The companies of the future

João Vazao Vasques
Published in
8 min readNov 23, 2017


A glimpse of future? Coruscant city from Star Wars

I have been thinking about the future in various angles of my own lense of reality. Some thoughts scare me, others make me believe we can solve some of the biggest problems humanity has. How will our lives be 10, 20 years from now? How will we communicate, work, move, love and express ourselves? These questions and a lot more have been on my mind and I am happy to start sharing them with you. Together, we will stop and think about the world we want to create. Welcome aboard.

The first stop in our journey will be to talk about a topic that is very dear to my heart (and to yours as well): companies. Around 50% of our lives will be spent working and we should try to understand how companies will (need to) change in the future. I believe there will be three main pillars that the companies of the future will share.

Let’s start with the first pillar, the foundation of everything


A graph of the Internet — exposed on MOMA

Many people call data the “new oil” and for a good reason. During Web Summit 2017, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich had an impressive slide on his keynote presentation. It was a very simple slide about what is coming: a flood of data. That is not any sort of marketing talk, it is an evidence.

The flood of incoming is unstoppable and huge

Before proceeding any further I challenge you to open a blog or a press release of a tech company (or even a startup). I bet that there is a 90% chance that you will find expressions like data driven, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.. There is a lot of buzz on the media. Everyone claims to be data-driven, data empowered or even machine learning first.

The reality is very different from what I just mentioned above. The number of companies that are really data driven and use sophisticated techniques such as machine learning to solve real meaningful problems is not so big as you might think. So, the stage is set. Now let me take you on the first part of this amazing journey.

“… we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate)” — Ray Kurzweil

People tend to think linearly because that’s what our brains can process with their computing power. However, the future is everything but linear. It is exponential. Most areas of technology such solar energy, water desalination deep learning and the Internet have this type of growth. What does this mean? Basically, its power doubles every year. One year from now the exact technology we’re using today will be, in some way, “outdated”. Some trends are really hard to see because of their exponential nature since the beginning is in some way disappointing. The same pattern applies to data. As Internet based companies grow at a tremendous speed, the size of data they produce explodes. Welcome to, what some people call, Big Data.

The Big lie

Big data, another buzz that you, dear reader, might have come across. The problem with these huge amounts of data is that they can easily deceive you and become a vanity metric. How many times have you read or heard something like “At company X we process M millions of events per second”. If your company uses this as a success metric you are in deep trouble.

From a simple numerical, engineering or even scale perspective that might be impressive but is that really important? Normally, people think about the technology and are curious of how Company X has built some infrastructure that can handle such an epic load. That’s also relevant but the real question usually remains unanswered.

Why are you doing that?

This question is so simple and yet so many people have a hard time answering it. If your company is spending thousands of dollars processing huge amounts of data you must have a very crucial reason to do it. Don’t you?

Another aspect that most people neglect is quality. It has become acceptable to admit that the fact that you have “Big Data” makes your company smart. If you believe in that, sorry but you are, again, in big trouble. If you have bad quality data in enormous quantities you just have a colossal pile of trash (good luck getting some value out of that). Focus on data quality above all, otherwise your company is doomed to fail. But why is data so important these days? Isn’t this another big lie? No, it is not.

The data companies of the future

The companies of the future are not the ones who capture huge volumes of quality data but those who, using the data they collect in the morning, can change their product or operations in the afternoon. Most disruptions caused by technology companies in the last decade have happened by the way they use data. Uber, the largest car company in the world, owns no cars. Airbnb, one of the world’s largest accommodation providers, owns no houses. Netflix owns no DVDs. These companies had transformed their sector by using data they collect to serve people in a way that is orders of magnitude better than previous solutions. Thanks to Uber, drivers now can go to where demand is and adjust their fares. Thanks to Airbnb, you can have unique and customised travel experiences worldwide. Thanks to Netflix, you can discover media content that you could never do by walking into a store looking for “that” VHS tape (in memory of Blockbuster).

