Like many of you, over the last couple of years I have been deeply reflecting on the true impact of the work we do in building technology companies. I have talked to dozens of founders and executives who are leading the charge in bringing AI powered innovations to society. These conversations have made me think a lot about the growing responsibility that we — founders, funders, regulators — have in shaping our collective future.
Today, I am happy to unveil the culmination of these conversations and experiences in my forthcoming book, UNSCALED. The book will be available on March 27th and, as a shameless plug, you can find it on Amazon and independent booksellers for preorder now. UNSCALED is both a celebration of the people driving innovation today and a call to action to take responsibility for the technologies we are creating.
UNSCALED builds on a paper that I published in 2013 in Harvard Business Review (Economies of Unscale: Why Business Has Never Been Easier for the Little Guy) to explain the core idea that entrepreneurs could profitably decompose large markets into sub-scale market niches and rent platforms to win market share. The book explores three core ideas:
- Economy-wide Rewrite: We take a look at how various sectors (health, energy, finance, education, media and retail) scaled up in the 20th century and how entrepreneurs are successfully unscaling them now with modern technologies. As an investor working with entrepreneurs across most of these industries, I was able to capture their hands-on perspectives in taking on industries.
- Thriving in the A.I. Century: We describe how corporations and individuals, alike, must adapt to thrive in this new algorithm-driven era. To survive, legacy companies will need to turn their scale into platforms that entrepreneurs can build and expand on. To thrive, individuals will need an entrepreneurial, “learning animal” mindset towards what are sure to be ever-evolving careers.
- Responsible Innovation: Lastly, as software algorithms govern more and more of society’s core functions, we are losing transparency, straining our existing regulatory infrastructure and as recent events have illustrated, we’re eroding trust in our products and innovations. Entrepreneurs and investors need to be accountable for the impact.
With UNSCALED, I have tried to take a deep dive into the nexus of business, technology and society. There is so much to consider there right now that I believe this is just the beginning and my hope is that UNSCALED will prove to be a catalyst for the tough but essential conversations the tech community needs to be having with ourselves and with the rest of the world.
At the outset, I might admit that I did not fully grasp how intense the book writing process is. It was a tremendous amount of work but has been incredibly rewarding (especially now that we’re the final stretch). I am grateful for the opportunity to have done this work with Kevin Maney, my co-author, and for the support of the General Catalyst team. I’m also indebted to the many founders who took the time and allowed me to capture and share their stories.
If any of the Unscaled themes I’ve mentioned above resonate, I’d love to hear from you to further my own thinking.