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The Network and The Enterprise, or, "Hey! It's not a bubble if no one pops it! Hey!"

Here’s an email I sent to a recent b-school graduate this morning:

I was listening to the recent Gillmor Gang episode, and there was much talk, in the last two segments


where they start talking about the old (to put it cynically) “the internets [or “tubes”] are going to make Big Companies obsolete!”

I of course eat up that kind of stuff. But, then I realized, I don’t have a base line for the intentions, benefits, and discussion of why you’d want a big company.

So, I thought, surely there’s some articles, books, authors, etc. that would answer the seemingly dumb question, “why would I want a large company anyhow?” Now, the cynical answer (I’m full of cynical!) would be “so the people at the top can skim money off all the people in the rest of the hierarchy, but that’s a sort of bathroom graffiti understanding of things.

So, any recommendations?

I mean, I assume, and have long acted like, it’s all a good idea, and people seem to like it. But where’s the documentation?

Now, aside from widening that question to all of you, dear readers, allow me do some riff-questioning on the idea:

  • How much has, does, and will The Network effect the nature of the enterprise?
  • Few people want more than 9-5. They have a “life.” But, can a company be profitable in that way?
  • Is this just small people complaining about BigCo’s as rooms full of assholes? In which case it’s time to get out of the kitchen?
  • Do only BigCo’s scale? How much scaling do you need? Can you ever say “well, we’ve finally grown enough this quarter, so we’re going to flat-line”? Or, even better, can you say something like, “well, what with open source, a sort of Benkler notion of networks and participatory culture, it turns out we can deliver what our customers need as a $10 million dollar company instead of as a $5 billion dollar company. So we’re shrinking”?

To clarify what you’re thinking, I wear flip-flops, not sandals. But I like chasin’ rainbows.

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Categories: Companies, Open Source.

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2 Responses

  1. If it happens, and I don't really think it will since there are some industries that rely far too much on infrastructure that unless there's some sort of magical nanite revolution you're going to need a *lot* of overhead, it won't be a concious business decision. People will just start quitting and going off and doing what they want to do and start being succesful at it while the BigCos slowly dry up until they're not profitable anymore.

    Economy of scale is a pretty damn powerful market force, it's going to take a lot to knock it out of effect.

  2. You should check out "The Corporation"