Vivek Wadhwa: The Giants of Silicon Valley Are Only Getting Bigger
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Vivek Wadhwa, engineer, Washington Post columnist, and author of Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future, discusses our profound shift from an analog to digital economy.
From the episode:
Vivek Wadhwa: If you’re Facebook or Microsoft, it’s party time. It’s spring and you have a bright future. However, all these startups are trembling because their funding has dried up and their markets have changed. They have no idea what hit them, and then the customers of all of these companies have no idea what hit them. They’ve stopped purchasing. They know they’re in a state of panic because the world changed faster than they could ever imagine. So it’s a very mixed environment. It’s not clearly good or bad over here in Silicon Valley.
Andrew Keen: This shift to these winner-take-all companies like Microsoft and Apple and Amazon and Facebook and Google, how profound do you think it is? Are these companies going to come out of this crisis and have so much cash and so much economic acceleration that they’ll essentially hoover up the rest of the economy?
Vivek Wadhwa: Well, that’s what’s happening. Look at Amazon. Amazon now can’t keep pace with all the deliveries. The retail has been decimated. We move forward ten years and they’ve become the most powerful force in retailing right now. We’re dependent on them. All of us sit here waiting, hitting the button, and hoping that we get a delivery window on Amazon Prime. So they’re doing really well. Microsoft is doing well. Google is doing well. For Facebook, it’s party time.
Companies are coming up with apps that they can put on our smartphones today. So we will give them even more surveillance data. We haven’t forgotten about our attacks on the privacy of these things. We’re now trying to do so to keep track of contacts and movements and stuff like that. It’s become more evil faster than we ever imagined. We have a lot of darkness that’s happened at once.
Andrew Keen: So it’s certainly not spring then.
Vivek Wadhwa: It’s a freezing winter for most of the tech industry, except for those people who happen to be on top.
Vivek Wadhwa is a Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering and a director of research at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. He is a globally syndicated columnist for the Washington Post; author of The Immigrant Exodus, which the Economist named a Book of the Year of 2012; and coauthor of Innovating Women, which documents the struggles and triumphs of women in technology. Wadhwa has held appointments at Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School, UC Berkeley, and Emory University and is an adjunct faculty member at Singularity University.