America's Innovation Engine Is Broken

from the everyone-wants-to-be-a-VC dept

Back in the early 90s there were all these complaints that Japan was beating up on the US economically because they took a long term view, whereas the US was short term (quarter to quarter, specifically – thank you Wall Street!). People seemed to completely forget about this during the dot com boom (and the Japanese economic collapse). When everyone’s getting rich, who cares about theories? So, now that the boom has gone bust, people are beginning to point out that we’re still stuck with a dangerous short term economy – which has actually been made worse by the dot com mentality. Business Week has a great interview with Greg Blonder who was at Bell Labs for many years before becoming a venture capitalist. He points out that the US might be in trouble, because we’ve been destroying out long term research infrastructure. The dot com boom destroyed a lot of corporate research programs (just buy a startup instead of doing your own R&D), and took a lot of professors (and students) out of academia where so much research was being done. He points out that, while VCs are a necessary part of the economy, not everyone can be a VC – trying to make the quick buck. Some long term projects are necessary. The interview also discusses issues about patents (he thinks the current system sucks), some of his own predictions about what countries we should be watching (China and India) and some future products he expects to have a major impact on the world (such as universal translators). A very interesting read.

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