I find interesting about this cultural revolution is that there are many conflicting forces at work.  We are demanding increased transparency from every sort of public and private institution, even as we fret about privacy.  Technology has given every individual the power to have global influence, even as disparities of wealth and education reach new highs.  One of the most successful governments over the past decade is a single-party state controlled regime, even as the U.S. government has become incredibly ineffective and dictatorships across the globe are falling.Totally agree that living on the edge and riding/influencing this wave is the place to be (or invest, if that’s your thing).  My newco,, embraces this.  We know that our product and philosophy will threaten some people, but that’s to be expected when you’re changing the game!

  65. Dave W Baldwin

    Just a reminder re Accelerating Returns.  The tempo of increase in Users rises as the length of time per fad/topic decreases.This leads to an accelerated sharing of random opine as well as group protest.  If you look at helping deliver the true vehicle that can accommodate the opening of walls, you are on the winning side.This acceleration will affect the number of revolutions (the next batch will be more than what happens in 2011), the passing thru of mental needs (attention leading to sharing) and the big jump with the dropping the barrier of language.The key to rev leading to profit is being able to do the deed without the need of too much capital.  It is as simple as that.  This will cause some adjustment to current biz plan thinking but will lead to the enabling of expanding the base of investors which is the only logical way for the avg joe to get somewhere over the rest of this decade… then with multilateralism delivered via multinationalism, you really expand the number of investors and health overall.Great bunch of comments and post! 

  66. Davealevine

    I heard George W. Bush speak last week, and he remarked that he continues to believe that people have an intrinsic desire to be free – and that is the spark driving what is going on in the middle east today.In that vein, any business that seeks to empower the individual to express her freedom should be something to pay attention to – the more freedom-enhancing, the more potentially powerful, and therefore the more worth watching.”Blogging” and “tweeting” are freedom enhancing in that they allow for expression and sharing. “Search” is freedom enhancing in that it allows people to find information – which leads to knowledge and therefore power. The same could be said for Wikipedia.It seems that the next realm of freedom enhancing innovation should be something that addresses one of the following: 1) education or 2) unemployment.I agree with President Bush that people have an intrinsic desire to be free, and I also think that if we give people a good education, they will do a lot with it – including pursuing their own freedom. Start-ups that help people to achieve this goal could be truly revolutionary.Similarly, giving people a job gives them the ability to change their situation and pursue freedom. Startups that are labor-intensive (and therefore potentially not ideal from an initial “business model” point of view), might unintuitively achieve greater success than one might initially think because they help people indirectly pursue freedom.Lastly, anything that helps empower the billions of disenfranchised women in the world must be watched. There is so much potential out there waiting to be unleashed.

  67. Davealevine

    I heard George W. Bush speak last week, and he remarked that he continues to believe that people have an intrinsic desire to be free – and that is the spark driving what is going on in the middle east today.In that vein, any business that seeks to empower the individual to express her freedom should be something to pay attention to – the more freedom-enhancing, the more potentially powerful, and therefore the more worth watching.”Blogging” and “tweeting” are freedom enhancing in that they allow for expression and sharing. “Search” is freedom enhancing in that it allows people to find information – which leads to knowledge and therefore power. The same could be said for Wikipedia.It seems that the next realm of freedom enhancing innovation should be something that addresses one of the following: 1) education or 2) unemployment.I agree with President Bush that people have an intrinsic desire to be free, and I also think that if we give people a good education, they will do a lot with it – including pursuing their own freedom. Start-ups that help people to achieve this goal could be truly revolutionary.Similarly, giving people a job gives them the ability to change their situation and pursue freedom. Startups that are labor-intensive (and therefore potentially not ideal from an initial “business model” point of view), might unintuitively achieve greater success than one might initially think because they help people indirectly pursue freedom.Lastly, anything that helps empower the billions of disenfranchised women in the world must be watched. There is so much potential out there waiting to be unleashed.

  68. Greg Biggers

    Helpful thoughts. I ditto the earlier comments about links to the VRM movement <http:”” projectvrm=”” main_page=””>.The place I see a ton of cultural turbulence coming is health and healthcare. Strangely unaffected by the Internet revolution so far, I see more and more indicators that is changing. And I know of at least 3 different groups raising specific ‘digital health’ investment funds.

