Sunday, January 12, 2014

First-Mover Advantage

Being in the South Bay, it is hard not to notice the advantage to being a first-mover. It hovers in the air. I feel it on my back and it meanders into my thoughts constantly. The internet companies whose tree-lined campuses fill Silicon Valley where first-movers, Ebay, Amazon, Google. They found the low lying fruit of a new industry and snatched it right up. Not that this is necessarily easy. I'm sure that they faced a whole swath of difficulties such as their ideas were too novel, too high risk if the internet did not take off, and a heightened resistance from the established industries and investors. Still, I'm a little jealous. Being a tech entrepreneur today is quite a bit harder, most of the low-lying fruit is gone and the risk is still high. It makes me wonder what are the key new industries today? How does one find them?

Do only some generations get the watershed moments in technology? Every generation should crave a watershed moment. It is an awesome opportunity to affect the technology itself and society. Think of the model T, airplanes and television. Technology has a trajectory determined by those at the forefront and a cultural stamp of the people of that generation. What if different technologies were developed at different points in history, how would it have changed the technology itself? If the internet was developed in the 1950s, how different would it be, would the greatest generation have developed very different types of services or websites? Would internet porn have been banned? Would it not be as popular?

When looking back on history, it is easy to find those watershed moments, but how does one find them in today's world? Is it merely luck, passion or the correct alignment of the stars that leads you to those key places. How do you feel if you are part of those watersheds? It seems like historically one would never know if they were part of a key breakthrough in science, art or society, but today society seems to accept change at a faster pace. Those at the forefront seem to know it and embrace it. Are you at the forefront of some type of watershed technological or societal change? Describe.


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