In today’s Exponential Investor

  • A little bit of crazy
  • Connecting and destroying
  • 1994

“The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”

– Peter Diamandis

With all great technology breakthrough, there has to be an element of “crazy” about them.

There has to be an element of science fiction about them.

Without that, how can you upend the status quo?

Of course when any major game-changing technology does hit the masses, it’s never an overnight success.

In fact, most real foundational technologies that we use in abundance today without a second thought were all fringe, “crazy” ideas early on. They all faced enormous scepticism, backlash and fear.

That is…

… until they became a ubiquitous part of daily lives.

Then they weren’t so crazy any more. They weren’t anything. They just were.

Do you have neurasthenia?

Back in July I wrote in Exponential Investor about incredible technological innovation.

As part of that essay (which you can read in full here) I wrote,

From the middle of the 1800s people had witnessed the invention of the telegraph, telegram, phonograph, light-bulb, x-ray – all powered by electricity.

But this electrification of devices and the subsequent rollout of electricity globally came with genuine fear, misunderstanding and uncertainty about how this “modern” world would impact people. 

There was a fear they could even threaten people’s lives.

Many sceptics wrote off these technologies. In fact, it got so wild that in 1869 a New York neurologist actually named a syndrome, “neurasthenia” – with the prime causes being the acceleration of people’s lives due to the telephone and telegraph.

This syndrome has since (obviously) been debunked. But it goes a long way to showing that people are often fearful of new things. Sceptics are always quick to criticise something that may challenge the status quo or disrupt the world we live in.

Do you worry about any of those things today?

When you switch on the lights at night are you petrified? Do you fret over the acceleration of your life due when you flick on the kettle?

No, of course not.

According to TechXplore, “On October 29, 1969, Professor Leonard Kleinrock and a team at the University of California at Los Angeles got a computer to “talk” to a machine in what is now known as Silicon Valley.”

This was the first node of ARPANET, the precursor to the internet.

It would take a touch over 30 years for the internet to really become widespread. That’s right, 30 years.

In 2000, there were approximately 783 million internet users worldwide. A good reason for that slow growth is due to mainstream “news” neglecting the significance of its meteoric rise.

In fact in 1995, Newsweek magazine published an article which read,

The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Do you think the same thing today?

Do you still believe that the newspaper is the place to go for up-to-date news and information?

You might still believe this technology can’t replace a competent teacher, or the way government works though.

If that’s the case, you need to start thinking differently.

The foundational technologies of electricity and the internet are two of the most significant developments we’ve seen in the last 200 years.

Layers of technology

But what if we’re on the cusp of a new foundational technology, akin to the size, scale, reach and economic development both electricity and the internet have delivered?

Arguably, the internet does not exist without electricity, and the next big foundational technology does not exist without the internet.

This is what I call technological layering.

You get new foundational technologies that exist due to the breakthrough of the foundational technology that comes before it.

My argument is that these truly social-shifting foundational technologies are few and far between. That only a handful of them come around every 100 years or so. And they redefine how we live, communicate and socially interact with each other.

Looking back there are a handful that spring to mind:

  • Electricity
  • The telephone
  • The automobile
  • The internet
  • Wireless data networks.

Now you might be thinking I’ve left off loads of examples there. Television, the personal computer and smartphones are ones that may spring to your mind.

But none of those are networks or platforms that change how we connect.

  • Electricity connects energy
  • The telephone connects voices
  • The automobile connects distance
  • The internet connects data.

These are truly foundational technologies. They don’t come around often. And when they do, they always have detractors as I pointed out on Friday.

But these breakthroughs were all once in their infancy. All once the realm of science fiction, all completely destroyed the analogue ways that came before them.

  • Electricity destroyed the need for fire
  • Telephone destroyed the telegraph
  • Automobiles destroyed the horse and cart
  • The internet destroyed print information (when was the last time you went to a library?) and is in the process of destroying television (amongst other things).

So what comes next?

We’re only at 1994?!

We know humanity never sits still for long.

Always forward progress. Relentless forward progress.

What’s the next big, foundational technology that’s going to destroy one way of existence to open up a whole new way of connection, and social interaction?

I’ve got a pretty good idea. In fact, I believe the next major platform, the next global foundational technology, is right here, right now, already changing how we connect.

It’s still in its infancy, still packed full of scepticism, but growing faster than any other foundational technology that’s come before it.

Its growth trajectory is even faster than the adoption of the internet. Some argue that if we were to compare where we are now with this new foundational technology, it would be akin to around 1994 with the internet.

Now, we know from Friday’s article that in 1994, as an 11-year-old boy, I was mind-blown by Netscape Navigator. It unlocked a magical world that I’ve never left.

We also know that was the start of one of the greatest market runs of all time, as giants of the internet minted fortunes for early adopters and investors… which we’ll dig into more tomorrow.

If we’re still at “1994” then imagine what’s yet to come if this foundational technology plays out as I expect!

The key point you need to really know is…

I’m going to tell you in explicit detail this Thursday what this foundational technology is. I’m also going to show you what it is. And then I’m going to tell you without asking for anything in return how you can invest in it.

That’s coming on Thursday.

Why not just tell you about it now? Well, I want you to really understand why, how and what it’s going to do to change the world. But by understanding everything from the scepticism of foundational technology to how foundational technology appears from “nowhere” you will be able to cut through any noise and really appreciate the opportunity in front of you.

Tomorrow, I’m going to run you through just how big an opportunity foundational technologies like this can be for early investors, and how this new one could blow the doors of all that have come before.

Until then…

Sam Volkering
Editor, Exponential Investor

PS You’ll see a selfie I took while on location recently, with one of my awesome film crew just there in the background…


Source: editor’s own

We were out on site, in Central London, putting together the finishing touches on research I’ve been putting together about foundational technology that’s been months in the making. It shows you, proof, that right here in the UK we’re at the epicentre of the next great foundational technology breakthrough. It’s exciting stuff, so tune in for more over the coming days, I’d hate for you to miss out.