The End Of The Level Playing Field

I am old enough to remember the gogo days of cable TV when entrepreneurs who wanted to launch a new cable channel would go, hat in hand and cap table in tow, to the big cable companies and beg to get distribution on their networks. 

When the Internet came along in the early 90s, we saw something completely different. Here was a level playing field where anyone could launch a business without permission from anyone. 

We had a great run over the last 25 years but I fear it’s coming to an end, brought on by the growing consolidation of market power in the big consumer facing tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc, by the constricted distribution mechanisms on mobile devices, and by new leadership at the FCC that is going to tear down the notion that mobile carriers can’t play the same game cable companies played.

Here is a quote from the incoming FCC Chair:

“Today, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau is closing its investigation into wireless carriers’ free-data offerings,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “These free-data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income Americans, and have enhanced competition in the wireless marketplace. Going forward, the Federal Communications Commission will not focus on denying Americans free data. Instead, we will concentrate on expanding broadband deployment and encouraging innovative service offerings.”

It is certainly true that consumers, particularly low-income consumers, like getting free or subsidized data plans. There is no doubt about that. But when the subsidies are coming from the big tech companies, who can easily pay them, to buy competitive advantage over that nimble startup that is scaring them, well we know how that movie ends.

It is sad to see this era ending. It was a lot of fun and quite profitable too. I am hopeful that some new competitive vector, like the Internet, will come along and make all of this moot and we are spending a lot of our time looking for it. Because backing startups on a field tilted in the favor of the incumbents is not fun and not particularly profitable either.

#genetics#mobile#policy#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Zamansky

    Is this to say that you really feel that the battle is lost or just that times look bleak?In my area – education, things look pretty dark but part of me thinks that the likely changes coming from the federal level may actually get us far enough down the hole that America wakes up and we can start to climb out and improve.Could that also be the case here?

    1. fredwilson

      I think it’s bleak on net neutrality and more or less over on the other two issues. We need the next big disruptive technology to show up. It will come if we are patient

      1. Peter Radizeski

        I agree that NN looks bleak. And as most viewing is moving to mobile, the 4 cellcos get to be cable monopolies for a while. Yet, the cable TV distribution business plan is breaking – ask NBCU who closed Oxygen and Esquire channels or Disney with ESPN.Cellular is looking like cable more and more. “5G is the answer!” We heard that with 3g and 4g btw. ARPU has not increased enough for them to recoup the cost to build out 5G. I don’t see how the ROI on 5G works out unless the cellcos get paid to carry content and the consumers pay more per month. Can Sprint and T-Mobile hold on long enough to be profitable at the current price plans? Unlikely.Also, some of the drive for cellular came from devices. Is that the case any longer? Ask Samsung or MOTO or Blackberry or LG or HTC. All ho hum without much improvement to make people pay $695 out of pocket since phones are subsidized anymore.Google Fiber was never in it to win it. Alphabet found out (like Covad before them) that playing in the telco space is HARD. Harder than Google wanted to play, but they did force the Duopoly to build out some Gigabit. We should have FTTH to 80% of the homes in the US by now with the billions spent. However, Verizon spent $24B on FiOS, missed its target of 50% penetration in 5 years, and said no more. Now cable owns the broadband plant in America in most areas. With Caps. There may not be another Hulu or Netflix (Verizon’s video try failed). DirecTV streams but only if you want to be on the Ma Bell network, right? Who would pay VZW to stream DTV? It will come down to AOL-Prodigy-Compuserve all over again, until someone breaks down the wall. So 4 years of no NN and a bunch of gnarly stupidity. Oh you want to watch THAT show? You can only watch it on THAT network on THAT plan. The economics may not work for that.

      2. Mike Cautillo

        Do you think that the emergence of a decentralized web can propel us forward, especially with the emergence of tech./concepts as I believe so!

  2. Crocodile Bungee

    Crocodile’s Law: everything new ends up being carved up by three, four or five early encumbents who try to deny access to anbody else. Cars, chocolate bars, oil, banks, movies. And now data.

