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Riding the Next Wave

By Cristina Martinez Pinto

The “Internet of Everything” will have a profound impact on society, as digital technologies are becoming fully integrated across all aspects of our lives, permeating every industry. So, Steve Case, Chairman of Revolution LLC and The Case Foundation and co-founder of AOL, offers some valuable insight in his book The Third Wave to answer how entrepreneurs can prepare for the ‘third wave’ of the internet.

On December 6, the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, the Baker Center for Leadership and Governance, StartupHoyas, and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University co-hosted a book talk with Case to discuss his vision of the future, the Internet’s different ‘waves,’ the promising role of partnerships, policy and perseverance (the 3 P’s), and the opportunities ahead to transform real-world sectors, such as education, healthcare, and agriculture. Over 200 students and professionals attended.

Case spoke of entrepreneurship as a team sport and emphasized the importance of being passionate and bold, understanding broader contexts, and shifting towards aprofit plus impact” mindset in his work. He believes the third wave will resemble the first wave (1985-1999) – the creation of the foundation for a digital world – rather than the second wave (2000-2015), in which apps and mobile technologies have built upon that foundation to revolutionize the way we communicate. Therefore, Case advised that aspiring entrepreneurs embrace collaborations, learn to navigate rules set by governments, respect their interlocutors, build trust, and be patient. Though he acknowledged that this might force entrepreneurs to pump the brakes on dreams of overnight success, Case argued that it will be essential to both fitting into and thriving in the coming third wave.

Case touched on inclusive entrepreneurship and his involvement in initiatives such as the Rise of the Rest Bus Tour. Rise of the Rest is a nationwide effort to support emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems under the premise that high-growth companies can now start up and scale up anywhere. It also started the #FacesofFounders campaign, which aims to celebrate diversity, put a spotlight on new talent, and redefine the perception of entrepreneurs.

The conversation then shifted to unemployment and education as they relate to technology. Concerned with the moral impacts of how technology has transformed inclusion in the increasingly-digital economy, Case recognized that these rapid technological changes are impacting employment prospects and that the educational system must reflect these changes. Our educational systems must focus on teaching, training, and developing skills in people that machines cannot do. He also emphasized the need to celebrate technologies and invest in sectors that create new jobs rather than those that are net job destroyers. According to him, creating jobs doesn’t just give people income; more importantly, it gives them dignity.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Case pointed out that there are numerous challenges that third wave entrepreneurs will face, including the unintended consequences of their proposed technologies, of regulatory scrutiny, and of security concerns as everyday objects are increasingly interconnected through the internet. However, he is confident that the future belongs to dreamers and doers, whose talent will be directed at creating positive net impact and transforming the world.

The event was recorded and posted on YouTube. Watch it here.

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