I have lived in Silicon Valley and worked “in tech” since 2001 – the majority of my career. However, I am still an economist by formal training – and in my heart and mind – and I have always brought this lens to the world of tech. Initially, I remember carrying a bit of a chip on my shoulder, not having a traditional engineering degree or technical background. But I have found that my ability to “cross-pollinate” ideas and concepts from the realm of business and economics and apply them to tech problems has helped me to innovate from a different perspective, solve problems with a new approach and ultimately help me to build new tech businesses. As I launch a new venture as a tech investor, I’m also launching a new blog that I hope incorporates this outlook for the benefit of those who may be interested.
In economics, “Common goods” are defined as goods which are rivalrous and non-excludable. In other words, resources that we all share that get depleted if one person consumes too much and does not contribute. This has of course been expanded to a more general philosophical term. Lately, with the economy still so fragile, many have raised questions about whether the tech industry really does contribute to the common good. Tech corporate profits remain relatively strong as cash piles up on their balance sheets and exec compensation skyrockets. There are outcrys of outsourcing overseas to save money and of technology replacing jobs, as corporations make substantial productivity gains without hiring. Those of us who live and breathe the daily energy and innovation of tech sometimes miss the broader implications of what we do, or at least, perhaps, how we are perceived. This blog is my small attempt to think about and comment on these themes, and perhaps, indirectly, contribute to the common good.