    1. William Mougayar

      True, but sad.

  3. James Chiang

    Yup, perhaps Mozilla’s setbacks and failure to push its open products beyond the browser and more recent layoffs are also reflective of the exact same trend towards incumbents which is the opposite of an open, equally accessible web for everyone …

  4. William Mougayar

    That’s one issue Canada has in common with the US. These monopolies are vexing and an irony we have to contend with. “ISPs can’t play the same game cable companies played.” is a key statement, but sadly, the telco’s turned-ISPs have that game wrapped up their sleeves.Case in point is IPTV where Bell Canada is sending cease and desist letters to the new emerging companies that want to sell IPTV to consumers that want it. Bell is blocking it because it takes business away from their satellite TV business.So-called competition is a joke, as the 3 main Canadian carriers agree on the same pricing (not a coincidence), while they each install their own cell towers, in essence triplicating the infrastructure, and making their overall services very expensive. And the government watches and does nothing. We, as consumers end-up paying the price and keeping the telco’s in business. It’s a shame.

    1. Girish Mehta

      What does a typical 4G LTE plan cost consumers in Canada ?

      1. William Mougayar

        $85 for 6GB per month & $15/GB extra. Highway robbery rates.

          1. William Mougayar

            I rest my case.

          2. leigh

            We pay the highest wireless fees in the world … #NoCompetition

          3. ZePreem

            Well, when you vote for the socialists and liberal/progressive agenda with that perty boy, you get higher wages and equality for all. Unfortunately, in the end, it’s the consumers who have to pay for the welfare state. 🙂

          4. Richard Carlow

            So this all happened post Harper. I was not aware of that.

          5. leigh

            Oh that has nothing to do with it. We had the Conservatives in for 8 years. One thing all our governments can agree on – Canadian’s paying the highest wireless fees in the world …

          6. tr00don

            Sure but you should compare apples to apples. Pricing is based on a number of factors, including market. Have a look at Apple and Microsoft prices in North America vs. European Union, for example.

        1. creative group

          William Mougayar:Why not just get a unlocked phone and use unlimited data plan with 10GB from several US companies? Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk on T-Mobile network, Sprint unlimited, etc.,Not understanding mobile users self-inflicted plans they complain about.

          1. William Mougayar

            There is no difference in prices between locked and unlocked. I have an unlocked phone. It’s a rip off.

          2. Steve_Dodd

            Hey William, I find it laughable (sad) that in many cases users from other countries can roam in Canada for less than we actually pay for domestic services.

          3. William Mougayar

            Exactly. I’m going to look at the US plans to see if I can beat this stupid system we have.

          4. Steve_Dodd

            Tried it….need to have a SS# to get them unless you use a PAYG and they don’t offer global roaming 🙁

          5. William Mougayar

            I have a US SS# 🙂 . What’s PAYG?

          6. Steve_Dodd

            Pay As You Go….take a look at T-Mobile. They have the best global roaming service of anyone. The only issue may be fair use restrictions if too much usage is coming from outside the US.

          7. creative group

            Steve Dodd:USA wireless providersT-Mobile, Straight Talk Mobile, Cricket, (And two more we are forgetting) offer prepaid unlimited data (5GB or 10GB, then throttled to 2GB) which offers service to Canada and Mexico without requesting a SSN or SSI which Canada uses.

          8. leigh

            i’m in!

          9. creative group

            William Mougayar:Depends on selling source. Amazon has satisfied our tech needs on mobile. The unlocked phone allows you to shop any GSM wireless provider without contract and unlimited service.

          10. William Mougayar

            I will look into the US plans. Thx

          11. leigh

            if you find one let me know…

          12. William Mougayar

            I think we’re better off fighting to change the current system. I believe the CRTC currently has online hearings, but even that is complicated to navigate:

          13. William Mougayar


        2. jason wright

          I’m on a monthly rolling contract paying GBP 22 for 12 GB. If I were to sign up to a 12 month contract I could pay GBP 15 for 30 GB. I like the flexibility of a roller, and I don’t need 30 GB. North America sounds like a complete rip off.Basically I’m paying GBP 7 a month for a contract cancellation option.N.B. my contract allows me to use the data in 42 countries outside the UK for 60 days in a calendar year at zero additional cost. Canada, the US, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, NZ, and more are included.

