As we kick off 2020 — both a new year, and a new decade — it makes sense to take a step back, reflect on what’s happened, and identify some of the trends worth keeping an eye on.
I am reminded of how much has changed in the last ten years. In 2010, we were first hearing about the iPad, Facebook had just turned cash flow positive, and most people were celebrating (rather than criticizing) the growth of Silicon Valley and what was starting to be known as Big Tech. Over the last decade, there have been many innovations that have changed our lives by addressing long-standing pain points in age-old industries like transportation and financial services, and in so doing, raised complicated questions for policymakers and society.
As I learned in the early days of the Internet, technology adoption and evolution can be a slow and steady process, but once it hits a tipping point, it takes off. When AOL started way back in 1985, only 3 percent of people were online, and they were only online one hour a week. Most people didn’t think the market (then called “online services”) would ever take off, as few believed the Internet had broad appeal. That has certainly changed; we’ve gone from a period where nobody knew about or cared about the Internet, to a hyper-connected world, where everybody is connected, all the time. Indeed, the talk now is about the need to take breaks from being online, by vacationing in hotels that ban the use of phones or, going all-in on a digital detox.