Most great companies that rose up quickly from being a startup happened during times of great platform shifts. They were these moments of time when an order of magnitude more people had access to computing.

Most of the greatest companies happened around giving people different levels of access to information or forms of communication in this explosion of new access.

Examples:

  • 70s and 80s when Microsoft and Apple disrupted IBM around bringing personal computers to every desktop and home.
  • Late 80s to mid 90s — there wasn’t a lot of massive startup activity at least in the consumer world. Perhaps was happening around cable TV
  • Mid-late 90s when the Internet happened. That was a big thing. Google yahoo eBay amazon, etc.
  • Mid 2000s when internet had started to become more ubiquitous and people began to redefine communication and connection around individuals. Facebook LinkedIn Twitter etc.
  • Late 2000s/early 2010s when mobility happened. This time access to information and communication reached billions worldwide. Massive startup opportunities — to disrupt not just information and communication but also to new services. We have seen Whatsapp, Instagram, uber, snapchat and likely more just from this revolution

But like you I worry that we are in the late stages of this mobile shift. We are seeing disruption of some later categories like food delivery, trucking, the final death of industries like print. But there isn’t a clear vision of a new platform that can reach another order of magnitude of people. There isn’t another order of magnitude of people left who aren’t connected! (Though still very large numbers in the world who aren’t)

Since we are in a little bit of a wait and see moment here, this has given the big companies time to catch up and be great in the current paradigms. They can all build mobile apps and get them into the hands of users faster than a startup — with more distribution and network effects. I have seen this happen to some companies I work with.

The key in the next few years I think is continue solving problems in other large spaces that have not fully shifted to modern experienced including mobility yet. I encourage people to start testing ahead on new platforms like AR and VR but unclear how fast they get big and how much time we spend in them. In a few years the biggest companies will feel slower and a lot more cracks will open up.

Written by

I love building products that people use. I‘ve helped build Twitter, Facebook Connect, LinkedIn, Robinhood. Investor in Medium, Tiktok/Musical.ly, Discord

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store