          1. William Mougayar

            Under my plan, it’s $5/ day extra for roaming in the US & $10/day for roaming in Europe.

          2. WA

            Just grabbed a similar new att plan yesterday for Europe that allows for my plan here in the US to stay in tact for a $10 a day charge extra to my bill. I just had to Identify the countries I would be in when signing up online. Seems ATT lagged VZ on that one – but so nice to say goodbye to $800-1000 + 2 week bills when getting home

          3. jason wright

            $10…*a day*(!)… in Europe? that’s not globalisation.

          4. WA

            If that’s all it is given my history with what ATT says and what it does – it’s beyond globalization- it’s a miracle from the multi-verse. But I hear ya. 🙂

          5. Girish Mehta

            Seen this news today ? Starting 2019, you might need to pay roaming charges traveling in the EU….Brexit…

        3. Herring

          Funny, I actually had the thought of checking out whether buying a Canadian plan that offers US roaming could be cheaper (my carrier uses SIM card phones so I can swap out). Some things are cheaper up there but apparently not wireless service.

    2. tr00don

      The reason is, all pension funds, investment funds etc. in Canada depend on stocks of companies like Rogers, Bell, etc. Those stocks must to go up and up and up every year to beat the inflation. The best way to achieve this goal is by turning a blind eye when these companies charge consumers more for less.

      1. William Mougayar

        The system is rigged, and we shouldn’t accept this.

    3. quax

      It will probably take something like aerostat based WAN, bringing cheaper mobile Internet to rural Canadians, before this will ever change. I always expected this to be picked up in our vast country. Among many other things, it would facilitate to bring fast Internet to underserved 1st Nation reserves, which I would think should pretty much smother any political opposition. Then again, as soon as any such business was to become profitable one of the big telcos will certainly try to buy it out.

      1. William Mougayar

        Is that like WiMax / Fixed wireless? If so, it’s been discontinued.

        1. quax

          There’s not much of a practical limit in terms of what protocol to use i.e. even a fairly small balloon has plenty enough carrying capacity:http://www.satellitetoday.c

  5. JimHirshfield

    It’s cyclical. Every couple of years it feels like the cards are stacked against innovation or that every good idea has already been thought of. But then that’s proven wrong. Power on!

    1. foljs

      Things can be cyclical, but nothing is “inevitably” cyclical in human societies, especially ones with technology and resources to shape their environment. So no need to accept cycles as fate.Besides, if the cycles are several decades long, that they’ll come to an end is hardly any consolation for those living under the bad cycle (e.g. of corporate dominance stiffling the market).

      1. JimHirshfield

        Understood. Good point

  6. Robert Heiblim

    Thank you Fred. I listened to Pai, who is a thoughtful and insightful person that I disagreed with. Net Neutrality has in part driven a huge amount of value and innovation as you write. Unfortunately, I think like many others he has too much faith in the open market when the balance of power has tilted too far, also as you put it. This will be a big change and we will see how this develops, but it affects many many markets and offerings. I am confident in the creativity available but it may have to be applied in new areas now.

  7. Steven Rosenbaum

    Fred – this is the kind of thinking we really need now. The role of the FCC is lost on most consumers (and frankly industry people as well) and so it’s easy to get lost in the new FCC Chairman’s orwellian newspeak. But ‘free data’ isn’t free, it’s subsidized. paid for. And that means we’re entering an era where the winners in the ‘free internet’ will be the ones who pay the largest fees. These are battles worth fighting –

  8. Mike

    A good example of Obama’s staff big footing the FCC staff with enhanced Title II utility requirement. Nothing kills investment like being a regulated utility. Remember when Google Fiber was going to provide viable broadband competition. How did that do? What we need are strong incentives to speed the mass deployment of 5G.

