Third Wave Startups

Imagine a world where apps kept you updated on each bill that is passed in your local legislature and allow you to reach your legislators. This is the world AOL Co-Founder Steve Case predicts in The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. He defines the evolution of the internet in three stages. The first wave – led by companies like IBM and Sun – helped lay the structure of the Internet and its basic functions. Amazon, Google, and Facebook were major players in the second wave, as they introduced searching, connecting, and e-commerce to the digital world. Case predicts in the third wave, ambitious entrepreneurs will take the internet into new domains such as policy and partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Case believes this movement will lead to several changes in the Internet startup landscape:

The Internet of Things becomes The Internet of Everythingthe-third-wave

While prevalent in many aspects of our lives, the internet has yet to enter every aspect of our lives. Case sees that quickly ending, saying Third Wave platforms will affect, “How we learn, how we heal, how we manage our finances, how we get around, how we work, even what we eat.” He sees every industry being disrupted.

Silicon Valley Will Be Anywhere

Opposed toward many entrepreneurs’ push toward Silicon Valley, local efforts across the United States are attracting tech businesses to stay rooted in their backyards. Case elaborates on Buffalo and New Orleans, two cities that have risen from tragedy. Buffalo, NY has evolved from a manufacturing wasteland to home of Elon Musk’s SolarCity project, 43 North clean energy startups, and major medical incubators tied to SUNY Buffalo.

In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina paved the way for a need for new teachers in their struggling schools. As the schools rebuilt, new teachers such as Jen Medbery came to help piece the community back together. Medbury founded Kickboard, an education platform to help teacher collect and analyze grades, attendance, detentions, and more. Post-Katrina, almost every school in New Orleans is a charter school. Charter schools are not bound by the same regulations of traditional schools, allowing for experimentation in learning. In the future, more cities will create resources and freedoms like in Buffalo and New Orleans to help entrepreneurs explore.

Government Will Become a Collaborator and Customer

Without investment from government during the Cold War, GPS would not have been invented. While there has been a strong divide between startups and government for many years, Case predicts the separation will dissolve during the third wave. This will occur when government begins being a customer to startups. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are just a few publicly operated entities that will benefit from future technology startups. Support of these startups will support job creation they are proven to produce. The top one percent of startups produce forty percent of new jobs in the United States every year.

Read more about Steve Case’s predictions in his book, The Third Wave.