Category Archives: Exponential Economy

Diamandis details 21st century entrepreneurship

Peter hits the nail squarely here. Humans have a hard time understanding exponentials. And the exponential economy seems like a mystery to them. But if you do not organize your community to deal with exponentials, you will likely fail.

Being an entrepreneur today is vastly different than it was 20 years ago.

Today, each of us has access to more capital, more technological tools, more information, more talent, and more computational power than the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies did just two decades ago.

As I think about what it takes to succeed in a world of Abundance and a world of accelerating returns, I focus on six mindsets and tools that every exponential entrepreneur needs to master.

Here’s a quick look:

1. You Must Understand Exponentials

We’re local and linear thinkers in an exponential world.

Our brains haven’t had a significant upgrade in over a million years, whereas our technology is doubling in power every 18 to 24 months.

Exponential technology is transforming products and services and disrupting industries. That’s why Ray Kurzweil and I cofounded Singularity University.

I often talk about my “6 D’s” framework – it’s a lens through which I contextualize all technological change and opportunities:

The 6 Ds Progression:

  • Digitized: Turning every product or service into “1’s and 0’s.”
  • Deceptive: The doubling of small numbers is deceptive. Start doubling 0.1 to 0.2… 0.4… 0.8… and at this phase, it all looks like “zero.”
  • Disruptive: After we reach “1,” just 30 doublings later, we’re at 1 billion.
  • Dematerialized: Exponential technology turns tangible “things” into digital apps. I no longer carry around GPS equipment – it’s an app on my phone.
  • Demonetized: The cost of duplicating and sending an app is essentially zero.
  • Democratized: Once products and services are digital, they go global and can become ubiquitous.

Exponential entrepreneurs use the 6 D’s as a technological road map to predict where technologies are going and when to capitalize on the opportunities. This framework gives them an unfair advantage over competitors.

2. You See the World as Abundant (vs. Scarce)

Exponential entrepreneurs understand that technology is a force that transforms things from scarcity to abundance.

Technology is creating a world of abundance in almost every major arena, including energy, knowledge, transportation, computation, access to education and access to healthcare.

Once these industries transform from scarcity to abundance, their products and services become cheap (or free) and their quality goes through the roof.

Exponential entrepreneurs understand that despite the constant barrage of negative news from the Crisis News Network (my joking term for CNN) and its ilk, the world is becoming better at an extraordinary rate on almost every possible measure, including food, energy, education, poverty and health. (Note: I collect detailed charts on “Evidence of Abundance here.”)

Exponential entrepreneurs also know that scarcity-minded, closed business models ultimately fail, and open platforms ultimately win.

3. You Leverage Exponential Technologies


4. You Have an MTP and a Moonshot


5. You Tap the Crowd for Expertise, Solutions & Capital


6. You Launch Your Vision, Experiment & Disrupt Yourself



So many good points. Read and execute them all.

Image: luk.s

Moving Adobe into the Special category

Adobe’s Record Revenue Proves Successful Business Transformation Is Possible
[Via Daring Fireball]

Ron Miller, writing for TechCrunch:

As we watch organizations like IBM, HP and EMC struggle to transform, Adobe is an interesting contrasting case. It went from selling boxed software to a cloud subscription model in shorter order, and judging from its financial report that came out last week, it’s done quite well making that leap.

First, let’s have a look at the numbers. Adobe reported a record $1.31 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 22 percent year over year increase. It disclosed record annual revenue of $4.8 billion. Mind you these are significant, but the big number to me is that recurring revenue from subscriptions now represents 74 percent of Adobe’s business. What’s more, just under $3 billion in revenue in 2015 came from digital media-related annual recurring revenue (ARR).

Adobe is making this switch to subscription pricing look easy. It’s not.


Apple has been a great example of a 21st century company, transitioning from a mass producer of  millions of things to a personal producer of things for millions of people.

This is the key transition to the new economy being created. It requires a changing balance between the hierarchical authority so useful in the Age of Mass Production and the distributed democracy driving the Age of Personal Production.

Adobe no longer sells millions of boxes of the same thing to people for them to consume. It has a personal connection to millions of subscribers who use the offerings of Adobe.

This is not easy today but I expect that more will appear over the next decade,

It is all personal.

Image: Valerie Everett


The Space Trade Association Experiment

I thought I’d bring everyone up to date with what happened regarding the Space Trade Association. It is currently on hiatus.

