Venture capital goes ‘public’?

Elite_Dangerous_artwork

I recently wrote a blog post about crowdfunding (‘Kickstarter capitalism‘). In that post I largely reflected the perceptions of a typical ‘backer’ (or, one might say, ‘investor’) in crowdfunded initiatives – that is, someone like me. I’ve become enthused about how crowdfunding can help bring new creative ideas to life, when otherwise they might never have been funded; I’ve also bascked a number of such ‘projects’.

Once that post was published, I realized that there were still aspects that I wanted to address, particularly relating to the perspectives of crowdfunding from the view of a potential raiser of funds / project ‘creator’. I’ve not yet ‘created’ my own project on Kickstarter, but I have ‘participated’ in the creation of a project with a group (a consortium?!) of other individuals (more on that in a another post at another time!).

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Kickstarter capitalism

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 11.16.57 PM

Extract of screenshot from Kickstarter project “CST-01: The World’s Thinnest Watch” by Central Standard Timing [screenshot taken on January 10, 2013]

Crowdfunding‘ (or crowdsourced funding) isn’t new, but it took a leap forward in 2012 as people became more familiar with websites like Kickstarter (possibly the most well known crowdfunding site), Indiegogo, Pozible, Rockethub, Sponsume, and others.

The pure concept of crowdfunding is very interesting. In some ways it goes right to the the very core of capitalism, using the internet to apply specific marketing concepts. In other ways it raises ethical questions about financing of projects. On the face of it, it’s a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs, artists, individuals, and dreamers.

I’ve recently ‘invested’ in a number of crowdfunding projects, and have for a while wanted to note down some of my thoughts about the emotions that it evokes.

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Financial downturns, plane crashes, and train wrecks

Image “Panic of 1873 bank run”, Illus. in: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1873 Oct. 4, p. 67. – see Wikipedia for further details

Tim Harford, wrote a great blog post today, “Time to bring in the crash investigators”, which opened as follows:

The NTSB is capable of providing a clear and authoritative narrative, explanations and conclusions about the crisis

After a financial train wreck, it’s time to begin to learn lessons from the disaster and prevent its recurrence.

I found that the blog post led me to a number of further thoughts around this topic, which I have set out below.

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Future of work thread (via Work Talk Research)

I came across a tweet this evening from Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd), a blogger, and decided to share my own thoughts (a copy of which is set out further down this post), on the topic of:

What are the ten (or so) most important themes or trends in the future of work, today?

There’s a good discussion developing, and I’ll be interested to see where it ends up (Stowe Boyd is using his site to crowdsource some thoughts on the topic, and is planning to present an analysis in the next couple of weeks).

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Considering differences between forecast predictions and scenarios

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/VallarieE

Apple has announced that it will shortly hold a special media event, regarding a development in their business model (such events seem to be partly for benefit of consumers, shareholders, suppliers, etc. as well as, seemingly, laying down a challenge to their competitors) – per AppleInsider:

Apple on Wednesday sent out invitations for a special event next week on Jan. 19 in New York City, where it has promised an “education announcement in the Big Apple.”

This announcement has resulted in increased speculation (there was already plenty of speculation before the announcement) of Apple’s potential future success.

Based on the rumors of the forthcoming event, many are predicting that Apple will now take over the text book industry, and some going as far even as saying that Apple will in future dominate the publishing industry.

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AppreciaTED – a longer term perspective on nation states and the global economy

TEDxBrussels, which I attended earlier this week (November 22, 2011), had the tagline “A day deep in the future” – the talks covered a broad range of perspectives around this theme, covering “Technology”, “Science from Fiction”, “Science”, “Made in Belgium”, and “Politics and Economics” – within this last category, Paddy Ashdown gave an excellent 18 minute talk titled “Why the world will never be the same & what we should do about it” (click on the video above to watch the talk).

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Curious about … Birth rates, and the demographic-economic paradox

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/YsaL

In the last few weeks I’ve heard two very contrasting interpretations of forecast birth rates. Both are largely based on the same facts, however with somewhat contrasting perspectives.

  1. The first interpretation, concerns itself with declining birth rates in the major, ‘developed’ economies, asking the question, if populations aren’t growing sufficiently (and in some cases, like Germany, aren’t even replacing themselves), how will future economic growth expectations be met?
  2. The second interpretation concerns itself with massive recent (ie, over the last 100 years) global population growth, and the potential consequences for earth’s finite resources (water, food, fuel, metals, etc.).

I’ve read around these concepts on the internet and set out, in the remainder of this blog post, some thoughts on what I’ve found, including the demographic-economic paradox,  the demographic transition, sub-replacement fertility rates, and suggestions of the ‘tabu’ of discussing population growth.

ps. The title of this post is made in hommage to The Curiosity Chronicles, a Tumblr blog by Paul Bennett, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer of IDEO. I encourage you to take a look at his posts, if you’ve not seen them yet.

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Thought leadership insights – not just a sales tool!


A friend recently shared with me a thought leadership article (cover shown above) from Accenture, a consulting firm.  The article shared views and insights into factors determining the adoption of electric vehicles, and future direction in which they will likely develop. These views were supported by a study/survey that Accenture had undertaken.

The article addresses a topic that I am interested in, and so I was glad to be informed of the article. What’s even better, the article was free (but was still comparable in quality to what one might find in leading professional media publications).

This highlighted for me an interesting development. Professional service / advisory firms are generally keen to prove their abilities, highlight their knowledge and expertise, and often do this by preparing thought leadership articles. These articles are often freely available on their websites (sometimes on request or after registration).

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Thoughts on the accelerating evolution of business models

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jpsdk

Thoughts on the accelerating evolution of business models, and the related psychological stages / ‘fear levels’ that we go through

In the past, economics, life and business evolved at a slower (than today) pace. At the time (then) it didn’t feel like it, but then we didn’t really know what was coming.

Today it feels like are we are traveling at speed on the motorway, with our head out the window, having only last week been enjoying leisurely drives down picturesque country lanes. The chances of a life endangering crash are now higher; you get to take in less of the surroundings as you hurtle along, but there’s still the thrill of the ride, while it lasts.

While we need to concentrate on the driving, it is important however still to be clear on the next part of the journey – hence (away from the analogy!) one needs to consider how the increasing pace of business and economic change is impacting one’s future development.

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The ultimate labor market?

The trend known as ‘globalization’ tends to be the cumulative effect of many small, incremental steps. Once in a while there are technical innovations which result in a step change, or acceleration of globalization – the advent of shipping, flight, etc. Computers have also supported the increasing complexity of business, enabling more complex (but still economically and chronologically viable) sourcing solutions to be developed.

Recently I came across a website which, while relatively simple, appears to me to have potentially astounding consequences for globalization: peopleperhour.com.

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