In our interview with PayPal co-founder Max Levchin (see “Q&A: Max Levchin”) we heard the entrepreneur say how Silicon Valley has been overrun by an influx of underambitious startups. The ease of raising money these days, he said, means many entrepreneurs’ big ideas are easily confused with a product feature.
As it turns out, some others agree. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Carr wonders “what’s behind innovation’s turn toward the trifling?” The author, once executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, rejects the notion that a sagging education system, taxation, or an unhealthy focus on short term gains is to blame. Carr thinks the focus on small-potatoes advances is a reflection of “vanity”—we only care about inventions like Instagram that help us express ourselves.
Could the problem be that company founders aren’t the missionary types they once were? Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, writing in the New York Times, critiques entrepreneurs who seem intent on finding an early, lucrative exit for their businesses. “Some people seem to think that getting acquired should be the highest aspiration for an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. I disagree vehemently,” says Khosla, who argues that the tech giants we often take for granted today (Microsoft, Apple, and Google) are all products of similar entrepreneurial fever. Its symptoms? “Irreverence, foolish confidence, and naivety combined with persistence, open mindedness, and a continual ability to learn.”
Here’s to hoping this growing call for more innovation will be answered by Silicon Valley.
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.
Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.
Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.
AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.
OpenAI teases an amazing new generative video model called Sora
The firm is sharing Sora with a small group of safety testers but the rest of us will have to wait to learn more.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.