An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future
Unless you’re a teenager, you probably remember how the world looked like without the Internet and smartphones.
Yes, that all happened during the past two decades.
Have you ever wondered what will happen during the next two?
Steve Case, the man responsible for your first dial-up connection, has. “The Third Wave” is his book-length answer to this question.
And, it’s fascinating!
Who Should Read “The Third Wave”? And Why?
As much as it is an elaborate vision of an Internet-of-Things-based future, “The Third Wave” is also a call to the Government, the companies, and the entrepreneurs to fashion it as soon as possible. Consequently, they should enjoy it the most, finding its suggestions and ideas most stimulating and inspiring.
Which doesn’t mean that all those day-to-day futurists and SF-loving freaks out there shouldn’t take a peek. There’s plenty for them here as well!
About Steve Case
Steve Case (or, officially, Stephen McConnell Case) is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder and former CEO of AOL. A long-time investor, he has backed numerous start-ups via his Washington-based investment firm Revolution LLC.
“The Third Wave” is Case’s only book so far.
“The Third Wave Summary”
In 1980, prominent futurist Alvin Toffler suggested that a new civilization is emerging.
Namely, that after the first wave of the agricultural, and the second wave of the industrial revolution, we had started witnessing “the third wave,” the largest one yet.
The computer-based, internet revolution.
Originally inspired to go into business because of Toffler, AOL co-founder Steve Case, claims that this third wave, just like everything else, has evolved in the meantime.
And that, by now, it comprises of three waves itself.
The first wave, Case explains, was the wave of the infrastructure and the pioneers. It was the wave of the innovators, the ones that made the Internet possible in the first place. IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Cisco Systems built the structure. Case’s company, AOL, used it to offer millions of Americans, for the first time in history, the privilege to use the Internet.
Soon, there proved to be a better alternative to AOL’s dial-up service.
And, around 2000, this triggered the second wave of the technological revolution. Fronted by Google and Amazon, this second wave led to previously unimaginable things made possible by the Internet.
On top of the internet infrastructure created by the first-wavers, the second-wavers developed a system with capabilities previously unforeseen and hardly conceivable. AOL may have been Google, Facebook, and Amazon combined, but it also was all of them in embryonal phase.
And, boy, things escalated quickly!
Google made searching the web easier than searching for an eraser in a pencil case. Facebook created a social network capable of connecting almost anyone on the planet. Amazon recognized the future of the eBook and the unlimited power of e-commerce! And Twitter offered people a new way to share and read the news in real-time.
Finally, Microsoft and Apple became software giants, with the latter one, steered by Steve Jobs, initiating a mobile revolution.
Which, according to Case, is merely the beginning of the third wave.
The Internet of Things.
It means exactly what you think it means: the best possible SF-scenario of your future. With the Internet of Things you’ll be able to have everything – from your reregister to your washing machine – connected to a network which will make it possible for you to turn on, control, and turn off everything from everywhere.
So, just like in the movies.
But it’s even larger than that. Entrepreneurs around the world (hey, that can be you too!) are already thinking how to disrupt almost any area of business you can think of.
So, say farewell to a technologically challenged and error-lade healthcare system! And, while you’re there, don’t forget to say a ta-ta to the obsolete education system of today! A food crisis? Not with the Internet of Things, not with the Third Wave!
You can catch it too!
You just need to focus on the three Ps! (Man, smart people are good with mnemonics!)
Partnership, policy, and perseverance.
Because, the world out there, just like Toffler predicted, has grown to become a global village. And, consequently, it’s not a world of independence, but a small arena of interdependence. With that being said, without the help of your government and some grit, your company will, nevertheless, fail.
Don’t allow that to happen.
The future of the world might depend on it.
Key Lessons from “The Third Wave”
1. The Three Waves of the Internet Revolution
2. Hey Government – Bring in the Immigrants and Work with Us…
3. …Because We All Want to Ride the Third Wave
The Three Waves of the Internet Revolution
To think that we were privileged to witness the third – and greatest – human technological revolution! It’s really more than a pleasure!
Steve Case is here to remind us how fast things went! It was only a couple of decades ago when IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Cisco Systems built the internet infrastructure, which AOL was the first to use extensively.
Then came the beginning of the 2000s and suddenly everything was diversified! Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook built on the previous structure and became tech giants.
And recently, we entered the SF realm!
Very soon, the “Internet of Things” will be just as common phrase as “Internet” is now.