  69. David Saintloth

    Fred, we spoke a few weeks ago at the Silicon Alley Insider Startup2011 event. I gave you my pitch for the service I am working on that will enable a revolution in how businesses run. I remember your response to my pitch as “wow” but I wanted to provide some more details on exactly what we are going to do which are relevant to the subject of this post, cultural revolution…in this case the culture of running businesses.I’ve been writing about the social changes to come enabled by the hyper connection of the internet for a few years. As I’ve been working on my the stealth business collaboration service The ideas principally revolve around the ability to decouple knowledge worker actions from specific software tools and enabling the actions to be securely distributed to workers regardless of location. The technology I invented to do this is called Action Oriented Workflow. AOW was built into the platform AgilEntity to enable hosting the next generation of online businesses.The future of a telepresent workforce that enables businesses not only  to distribute their workers geographically but also temporally (since now work actions can be dispatched any time for global and continuous solution). Also, because each action is metered the ability to create efficiency metrics on the completion patterns of remote workers can be devised and used to shape delivery of actions to specific individuals that have demonstrated past efficiency doing work. Think “page rank for actions” and you get an idea on how this will work.Two huge benefits will emerge from such businesses.1) Businesses will be able to shutter a significant portion of their physical offices, knowledge workers won’t need to be shuttled into do work and the money for offices, lights, gas, heat can be redoubled into the business itself. This will eliminate a huge sunk cost in operating a business especially as it grows. The hyper efficient businesses run on an AOW modelling platform like AgilEntity will be the most agile and efficient businesses ever created. A second huge benefit is the ability for the business to emancipate it’s workforce, essentially not requiring the hiring of full time workers in many cases as the market of potential workers will be global, this will again help the bottom line.2) The workers will be able to either chose the work they wish to do or the action prediction algorithm will do it for them, enabling automatic isolation of the best workers and automatic routing of work to them. This will eliminate the need for layers of middle management today that only gums up the works especially in large corporations which eventually implode from the weight and inefficiency of endless layers of middle management. Thus businesses will be able to scale very wide (across the customer and service landscape of their vertical) without having to build a deep scaled (levels of human management hieararchy) infrastructure to actually run the business.Links:http://sent2null.blogspot.c…           (based on email written in 2006)http://sent2null.blogspot.c…      (white paper)

  70. frabcus

    In terms of disruptive startups in this area, I’d rate OpenCorporates ( pretty highly.The database they are building of all companies and their structures in the world will hopefully give some power back to the small business and individual consumer. As well as generally drive efficiency of people knowing about corporate suppliers, investors, customers.

  71. RussellF

    For people looking for investment opportunities coming out of the “Arab Spring” you should pay close attention to the up-coming privatization and IPO of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – the second-largest, Israeli government-owned supplier of military aircraft and missile systems. http://investing.businesswe…IAI reported record earnings in Q1. There are discussions around whether IAI will merge with top Israeli weapons manufacturers IMI (the maker of the famous Uzi) and Rafael to form an incredibly powerful and profitable defense supplier concern.Why invest in Israeli military suppliers? As the “Arab Spring” continues to play out, we’ll see increased pressure on the Israeli government and military to take action and suppress any popular uprisings or insurrections. Take today’s New York Times story as one small indicator:

  72. Mike Kijewski

    This comment might be a bit out there, but this reminds me a bit of the founding of Dischord Records in the early ’80s. A bunch of punk rockers wanted to start a record label for the sole purpose of releasing music they liked, without the “blessings” of the major record labels. Thirty years later the record industry is dead. Music is largely democratized. But no one has really figured out how to monetize it. As an entrepreneur, my focus is on making really compelling products, not necessarily shooting for things with huge short-term monetization potential. Because no one would have started Dischord if their focus was just making money. And then we wouldn’t have Fugazi.

    1. James Dier

      Music biz is far from dead. This 2011 year will be an up year.The majors are doing very well. I am surprised at their ability to adapt and keep topline numbers strong.Then again, the music biz has been beaten down on the recording side, so any uptick will have to be proven for more than one year.

