Will more capital matter if individuals and groups don’t dream big? Our greatest pioneers are working on reusable rockets and same-day delivery services. Great stuff, but I want my warp drive and teleporter.
VC seems great at sending out lots of feelers–wild catting, so to speak. I’m worried they lack the patience and power to make kinds of big gets that overcome the lock-in and sunk costs that keep “developed” economies stuck on trajectories set by their earlier investments in infrastructure and interlocking business models. It really pains me when innovation has to go to “developing” economies because they don’t have the established interests that hold back innovation. It’s great for them, but I wish we’d start seeing the OECD economies as “developing” with respect to what they could be!
Maybe there’s a first mover disadvantage: somebody has to invest quite a bit of time and money into a project. If the result is a general purpose technology (GPT) like continuous casting or IT, they may not have the ability to exclusively monetize it. Or maybe fast followers can knock off the principle without running into IP.
Anybody thanked Ransom Olds for the assembly line or Xerox for the mouse lately? Could Apple have built the GPS system? Maybe Bell Labs could have.
I read recently that innovative periods usually had less patent activity (!), with firms rushing to file only after things had settled down a bit and it was time to get trolling.
If it pays to wait, who’s going to go first? So far it looks like sovereign wealth funds and tech billionaire eccentrics. And G-d bless them!
Big Scary Threats seem to have contributed to a few great MCIs– signals intelligence and missile technology to mitigate the Soviet threat in the early tech ecosystem and nuclear war for ARPAnet. I think we need that pressure–or something similar like a burning unmet need–to shake us up and get innovation moving away from safer, efficiency focused goals.