Tesla, the fastest-growing stock in the automotive industry, is run by a software engineer. Amazon has a market cap three times bigger than Target, even though it operates at a loss. Instagram, a company with only thirteen employees at the time, was acquired for a billion dollars just three months after Kodak filed for bankruptcy. These are technology companies doing extraordinary things. But there is a larger pattern here. The dominant players in video, music, retail, recruiting, and direct marketing are also companies that operate like tech startups. This phenomenon is spreading, and by the time it’s through, every category on the planet will be shaken up.
Technology – software in particular – has had a destabilizing effect on traditional business models. The proliferation of personal computing power has leveled the playing field in almost every industry. As products and the means to create them have become digitized (often referred to as software eating the world), production capability has grown more accessible and portable. And the acceleration of that trend (driven by Moore’s Law) means that every single day it gets easier for someone else to compete with your product or service, and to do it better, faster, and cheaper. It used to be that the best day to start your business was yesterday. Now, due to the constant expansion of what you’re able to invent in your garage, tomorrow is almost always a more advantageous starting point.