Friday, December 26, 2008

Visions of the Future: Fred Wilson sees commerce, I see war

As a VC, Fred Wilson is focused on the entrepreneurial opportunity in the commercial part of the spectrum. His take on what sort of interregnum we're in is therefore essentially positive, because within the bounds of that arena, it's clear that this historic ongoing dislocation means that opportunity abounds:
This downturn will be marked in history as the time where many of the business models built in the industrial era finally collapsed as a result of being undermined by the information age. Its creative destruction at work. It's painful and many jobs will be lost permanently. But let's also remember that its inevitable and we can't fight it. Technology and information forces are unstoppable and they will reshape the world as we know it regardless of whether or not we want them to.

'Spectrum' is a good way of thinking about what is going on, and let's call the commercial aspects of the current interregnum and coming change the 'green' part of the rainbow, nicely positioned in the heart of ROYGBIV.

Over there on one edge of the spectrum of the future, I'm spending a lot of time worrying about Red, the color of Mars, god of war.

'Arena' is a word chosen carefully, because commerce is a game played within set rules. The larger struggle is how, and by whom, those rules are set; and that combat both has no rules, and is about to become much more intense. Frail Mercury may sit on the sidelines, or hide in the cellar, while fiercer fights take place.

Why do I feel so strongly that this is imminent? Unrealized to many of us in the west, the beneficial outcomes of the current 'game' of commerce have now been disproven in the eyes of many. Seeing the newly revealed artificial nature of progress and prosperity in the West, does anyone in Nigeria, or Pakistan, or Brazil, or Russia, Malaysia, truly believe that their ladder up through the stages of global capitalism actually has rungs?

If they stop believing that, they stop playing the game, and move on to more fundamental maneuvers. And one of the precepts of those maneuvers is that they must be responded to, which means that only one party's decision is required to set them in motion.

Caught between fundamentalism abroad, fundamentalism at home, and a more prosperous despised neighbor to the east, the current generation of Pakistani leaders no longer believe that they can even rise to the level of prosperity enjoyed by India. What is their next logical move? We're all about to see.

No comments: