I was recently interviewed by Scott Henderson for the site New Empire Builders, which is a site dedicated to finding new startups, interesting non-profits, and interesting new firms. In my conversation with Scott I talk about the idea of third wave capitalism -- which rides atop the standard, global, infrastructure for knowledge work -- the internet -- and what it means for businesses and individuals. The podcast can be found here.
I suggest that the first wave was the small shared stock company - exemplified by people like John Jacob Astor, who made a fortune in fur trading and then Manhattan real estate, shortly after the Revolutionary War in the US. His fortune, in todays dollars would be over $100 billion. The second wave was built on the backs of the twin innovations of the railroad and telegraphy, which birthed the large, multi-divisional, multi-unit enterprise. The early General Motors, founded by Bostonian Willie Durant, is emblematic of this wave. Most of these organizations were big, but not fast. The third wave is explified by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who founded YouTube, a company which uses the existing global infrastructure of the internet to be big and fast: a true third wave competitor.