140 Characters Who Helped Shape the Tech World

140 Characters Who Helped Shape the Tech World

It was Peter Thiel who said, “We were promised flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.” It looks like flying cars may be slowly rolling out, with Singapore’s flying taxi trial set to begin in the second half of 2019, but who the hell are those 140 characters to whom Theil might have been referring? As a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Quora, he certainly knows what sorts of characters tech can breed.

We’ve been involved in the tech world since the nascent days of Web 1.0 in New York City – with monthly trips to Silicon Valley at the time, as well – and over the years, have encountered many of those characters, upfront and personal, for better or for worse. Of course we have stories to tell, but that’s for a later date and a much longer opus.

Some were true innovators who created platforms and software and devices that forged an entirely new industry. You may not be familiar with their names, but their contributions should never be forgotten. Some forgot their original drivers, whether it was to not be evil or to connect the world, tracked the world’s population in ways and to an extent to which it had never been tracked before, storing it and parsing out that information to the highest and/or any and all bidders, and paying no heed to the concept that we might have the right to be forgotten.

Web 1.0 boomed, and when the bubble burst, the Dream was gone. From the ashes came Web 2.0, which also boomed. But the waiter always comes around with the check. Those stocks are taking a hit. The Trust is gone.

Reinvention and pivoting seem to be the name of the game in tech. From this correction, Web 3.0 will boom, at what price, the next time around?

Study the past if you would define the future,” Confucius said, Jeff Bezos recently acknowledged that even Amazon will one day ‘fail, go bankrupt.’ No one stays on top forever – and so it goes with companies and technologies. We may well be on the precipice of the next iteration of tech, so without further ado, a look at the 140 characters who helped to get us where we are today, and maybe somewhere in there, we might find some indication of what’s next as we go ever onward and forward.

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