The three of us started it about a year ago. We wanted to catalyze the creation of a full economy in space and drive the formation of a NewSpace hub in the Seattle area. We had met as part of a group that came together to support Planetary Resourcescrowdfunding efforts.

We had a wonderful time helping them raise  over $1.5 million. We wanted to find a way to continue our work and thus the Space Trade Association come into being. 

Each of us brought something important to the mix, with a balance of expertise that was really exciting.

Now the experiment part came from the fact that the three of us were located in different parts of the country – New Mexico, Illinois and Washington. I was curious to see how well we could work to drive our initiative.

The experiment lasted until this summer. It was quite successful to my mind because of what was learned. We were able to make some great contacts, get our message out there and begin the changes we saw were needed.

But, using a space metaphor, when it reached the end of the first stage burn, we found we could not really ignite the second stage and make it to a successful orbit.

it ultimately could not continue for several reasons. For me, the main one was that we could not really move as fast as was needed in this rapidly changing area with such a distributed management structure.

Not too surprised but that is what experiments are for. We actually came closer than I think would have been possible a few years ago.

We decided to put the group on hiatus as we each explored other arenas, shutting down the STA  engines and seeing it contining on a ballistic path until either splashdown or we can reignite the 2nd stage.

My focus now is on using the scientific models that exist and the expertise I have gained  to enhance and stimulate the changes that are occurring in the area. To facilitate the coming space economy by helping more organizations succeed and less fail.

It will be exciting.

Image: kind permission of Pat Rawings

The road to Hell really is paved with good intentions

Nice People Are More Likely to Follow Orders that Hurt Others
[Via Big Think]

A new psychology study published this month in the Journal of Personality has revealed a dark truth about the nicest and friendliest people in our society — they are probably more capable of doing the most horrific things if ordered to.


The title of the paper tells all: Personality Predicts Obedience in a Milgram Paradigm.

Communities of nice people can be made to do awful things. If everyone is nice, no one will be impolite enough to tell the community it is doing wrong.

We all need to find ways to value the rude, contrarian and disagreeable people in our communities. They may be the ones who prevent the community from doing great harm.

Nice people are usually the ones that follow the social norms best. They get along with everyone because they follow the rules. That is why they are seen as nice. No disruptive behavior for them.

It is easy to be seen as agreeable if you never question others or their behavior. 

As the researchers state:

Those who are described as ‘agreeable, conscientious personalities’ are more likely to follow orders and deliver electric shocks that they believe can harm innocent people, while more contrarian, less agreeable personalities are more likely to refuse to hurt others.

It is easy to be seen as disagreeable if you question others or  their behavior.

Amazingly, those who are seen as less agreeable  are less likely to harm others. They dug their heels in and refused to submit to authority or social norms.

I expect part of the reason they are seen as less agreeable is that they are rude enough to shirk social norms, the same social norms the agreeable people follow so storngly.

A community with only nice people can suffer from epistemic closure,where all those nice people can be made to do really awful things

Because they do not want to appear rude and thus be less likable by telling everyone else they are doing something harmful. It will never realize that the Emperor has no clothes.

It may be that rude people are the most important ones in a community, needed to keep it on an ethical path.

Yet they are often the ones cast out first, because they are so ‘rude.’

If this research holds up, it would suggest that trying to create a community where everyone is nice and no one is rude could well produce a community capable of doing great harm.

So value and support a few disagreeable people in your organization – the ones that upset some people – in order to have a well-balanced community that will not do something harmful or stupid.

Try to determine why they are disagreeing and engage with that, rather than dismiss them because they act contrary to social norms.

Some rude people are purely disruptive and disrespectful because the attention makes them feel important. But many are actually trying to help the group see where the danger lies, to prevent the group from doing harm.

It takes more work to deal with disagreeable people – it is part of what makes them disagreeable – but they may be critical for the community’s success.

Value those committed yet disagreeable people. They will help the community best in the long run.

Image: Paul Downey

Whole Foods does not realize the supermarket is dying

Whole Foods’ Misguided Play for Millennials

The news that Whole Foods will open a separate chain of stores designed to appeal to millennials stopped me mid-aisle. According to Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, these future stores will feature “modern, streamlined design, innovative technology, and a curated selection” of lower-priced organic and natural foods.

As millennials would write—facepalm.

