“Move fast and break things is Facebook’s prime directive to developers. Unless you are breaking stuff,” Zuckerberg said, “you are not moving fast enough.”
Eight years later, Zuckerberg Facebook mantra has taken an altogether different meaning. In a new book, Hollywood Producer and former USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, offers a dark vision of technology giant without restraint, trampling on the rights of creatives, consumers, and innovators, alike and propping up their company’s shares and founder’s wealth, at the expense of investing in future.
Move fast and Break Things
Subtitled how face book, Google, and Amazon cornered Culture and undermined Democracy, dissects the inordinate power of a handful of the popular, primarily Internet companies and those who run them, and its impact on culture, innovation, and personal freedom. What Taplin does best is to connect the dots, distinguishing between true break-through, ideas and ability to simply profit from data and dominate markets by making content and information widely accessible. His analysis reveals how a combination of bold vision, oversized ego, and enormous wealth have resulted in undermining the rights of wide range of people and business and pillaging whole industries.
Disregard for IP
“More people than ever are listening to music, reading books, and watching movies, but the revenue flowing to the creators of that content is decreasing while the revenue flowing to the big four platforms is increasing. Each of these platforms presents a different challenge for creators. Google and YouTube are ad-supported ‘free-riders’ driven by a permission-less philosophy.”
If several Internet high-flyers are monopolies, asks Taplin, a former tour manager for Bob Dylan, and one or more of them need to enter in a consent decree similar to the one that Bell Labs agreed to with the U.S. government in 1956, what would that model work?
“What is clear from the Bell Labs model is that such a solution actually benefits innovation in general. The availability of Bell Labs patents allowed the rise of Texas Instruments, Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. The cellular patents allowed Motorola to grow exponentially — only to bought by Google for its patents. Bell Labs’ satellite patents created a whole new industry with many players.”
This sounds like simple arithmetic, but Taplin is wrong to assume that the quality of Google inventions and patents will have significant impact. The company may be a leader in many areas of the Internet, but it when it comes to R&D and patent quality, it is no Bell Labs. Forcing Google to share its IP will not necessarily prevent it from continuing to dominate in search or enable other businesses to compete. It may, however, humble the company sufficiently to allow others to grow.
It would be difficult for many people and businesses to live without Amazon, Google, YouTube and Facebook, but it is becoming virtually impossible for those who produce intellectual property to live with them. For those who believe in the importance of ideas and innovation to the U.S. as a nation, Jonathan Taplin’s new book is an eye-opening portrait of the adversaries in the war over control of new ideas and big data, and what it will take to win.