November 03, 2014

It is, by now, a familiar narrative: technology has opened up paths for the little Davids of the world to take down the Goliaths.

As Roger McNamee pointed out recently, there are far more startups today than there used to be.

We've had a social revolution where young people — in a tough job market — are just starting companies. There may be 100 times as many startups over the last 4 or 5 years as in any period in the history of Silicon Valley.


So we put the question to a team of expert panelists at our recent Innovation Hub live event: What's going on here?

In 1820, the vast majority of Americans were self-employed as shopkeepers and subsistence farmers. By 1920, the vast majority of Americans are employed by a corporation. And over the course of the last 20 years, that pendulum has swung back in a significant way — to people being self-employed, to people starting their own companies,


explains Nicco Mele, author of The End of Big: How the Digital Revolution Makes David the New Goliath.

"It sure beats having a boss," he adds.

"Oftentimes people go to companies as a signal. I worked at GE myself when I graduated. Having GE on a resume was worthwhile because you thought that was going to signal to the marketplace that you had some qualities," says Karim Lakhani of Harvard Business School. Now, though, you can advertise your skills in the marketplace directly by creating your own software or app — and you don't need the GE middle man anymore.

"The GEs of the world are saying, 'How do I attract the best talent?' and the best talent says 'Why would I want to work for you when I can do my own thing?'" Lakhani explains.

Business, Innovation Hub Live, Karim Lakhani, Nicco Mele

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