      1. Mike Kijewski

        Would you invest in a startup record label that uses the current model that major labels use? If not, it’s dead.

        1. James Dier

          I would invest in a model that majors use IF I knew the track record of the players involved. One example is Glassnote, who are crushing right now as a start up.Nothing has changed in breaking a new artist.

  73. James Dier

    Not so much a cultural shift, but a re-distribution of wealth.One thing for sure, the internet amplifies what already is happening in human nature. The internet just gives the false perception that it’s bigger than what it is.Security investments will be HUGE!

  74. Guest

    Emotion is the force of Life. Invest in PPP (Personally Pissed of People) who have got the ability to create tools, which allows them to get rid of the noise that disturbs their LIFE. Pissed-Off Tool-Builders. The larger the noise + the larger the determination to get rid off it, the better. I don’t believe in top-down revolutions (never). Only buttom-up movements from frustrated makers –  neglected, underestimated talents that can pull in masses like a black hole. Regardless if you use Apple, Bananas or Windows, this clip is the essence of the cultural revolution that you may look for. The greatest men in the world () will always loose () the battle against the suppressed mother of life () – life itself: This insight is for me like an epiphany, which will repeat itself over and over again.I would invest in an “emotional hammer” that will ELIMINATE the noise for as many people as possible. And there are many noises waiting to be eliminated – 🙂

  75. William Carleton

    The optimism of this post and in this thread is inspiring. I’m resolving to keep a brighter perspective when noodling through the latest legislative attempts to protect yesterday’s industries! 

  76. Eunice Apia

    I don’t know how to answer this question but it makes me think of Wikileaks. Am I allowed to say that word? Even in America you are censored from certain things.When I began creating my company, I wasn’t worried as much about getting funds but what Investors would want to fund my company. When you say words like “Transparency” or “Accountability”…it worries people. So it would be interesting to see more Tech companies that engage people in debate. When platforms like Twitter and Facebook (with the whole Africa and Middle East uprising) are used well they do create a cultural revolution. In that way, I want to follow in their footsteps of making people uncomfortable enough to take action to create a movement.Hope that answers your question.

  77. dublinplumbingservices

    There’s been a lot of emigration from California to nearby states fordecades: Colorado, Utah, Nevada, etc. It’s just that Internet-triggeredimmigration to SiliconValleyPlumbers

  78. Prokofy

    The minute you put up the Lulz Anonops people as some kind of lovely revolutionary force, Fred, you sure lost me.They are destructive thugs.You say the Internet is “not controlled by anybody”. Well, ask PBS when their patch of the Internet is controlled by these Bolshevik thugs just because they don’t like *a critical show PBS did on Anonymous and WikiLeaks”. Yeah, some freedom, that.Aslo a highly misleading headline is this “UN Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right”. What that amounts to is a report from one special rapporteur, which is an independent mandate to study a topic and report to the Human Rights Council. It doesn’t “declare a right” — it merely recommends it. But this would have to be negotiated by states. And there will be some states that you will definitely not want to be negotiating this “right” with — like China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, etc. — that will take the notion that the state has to grant this Internet right, i.e. pay for it, sustain it, ensure it — to add more, not less state controls of the Internet. It’s one of those idiotic emotional ideas that people pick up as a kind of flag without realize the horrors of the UN they are getting into it. Just track what happened to free speech in the notion of the OIC-sponsored “defamation of religion” if you want a foretaste of “Internet as a right”. We do not need a new “Internet right”. We already have perfectly good rights at home and abroad for free expression, and these are already trampled, so we don’t need states to get in on the act to “ensure the right to the Internet” — this requires a more subtle understanding of positive and negative rights, of course.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not saying they are “lovely”there was no statement that these things are good or badjust that they areand we’ll see more of them

  79. Prokofy

    BTW, your VC pal Ron Conway apparently thinks that the place where disruption concentrations are the highest is the place to invest. So that’s why he invested in the 4chan guy Chris Poole (Moot). He called it “a company” (!). Even Arrington had to roll his eyes at that one!Yeah, invest in meme production, that’s your ticket lol. Word salads are hot, too.

