My Interview With Carlota Perez

There are many people who should get credit for Union Square Ventures' investment strategy.  The community here at AVC is certainly on that list. But possibly at the top of the list is Carlota Perez. Her book, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, was responsible for much of the foundational thinking Brad and I did at the start of Union Square Ventures back in 2003, which in turn led to our initial investment thesis.

I am super excited about an interview I am doing with Carlota next week in NYC at the Web 2.0 Expo. Carlota is from Venezuela and lives in the UK and doesn't visit the US very often so this is a pretty special event. The interview will take place next Tuesday, Oct 11th, from 5:05pm to 5:20pm in the plenary session of the event. Web 2.0 Expo is at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in NYC.

I plan to talk to Carlota about bubbles, golden ages, where we are right now, and plenty more. I've written a fair bit about Carlota and her theories on this blog so if you have any suggestions for questions, please leave them in the comments.

If you'd like to attend in person, you can get a 25% discount on a admissions pass by using the discount code "webny11fos" when you register. You can register here.

The entire event will be livestreamed, including the interview, at in case you want to see it but cannot make it there live.

I'm really looking forward to this.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Barry Nolan

    A blog in today’s WSJ “Entrepreneurs: The End Is Near. Refinance.” argues we we’re at the end of the “bubble'” cycle.  It would be great to hear if she tracks any lead indicators.”A large concern is an ongoing shortfall between the amount of money that venture capitalists raise from limited partners and the amount they invest. According to Dow Jones VentureSource, the gap, which has been growing since 2008, reached more than $6 billion in the first half of 2011. VCs invested $14.3 billion in start-ups, but raised only $8.1 billion. Needless to say, this will impact entrepreneurs because it isn’t sustainable.”…

    1. JimHirshfield

      I read that this morning too…with a bit of skepticism. Surely cycles will be cyclical…duh. But great teams/companies will always get funded whether we’re in an up trend, down trend, or wherever in the cycle. I think the stats cited, mostly point to the problem of there being too many VC firms. I’m not saying there might not be less funds in the near future; I suspect there will be. Just don’t know when. Who does?

      1. Farhan Lalji

        Sounds like a question for Carlota Perez – Are there too many VC firms?  Does the world need more or less funds, as more people discover entrepreneurship, new technologies are launched and unemployment is growing I would think that having more VCs would be a good thing, but can the market support that need?

        1. andyswan

          The good news is that no one needs to have the answer to this.  The market will take care of it on its own.

          1. Alexander Close

            Very true.  However, some of the younger generation might be interested in hearing some thoughts on it. A rising tide floats all boats, it’d be nice to pick the right sea.

          2. jonconnors

            Let’s fix that patent piece…

          3. Farhan Lalji

            Normally I’d agree.  Supply meeting demand and all.  But, I’m not so sure in this case.  When you have double demand and double supply – consumers and entrepreneurs both being on the demand side and VCs and LPs both on the supply side, will there be enough cash from LPs to VCs to Entrepreneurs in this type of market sitch?  

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Farhan Lalji

            Right, cause VCs only fund good startups.

          6. fredwilson

            i like the way you think

          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          8. Farhan Lalji

            I hear you Grimlock but humor me –  if a bad start up is funded, creates jobs, creates some experience for its founders and early employees before accepting that it’s a bad start up, the employees and founders than go on to create good businesses isn’t that still a good thing? Without the funding of Confinity do we get Paypal?  Without Pyra do we get Blogger?  Without Odeo do we get Twitter? etc.  I think a lot of funding goes into bad companies that can turn into good ones – or bad companies that can give good people good experiences.________________________________

          9. fredwilson

            bad startups:hire good developershire good peoplesoak up precious capitalpatent stuff and when they fail, sue good companiescompete with good startups for user attentionconfuse the marketleave their users and employees hanging when the fail

          10. Donna Brewington White


          11. Farhan Lalji

            You could say the same thing about Yahoo! Microsoft and other big companies as well. 🙂

          12. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  2. Esayas Gebremedhin

    I wonder how the hive mind (collective consciousness) of the web will influence how governments will operate and even look like in the future…?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      My hope is they will demand pure transparency and ability to be involved and communicate in every step of every process.

