People are angry at the Silicon Valley

The next time you are giving a presentation about innovative business models that shake things up in your industry, or are about to give the very popular and used-to-the-bone examples of how Airbnb and Uber disrupted their respective industries, consider this: these disruptors are not welcomed for more than the obvious reasons.

At least that’s what media theorist Douglas Rushkoff is proclaiming.

This is a man who has a history of making accurate predictions about digital futures. Ominously, this time he’s saying that Silicon Valley is headed for some tough social times. The kind of tough social times whereby people could be working 16 hours a day for peanuts and unemployment rates would be high.

Protestors aren’t slashing the tyres of Google buses, occupying Airbnb HQ and holding demonstrations worldwide against Uber, for nothing.

But why such a bleak vision of the future?

Rushkoff believes that basic economic theory by Adam Smith that there are three factors of production – land, labour and capital. But in this digital economy, only capital is valued. Only venture capitalists that that bet on companies, get returns, not land ie. the neighbourhoods where Airbnb operates in, and not labour ie. Uber drivers are folks who are simply trying to get by on a day-to-day basis.

He finds that big tech companies also work with intentionally unsustainable business models – Amazon doesn’t make much money off books but from other products, and Uber wants to create a monopoly so they can hop over to logistics or drone delivery, according to the media theorist.

Significantly, he observed that today’s start-ups aim for quick massive growth so they can get solid and give original investors a return on their capital. These are business practices that have sustained since the industrial age, but not for much longer.

“It doesn’t work well when we reach the limits of our planet, the limits of people’s time and attention. The ability of big companies to make money with their money, has been steadily declining for 75 years,” Rushkoff pointed out.

IT BYTES BACK! says: Is this one of those many other times we are ever too ready to embrace the Next Big Thing without ensuring checks and balances are in place?


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