    1. fredwilson

      can you please tell me all the things you hate on the internet?i think i’d like to invest in many of them, including Moot

      1. Prokofy

        OK, Fred, since you asked!1. Quora — I was singularly unimpressed with the founder at TechCrunch. He just didn’t seem very bright. His idea is what coders usually called “Dear Lazynet,” when they don’t feel like finding out something themselves so they hope other busybodies on the Internet with time to burn and smarter than they are will spoon-feed them. People contribute scads of content and get reputations (I’ve fallen into this trap but not for long) but so far there *is no way to get them paid*. They don’t even seem to get badges. It is heavy; it will sink.2. Tumblr — isn’t that already one of yours? I asked the founder about his vision for customer service — he fumbled and basically said he had none. His notion was basically to outsource it to a friend of his (one friend!). Meanwhile by contrast the Instagram guy on the stage with him went the opposite with my question, and said his very first hire was the community manager, because the community was the heart of his product, and he understood that among his biggest challenges was that “some of his customers don’t like his other customers’ pictures” — i.e., governance. Tumblr has grown way too fast, teens grabbed it and discarded it like yesterday’s pair of pumped-up kicks. It will flounder.3. Canvas — good God, surely you jest! Not only is the founder objectively responsible for great swathes of Internet crime and brutality — anyone in the MMORPG or VW space knows that 10 percent of the customers make the content for the other 90 percent to gawk at, and unless you can give monetary incentive to the 10 percent they don’t keep showing up. This is a nearly-immutable power curve that ups to perhaps only 20 percent if you count amateur content in a place like Second Life. 4chan is already splitting and spawning other sites under the pressure of these immutable laws.So investing in the ability of that 10 to monkey with each other’s artwork is nuts, and that’s all Canvas is — organized vandalism. In fact, mash-ups are a very acquired taste most people don’t like (I love them, i.e. “Clock a Minute” and “Dip it Joe” by Pheugoo) but most people want the one artwork. It will fail. Moot turns out to unintelligent — or at least unintelligible. Nobody buys the t-shirts with the memes, Fred, only Anil Dash is willing to wear a Goatse t-shirt.4. Groupon — but then, we’re on the same page there. You say you don’t get it. I don’t either, for different reasons — I think people don’t like cooperating on the Internet for a higher good as much as they enjoy the feeling they’ve bested the other guy with a deal he didn’t know about.5. Twitter — look, you’ve thrown good money after bad there, and I love Twitter, and it’s great, but there isn’t a business plan there to make money. Just selling off our private communications and proximity data to big companies isn’t going to be enough because the dirty little secret of everybody’s online life is that it isn’t sufficiently predictive of their buying patterns in real life — and people hate interruptive ads. They’ll have to settle for a $9.95 a month fee which you’d likely hate just to keep it going. The service is down much of the time lately and people migrate to Plurk or FB IMs.6. Services that take the view that my private property is their collectivized capital to monetarize see the back of my hand. This is a governance nightmare accident going somewhere to happen. It is way more vulnerable than Craigslist in that regard. I took one look at the lady’s ad for the fancy car that said “you must be over 30” and “your appointment is cancelled if it rains” and said “Not for us!”.7. Bitcoin — like a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money, Bitcoin is a hole in the Internet into which you pour money, too. At least in Second Life when I pay into a stranger’s prim I get something in my inventory instantly most of the time.OK, so now that you’ve listened to my wise advice steering you and your millions away from heartbreak, here’s what you *should* invest in:1. Facebook. This is a keeper because it more or less does what people want. As long as they hold Zynga hostage with that whopping fee, they can live. And Zynga can’t leave them, as much as it would like to, because of that built-in game mechanism of leveling based on coercing your friends to help. So it’s a PB&J sandwich of convenience. Once they get the virtual money working well on there, combined with identity instead of anonymity like Bitcoin, it will go like hotcakes. Most tekkies hate FB because they aspire to bohemian culture and think it is mass taste and middle class. So what, that’s where the money is.2. PayPal — it works, they have the customer base, they do it right. Paygr may be added here if that works out.3. Encana, Heckmann etc…The Internet is basically just a telephone with a truck hooked up to it. The trucks are really, really important, Fred (my children’s father drives an 18-wheeler OTR). People order all this stuff online — it has to ship and get to you just in time. LNG is the wave of the future, too, for less dependency on foreign oil.All your investments are tied up in fake Internet stuff, so you should diversify with some actual real commodities like this in any event.4. Second Life — many think virtual worlds died or became irrelevant after Facebook and Twitter but in fact if you study SL you find it prefigured FB and Twitter and much of social media is in fact prototyped there. If you want to understand the challenges and opportunities for user-generated content and online governance, and watch a space that has everything you’re interested in, from real-time to live independent music to crafts to education, this is it. You couldn’t lose by buying some secondary stock off one of those departing Lindens, it doesn’t have to be a huge investment. Few things on the Internet can boast that they have 1 million 30-day uniques and 50,000 concurrency AND made $450 million in UGC sales last year AND made at least $75 million profit for the platform provider. It’s how the Internet will go once the foam blows off from all the foursquares and whatnot.5. One of those i-phone ap searching start-ups — it might be do@app or Quexly or whatever they were at TechCrunch Disrupt. These people are in a space not owned by Google! Yay! People go on their phones, they don’t go on the Internet. The app searches not just the name, but the *function*. Important!6. The company that monetarizes Web GL, html canvas element, etc. away from all the open source goons and big IT that currently have a hold over it.7. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) — I’m putting charitable giving as an investment as well because alleviating some of the world’s major conflicts is vital to even having a future to invest in. This group does the most with the least overhead.Keep this notecard on your mirror, Fred, and see you in five years to see who was right.

