We’re about to enter the Internet’s third age. Are you ready?
According to Steve Case, a prominent entrepreneur and the co-founder of AOL, the Internet has had three phases. The first period, lasting from 1985-2000, created the online landscape. The second, starting in 2001 and ending in 2015, made the Internet a vital and mobile component in our lives. The third age, which he says will begin next year, will accelerate disruption across all industries and force companies to adapt or die. Healthcare, education, transportation and food will all undergo radical innovation the third age.
At Austin’s SXSW, he identified the four “megatrends” he sees on the horizon, to which businesses must adapt in order to thrive.
1. Easier access to capital
Finding capital was difficult in the first age and slightly easier in the second. However, he’s confident that in the coming third, entrepreneurs will see a revolution in securing funding that will level the playing field. This movement will be fueled in part by the JOBS Act, which undoes certain roadblocks for business owners and investors.
2. Strengthen through networks
Case says that successes in the third wave will depend on networks built around a company. For instance, he says, entrepreneurs looking to reinvent education will not be able to ignore teachers and schools and those revolutionizing healthcare will need to engage with doctors and hospitals.
3. Social enterprises and impact investing
As younger companies emerge in this new age, social good will take center stage as companies will strive as much for purpose as profit. Many modern companies are already putting impact at the center of everything they do, with some trendsetting entrepreneurs publicly reporting on the social impact of their company as well as profit and loss.
4. New hubs for innovation
While Silicon Valley will always be a leader, it will soon have company. Case believes that cities in the middle of America, from Detroit to Nashville to St. Louis are well-positioned, with many home to Fortune 500 companies and untapped resources. As the third age fosters more entrepreneurial opportunities, cities like Indianapolis, Kansas City and Pittsburgh will become vital hot spots for young, crowdfunded endeavors. ”
It is also about lifting up communities and making a difference,” he says. “We are now seeing the globalization of entrepreneurship.