    2. leigh

      I had a lobbyist here in Canada who wanted me to start a public affairs practice in my new business (#not) — he talked about the increasing Tragedy of the Commons issue – Gov’t being strongly impacted by Social opinion and even cancelling major projects that were well down the road bc of the changing tides on Twitter – i wrote a recent post about social opinion does not equal public opinion http://leighhimel.blogspot…. but in the issues management context, it adds on a whole new layer.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Great news Fred. I’ll be there and looking forward to the interview. 

  4. Dave W Baldwin

    Can’t wait! Would like to know of her opinion re the hybrids of innovations coming in about 18-24 months.

  5. Cam MacRae

    Be interesting to know how she views #occupywallstreet: Is it the thin edge of the wedge heralding the arrival of Schumpeter’s advanced capitalism, or just another protest movement?

    1. fredwilson

      Great question. I will try to work that in

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        I have always been fascinated by social movements; the movements that occurred in the early 30’s as a result of the crash of 1929, the anti-war movement, and the civil rights movement.The reality is the Occupy Wall Street movement, and all the associated groups, has the real ability to be quite disruptive and make some dramatic changes in our social, economic, and political system over the next few years.I spent over 3 hours reviewing the internet and reading the postings on tumblr for the “We are the 99%” and I really think all of us need to realize that the change that will take this country into the future has not been formulated yet.People tend to forget that FDR was dealing with a country where socialists were winning elections, even Terre Haute Indiana saw a socialist win state wide office!We are at the beginning of change in our political, economic, and social system, and Fred, you need to come up with a question…Change never occurs from inside a system, a system has to be threatened from outside, for good or bad, that is exactly what created the programs that we give FDR credit for, that is exactly what the M.L King Jr did with the Civil Rights movement, and lets not forget that the anti-war movement brought down LBJ….Occupy Wall Street has now published their Declaration of Occupation, which is really meaningless, movements like this get going and really lack control.If we are smart, and we are not, we need to deal with these issues now by having government address them, but that won’t happen, so the movement will grow…… 

    2. BillSeitz

      It definitely sounds like it could be a harbinger of a TurningPoint process of reigning in financial capital. Please ask her what specific policy/regulatory changes she thinks would be best to push for.

  6. Trish Burgess-Curran

    I am not familiar with her work (shame on me!) but I have just purchased her book (I will put it on the top of the pile…) and will follow next week’s interview.  Given my lack of knowledge of her work, I cannot help with specific questions right now but I will give it some thought this week!

  7. Stephen Albright

    I wish I could attend, but Livestream is a nice substitute. Thanks for the book suggestion. Hopefully I can finish before you interview Carlota.

  8. Joel Skretvedt

    Should be a interesting interview – looking forward to watching it.

  9. andyswan

    It is always instructive to see and hear and read from the people that influenced someone.  This is great.

  10. Tereza

    Can’t wait to watch.Really glad there’s a Livestream as these things are expensive for founders, even w discount. Good move.BTW folks there will be a big Ignite event the evening before, 10/10, same venue. If you haven’t seen an Ignite talk they are FUN — strict 5-minutes of 20 auto-advanced slide ‘conversations’ on any topic in front of NY’s brightest geeks. Their tagline: “Enlighten us, but make it quick!”. Love that.These have been gaining in popularity and for the Web 2.0 Conf they’re hosting the biggest Ignite NYC yet. You don’t need a conference pass to attend. About a dozen awesome speakers, including Emma Persky on how to win at karaoke, Jonathan Levy on his abs, and…. wait for it …. moi and I’ll be delivering a ditty called I Digitized My Mom.Come support us?? Tix are only $10 but I’ve got this smokin’ hot discount code. It’s…ready? ….”TEREZA”. Yep. All caps. The link:…So — sorry to shanghai this with a shill but if you are looking to consort w warm bodies on Monday night and share the AVC love, please come cheer.Oh — PS — forgot to mention. You’re allowed to DRINK. Just sayin’.AND it’s cheap!