My dismay is not about the concept. After all, who wouldn’t love to shop for lower-priced, organic, and natural foods in a store that boasts a clean and modern design?  My dismay is about how this new chain is being communicated to the public and designed to win in the marketplace.

By describing this new concept as “geared toward millennial shoppers,” Whole Foods is essentially saying one (or both) of the following:

  1. Gen X and Baby Boomer shoppers are fine with or even prefer old, cluttered stores that sell a confusing array of stuff at high prices.
  2. We (Whole Foods) need to create new stores because our current ones are old and cluttered and sell all sorts of poorly organized stuff at high prices.


Supermarkets as we know them are going to disappear.We will not need one stop shopping for all our staples and other food products.

At least not one we traverse ourselves in person. When we do go out, it will be to smaller, more personal stores.

How do I know? I’ve been using Amazon Fresh for the last few months. It is a well stocked grocery store that can deliver my goods to the front door almost anytime I want.

Like before I wake up.

It remembers previous purchases, so I can easily select the things I want. Delivery is free with at least $50 purchase. Instead of making one large trip to the supermarket each week, I can order a couple of times a week from Amazon Fresh.

All while I am at home and can see just what I need. And the prices are the same or cheaper on almost every thing I checked. The selection is good and getting better.

I find I really only need to go to the supermarket occasionally to get fresh produce – Amazon Fresh has them but I still like picking out my own. And fresh meats.

I’ve tried ordering things like chicken breasts from Amazon Fresh but when it comes to something like this, I;d rather see the entire selection and make my choice.

So really all I need is a good farmers market and a good butcher.

What happens to Whole Foods’ great idea when Amazon simply includes the wonderful organic foods at Amazon Fresh?

Amazon Fresh is not everywhere yet. But I expect Amazon is working on that.

And Amazon has made some missteps with membership pricing that may hamper its acceptance.

But someone will get this right. Or supermarkets themselves will get into the act.

I expect that the major way people will get their groceries in a few years will be home delivery. Large boutique stores would seem to a relic.

Especially if the home delivery service can also access the same organic markets.

Give me access to a good butcher or fresh produce and I would not need a supermarket.

Image: Sean Gregor

It’s all personal

Personal. And easy to see.

Ask ten people who runs Apple or Tesla. You will get a large number who get the answer correct. Then ask them who runs GM or Boeing. Only rarely to you get a correct answer.

21st century companies create a personal connection with everyone, including their customers. This signals a very different way of organizing their efforts, one that indicates an underlying understanding that moving information around rapidly is critical.

One of the emerging aspects of corporations making the transition to new structures that allow them to rapidly adapt to change is a personal connection – with their employees, suppliers and customers.

Companies of the last century were faceless multinationals who had users and consumers, not customers. They employed hierarchical structures to control the flow of information to allow them to mass produce identical items for sale.

They were barely above the Henry Ford dictum that you could have any color of car you wanted, as long as it was black. Everyone was a cog in the wheel of process, even the CEO. Strength came from presenting a monolithic edifice of tremendous power.

The hierarchical structure worked for simple processes but, as only the person at the top knew everything, the organizations were not very adaptable.

Companies for the 21st century operate differently. We know who runs the company, not only who is at the top but also their close executives. They make things for individual customers. While they can make hundreds of millions of things, these can be easily personalized by those who purchase them.

Strength comes from presenting a kind face hoping to make an individual’s life better. It’s personal.

So we have Apple, whose CEO is not only known to many by name but also puts the signatures of everyone who worked on the original Macintosh inside the first Macs. In fact, at the famous Apple Keynotes, the VPs and even lower level executives are introduced on stage to discuss new developments.

In contrast, few can really name who was involved in the development of the Windows OS. Or the designers of the new Boeing airplane. Or any new car.

These 21st century companies create a community that really appreciates what the company provides. They stay in constant contact with each other on a personal level.

Steve Jobs provided apparently personal responses to many emails people sent him. Not with corporate speak but with real personality – sometimes a LOT of personality.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, told the world about the failure of their latest efforts by tweeting it, not by hiding it.

The ability to move information around, to engage in a large community, provides tremendous advantages when it comes to succeeding at complex efforts.

It enlarges not only the pool of people excited by the things being produced but also provides tremendous abilities for rapid feedback in positive ways.

We will see more of these sorts of organizations coming soon.

Image: NASA

Can AT&T copy Apple?