  9. LE

    “These free-data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income Americans”So they can watch HD videos and get entertained? Talk more over the cellphone? Why not free plasma tv’s and tickets to NFL games? Free cigarettes and booze? Why is it we are always moving away from people trying to better themselves and strive for (if they think this is a better life, unlimited data?) the things that others in a more fortunate economic situation have.But when the subsidies are coming from the big tech companiesThis is often the way this rolls. Happened with lotteries (in a state that I lived in) justified and allowed because it ‘benefited older americans’. It’s just another tax on those who can least afford it …poor americans.

  10. LE

    Because backing startups on a field tilted in the favor of the incumbents is not fun and not particularly profitable either.From what you are saying, I somehow feel that the small size of USV, which worked in the past, is a perhaps disadvantage now. Larger firms can evaluate more deals and make more bets and there is a great chance of one of those bets paying off. [1] That was always the case. But for some reason at the current level of maturity, and what you are saying in this post, it seems to be even more so. Perhaps some alliance of smaller firms banding together (as legally allowed) so as not to duplicate efforts and share resources and mimic the larger firms. Not a merger (like law and accounting firms do) but then again getting over personal reasons why not mergers? Or even something similar to what BDO does in accounting. [2][1] Let’s face it nobody knows and can predict that something like Snapchat is going to IPO so stop trying.[2]… Today, BDO USA, LLP has more than 60 offices and more than 400 independent Alliance firm locations nationwide. During this timeframe, BDO International was created and has grown to become the fifth largest accounting and consulting network in the world with over 1,400 Member Firm offices in 135 countries.

  11. Elia Freedman

    I prefer level playing fields for businesses as well but let me provide an alternative potential view of the future given these changes.We have three things we have been attempting to balance: more capacity, more access, and non discriminatory data. Net neutrality favors the third over the first two but now that isn’t the case.What plays out now? I’m guessing that large companies paying for data means more money for ISPs to fund capacity. Increased capacity means access for more customers until ISPs overreach and build too much capacity, at which point we get lower prices. We also get lower prices indirectly because we are getting some data for free.If Netflix is paying for their data, that leaves capacity available for a startup to build under the “paid” bandwidth, hopefully until they get big enough to buy in as well.This also makes for a competitive vector that smart ISPs can compete with. Comcast has limits here in Portland. Frontier (FiOS) does not. I stay with Frontier in part because of this.I find it highly unlikely that an ISP will say yes or no to every web site around unless paid in. Is it possible? Sure. But sheer volume of sites will make this a nightmare administrative problem. In addition we might not have a lot of choice in most communities when it comes to desktop broadband, but there are four competing providers for our wireless broadband and it is awfully easy to switch between them.I think these things always have unintended consequences. Call me optimistic or naive. That’s fine. Frankly that’s all I have right now.

    1. Paul Robert Cary

      I applaud your optimism!Will more profits for ISPs really lead to the funding of capacity? When we’re this close to cartel behavior, I just don’t see additional profits being put towards an improvement in value for the consumer.

      1. Salt Shaker

        The entertainment industry is expanding w/ new content providers (e.g., Amazon, AT&T), while all, including legacy providers, continue to migrate to OTT distribution. Expanded capacity is a necessity, resulting in increased value to the consumer, but unquestionably not at the expense of corp margins. There def will be an enhanced value prop, but the Q is at what cost? The big 3 telcos (ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile) seem to be approaching growth from different perspectives, but abandonment of net neutrality could easily lead to a re-set for each, including more aggressive cap expenditures on build outs.

    2. obarthelemy

      I’m not sure lack of profit/revenuie is the issue with US carriers: http://www.huffingtonpost.c…Lack of competition is.

  12. Richard

    But ….Scarcity has proven to be one of the great selling points of all time and has the amazing side effect of premium pricing.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      The new base line “SCARCITY” is global lack of consumer “PURCHASING-POWER”.That is not about premium pricing it is about unsustainable concentration of wealth.Living-systems and their social/economic organizational analogies are sustainable only by distributively dynamic homeostasis. Concentration/Scarcity are anti-thematic to stable living-systems. That is where the social/economic puck is going so . . !