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Drinkin’ does help with the warm bodies….

    2. maithreyi

      Super happy its livestreamed – will definitely watch this session. Its even more expensive if you live in California, and have to fly out :D!

  11. Emil Sotirov

    Carlota Perez has a website: (seems like an old one, but still…) … and her book on Amazon (… has a review by Kevin Kelly (

  12. Matt A. Myers

    5:05 to 5:20 – that doesn’t really seem like adequate time!

    1. andyswan

      I wondered if that was a typo.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I’m hoping so

    2. fredwilson

      Carlota and I agree

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It’s legitimately only 15 minutes?! You should invite her to do a longer private interview and post it here. 

        1. fredwilson

          That’s a great idea

          1. Matt A. Myers

            There are a few questions you could find in here that could give you ideas for questions. Maybe the 15 minutes will spark other ideas or inquiries for further details of whatever gets talked about.. eeee! I’m excited too!

          2. Rohan

            I agree with Matthew. Maybe we make a list of questions and you could pick a few for an interview here?

    3. Mark Essel

      On the plus side a 15min interview has to blaze, and there’s energy from the knowledge of the tight time frame.The idea is to get a taste with interviews, and to feast on written information later. Very few people will even begin watching hour long video interviews or lectures. You have to make a major commitment to those formats (I enjoy them but only once per month or so).

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Fair enough but I rather listen to explanations than read a book. I’m sure Fred would ask good questions too.

      2. fredwilson

        and blaze we will

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Looking forward to this, as – mea culpa – I am not familiar with her work. Just ordered the book via Amazon – will swot-up ahead of next week’s event! 🙂

  13. ricew

    I’d be interested in hearing how your investment thesis has evolved over the years.  What you got right, and what you got wrong.  Maybe best to save for a book later in life though!

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Fred doesn’t do books.Per him.

      1. fredwilson


  14. ShanaC

    Hmm, I’d like to know what Dr. Perez thinks about the structure of the internet, in terms of “Will the internet change to transmit ever more types of information that we can interact with in many new end user forms”  and what does that mean for long term innovation.Mostly because of her theories about innovation cycles – I keep thinking there may be such thing as cycles within cycles.  And I’m curious to here what she thinks.

  15. matthughes

    Ms. Perez’s explanation of Sequence and Driving Forces is fascinating. 

  16. BradDorchinecz

    I’m most curious of her thoughts on technological & financial cycles, and if there always will be a “crash” phase after the initial “frenzy” phase.  Do markets ever learn to forsee these crashes and adapt?  Or is it just part of human nature to always get too excited when there is a new technological innovation?

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a great question

      1. jonconnors

        Do we have enough of a sample size of major technological breakthroughs to make that assessment?  

    2. Bill Phelan

      Manias, Panics and Crashes have way more to do with human nature than with Technology.  In 1637 some Tulip bulbs were selling for more than shares of stock in companies in their day.…Charles Kindleberrger’s book  Manias, Panics and Crashes is a very good read on this subject.

  17. Alex Murphy

    O’Reilly was interviewed by Charlie Rose this week at IAB.  In their discussion, O’Reilly touched on a topic that I thought was really interesting.  He made the point that “interesting people” tend to hang around with “interesting people.”  He said that if you want to see the future, find the people that are tinkering with brand new ways to do stuff, and then find out who they hang out with.  From there, you can start to get a feel for what will be coming in the years ahead.  For example, there are a lot of people playing with the MS kinect video tool.  The part that was most interesting was that those people (the ones tinkering today) are rarely the ones that end up building the companies that leverage the advancements of the tinkering. It is kind of like the saying of explorers get shot with arrows, settlers get the land.While there is a lot happening on the tinkering side, we are seeing an increase in the formation of new companies that are leveraging the advancements of the broader web.  One could say we are in the Golden age of the knowledge economy.Even still, we are standing still in many other places like travel, energy, and others.So, the question I have is – “has the model actually changed where you have multiple technological cycles occuring at the same time.”  And if  the answer is yes, or if it has always been that way, how do we pull the advancements from one into the opportunities of the others?Looking forward to the interview, will watch it on the stream.