AT&T wireless store revamp to emphasize smartwatches, home security and more 
[Via – Yahoo Finance]

As growth in the wireless phone business slows, AT&T (T) is rebooting its vast chain of retail stores to put more emphasis on other offerings, from wearables and tablets to video, connected car and home security services.

The second-largest U.S. wireless company plans to open a series of larger flagship stores with dedicated areas for each segment along with a modernizing revamp of many of its current 2,000 outlets, Yahoo Finance has learned.


Apple has created a huge ecosystem that incorporates so much more than just selling computers, cellphones and software. It has created, and is tremendously focussed, on sustaining a community.

A community that continues to support Apple, as long as that focus is laser-like. To Apple, those people are not consumers but are customers deserving of the best.

AT&T also has millions of people that use it. And it is rapidly becoming much more than simply a wireless company ≠ home automation and security. It could actually model itself after Apple, with a warm connection to the people who drop by its online and real-life stores.

But it must make a key change away from what the multi-national, mass production companies of the 20th century have moved towards.

The users need to be treated as customers rather than consumers. They take an active part in the social interaction that is a purchase, rather than passively but things.

That will be a tall order to fill.

More insight into Pixar and Steve Jobs

Pixar’s Ed Catmull: It was the changed Steve Jobs that made Apple great
[Via MacDailyNews]

Michal Lev-Ram reports for Fortune, “For our recent cover story on Disney, I sat down with Ed Catmull at Pixar headquarters. Here is an edited excerpt from our conversation in October, which ranged from Pixar’s rocky beginnings to Disney’s use of technology to the late Jobs.”

A snippet:

The thing that the general public has missed is that there is a perception of ‘bad boy Steve’ when he was younger and that that behavior led to this giant success at Apple. But while Pixar was going through its rocky beginnings, the reality is that Steve was learning and changing dramatically. About 15 years ago he figured out things and we saw the change in the person. He became very empathetic and changed the way he worked with people. And after that point everybody that was with Steve stayed with him for the rest of his life. It was the changed Steve that made Apple great, not that guy. It’s like the classic hero’s journey, except people didn’t know that.


I’ve written before about Pixar a lot. It has been a hallmark of the 21st century company. Apple is one also and Jobs is a big reason. I wrote a long, three part series on the Synthetic Organization based on Pixar.

As discussed in the original article, Pixar views each  movie as a reason to incorporate new technology, to solve a new problem. DIscussing the new movie coming out:

So that group has to solve the problem for how they make that work, and how you do exaggeration and carry the emotions with those kinds of characters. Every film has new technical problems that we have to solve.

“Every film has new technical problems we have to solve.” Hierarchical authorities – which is how 20th century companies were organized – are designed to take action, not to solve problems. Distributed democracies – which are strong in 21st century organizations – are designed to solve problems, but not really for taking actions.

Pixar has created a company with a tremendous balance between the authoritarian need to get things done and the democratic need to solve problems. Strong leadership from Lasitter and Catmull at the top permits difficult problems to be solved. 

The article details very quickly how this is done – keeping two separate animation groups who each have to figure out solutions themselves, instead of depending on another. Diversity, smart people and low hierarchy.

So now we have two great animation studios. And Jobs learned how to accompish this while working at Pixar and neXt. Instead of being the authoritarian at the top – as he was so often  in his first stretch at Apple –  he began to create a culture that allowed talented individuals to solve difficult problems. 

This is the key – very strong leadership that works with the distributed democracies solving problems. There needs to be hierarchy to get things done but there also needs to be ways to route around the hierrchy to solve problems, to get answers from anyone.

Image: Brett Jordan

Too many videos in a presentation – forgetting that the audience is there to see YOU, not a TED talk video

GiardinaKARLSRUHE - Death by Powerpoint 

Think including a TED talk video can enhance your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation? Think again and think like a magician
[Via Les Posen’s Presentation Magic]

Last month, June 2014, I was part of a nationwide travelling convention intended to bring high school teachers up to date with the field of Positive Psychology and what it can offer students.

This year its organisers wanted to pay particular attention to the place of Technologies in mental health, and so I was tapped to offer a series of talks as well as presentation skills workshops.

The talks were part of a seminar featuring how to best understand how current and imminent technologies have a role to play in mental health in schools. The presentation skills effort was a one hour talk, showcasing the highlights of my half day and longer workshops.