Hey Government – Bring in the Immigrants and Work with Us…
Unlike many of the tech innovators, Steve Case has nothing against the government helping start-ups. In fact, he claims that its role will be vital in the third wave revolution.
And to prove this, he reminds us that even the previous two waves of the Internet revolution wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the government. It was exactly because of its investments during the Cold War that the Silicon Valley became what it currently is.
And he asks the Government – because, you know, Trump and stuff – to allow immigrants to come freely to open start-ups inside the US.
He has another interesting fact to support his case: almost half of the Fortune 500 companies were built by either immigrants or their children!
…Because We All Want to Ride the Third Wave
It’s kind of strange – when you think about it – that Israel is better suited for start-up businesses than the US. This must change as soon as possible.
And it must come from everyone: corporate America, entrepreneurs, the Government. “Profit + purpose strategies,” radical flexibility, big ideas – all these will be essential for any company wanting to ride the third wave.
They will be the pioneers. Twenty years from now, future generations will talk about them the way we talk about Google or Amazon.
Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“The Third Wave” Quotes
Our Critical Review
When someone who once saw the future talks about your future – you sit down take note! Steve Case was one of the reasons you had Internet when you were a little boy or girl. So, undoubtedly, he knows a thing or two you don’t.
He may not be that great a writer, and he may not be able to tell his story vividly and appealingly, but he’s still someone who really does matter.
In other words, read “The Third Wave” for the substance; not for the flash.
| NEW / Extended | The Third Wave Summary
You should have already received an AOL CD ROM to access the Internet at your home, right? If so, you’ll enjoy knowing that this microbook is based on a book by Steve Case, the founder of America Online.
In “The Third Wave,” he explains that we are entering the third wave of the internet, a time when entrepreneurs will transform sectors such as health, education, transportation and energy, and with it, our lives.
To succeed in this new era of the internet, you need to develop some unusual skills.
This microbook explains what these skills are and helps you understand what you need to do to be a pioneer in this third Internet era. If you want to succeed in an entirely connected world, come read that microbook with 12min!
Have An Open Mind For New Ideas
Every time a significant change occurs in the way the world works, the people who get along are those who can see the new possibilities brought about by a change. To increase your chances of doing well in the technological future, you need to be open-minded about what is possible in this new world.
At the beginning of the internet, the focus was on building the necessary infrastructure needed to get people online. Through pioneering companies like AOL and Microsoft, the Internet has gone from being a niche to becoming something massive and popular, in which the whole world connects.
Then came a second wave, in which other companies got involved, building in that framework new applications and services that radically altered how we relate to each other and digital environments.
Now, at the beginning of a new era of the internet, which will bring even more radical changes, every industry and institution is steeped in unprecedented online interactions and connections. The pioneering entrepreneurs and startups of this process will soon revolutionize every aspect of our lives.
To be one of these pioneers, you need to be open to this new world: open to experiences, innovations, and new ideas, no matter how weird or extreme they may seem at first.
After all, the idea of managing a hotel business without having any property or being a transportation company without having any vehicles seems ridiculous at first – though Airbnb and Uber, two of the great forerunners of this change in interconnectivity, are now large enterprises in their industries.
As companies like these are starting to emerge, the technological future will not just level the market – it will fundamentally change it. If you want to be a part of this, it is vital that you do not ignore ideas that are considered ‘impossible.’
As online and offline worlds blend, countless new possibilities open up, and all you need to help lead change is to be open to innovation.
In front of us, there is a future enhanced by technology, full of new opportunities.
To take advantage, you need to embrace this new world with an open mind, accepting that what may seem like a ridiculous idea may be the next innovation of the internet.
Break Paradigms And Change The Status Quo
While the technological future brings enormous changes, it will not be enough to accept this radical remodeling of our lives and works.
To stay ahead, you will need to break your established standards and practices and open yourself to new possibilities.
Those who will thrive in this new age of the internet will be the ones who accept the change it brings. But this is not a passive exercise in letting change affect you: it is an active process. It is not enough just to accept that the usual deals will be stopped.
You need to be constantly ready to adapt, evolve and be able to see beyond and move beyond your status quo.
It’s like going on vacation: the best experiences happen when you break free of your habits and go somewhere you never thought you would go – off the usual trail, to see what you can discover away from the safety and comfort of the day-to-day.
And that’s what you should do with your startup as well. Instead of keeping your standard practices just because they are “working well,” you need to challenge your ideas, routines, and systems, and push the boundaries of what you believe you can do.
