Two market experts deconstruct the drivers and inhibitors to innovation in the digital economy, explain how large tech companies can stifle disruption, assess the toll of their technologies on our well-being and democracy, and outline policy changes to take power away from big tech and return it to entrepreneurs.
Silicon Valley’s genius combined with limited corporate regulation promised a new age of technological innovation in which entrepreneurs would create companies that would in turn fuel unprecedented job growth. Yet disruptive innovation has stagnated even as the five leading tech giants, which account for approximately 25 percent of the S&P 500’s market capitalization, are expanding to unimaginable scale and power. In How Big-Tech Barons Smash Innovation—and How to Strike Back, Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice E. Stucke explain why this is happening and what we can do to reverse it.
While many distrust the Big-Tech Barons, the prevailing belief is that innovation is thriving online. It isn’t. Rather than disruptive innovations that create significant value, we are getting technologies that primarily extract value and reduce well-being. Using vivid examples and relying on their work in the field, the authors explain how the leading tech companies design their sprawling ecosystems to extract more profits (while crushing any entrepreneur that poses a threat). As a result, we get less innovation that benefits us and more innovations that surpass the dreams of yesteryears’ autocracies. The Tech Barons’ technologies, which seek to decode our emotions and thoughts to better manipulate our behavior, are undermining political stability and democracy while fueling tribalism and hate.
But it’s not hopeless. The authors reveal that sustained innovation scales with cities not companies, and that we, as a society, should profoundly alter our investment strategy and priorities to certain entrepreneurs (“Tech Pirates”) and cities’ infrastructure.