We were in the midst of a surprisingly harsh recession; homes lost, jobs gone, and funding for innovative young companies harder to find than an educational moment on MTV. But for all the doom and gloom there was one silver lining – desperate times give rise to the next big thing. So, what have the next generation of great web entrepeneurs been up to? Looks like not much.
Above all else, during this recession us Digitalians (those that live and breathe everything digital…yes I made up a new word) have been overexposed to three products – Facebook, Twitter, iPhone. Nay a day passes that we’re not inundated with how much FB is potentially worth, CNN, Oprah, or other celebrities professing that they’re all about the Tweet, or find that yes indeed there is an app for that. Don’t get me wrong FB is a fabric of the social generation. Twitter is a new(ish) way to communicate. The iPhone, well it simply changed the mobile landscape and ushered in the mobile as a viable computing platform. But, where are the great ideas that usually crawl out of the rubble of recession?
90’s recession = Netscape and the explosion of the Web. 2000 bubble burst = Google, Social Networking. 2008 = iFart?
The problem is that ‘platform’ has replaced invention. Instead of young minds thinking about changing the world, it’s all about making the next app which sadly is either a port of existing web tools or something so ridiculous you’re left wondering why it’s named one of the Top 20. Almost everyday we talk to would be entrepeneurs about their big idea. They’re going to do something amazing; something that’s never been done before! Are they going to end poverty, make your job easier, life better, or finally rid the world of Paris Hilton? No, it’s the next great (insert platform here) app!
Honestly, how many Twitter apps do we need, and is replicating a popular video game for the iPhone really innovative? If your business depends on someone else’s great idea then sorry you’re no Thomas Edison.
To emphasize the point, at the just passed TechCrunch50 conference, a place that promises to showcase 50 of the most innovative start-ups from a crowd of thousands, expert panelists wondered where are the guys that want to change the world and the top prize was awarded to a company that is essentially an evolution of a solution that has been around for years.
So, we’re calling on all aspiring minds. Change the world! There are some smarty pants working on some pretty cool stuff. We need more! Develop your iPhone apps, connect on FB, and chat mindlessly on Twitter, but someone out there has to be working on what’s next. We can’t wait to see what the real inventors are up to.