Innovation will Blossom during the Recession

I had the opportunity to hear the thoughts of Tim Draper here at the USASBE meeting.  Draper is the Founder and a Managing Director of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.  One of his claims to fame was his suggestion to use “viral marketing” in web-based e-mail to geometrically spread an Internet product to its market.  This ended up being instrumental to the success of Hotmail, a company in their portfolio. 

Draper believes that we should anticipate a spike up in innovation during the current recession.  The genesis of the tech boom of the past decades began during the recession of the early 1980s.  Microsoft was born during the recession of 1974.  Semi-conductors first came to market in the recession of 1957.  Even during the Great Depression we saw the founding of Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments and United Technologies.  He assured us that “innovation is relentless.”

He sees many things that may be part of the next innovation revolution in our near future:

  • Non-invasive healthcare
  • Net zero energy homes
  • Pilotless electric cares 
  • e-education for the masses
  • All computing from the clouds (think G-mail)
  • True 3-D technology driving entertainment
  • Storable instant fresh meals
  • Genetic disease prediction
  • 100 MBPS Internet to homes

He does worry that the current drift toward socialism is hurting America.  He sees the movement to socialism in America not only in our public policy, but in the language of our culture.  “Opportunity” is being replaced by “entitlement”,  “business solutions” by “government intervention”,  “earnings” by “rights”, “let losers die” by “bailout”, and “freedom” by “regulation.”

On this last point Draper would like to see deregulation become a cornerstone of the plan to fix our economy, starting with deregulation of banks to help turn them loose to create more credit.  The regulations surrounding the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley needs to focus only on large public companies, as it has severely damaged venture capital investment in the US by all but eliminating venture capital backed IPOs.

He offered these words of wisdom for the coming year. Don’t panic and don’t cling to the past as it will be a new game. We need to all stick together to solve our current problems.  We face not only a crisis but many opportunities for new innovation and the creation of new markets.

He closed with this thought.  “Never forget: entrepreneurs are heroes.  Our economy will be rebuilt, not recovered but rebuilt, by entrepreneurs.”