I write this having just returned from the Edison Awards in San Francisco. How refreshing to be part of a gathering of companies whose products and services serve an actual need, and purpose, quite a stark contrast from the majority of companies exhibiting the previous week at NY Tech Day, where there were a few industries represented, e.g., business services, education, retail, but the show was overwhelmingly a plethora of “me-apps”, companies whose mobile apps have functions and features for you to show and share your self, your opinions, your tastes, pretty much “the world according to me”, a cottage industry leveraging narcissism for ad revenue. If you woke up tomorrow and Facebook, Zynga, and other productivity wasting sites/games were gone, no population would suffer, with the exception of couch potatoes. Social media is the new health affliction, just as smoking was to previous generations, and why the IRS should subject this industry to a vice tax to support the [un]Affordable Healthcare Act. While there seems no limit to investors’ appetite for me-apps, their sheer number should serve as a wake-up call that this market, and business model, is saturated, over-saturated, and headed for a steep correction.
That is precisely why attending events like Edison Awards are so necessary, to remind me that purpose driven companies like mine do exist, do get funded, I just need to venture out from all the trending hype to find them. However, the true highlight of my trip was my elevator ride with Elon Musk and Yang Yuanqing, who, having just been honored, rushed in to escape the swarming crowd from the ballroom. Talk about your literal “elevator pitch” opportunity! But no, I did not even introduce myself, instead thanked Mr. Musk for inspiring my college bound son, who was back in NY receiving an award of his own, which I was missing to receive mine, for an essay he wrote about environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility of Elon Musk. With that he smiled broadly and permitted me to take his picture, which I promptly texted to my son, waking him at 1:00 a.m., but was just as promptly forgiven.