  13. Tom Labus

    Trump Admin tagline: “Preparing for the past!!!” Good luck with that one.

  14. Pete Griffiths

    Fred makes a very good point.When a platform dominates and can price discriminate is makes it extremely difficult for new entrants.Such a platform may be communications but it may be higher up the stack. Facebook is a de facto social bus. Messaging/chat may subvert that to a degree but just as the build out cost of communications infrastructure limits the players so does consumer attention limit social entrants. It works the same way all the way up the stack. Restricted access or privileged access to a platform limits innovation. It has always been this way at all levels of the stack.

  15. leigh

    Yep – my hubbie and i were talking about the related subject – promise of democratization of media. In the end, it’s become a tool for domination and control. The system can and is being gamed.

    1. WA

      There appears to always be the time that the “Master Switch” is eventually thrown on.

      1. David Gillespie

        It bears repeating – Tim Wu’s The Master Switch is the definitive work on this, dating back to the early days of AM radio. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand this better.

  16. Brett Glass

    You’ve got it backwards. The so-called “net neutrality” regulations, as well as the attempted banning of zero-rating, were both done at the behest of Google, because they HARM competition. Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc. have their own nationwide fiber networks (and/or have muscled ISPs into giving them free hosting for servers — something that ought to be charged for) and do not NEED to pay for priority to deliver snappy service to end users; startups, which don’t have those networks, need the ability to rent the equivalent. The point of the regulations was to prevent them from doing so. Likewise, “zero-rating” — which doesn’t cost a startup very much because it doesn’t have that many customers yet — is a great way to attract new users. Google doesn’t want new companies to be able to do that, and so wanted it banned. Pai is getting rid of the anticompetitive regulations, which were written by a Google lobbyist “embedded” in Chairman Tom Wheeler’s office, and restoring competition. Consumers will benefit greatly under his Chairmanship.

    1. Matt Morgan

      That would be a better argument if there were any actual competition in the market–any way for startups to open a door. There is literally one internet provider serving my entire neighborhood, which is lots bigger than the average town in the US. Our only hope is municipal internet (which this FCC is not going to be hot on, are they?).

    2. Gregory Magarshak

      There is no real competition either way. On the one hand you have corporations like Time Warner, and on the other you have cities and municipal fiber. Corporations are suing cities in state courts to prevent them from competing with them. Look at NYC’s emerging broadband… it blows away whatever last mile the corporations laid down.Wasn’t wired telecom the canonical example of a natural monopoly? Looks like that is still the case.Both corporations and cities are products of “government” so I think libertarians would be hard pressed to find a favorite here.

  17. pointsnfigures

    Regulating the internet based on 1930’s legislation is wrong too. Let’s hope they regulate in the spirit of competition and opening up more spectrum

    1. Lawrence Brass

      It is interesting how mobile made spectrum so relevant again. 1930 legislation is analog, we need digital.

  18. Mike

    Can this be attributed to Aggregation Theory? [0] This highlights the growing market power from those who aggregate services for consumers.[0]

  19. Shams Consultant

    We have three things we have been attempting to balance: more capacity, more access, and non discriminatory data. Net neutrality favors the third over the first two but now that isn’t the case. business setup in dubai

  20. Gregory Magarshak

    I think that by the time you have a cartel of huge players owning the whole space, all the regulation is just tinkering around the edges.Whether it’s Title I vs Title II debate, or India vs offered by facebook, once it gets to that point, the main way forward is disruption. Decentralization.We need platforms that decentralize all the things, and give power to the people. The Web did that in the first place. Early internet protocols are all great role models for this. Email instead of Facebook. IRC instead of Slack. And so on. The new generation of this is bitcoin, IPFS, git etc.WhT needs to be decentralized is: identity, social connections, wireless signals, power generation. Like bitcoin, the technological breakthrough comes first. Then comes the social disruption and eventual acceptance by governments. Today’s gatekeepers can’t stop decentralization. They can only retard its progress through lawsuits over eg intellectual property and licensing of eg EM spectrum. To combat this we might need to finance copyleft / patentleft and buy up some portions of the EM spectrum for common experimentation.