        1. Flow Simple

          Loved the first 3 you mentioned. Your comments made me giggle. I’m off to “Google” you.

  80. Prokofy

    The “next big thing” isn’t necessarily what you think, and what you think is dead (“the walled garden”) can have ways of coming back.Read this very useful summary of interesting developments in the book publishing industry with e-books and Barnes & Nobles and such to see that it doesn’t always go the way Google planned:

  81. tldr_todd

    I see “distributed” as the next step in the revolution. Breaking down some of the barriers that have been built in Web 1.0/2.0. One thing I’ve always wanted was a personal server sitting in the cloud that could run my own version of twitter, facebook, and flickr. I’d be secure in knowing where my data was and how it was being used.PS – the term “Cultural Revolution” is pretty loaded, especially for anyone who has lived in China.

  82. Sean Weinstock

    Been having several conversations recently without much substantive fact diving, but I remember Jerry Brown making a statement to this effect in his run for governor and nearly losing his head for it:  Does technological progress actually hurt the bottom rungs of society, especially modern society (factory workers getting replaced by machines + changing industrial needs shifting the focus away from manufacturing)?  And, if advanced economies will come to be based even more upon technological progress, will that in fact give way to the need for larger centralized control and redistribution because those bottom rungs haven’t been and likely won’t be able to keep up with the progress (mainly because of a poor educational infrastructure combined with a somewhat complacent attitude prevalent amongst all classes in advanced societies)?  Does that then defeat the notion of distributed power that the internet has stood for since its inception?  Interesting theory, not sure if it holds.

  83. Paul Azous

    Migration from cities to more rural areas? Maybe, but time will tell.thxPaul, CEO

  84. markslater

    this thread is absolutely F**king unbelievable. I used disqus this morning to see what was happening in my comment world and was pulled back to a 400 comment GEM of a discussion around one of the most important topics of our time. there are some many nuggets of gold in this thought stream you could literally create a business hypotheses for disrupting education from it. lets see, one that comes to mind. how to crowd source measurement of learning achievement. let the crowds decide levels of difficulty, and establish an achievement ranking order (think Summa cum) for individual achievements. Let my kids decide how high they want to go on the meter – take away the limitations to access (think selection process of ivy league schools for instance) – challenge the kid to go as far as they want. note to self: find a short position on existing education innovate to disrupt.

  85. Derek Neighbors

    The Internet is driving a change in how we work.  Expect the next wave to be radical culture change within companies.  The construct of how we view organizations is ready to radically change.