The March of Technology
By: Chris Tell at: http://capitalistexploits.at/
My recent post "It's over!" stirred up a lot of emotions. I received many thoughtful replies commending me on it, and quite a few others threatening me and wishing me bodily harm, disease, death or a job at the TSA. I'm not sure which would be worse...?
In that piece I discussed how angry people become when they are faced with facts which are disruptive to their lifestyle. Boy, was I right! It's completely understandable, actually.
Here is just one of the comments I received on the website:
“…Do I care if Joey, a “local” in some developed world country loses his job to Jacindra in Manila? No…”F^#k you. Piece of sh*t globalist.
My response to this gentleman:
You suffer from the misguided view that by sheer accident of birth you’re somehow entitled to a better life than some other human being on the other side of the world, who is prepared to work harder, longer and for less money than you in order to feed his/her family.I treat all people with equal respect and dignity. It is the transfer of resources, capital and know how that has made the world a far wealthier place, not the hindrance of such. You are one of those unfortunate people who believes that stifling this process somehow makes for a good case. That belief can only be a result of you being in a privileged position that is under threat. As I said, I’m not giving advice, I’m simply stating the facts. You can choose to do with them what you will.
Let me be clear, I wrote that post with sympathy to those who have already faced redundancies, struggled with mounting bills, a lack of education, and many of the other challenges facing individuals the world over in both developed and emerging economies.
First and foremost, the colour of ones skin, their "nationality" and their current status in life are not criteria one should use to consider a person's worth. The world is incredibly unequal, but that should be no reason to follow our political leaders down the collectivist path.
Unfortunately, it is too easy to gull the pack; it just takes a little bit of theater, flags flapping in the wind, a brass band and a "strong" leader. Wow, what a sense of collectivist power. "We" the politicians favoured "inclusive" word, assures there exists a "them". This is how trade barriers are erected, this is how troops go to war. Thump, thump to the steady drum and soldiers boots. What an intoxicating thing. Always the herd. It's a very dangerous thing.
When a steam roller is coming down the road you are best to step aside before getting squashed, because squashed you will be. Technology is such a steam-roller. It always has been and it likely always will be.
Being pro-active rather than re-active is a far smarter strategy, because no amount of declaring that the "steam roller" should not be allowed to roll down the road is ultimately likely to help you. Legislating against "steam rollers" simply destroys the competitiveness of the jurisdiction passing such legislation.
Heavily subsidized industries have proven to be incrementally larger burdens on society. They will ultimately ensure the destruction of that society if left to run rampant. There is a reason that the United States was once leading the world in economic terms, and it is the flip side of the very same reason that the USSR did not. That reason is economic freedom. The freedom for capital, goods, skills (which means people) and services to move across borders freely.
If you need any evidence I ask you to look to Europe, the poster child of socialist dogma, where everyone is "protected" from not only themselves, but also those "nasty foreigners" who are "stealing our jobs". How's that turning out for them?
What I find interesting is that the vitriol, together with the compliments sent to my inbox and posted on forums, is only able to occur via technology; technology which without the globalization so decried, would simply not be at the finger tips of all... myself included.
Instead of screaming at the steam roller, Mark and I believe in acknowledging it and being pro-active rather than reactive to its presence. Both my recent articles "I want my children to go cold and hungry" as well as "Self sufficiency - Lessons from a Mother" drive into the heart of this matter.
Molly coddled adults are one thing, but it's our job to ensure our kids have a fighting chance, because I promise you that mothers and fathers in many of the countries we operate in are leaving nothing to chance.
We may think that the world we live in today is vastly different than that which our ancestors enjoyed, and while that's factually true, many of the issues we grapple with today have in some shape or form been present in the past.
