I've already written a couple of pieces about how the Occupy theme applies to the tech industry. Not finished there, because the financial part of the tech industry is fairly analogous to and integrated with Wall Street. They've created their own kinds of bundled securities. Instead of mortgages they bundle bloggers. And they've discovered that if you simplify and streamline blogging, you can create more of them. And if you put together enough bloggers under one roof, the theory is that you should be able to sell something to them, or more likely sell them to someone. The idea is as dehumanizing as having one's home considered by others to be an instrument for speculation.
A columnist from Russia asks why there was no one marching in the streets in 2008 when the crisis came to a head. Because we, collectively, were in shock. And didn't understand what had happened. Now, three years later, it's settled in. We get it. The bubbles are just going to get thinner and thinner. And each time they pop and then rebuild, the number of people who can participate shrinks, and their stake goes up. It's like a massive game of musical chairs. Most of us were out of the game a long time ago. And the ones who are still in are so dazed and confused, all they can do is lash out at anyone who wants to break the spell, hoping that enough people don't hear them, and they can keep going round for a few more turns.
The President said yesterday that it's time for bankers to go back to being bankers. Lend money to people and companies for a fair return. The service they provide is valuing risk. That's what they compete on, superior insight into understanding risk. He's absolutely right about that. And anyone who suggests that the game can keep going on, is just trying to line their pockets a bit more, before the last real crash comes. What they plan on doing then to keep from waking up is a mystery. But it's their problem, and they're making it ours.
In the same way VCs must get back to financing products that people pay for. The multiples will be nowhere near as high. That's because it won't be a speculative bubble. But it is the kind of business you can base a world economy on. The one we have now is ridiculous.
Also to the VCs, we need to start investing in basic formats and protocols, and ways of keeping data safe in a distributed way. You guys have made huge fortunes by centralizing. And there's been a huge cost. I've been warning about this for decades. Sooner or later the chickens are going to come home to roost here too.
And to academia, let's stop turning our brightest students over to the VCs to become mini-Zucks. Most of them will fail. It's a bad deal for the kids, and it's mortgaging the future of academia, the same way the bankers are mortgaging everything else. Let's instead learn from the experience of the building of the open Internet, and teach the kids the joy of collaborating. Let's show them how what they're using now is the result of many generous people who didn't get their names in the history books, or on the cover of Time, or make billions of dollars. In other words, let's teach.