Big Think – The Online Economy Is Breaking Businesses, and Stealing Our Time and Energy

Originally published at The Big Think

It’s harder for most people to making a living now than it was before the rise of online businesses like Facebook and Amazon. That’s because the digital economy is hurting the real economy, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff. Competition is increasingly fierce in just about every industry, and digital technologies have allowed companies to pursue monopolies like never before — because they chase the entire world’s population as a customer base.

Businesses have always sought growth, but applying the growth mindset to digital technology wields some very disturbing results. Take Twitter for instance: as a company, it makes $500 billion each quarter, but market observers have questioned the company’s value because it doesn’t have a growth strategy. Compare that to Amazon or Facebook or Google, each of which span multiple industries and have grown rapidly over the last decade.

Interestingly, for all our fascination with businesses owned by shareholders, family businesses perform better in just about every metric. The reason, says Rushkoff, is that family businesses are more concerned for the future — the long term future, not just next quarter. Rushkoff explains more surprising facts about our digital economy in his book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. It’s truly a fascinating read.

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