The future is….now?
It’s been remarkable to see the type of inventions that have emerged over the last decade. From self-driving cars to drones to crypto. We live in a different world than the one our parents bequeathed on us. Or do we?
During my time at Postmates (now Uber) we spent hours thinking through solutions that would allow us to leverage drones and robots for food delivery. The premise was that it would cut cost (over time), make deliveries more reliable and would allow us to expand into areas that were harder to cater to. Heck, we even spun off an entire business unit focussed on sidewalk robot deliveries.
When the first Teslas with self-driving capabilities entered the market, everyone believed we would soon be driven around by our own cars. Companies like Waymo and Cruise were racing each other to clock more hours on the road in order to improve their algorithms and political debates around the risk associated with autonomous vehicles became heated.
Solar energy was the environment’s knight in glowing armor. For a while, the news featured an abundance of stories around companies going solar and private homes in middle and upper class neighborhood started showing off solar panels on roofs across the globe.
Web3 is the newest way of describing a paradigm shift, believed to lead to the decentralization of everything, everywhere. Bitcoin and Ethereum are common investment choices, mostly for people with money. Youtube videos titled ‘what is an NFT’ got millions of hits within a few days and a feud around a copy of the constitution and its NFT ‘potential’ became first page material on the New York Times.
But besides the invention of these seemingly game-changing applications where is the actual innovation? Where is the true impact in our lives? By now, we were certain drones would replace the post(wo)man and we’d be able to travel from SF to LA or Sydney to Melbourne by Hyperloop. By now, we were sure we could ask our employers to get paid in ETH and by now we thought we’d no longer need to spend hours on the road concentrating on the road.
Something happened where the lag between invention and innovation is becoming larger and larger. We reward invention so much that the actual operationalization of bold ideas is becoming secondary or even just an after-thought. Somehow it’ll work. If the idea is good, the operationalization thereof should not be a problem. That’s what we believe.
We need more thought leaders interested in the realization of these ideas. It’s less glamorous, it’s less rewarded to be honest. And that is the issue. But it starts with where the money comes from..
Investors, that race against each other to invest in companies like Rivian or Serve Robotics, have the responsibility to look beyond the other names on the cap table and dive deeper into the actual real-world applicability of these inventions and the work that went into it.
Just a thought..