Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Future of Web Startups

The Future of Web Startups: "The Future of Web Startups October 2007 (This essay is derived from a keynote at FOWA in October 2007.)

There's something interesting happening right now. Startups are undergoing the same transformation that technology does when it becomes cheaper. It's a pattern we see over and over in technology.

Initially there's some device that's very expensive and made in small quantities. Then someone discovers how to make them cheaply; many more get built; and as a result they can be used in new ways. Computers are a familiar example.

When I was a kid, computers were big, expensive machines built one at a time. Now they're a commodity. Now we can stick computers in everything. This pattern is very old. Most of the turning points in economic history are instances of it.

It happened to steel in the 1850s, and to power in the 1780s. It happened to cloth manufacture in the thirteenth century, generating the wealth that later brought about the Renaissance. Agriculture itself was an instance of this pattern.

Now as well as being produced by startups, this pattern is happening to startups. It's so cheap to start web startups that orders of magnitudes more will be started. If the pattern holds true, that should cause dramatic changes."
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