Book: The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future

Every entrepreneur out there should grab a copy of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case and read it.

If you don’t know Steve, you’ve probably heard of him. He’s had a remarkably entrepreneurial journey starting with co-founding AOL in the 1980s. While AOL has now been absorbed into Verizon (after having been bought, spun out, and bought again) at its peak around 2000 nearly half of all Internet users in the US accessed the internet via AOL and everyone over the age of 40 knows how to say “You have mail.”

I’ve gotten to know Steve over the past six years through the Startup America Partnership (where he was Chairman) and then UP Global (where he was also Chairman). I’ve learned a lot from him both from reflecting on the past and talking about the future.

I was excited when he told me he was finally writing a book. I loved the title, as I’m a big Alvin Toffler fan as I describe in my post from nine months ago titled What Is The “Third Wave” Of This Generation? I didn’t have an answer for this question got an email a few days later from Steve.

“Hi Brad. I saw your tweet and blog. I too was inspired by Toffler’s Third Wave. I’m now working on a book (my first!) with some of my recollections of the past, but mostly my perspectives on the future. And, in part to honor Toffler, I’m calling it The Third Wave. I’m finalizing the manuscript now. It builds off the article I wrote for the Washington Post a few months ago. Happy to send the current draft to you to critique, if you have time to read it in the next week. (I have told Simon & Schuster they’d get a final manuscript at the end of the month.) Let me know if you’d like to see it. Thanks.”

A week later I’d read it and got some specific suggestions back to Steve with the punch line:

“Overall I think the book is excellent. I love the thesis about The Third Wave as applied to entrepreneurship.”

This is an important book that I think will stimulate a lot of thinking about the future for any entrepreneur. It also helps understand the potential futures better by reflecting on the past through Steve’s own journey, especially around AOL.

If you are an entrepreneur, make time to read The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the FutureSteve – thanks for taking the time to write it.

  • Thank you for sharing – purchased on Audible and looking forward!

  • Scott Thomas

    There’s a great article by James Fallows in (I believe) March’s Atlantic Magazine that focuses solely on America but has a similar theme around the increasing dispersion of innovation – who knew, for instance, the mid-west would be a hub for drone innovation? Def. worth a read.

  • I just attended the Boulder launch party of The Third Wave last week. Steve was great, and nice enough to talk about some of the main points in the book before signing copies.
    One such point caught my attention and got me thinking. Steve postulates that the third wave will usher in an era of geographically diverse entrepreneurship, meaning innovation will no longer be centered around Silicon Valley, New York, etc.. As the third wave peaks, new hubs for innovation and entrepreneurship will rise. Boulder/Denver, as Steve points out, is just such a hub, along with Austin, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Detroit and so on.
    This brought up a question, with the spotlight spreading to the relative peripheral hubs, what does that mean for the extreme periphery?
    In reading up on Steve, I discovered we share a home state, Hawaii. For me, Hawaii represents the extreme periphery, both geographically and entrepreneurially. Steve suggests that with the rise of the third wave, the geographical boundaries of innovation will all but fall away as communication technologies allow for more seamless remote interaction, and investors begin investing beyond their immediate location. In theory, this means s surge of opportunity for Hawaii’s entrepreneurs and skilled workers — capital will flow in, information and innovation will spring up and flow out.
    Yet the cost of living, and the cost of doing business, will remain artificially high because of the unavoidable geographical constraints. Burn rates for Hawaii-based startups will remain higher than their mainland counterparts. Its the same story with Hawaii-based skilled workers, they simply cost more and are therefor less attractive to prospective employers, not matter how seamless the remote interaction.
    With all of that taken into account, I remain skeptical that the third wave has anything in store for locations in the extreme periphery, aside from the status quo. High tide will raise all ships, but that leaves the relative advantage in remaining away from the extreme periphery in place.
    Hawaii has historically struggled with talent retention, and I believe it will continue to do so despite the rise of the third wave.
    Thoughts? I’d love to discuss this further with anyone who’s interested.