Consider the following short list:
- The replacement of the equestrian industry with railroads;
- The replacement of stokers on steam locomotives in favour of diesel engines;
- The replacement of the bank clerk with the ATM, and now mobile/online banking;
- The replacement of farm hands manually ploughing fields in favour of tractors and harvesters;
- Print media has largely been replaced by digital media;
- Encyclopedias (which were horrendously expensive to print and massively wasteful) and associated publishers and salesman have been replaced by Wikipedia and search engines at an absolute fraction of the cost.
The list is endless, but hopefully you get the picture.
We don't believe in sitting around pontificating and whining about the world. For those who care to step out and take a look it is brimming with opportunity. Below is a sampling of some of the most interesting disruptive technologies shaping the world right now. As private equity investors we've been positioning ourselves to capitalise on disruptive technologies within Seraph, our private investor syndicate.
In no particular order:
- Reinventing finance. What can I say, this is an industry screaming out for monumental change. Yes, there will be job losses for "Joey", and Wall Street's traditional chop shops won't like it one bit. Crowdfunding is highly disruptive. We have no idea how much this is going to revolutionize personal finance and investing for the little guy. It WILL be huge. We're already invested in two companies that are shaping this space, and we're looking closely at a third as I punch out this post.
- Robots will replace much of human labour at some point, it's inevitable. We are early investors in a company which solves a simple problem, namely logistics in the food industry. They are set to ramp from essentially zero, to $66m in sales in just 3 years if they get it right. We think they have a very good chance! It's quite simply a massive industry and opportunity.
Media and Entertainment
- The music industry has been disrupted by peer-to-peer file sharing technology. Katy Perry, for example, gets millions of YouTube views when she releases a new single, yet she may only sell a hundred thousand actual "albums". We seeded a company that has created a platform to allow artists to monetize their work in a completely different fashion, by embracing this change as opposed to challenging it.
- Oculus Rift proved that the "big guys" are embracing this technology and so are we. The big brother of virtual reality, augmented reality is going to be a part of our everyday life, so much so that within 20 years most people won't understand how we did without it. Think about having the ability to conduct surgery remotely, pick inventory off a shelf in a warehouse on another continent using your Google Glass headset, or walking to an appointment in a city you've never been and being guided by a "virtual" guide walking alongside you.
- We participated in a private placement in an innovative startup company that has built a hybrid wind and solar system for end-users. Being connected to a "grid" will eventually be unnecessary. The inefficiency and waste, not to mention environmental degradation that occurs is just unnecessary. Massive disruption in this industry can't happen soon enough!
Secure File Storage and Sharing
- We were cornerstone investors in a secure, client side, encrypted file storage provider. NSA, KGB, MI5, hackers, Microsoft, Diane Feinstein, spammers... These guys are helping to solve the problem of having to trust any of the aforementioned!
- Intelligent, wearable fabrics that can monitor your vital signs, improve athletic performance and even keep your infant safe. One of our portfolio investments is a company that is creating ridiculously robust fabrics, and the only company in the world that binds nano-particles to composites using a protein.
That's a mere sampling of some of the things we find interesting and disruptive enough to put our money where our mouths are. Other areas which we believe interesting, but have yet to find suitable investment opportunities are: 3D printing, remote education, agricultural sciences and bio-medicine.
If you are an accredited investor interested in private investment opportunities, we're hosting a special event in Aspen in August that may be of interest. Many of the companies mentioned above will be presenting to our Seraph syndicate members, our network of colleagues and a few very special guests.
It is going to be a small, exclusive event where guests will interact one-on-one with thought leaders in these disruptive industries.
For those that would like more information, you can download the agenda/program here:
Password for the page is: snowmass
The event is almost full, as registration is limited. This is not only a chance to hear some great speakers... guys like Paul Rosenberg, Louis Petrossi, Doug Casey, Jason Best and David Weild IV (Father of the JOBS Act), but most appealing I think is the chance to connect with like-minded, sophisticated high net worth investors from well over a dozen countries.
"By seizing the opportunities that disruption presents and leveraging hard times into greater success through outworking/outinnovating/outthinking and outworking everyone around you, this just might be the richest time of your life so far." - Robin S. Sharma
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