To create jobs, it’s helpful to think about gazelles, those fast-growing entrepreneurial start-ups that rapidly scale into sustainable businesses with high-value jobs and prospects. In the greater Washington region, both community leaders and entrepreneurs invest time identifying these business successes and encouraging new ones to grow. I’ve been looking at data, hunting for patterns, spotting industries in which local gazelles are appearing. What I found both surprised and concerned me.
The U.S. economy has had two cycles of explosive growth in technology over the last 20 years. The first period I refer to as the era of the “Internet printing press.” It lasted from 1995 to 2001 and framed the establishment of the Internet as an infrastructure to support countless business opportunities. The second period I describe as the “era of sharing” — it stretches from 2003 to today. Our region’s participation in each of these two eras of expansion has been very different.