The giants of the second wave of the internet have had great success with this approach. For example, the iPod was popular with customers and gave a lot of money.
But Apple did not want to stand still on its status quo: it broke its standard by launching the iPhone and iPad to achieve even more success.
Likewise, Google has strayed from its original search tool, also offering software, phones, and computers – and they are now pioneers in other areas, including augmented reality and cars that do not need a driver.
The lesson here is never to be satisfied and accommodated, but continue to be encouraged to stay and innovate. After all, it’s not just the change around you that matters, but also the internal changes.
Even when things are stable and smooth, you should not be afraid to throw yourself into something new. Breaking your standards and straying from your status quo allows you to keep growing, evolving and challenging.
Being stuck in patterns can severely limit your business.
In a future characterized by constant change, the ability to rearrange your ideas and practices will be crucial for anyone who wants to be ahead in the marketplace.
Strike Partnerships And Collaborate With Other Companies
As the new internet age destabilizes industries, and entrepreneurs disrupt their status quo, continuous innovation will require collaboration – often with rivals or other well-established businesses.
Bringing pioneering change is never easy, especially when ideas about how an industry should work are rooted in people’s consciousness, being particularly careful in industries that are already dominated by large, well-established companies.
Faced with this, many entrepreneurs may be intimidated or even spend a lot of time and money trying to beat their rivals. But instead of trying to overcome them, it can be much more efficient to approach them as collaborators.
Surprisingly, many companies are more than happy to partner with potentially disruptive new startups.
A study by KPMG found that the vast majority of 80 well-established companies preferred to collaborate rather than compete, recognizing the opportunity as a chance to reach new markets or utilize the innovative technologies and approaches of a startup.
That is a great way for entrepreneurs to bypass the “old guard” industry.
For example, it is hard to think outside the box in the healthcare sector because people have an established idea that health should be the responsibility of hospitals and doctors’ offices.
However, “telemedicine” companies have challenged this by providing online and telephone medical advice. It would have been difficult to establish the legitimacy of this approach had they simply faced the old guard and the traditional views of health care.
On the contrary, the most successful telemedicine companies, such as Carena Inc., collaborated with health systems across the United States, which allowed them to establish this innovative approach legitimately.
So when facing rival companies with more established positions and more traditional approaches, you need not be intimidated: approach these companies as potential allies rather than as enemies.
Demonstrate that change is already happening in the industry and how it can disrupt the dominance of these companies, and show them how their innovative approach can help them stay in a constantly evolving sector.
They are likely to see this as an opportunity they can not afford to lose, and in return, you will be able to use the reputation, contacts, resources, and networks of these companies to establish their place in the industry.
Many entrepreneurs do not consider partnership as an option because they believe that established companies will see little value in a startup.
in reality, these companies often see collaboration as the best way to stay relevant in industries with constant change – they’ll be happy to support your business, so take advantage of that.
Study And Get To Know Government Regulations
New startups need to learn not only to collaborate with other companies but also to work with governments. In the future, exploring government laws and regulations will be very important, and the experienced entrepreneur will have benefits in finding that governments can be profitable clients.
Free market ideology asserts that the market works best with minimal interference, and many business leaders advocate reducing or even eliminating government involvement. However, governments can be very useful to companies.
One of its most important roles is cybernetic regulation, which involves much more than preventing identity theft or corporate data leaks.
As the Internet becomes more and more a part of our lives, governments will have even more crucial tasks, from preventing hackers from interfering with vehicles without drivers, to preventing the misuse of medical equipment with internet access.
Governments are also great customers, with considerable budgets to spend on innovative technologies and applications, and they have many incentives to do so.
For example, think about how the state would benefit from real-time traffic applications to help regulate transportation, or from advanced technologies for food production and storage to help reduce spending on agricultural subsidies. In areas like these, innovative entrepreneurs could secure lucrative contracts.
Of course, having government as a customer comes with a price. To interact effectively with the state, startups will need to learn to navigate complex rules and regulations.
Companies that are not experienced in public policy will soon have problems, such as Uber, when they discovered that they could not deal properly with trade union regulations and city-specific laws.
It is therefore important to ensure that you are always aware of the appropriate regulations in your industry and to be aware of all significant developments, after all, the changing scenario indicates that regulations will often have to adapt to a constantly changing digital world evolution.
