July 2016

small washpo

Some might say that it is the Pet Rock of this generation: Pokémon Go. With yet another excuse to bury themselves in their smart phones, young adults have been absent-mindedly stepping into the road, or other inappropriate places, with greater frequency than usual — as they become literal followers of the game’s characters.

I believe that Pokémon Go is indicative of a broader trend.

Recently, Elon Musk remarked that he believed that we are living in a computer simulation. “There’s a one in billions chance that this is base reality,” he said. He sees the evolution of computing power and the overwhelming attraction to virtual reality. As a Silicon Valley thought leader, he calculates it as an obvious outcome of technology’s indefatigable march forward: we live in a simulation operated by our distant descendants. Pretty heavy stuff. We are living in the film “The Matrix,” where billions of humans are neurally connected, and are unaware that the world is actually virtual reality.

While I am not sure whether Elon Musk is right about whether we are living in a simulation, I do believe that as a result of the success of Pokémon Go a reality that is shaped only by what we see around us will be encroached upon more often by experiences that were previously only digital in nature.

As virtual reality hardware and software are coming on line, there has been a discussion in the technology community as to whether there yet exists a “killer app” for virtual reality. Technologists use the term killer app to describe a software product that drives consumer adoption of new technology hardware. For example, spreadsheets were the killer app that drove the adoption of PCs into the business world, and iTunes was the killer app that drove adoption of the IPod.

Is Pokémon Go the killer app for virtual reality?

Based upon its explosive growth over the last month, many think that Pokémon Go may be a candiddate. The financial markets appear to think so – the stock price of Nintendo has doubled since Pokémon Go was released.

What has caused Pokémon Go to grow its user base so explosively? I spoke recently with Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School about the Pokémon Go phenomenon.

Listen to my interview with Jonah Berger.

He believes its popularity relies upon its visibility in the physical world – people can see their friends playing and congregating. Even in our hyper connected online world, what those…

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Buried under a difficult week of news about race and violence in this country was a big economic story. The U.S. stock market traded at historical highs, and yet as recently as two weeks ago, many market observers were warning of a recession. Here’s why this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Look around the world and the reality is that there simply isn’t a better place for investors right now. Thanks to former British prime minister David Cameron, the European Community will now suffer through a two-year Hamlet-like grappling by the English of how to handle Brexit. The United Kingdom’s economy is in neutral. Meanwhile, the Euro continues to operate as a fiscal hammer lock on the economies of Greece, Italy, Portugal and the other EU countries not named Germany.

China’s economy is propped up by a …

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I am often asked which of my life experiences prepared me most to be an entrepreneur. The answer: being in a rock band.

Certainly, I have had many experiences that have shaped me. My parents and grandparents were all business owners and when your entire family is supported by small businesses, you tend to grow up expecting to make money the same way.

My father’s sudden death in my early 20s set me on the path of understanding the fragility of life, and ensured I didn’t pass up opportunities to enjoy new experiences and growth.

Stories like this help us understand why someone becomes an entrepreneur but not necessarily what it’s like to be one.

Which brings me to rock and roll.

Musicians come together as a group of previously disconnected people to…

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The mythology of origins is a hallmark of every nation. Whether it was two brothers raised by a wolf or the founding fathers, a nation’s sense of itself is based on a shared story of its birth.

Consider the Fourth of July, a moment when we celebrate and retell our story. Buried within our expectations of fireworks, hotdogs and picnics, we are encouraged to take a moment to look back at our nation’s establishment.

We speak about freedom, democracy and liberty. Core values derived from our nation’s creation, the words have a talismanic nature; we feel them deeply. The words resonate and define us as a group.

Yet, across the United States of America, as we recite and recall these founding concepts, we don’t all see them the same way. We share the story of the founding fathers — yet over the generations, our national identity has apparently frayed.

Our current political discourse about freedom and rights is illustrative. Whether discussing business, religion, guns, or heath care, our national conversation eventually leads to fundamental disagreement.

Often, the differing views stem from…

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