  18. SubstrateUndertow

    Marshall McLuhanClayton ChristensenCarlota PerezAll focus on similar cyclical perspectives and metaphors-A sudden bursts of creative technological disruption-Followed by longer waves of social and economic disruption as we learn to extract all available utility-Step and repeat as old age utility-exhaustion sets in imposed by emerging new environmental demands- The first Industrial Revolution in Britain- The age of Steam and Railways- The age of Steel and Electricity- The age of Oil, the Automobile, and Mass Production- The age of Information and Telecommunications- The age of NETWORKING EVERYTHING in REALTIMEThe first five are all more or less linear electro-mechanical disruptors. But it seems to me that last one breaks the mould.The Age of NETWORKING EVERYTHING in REALTIMEcrosses a barbican-al threshold into a completely new territorial fabric.NETWORKING EVERYTHING in REALTIME generates self-referential acceleration to the very fabric of change itself. It drill down directly into the substrate accelerant that drives all social and technological change. Similar to the effect that would be generated if humans were to use genetic engineering to modify the biological fabric of the human brain._______________________________________SPOILER ALLERT – RANT STARTS HERE_______________________________________the meta-substrate of history is”the network organizing principle”… 3D webs of synchronicity …this is the organizing dynamic that is nowmorphing society into organic convergencethis is the meta-substrate undertow-gradientthis is the coalescing teleological black-holethis is the ultimate life-creating strange-attractorthis is the magic that animates the emergent singularityexperienced as biological consciousness cognition volition egothis is the essencethis is the ghost in our machine”out of chaos comes order”complexity is inherently self-selectingcomplexity is inherently self-organizationcomplexity animates the strange-attractor that drives the life-forcethe strange-attractor that breath life into an inanimate universethe strange-attractor that animates all living systemsthat strange-attractor rides in on the coattails of complexityand complexity’s magicrides in on the coattails of “the network organizing principle”… 3D webs of synchronicity …this is our Zeitgeistthis is the spirit of OUR timeswhere is our global organic-netwoking metaphorto lubricate our perceptual / conceptual paradigm shiftfromorganic-network-dynamics as hidden groundtoorganic-network-dynamics as foreground figurein our collective mind’s eyeto get us all on the same pagewith nature’s / god’s magic ingredientthe substrate – the network – the platformendlessly recombinant extensibilityfuelling up the warp drive”universe as nested novelty engine” “everything is onethe moon the stars the sun”network dynamics are the creative accelerantall the way up the reality stackthat accelerant’s tipping point is about to go supernova spilling over and subsuming all human cultureyou can’t make plastic or computer chipsworking with an alchemy based metaphortalking the language of – earth – wind – fire – waterhow are we to – drive – steer – brakethis emerging organic social network dynamictrapped inside a 20th century linear metaphor @ hull speedthis thing is quickly becoming a runaway freight trainwe need to jump the shark and put on the metaphoric brakeswe need to pull a linguistic strange loop and collaboratively forgea new self-referential global organic-metaphor / lexiconreframing – ourselves – our social structures – and our worldas ubiquitous instances of a universal network-organizating templatemastering and maintaining organic inertia-dampening safety valvesover vital social / political / economic networking functionsis an existential challengeto our democraciesmaybe even to our long term survivalwe are all at the Mad Hatter’s tea partyspinning our wheelsspeaking in tongueswe are hobbled by obsolete linguistic memesthat sabotage our collective ability to realistically frameour emerging organically-interdependent social-realitieswe need a new global organic-networking metaphora magic little lexiconcapable of injecting the very heart and soulof Organic Process Literacythat magic-Mojo at the core of all living systemsinto every day language and culturein shortwe need a new global metaphor / paradigmwe need wide spreadOrganic Process Literacyto serve as a collective roadmapinto the core fabric of ourselves and our social structuresviewed as generic instantiations of organic living-systems ________________________________On the road to better communityOrganic Process Literacyis just a memes to an enda new media ecologya modern, simplified, broadly accessible Organic Meta-Modelling for the Rest of Us MoronsORGANIC CLASS CONSCIOUSNESStrip the switchMEME US All UP SCOTTY !______________/END OF RANT______________

