Steve Case, former CEO of America Online and former chairman of AOL-Time Warner, recently published his first book, The Third Wave: an Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. In it, he describes the first, second and third waves of Internet development and how he believes entrepreneurs should interact with the latest wave. 1985-1999 saw the laying of the foundation for the online world; from 2000-2015 we saw how search, social and ecommerce startups grew on top of the Internet; and 2016 onward is witnessing the beginning of the Internet of Everything --forget about the “Internet of Things”-- when ubiquitous connectivity allows entrepreneurs to transform major real-world sectors such as banking, food, education, and health care.
How the United States reacts to this Third Wave will be pivotal to its maintaining a global business leadership position. There is a critical need for this country to write laws and national strategy specifically for the Internet of Things. The federal government is not designed to regulate issues that affect so many different sectors at once. Our government must also invest more money in R&D. As a percentage of GDP (0.69%), we are at the lowest level since the 1950s. A third recommendation is make it easier to startups to raise money, e.g., equity-based crowdfunding. Next, the US should make it easier to hire top talent. Talented scientists and engineers are still coming to our universities but more of them are returning home when they would have preferred to stay. Case’s last recommendation asks for new rules in a new era. At issue is that the economy is changing far faster than the rules governing it, particularly in regards to full-employment vs contractor status.