A few weeks ago I had the privilege to deliver the closing keynote at GroupM’s What’s Next Illuminate conference in New York City. I gave a short introduction to exponential thinking (the stuff we teach at Singularity University) and then walked the audience through a whole bunch of examples (focussed on media).
Today I had the great honor and pleasure to teach a class on Building (Online) Communities at Electronic Arts’ internal leadership development program. For my presentation I took a trip down memory lane and pulled out the key insights and learnings from my time at Mozilla.
Here’s the deck:
Yesterday I gave a talk at Singularity University’s Executive Program on Open Source Disruption - it’s (somewhat) new content I developed; here’s the abstract of my talk:
The Open Source movement has upended the software world: Democratizing access, bringing billion dollar industries to their knees, toppling giants and simultaneously creating vast opportunities for the brave and unconventional. After decades in the making, the Open Source ideology, being kindled by ever cheaper and better technologies, is spreading like wildfire - and has the potential to disrupt many industries.
More than 20 years ago I first experienced virtual reality in one of those large-scale 3D rigs which was traveling the country, setting up shop in the local multiplex cinema and charging you a small fortune to step into a 4-by-4 foot contraption, strap on a pair of 3D goggles, grab a plastic gun and hunt down some aliens in an immersive 3D environment.
It’s funny - as unimpressive as the graphics were, as much as the delay between movement and visual update was puke inducing – I still have vivid memories of the game and the incredible experience of literally stepping into a new world.
Shahin Farshchi wrote a piece for IEEE Spectrum, the flagship magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, on “Five Myths and Facts About Robotics Technology Today”.
In the article he states:
“Robots are intended to eliminate jobs: MYTH – Almost every major manufacturing and logistics company I’ve spoken to looks to robotics as a means to improve the efficiency of its operations and the quality of life of its existing workers. So human workers continue to be a key part of the business when it comes to robotics. In fact, workers should view robots as how skilled craftsmen view their precision tools: enhancing output while creating greater job satisfaction. Tesla Motors is just one example of using robots [pictured above] to do all the limb-threatening and back-breaking tasks while workers oversee their operation and ensure the quality of their output. At Tesla’s assembly lines, robots glue, rivet, and weld parts together, under the watchful eye of humans. These workers can pride themselves with being part of a new era in manufacturing where robots help to reinvent and reinvigorate existing industries like the automotive sector.”
Building trophies in my soul…
My plan for 2014 was to take some time off and focus on the things I love doing most - which is the magic which happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship, technology and impact.
I founded/co-founded two non-profits: POWERUP and The Coaching Fellowship. I did a ton of public speaking and mentored a whole bunch of entrepreneurs. I spent a week in Boulder, CO, working with the incredible Unreasonable Institute. I worked with a couple of very large companies on their innovation strategy. I became an executive coach working with some of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met.
And then everything changed.
This morning I had the great pleasure and honor to hold the closing keynote at the Symposium Oeconomicum in Münster, Germany.
The theme of the day was “the leap into the unknown”. The organizers asked me to wrap up the day with an inspiring message. And what better way to send off 600 students, than to talk about happiness?
Here’s the video:
We are living in incredible times. Incredibly scary and incredibly exciting: On one hand we face issues such as three billion people living in poverty, 2.5 billion people without access to sanitation and 800 million people who don’t have access to clean drinking water. On the other hand we experience innovation happening at an ever increasing pace, allowing us to touch more people in less time. There are now seven billion mobile phone connections on a planet with 7.1 billion people; we grow human tissue in a petri dish; we program DNA and 3D print complete houses out of concrete in less than 24 hours.
The American psychologist Abraham Maslow (who created the famous “hierarchy of needs”) once said: “Everyone I know who is happy is working well at something they consider important.”
A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at the World Business Dialogue in Cologne, Germany on “Tech for Good”.
As part of my speech I prepared speaking notes for the deck I was using. Below you’ll find the raw notes – this is the completely unedited version I wrote to prepare myself for the speech a day before the event itself.
I figured it might be fun to get a peek into the ugly underbelly of making a public speech.
This is one of the most inspired moments in the history of athletics: Roger Bannister crossing the finish line on 6 May 1954 during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, United Kingdom, where he became the first human to run the mile in less than four minutes. An extraordinary achievement which was, at the time, considered impossible. Seeing the picture of Roger crossing the line gives me goose bumps. Each and every time. This picture evokes so many emotions in me - in a lot of ways it’s the perfect capture of the perfect moment.
Earlier this month I was asked to present my thoughts and observations on “Technology Trends” in front of a group of Dutch business leaders. A lot of my thinking these days circles around the notion of “exponential growth” and the disruptive forces which come with this (full credit goes to Singularity University for putting these ideas into my head) and the notion of “ambient/ubiquitous computing” (full credit to my former colleague and friend Allen Wirfs-Brock).
A lot has been written about Mozilla in these last few weeks. Some of it is thoughtful, thought-provoking, heartfelt, helpful and necessary. Some of it is politically charged and sometimes factually plain wrong.
I have a hard time reconsolidating all that has been done, happened, said or not said over the last two weeks. I spent more time at Mozilla than at any other organization; I met some of the most brilliant people there; some of my best friends are or were there. I had the great fortune to spend my last year at Mozilla working directly with Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s co-founder and chairperson.
A few weeks ago I attended the World Business Dialogue 2014 in Cologne, Germany where the organizers asked me to write an essay about how I see the world in 20 years from now for a book they published. Here it is.
The last 20 years in technology have been dominated by Moore’s Law: Intel’s cofounder Gordon E. Moore predicted in 1965 that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. In essence: Computers get twice as fast every two years.
According to Seed-DB, the excellent source of data for technology incubators and accelerators, the 191 programs they track worldwide have accelerated 3,284 companies (that’s 17 companies per incubator/accelerator). These companies received an impressive total of $3,883,835,645 in funding (about $1.1m of funding per company on average) and created 13,076 jobs in the process (which comes down to four (!) jobs per company).
This is precisely why incubators are broken (from a societal perspective) - We simply need more jobs. The World Development Report 2013 published by the World Bank, states that we need to create 600 million new jobs in the next 15 years to sustain current employment rates. 13,076 jobs, created at a cost of nearly $300,000 per job just doesn’t cut it.
I strongly believe that we need an entrepreneurship revolution to solve the large societal problems we face. And I see a lot of people talking about incubators and accelerators as a fundamental piece to this puzzle. And yet - current thinking clearly doesn’t get us there. 13,076 jobs are not even a drop into the ocean.