    1. fredwilson

      would you like to take that rant and turn it into a guest post on AVC? you don’t need great illustrations, but they are welcome

  19. Douglas Crets

    Let’s get Ms. Perez to convince her publisher to put that book on a Kindle. 

  20. Robert Thuston

    think different

  21. William Mougayar

    You 2 are well in sync, so the interview promises to be delightful, although more like an appetizer or barely foreplay, given the short time allotted. So, might be a good idea to lure her back here to appease the hungry AVC’ers that will want a piece de resistance.

  22. Wstapes

    I would be curious to hear whether Carlota thinks the cycles are getting shorter and whether the succession time between cycles is diminishing. Logic is that we’re forever standing on the shoulders of bigger giants (in a tech. sense).Especially against the background of recent (admittedly still questionable) results from CERN regarding speed of Nutrinos, and the impact that that could have on our understanding of physics and time;-))

  23. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Wonder what her thoughts are re: the direction in which Facebook is moving. Is it becoming the next AOL/MySpace…? Anecdotal/subjective at present but from what I see Facebook activity in my circle is declining significantly, of late. Is this a trend, I wonder?Also, Facebook’s attempts at a temporal web experience seem pretty crude – interesting topic, along with the future enabling of dialogues such as we have here (via Disqus) to become more three-dimensional/temporal – our interaction via our devices is still very ‘flat’ and one dimensional. Unsure if AR is one way to address this? Oh, whatever happened to AR?! ;-)Anyway, rambling.Trust GG had a great birthday with you – was Helen’s also. We plan to chill/celebrate it properly this weekend – the classroom wouldn’t let her out to play! 🙂

  24. testtest

    Q: is there greater value creation during the instillation of technology or greater amounts post bubble?and historically is there a pattern with company size; do the incumbents maintain leadership or is there fragmentation post bubble?   

    1. fredwilson

      greater value post bubble by a lot

      1. testtest


  25. Tom Labus

    Why the 08 crash (still going on) had no end of cycle event?  Why it’s so silent?

  26. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Isn’t the conclusion from her book that USV should head into retirement?As I understand it, her thesis is that first people build infrastructure, and then applications, and after that the consequences are social and non-market. So you had roads in the 30s (infrastructure), McDonald’s and malls and drive-throughs in the 50s (applications), and adolescent rebellion in the 60s. If we’re now firmly in the “applications” phase of the internet after the infrastructure phase of the 90s, doesn’t that mean we won’t be able to make money from the next phase? Either I’m misunderstanding her (and it’s probable) or that sounds like something you two should talk about up there.

    1. jonconnors

      As Fred put it in his video from TechCrunch Disrupt, there is potentially a way to make money on antiestablishment behavior.  If one could have invested in the Grateful Dead during that age, their returns would be substantial.  It is finding out what the new age of nonconformists seek.  My bet would be if you back the advancement of Open Source architecture you will a) spurn economic growth, and b) become very popular with today’s nonconformists (see Anonymous).  I have decided to ride a bicycle with the cause of reforming US software patent law (  thanks to Fred’s vision and Ms. Perez’s book…

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        Great, thanks.

  27. Wstapes

    Rather than pose all the inherent questions in an article by Peter Thiel (at here, I refer you to the article. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his viewpoints, plenty of input thought there for the interview.

  28. Alessandro

    Fred, that was very good.  Lots of food for thought.  Thanks for doing that!

    1. fredwilson

      I learned a ton preparing for it