    1. jason wright


  21. Asim Aslam

    A decentralised network with global coordination led to the creation of some of the most powerful centralised services and companies of our time. Those services and others being built by those companies will become the foundations of the next phase. They essentially start to look like a commodity, a utility, and we leverage them for the next paradigm shift.Alternatively IoT and peer to peer networks become a thing as consumers demand more control over their data and we attempt to move intelligence to the edge of the network.

  22. WA

    The last two sentences of Chapter 4, from the executive branch’s top tech advisor’s play book Zero to One and I quote “If you can recognize competition as a destructive force instead of a sign of value, you’re already more sane than most. The next chapter is about how to use a clear head to build a monopoly business.”Apparently we are in their next chapter.

  23. Crocodile Bungee

    The point is: when does risk-taking innovation become wealth-creating infrastructure? Is the market best at managing this change for the greater good while ensuring that future risks are still taken, and new innovations brought forward? The truth is – there ain’t no risk any more in comms. This is profiteering by complexity and obfuscation. The same game is true in energy retailing and insurance, to name but two.But anti-competitive behaviour by oligopolies, whilst ubiquitous, is illegal in almost all the jurisdictions we care about.This side of the water this last week, the various mnajor confectionary companies announced ideas to reduce the size – but I bet not the price – of choc bars by 20%. Because the government says that eating choclate bars makes our children fat. So the government just recommended, and the chocolate cartel just co-ordinated, a 20% hike in the price of chocolate bars. Now, that happening in a mature market like chocolate is a rare source of booty. The stupidity of it all beggars belief.

  24. jason wright

    when i look at modular handset designs (like the Moto Z) i wonder if a decentralised data communications network built on modular units could be created to cut out the cellular operators?

    1. Michael Elling

      Sure, if you implement a settlement system that rewards the end-points. But distributed systems never work. In all networks value ultimately gravitates to the core and top, while costs are somewhat uniformly born at the bottom and edge. Compound that with marginal differences in demand and there’s really a need for algorithms that drive settlement systems that foster broader and sustainable network effects in the face of extreme demand diversity and continuous supply obsolescence. Solve for that and you destroy the silos at the core and edge.

  25. Steve_Dodd

    Glad to hear you are continuing to look, Fred! It’s out there. You “found” and leveraged the internet to disrupt old models which has now created the new “big & bad” that you (we) want (need) to disrupt again. Can’t wait to see what you find. I recall the last major company breakup ordered by the FCC was AT&T. I’m expecting at some point in the near future, the next will be Google and/or Facebook driven by either privacy, market dominance or taxation issues. Then, it starts all over again. In the meantime, your expertise has always been to anticipate the timing of these recurring cycles and find those “ideas” ready to capitalize on it when it happens.What is going to be most interesting to me will be to see how many of those who did capitalize on this latest disruption (the internet) actually were really smart, or just lucky. The smart ones (who actually started it) will do it again, the lucky ones (those who capitalized on the ride) will disappear and a new batch of “lucky ones” will emerge.We all need to stop complaining about the “monster” we actually helped create and think about ways to break it so it will actually continue to innovate and grow. This has been the cycle of the economy since it began. No government will do this for us.We’ve not seen a major disruptive technology since the internet. Break it like Tesla and Westinghouse “broke” how electricity was distributed (…. That fundamental shift spawned the rapid expansion of the Industrial Revolution and subsequently, the Digital Revolution. The internet (and as a result all of those who’ve capitalized on it) and even the fundamental of power distribution is due for this kind of change. I wonder what would happen if energy was available without wires.Again Fred, glad you are still looking……can’t wait to see what you come up with. You have certainly proven to be one of the “smart” ones.

  26. geo

    True. Google has been using its monopoly position for a while now to crush small competitors from the mapping/local business field to user generated content.