All in all, there were about a dozen speakers, comprised of authors, psychologists, researchers and technologists including those from the Australian arms of Microsoft and Google, who visited the cities of Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The arrangement, as told to me by the organisers, was that each city would receive the same presentations. On the surface, that sounds ideal and easy: the same talk four times. But as it turns out for a few of the presenters, including myself, this wasn’t ideal and in fact we gave variations for all of our presentations. It was an iterative process, learning from each presentation what worked best and which slides and ideas appealed to the audience.

By the fourth conference I felt I had “honed” my presentations and delivered the “biggest bang for the buck”; that is, in the time I had these were my most impactful presentations.

During each of the conferences, conducted over two days including large auditoriums and break out rooms for smaller concurrent workshops, I was able to attend as an audience member and watch others in action.

For each conference, there were times when all the attendees (400+) would gather in one large auditorium to hear the speakers, including me on technologies.

What I, and the organisers, found interesting were those highly paid professional speakers who gave the same presentation each time. I was perhaps the least known to the audience of all the presenters and likely the least financially compensated, so I had to prove myself and win over the audiences with my content and presentation style. Which is why I welcomed the opportunity to present and improve each time.


Too many people, either due to fear or inexperience, forget that it is the personal interaction – you are THERE – that explains the audience’s presence. Otherwise they could just watch the video online.

Anything on the screen has to enhance your presence. not detract from it. That is what Powerpoint bullet lists are deadly. Focus moves away from the speaker to a static list, often simply reread out loud by the speaker.

Why even have them there?

If the speaker cannot provide a reason why their personal presence is important, why should the audience?

Videos need to be short and provide an easy to understand visual to support the speaker. Why show someone else speaking? That generally implies laziness, not exactly what an audience wants to see.

Even in scientific presentations, the speaker is there to provide context, not to read data out loud. To be personal.

The disruption of Health will be distributed

 DNA / Protein function finder from @WellcomeTrust @SangerInstitute @emblebi @YourGenome

Advances in health IT must be viewed as a whole
[Via O’Reilly Radar]

Reformers in health care claim gigantic disruption on the horizon: devices that track our movements, new treatments through massive data crunching, fluid electronic records that reflect the patient’s status wherever she goes, and even the end of the doctor’s role. But predictions in the area of health IT are singularly detached from the realities of the technical environment that are supposed to make them happen.

To help technologists, clinicians, and the rest of us judge the state of health IT, I’ve released a report titled “The Information Technology Fix for Health: Barriers and Pathways to the Use of Information Technology for Better Health Care.” It offers an overview of each area of innovation to see what’s really happening and what we need to make it progress further and faster.


Health has always been intimately connected with technology, from removing the handle of a drinking well to a handheld ultrasound wand.

Dealing with human health is probably the most complex system of endeavor mankind us currently trying to solve. Old, authoritarian, top-down approaches are giving way to newer, distributed, bottom-up paradigms.

And new digital tools are driving this.

Often we can only solve health problems because of the technological tools we have access to.

But healthcare has been slow to activate the greatest impacts of the digital revolution – to connect people and communities in ways to solve very complex problems. Healthcare’s natural attraction to the status quo for many medical needs– after all, if a doctor makes a mistake, people can die – means that therapeutic benefit often has to be shown BEFORE anything changes.

Patient healthcare data and its mining does not easily fit this paradigm. Authoritarian approaches stemming from the  medical edifice we all face still drives almost all our health concerns. So change is slow.

But it is coming. Faster than many of the authoritarian processes can deal with.

This has not stopped people from doing the mining themselves. From places like 23andme, patientslikeme to crowdfunding projects, individuals are now taking much greater control of their health data.

And finding out all sorts of interesting things.

Often without any form of mediator, because they can.

(It reminds me of the battle I was part of almost 20 years ago. We needed to connect to the internet because it was becoming critical in order to do our biomedical research. The IT department was very reluctant and stonewalled, due to fear of disrupting things. We simply said we could connect to the internet without needing them. Our IT needs had become decentralized , distributed, and we could simply dial-up without needing the IT department at all. So we did.)

Medicine is becoming a more distributed system, decentralizing access and the practice of medicine. It is, in many way, at right angles and in conflict with the authoritarian processes we find in medicine today.

This holds tremendous opportunity to revolutionize what we know about medicine. But with tremendously disruptive effects on the status quo.

There will be real battles here but the conflict between the old, authoritarian system and the new, distributed system will find a balance which eventually helps us all.

Because it has real benefits. And it cannot really be stopped anyway.