The effects of embracing data changes everything in a company. Since a company is nothing more than a community of individuals united for a common purpose, the first thing data changes his a company’s Culture.


I like to think of companies as communities of humans united under a common, most of the times economical or business, purpose. In all communities there are people with different tastes, personalities, goals and egos. A good company culture is when all of those aspects live in harmony. However, sometimes ego gets in the way.

How many times did you have a business or technical discussion that, at some point, kinda became personal?

Think about it for a moment.

What if I told you that there is one thing that can take ego out of the equation and radically change your culture in a positive way. That thing has four letters and it’s called data.

Data brings objectiveness into discussions and decisions. When presented in a clear and humble way, data becomes a source of debate and curiosity. The whole conversation shifts from “how did this happened” to “why did this happened”. The how is associated with doubt and it is easy for someone to try to manipulate others using a mixture of doubt and, sometimes, fear. Why is much more interesting and positive because it channels peoples’ energy to the reason, the cause, the source of things instead of what is before our eyes. No more dogmas, no more gatekeepers of the truth. Everyone has the chance to use data to make her/his voice be heard out loud. This is specially important in the world we live in where tolerance and inclusiveness are being challenged every day. In words of Gandhi, no culture will survive if it does not foster inclusiveness, equality and tolerance.

The culture in the companies of the future

The companies of the future are those that have a transparent, inclusive and human culture. Those companies would be more similar to a community of individual that share the same core values and follow a common purpose in life, like Sandbox.

In a world where the temptation of building walls is bigger than it has ever been in decades, the companies of the future must be a space where people feel safe and where their voice is heard regardless of their genre, religion, color of skin and salary.

People spent almost 50% of their time in this life working for someone (even if they are entrepreneurs). That’s a lot of time and time is the only thing in life you cannot recover. Hold on this though for a while and let it grow inside you.

Let’s move on now.

No human being can, in the long run, spent time and energy on something he or she does not believe in. It has to mean something. That’s why the third and last pillar of the companies of the future is about purpose.


The only companies capable of sustaining their most valuable members (I didn’t say workers or employees on purpose) are those that have a clear, ambitious and transforming vision for the world. That is because we dream. We dream of exploring the unknown, of fixing what seems to be unfixable and to create what no one else thought about. This is how we managed to use fire, to build bridges, cities and to explore what is out there in the cosmos. The companies of the future will need to fill this sense of purpose that we all, in different ways, share.

In a world that is becoming more connected, more competitive and more scarce on resources, the only way companies can survive is that they can transmit to their members the true importance of why they are doing it. In other words, companies need to understand and share the real reason why they exist, their purpose. Why is that important?

Imagine for a moment, you’re a top executive of company that is doing very well from a very practical point of view: your team is growing in numbers, you are getting new customers and revenue is increasing. Things look good right. Now imagine that one day, people ask you: “Why are we doing this?” and you cannot explain them the true purpose of the company and say something like “We’re doing this to make your customers happy”. That could be said by any business from the small restaurant in your family’s village to the one big consultancy firm. It has zero heart, zero dream on it, zero ambition and zero potential impact on society. Then you realise people are leaving to join a company that does some stuff related to space. You think they want to feel they’re into Star Wars and you search for that company’s vision and you find this.

Space X’s mission statement

The difference is huge isn’t it. What do you feel when you read a mission statement like this? Simple. It makes you want to get out of there and make it happen. It makes you want to fix it. it makes you dream of how the world could be if that vision could be true. This is what purpose means. This is what the companies of the future should aim to be. Not only building a great product, but build something that connects with people in a much emotional way.

This concludes our first stop in this journey. Before leaving you for now I want to share with you one of my favourite quotes from one my biggest inspirations , Walt Disney. See you soon

Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future — Walt Disney



João Vazao Vasques

Blockchain Analytics @Chainlink | Alumni of: @Unbabel, @talkdesk, @Uniplaces |1x startup founder| Taekwondo black belt