SAN FRANCISCO -- Web 2.0 Expo -- If you’re a Web industry innovator, you can go ahead and take the blame for the financial crisis.
And for that, we should thank you.
"The current global financial crisis is the Web's fault. That's a good thing. It's an arresting of a 400- to 500-year process of value erected from companies unfairly," said Doug Rushkoff, author of Get Back in the Box at the Web 2.0 Expo this morning. "We could seize the day. If we don't, they will recover, and make us miserable for another few centuries."
During a keynote session this morning, Rushkoff called all corporations monopolies, all banks Ponzi schemes -- "they're so stupid they actually bought shares in their own Ponzi schemes" -- and further said that the Internet can continue to break this whole model, if we let it.
"The Internet breaks this," he said. "Web 2.0 allows people to create value on the periphery again, without going through centralized corporations. Furthermore, central bank borrowing is no longer required. You don't need the VC. The only reason you take a VC is if you're going to go Ponzi with it and try to get out."
To shift from the world driven by corporations, banks, debt, and a culture of scarcity to a Web-driven, transparent culture of abundance, says Rushkoff, we need to get over "two fundamental false assumptions about our world that are accepted as reality -- but are really closed source code by people who have long since left the building.
"The first is corporations and the notion that they promote free market capitalism when they don't. They were actually invented to prevent free market competition. The second is that currency is money. This is not money. It's a kind of money with embedded values... Currency was created to prevent transactions between people."
While IPO is largely off the table, at least for the year ahead, typically these confabs are flooded with startups looking for VCs or a way out of their daily grind -- and this one is no different. Valuation is still a large part of how this industry determines a company's worth. But, according to Rushkoff, today's financial crisis is an opportunity for Web innovators to begin a new path.
"If we walk the walk we’re talking, this is the opportunity for the Net industry run by people looking to create value sustainably for one another to actually make a living rather than to cash out; to build and keep businesses rather than selling them off," says Rushkoff. "Once you sell, honestly, you’re working for the bank, or at least your company is. The fun is over. And that is the booby prize."
— Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Internet Evolution