A History of the Future
See below for a preview of GSV’s 2015 white paper “2020 Vision”
Read the full report here.
“When you expect things to happen, strangely enough, they do happen.” - J.P. Morgan
Many people know the story of Andrew Carnegie, the poor Scottish immigrant who came to America with nothing but boundless ambition. Carnegie was the founder of what became the first billion dollar corporation in the United States when he merged his steel operation with a syndicate led by J.P. Morgan to form U.S. Steel in 1901.
Carnegie was determined to use his wealth for civic good and to create opportunities for others. He funded over 3,000 public libraries, Carnegie Mellon University, and Carnegie Hall on the way to giving away 90 percent of his net worth before his death.
A lesser known part of the story is that Carnegie commissioned an author, Napoleon Hill, to study the World’s great leaders and achievers to determine the characteristics that led to their success. Hill traveled the World for 25 years for this assignment and recorded his findings in a book, Think and Grow Rich, which ultimately sold 20 million copies. The secret to success, Hill discovered from the people who made history, could be boiled down to one sentence: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
2020 Vision: A History of the Future fast forwards to a United States of America we believe is possible, and then puts the movie in reverse to show how we got there. Our overarching goal — ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to par=cipate in the future — is a fundamental right in our belief system.
The lens we view this from is an optimistic, can-do perspective. We know there will be plenty of skeptics who give a multitude of reasons why we are wrong in our thinking, or point to the fact the authors are from the Bay Area and like to spend time in Colorado, where this must have been written.
We take the view that there is no option but to achieve our 2020 Vision and that there is magic in thinking big. The achievements of the past 100 years — from doubling the human life span, to wireless communication connecting every corner of the earth, to mapping the human genome, to putting a man on the moon — make the objectives put forth in this paper seem relatively simple in comparison.
Some of our optimism rises from the emergence of the Global Silicon Valley, which resides in the country of ImagiNa=on. The “can-do spirit” and entrepreneurialism that are hallmarks of Silicon Valley have gone global and viral. No longer are innovative ideas contained mainly between San Francisco and San Jose. They have spread to Austin and Boston; from Chicago to Sao Paulo; from Mumbai to Shanghai to Dubai.
The Boom of Big Ideas is transforming every industry, from Healthcare to Communications, Transportation, and Energy and it is in the midst of radically changing the $5 trillion global education industry. Companies are going from concept to “Billion Dollar Babies” at breathtaking speeds.
Imagination is a key ingredient in the transformation of existing industries. Re- conceptualizing a digital World, where computing power is doubling every two years and cost is plummeting, is the framework from which tomorrow’s revolutionary companies will be conceived.
This is a paper of How, Now, and Wow. How we “did it.” Now, as in when we started. Wow, as in what was accomplished and the impact on society.
An analogy we use to frame where the Education Industry is today is to compare it to the Healthcare Industry 45 years ago.
In 1970, healthcare was a huge market — eight percent of U.S. GDP — but a highly fragmented cottage industry, characterized by limited technology and uneven service. Skeptics questioned whether investors could make money in the sector and critics debated whether they should. From an investor’s standpoint, the sector was almost non-existent, with healthcare companies representing less than three percent of capital markets.
Today, healthcare is a much larger market, at over 18 percent of GDP, or $3 trillion. Spurred by significant capital investments, healthcare has emerged as a sophisticated, technologically-advanced sector that represents over 16 percent of U.S. capital markets. The industry has rapidly consolidated and is global. In 1970 there were just four companies with a $1 billion or greater market value... today there are over 400 companies that surpass this marker.