Instead of bemoaning government interference, recognize the crucial roles of the state and make knowledge of your rules and regulations a key part of your business strategy.
Governments take on many crucial business roles, including the prevention of cyber crimes and the purchase of innovative products and services.
Given this importance and the relevance of maintaining a good relationship with government, entrepreneurs should make knowledge of policies and legislation an important part of their business strategy.
Fight For Softer Immigration Policies
While governments have important roles, that does not mean that everything they do is beneficial to startups. Hardline immigration laws are especially damaging because they prevent foreign innovators from sharing their talents. Entrepreneurs should try to influence governments to slow down this approach.
Numerous pioneering internet companies, including Yahoo !, Google and eBay, have at least one founding member immigrant and this is no exception: a Kaufman Foundation report states that of all technology companies in Silicon Valley between 2006 and 2012, half had at least one founder who was not born in the United States.
Similarly, according to the Entrepreneurs Center, one in seven companies in the UK was founded by an immigrant entrepreneur.
There is no denying that immigration plays a vital role in entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States and the United Kingdom.
But with growing anti-immigration policies, the crucial role of foreign innovators in founding startups – developing technologies, generating change and creating jobs – is being forgotten and it is increasingly difficult for experts and innovators to obtain entry visas for countries.
In the United States, the number of H-1B visas available to skilled workers is limited to 140,000 per year since 1990. Regulations such as these restrict the flow of knowledge, experience, and innovation within the United States, and make it questionable whether that a country will maintain its reputation as a pioneer in the technology and internet industries.
That is particularly the case when we compare US numbers with countries like Chile, Canada, and New Zealand, which have developed “startups visas” to attract foreign talent.
Faced with this growing competition, the United States, in particular, must seek to welcome immigrant entrepreneurs. It means that native entrepreneurs have a responsibility to engage politically in encouraging such changes.
Innovation is not an individual project: it is taken by numerous teams, creating and building new technologies and approaches, collectively taking things forward.
Startups and established companies can help with this, but only if they continue to press their governments to reshape or lower their immigration regulations.
Foreign talent is an important part of the force behind entrepreneurship in the US and UK, responsible for many famous innovations.
That should be maintained and encouraged, and entrepreneurs can contribute by pushing governments to take a more friendly approach to immigration startups.
Social Responsibility In Your Company
As consumers increasingly consider the moral aspects of their purchases, focusing on developing responsible and ethical startups not only helps them keep investments and customers, but also allows you to have real opportunities to change the world.
Corporations are sometimes seen as selfish, places where everyone is trying to make money without any concern for the well-being of others. In reality, however, the connections between commerce and charity are considerable.
For example, many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have signed The Giving Pledge, marking their commitment to philanthropy. To date, $ 365 billion has been donated to various causes by 154 signatories.
Not only do the super-rich share their fortunes: increasingly, the line between business and charity or ethical causes is undefined. Increasingly, companies are aiming not only to make money but also to make a difference.
This genuine intent to bring positive social change also helps businesses and startups win customers, especially among millennials.
A recent study by The Intelligence Group urged millennials to name the most important characteristics of a brand from which they would consider buying products: 61% answered ‘alignment with a social cause’; 71% answered ‘alignment to environmental causes’; and 71% answered ‘ethical practices.’
You do not just gain customers by adopting this approach. There is now a variety of investment groups, including Steve Case’s own Revolution LLC, which is dedicated to supporting businesses that contribute to social change.
To take advantage of this growing wave of customers and investors, make sure your startup is concerned about social causes.
For some, this will be a fundamental aspect of their business, such as companies that promote healthy food or provide emergency shelters in areas devastated by disasters.
However, you do not need to work directly in these areas to make a difference. For example, every time a customer buys a pair of TOMS shoes, the company donates a pair to a needy child.
So no matter what industry your startup is part of, there are opportunities for you to generate improvements in the world and this will help you gain the support of investors and conscious customers.
With growing interest in ethical shopping, demonstrating your social responsibility will surely bring more customers, and more than that, you will know that you are working not only to make a profit but to something you can be proud of, which for many people are priceless.
Significant technological advances are on the way and will destabilize and break much of what we think we know about business.
However, the major changes also bring new possibilities, and many startups will thrive if they can adapt efficiently to this new era of the internet.
Adapting to change is not always easy, but by being prepared and adopting the techniques and approaches outlined here, you will discover that there are plenty of opportunities to thrive in the changing environment of our technological future.