Now that the LUPA/PAUL stocks have (mostly) gone public – Lyft, Uber, Pinterest and Airbnb), these supposed category killers aren’t exactly killing it in the stock market. It’ll be interesting to see how the massively funded We Company (nee WeWork) does and despite all of this, we’re still witnessing massive funding rounds. Vice, for one, despite its stalled growth, recently raised $250M, a pittance compared to the $575M raised by Deliveroo. At some point, growth does stall; hockey stick growth is unsustainable or as Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human et al, said at the Techonomy conference in New York last week, “exponential growth is a problem. The only thing that can grow exponentially forever is cancer, and then it kills its host.”
We’ve known Rushkoff personally since the early days of Web 1.0, which, he reminded us, was when we all innocently believed that the web would distract us from the insular world of television and bring us together, which Mark Zuckerberg told Congress was the intention of Facebook. Well, that and world domination, although he did not share the latter with Congress.
Back in those early days, Wired Magazine told us that the internet was going to be the salvation of the NASDAQ stock exchange. This was the attention economy, and, said Wired, thanks to digital, the economy would grow exponentially, unstopped, forever. And Alan Greenspan agreed: New paradigm! Unlimited growth! Forever! What they didn’t realize was that this economic system was a very old, obsolete operating system invented by the monarchs in the 12th and 13th century to prevent the rise of the middle class, Rushkoff noted.