Big Data

Sequoia’s Sir Michael Moritz: The ‘data factory’ is the next Industrial Revolution

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SAN FRANCISCO — Computation power, applications, device and services costs, and storage are experiencing a dramatic upheaval not unlike the Industrial Revolution of centuries past.

All that adds up to a “data factory,” said Sequoia Capital’s Sir Michael Moritz this morning at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Speaking about companies like YouTube, Amazon, Yelp, Google, and LinkedIn, Moritz said, “The center category of companies is these data factories — real, global data factories.”

Their differentiating factor, he continued, “is the range and the extent of the tools that they furnish hundreds of millions of people around the world with. It’s changing the entirety of our lives.”

These factories, as opposed to the mills and car manufacturers of yore, employ fewer workers and allow those who aren’t employees to contribute free of charge to the company itself. (Think about LinkedIn content contributors, unpaid except for the status badge of “thought leader.”)

These data factories, especially marketplaces, enable small business owners to reach global audiences. Moritz called out Uber drivers, Airbnb hosts, Esty sellers, Trulia agents, eBay sellers, and Kindle-friendly authors as examples of individuals with meager resources who now run legitimate businesses because of these web and mobile services.

Just as in the Industrial Revolution, however, while some folks benefit, others suffer, Moritz pointed out.

“Life is very tough … if you’re poor, if you’re middle class. You have to have a very good education to work for these companies,” he said. “If you’re not like us, it’s tough. The minimum wage … is brutal.”

Speaking to the audience of entrepreneurs, marketers, and developers, Moritz continued, “We’re extremely fortunate, and we belong to a really small minority. Despite these tools, we have very little GDP growth.”

But the Personal Revolution and its enabling data factories, he said, is occurring all over the world, notably in countries like China, Japan, and Russia.

More soon from TechCrunch Disrupt, so stay tuned.


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