  27. PhilipSugar

    I had to read the background of the FCC Commissioner to understand this, because I couldn’t understand the angst from the quote.Former Verizon attorney? Against net neutrality? Now I understand.There has to be regulation that when you get to a certain size you have to be neutral.Just has to be. It used to be they broke you up like AT&T or Standard Oil. Now they allow Exxon and Mobil to merge. I remember when Sunoco’s bid for Conoco was blocked by the Reagan administration.This should be a populist issue.I have been the one saying no you shouldn’t ban Trump or Breitbart from Twitter.I have also said it sucks when the ass kicking boot is on the other foot. I’m sure he would like neutrality there.You are right we have seen this play before. Somehow Apple opened up the carrier systems. Without that we’d still be paying tithes to Verizon for every thing we wanted to run on our phones.

    1. Michael Elling

      “Somehow Apple opened up the carrier systems” There’s a long history in that “somehow”, but irrespective of how it happened, Jobs single handedly resurrected equal access in 2007. After Bill McGowan started this entire digital revolution in 1984 the Republican FCC finally managed to kill off equal access by 2005. It all comes back to larger network effects (and necessary settlements) that everyone is missing. The ignorance will come back to bite us in the form of winner-takes-all AI.

  28. Mike Kijewski

    This might be Fred’s most depressing post ever!I hope it’s not as dire as Fred appears to feel it is.

  29. Paul Azous

    Yea, all funds must be inflation otherwise they dont do much over time.Paul Azous

  30. KOinSF

    I live in SF and have slower internet than I did traveling to some third world nations! 5Mps is pitiful

  31. SubstrateUndertow

    Oh and Apple would never be able to take on the Microsoft monopoly lock ?Granted the old traditional top down power-money-pyramid plays are reasserting themselves atop cyberspace’s revolutionary new organizational platform possibilities.But as McLuhan would frame it:This is the typical early stage of a new medium where the content of the new medium is the old medium.i.e. Top down centralized control structures delivering the obvious, all be it network-amplified, old content geometries. These rejigged, network-amplified, old content geometries are presently just scratch the iceberg on the distributively reorganizational social/economic network-effect synchronicities that will intrinsically well up from the under lying causal necessities inherent within the substrate of this ubiquitous new organic-living-system medium.Organic organizational-imagination clever enough to metaphorically operationalize distributive social/economic bottom up analogues that mimic low level organismic metabolic singling will inevitably organically leapfrog all these old top down organizational habits.Most of that low level reorganizational organismic social/economic analogue singling will seminally pivot more on imaginative insights at the “Intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts” than on the economics of high bandwidth financial lockdown.So as metaphoric/linguistic organic-process-literacy memes starts to osmotically sink deep into our the collective cultural substrate I thing Fred will soon see a lot of blue sky investment opportunities.

  32. SubstrateUndertow

    I beg to differ :-)The new competitive vector is “IMAGINATION”.The imagination required to recognize and apply organic metaphors for inventive execution of new network-effects organizational structures. Structures that fully utilize the core organizational “Organic Mimicry” possibles totally unique to our new ubiquitous network medium.My “organic” salesmen rants, I will grant you, are streams of consciousness rants and as such have a lot of rough edges and are often prone to complete failure. If the reader makes some curious collaborative effort(or not) to unpack them into their own language and framing some triangulated perspective value may surface?There are the 19 core informational/material processes that are both repeatable and mandator to sustain any living adaptive system(complex dynamic system).All sustainable social/enomomic system are, at an appropriate level of granularity, simply instantiations of just such repeatable living-adaptive-system reusables. These 19 core informational/material processes form a set of platform building blocks analogue to the “atomic table” but enable the building of much more complex, dynamic, living, adaptive systems.IMHO there is your new competitive vector !The “ORGANIC IMAGINATION” required to apply living systems thinking to build out social/economic dynamics that mimic organismic living systems.OR more dryly The imagination required to apply massively dynamic, data-driven, relationally linked, ratio-adjusted, metrics feedback to social/economic organizational orchestration.( Living System Theory – James G. Miller 1978)We have not yet reach the end of history regarding newly inventive social/economic organizational metaphors/memes that distill the internet’s inherent organic organizational mojo 🙂