Anti-Visionary

I’ve been reading the biography of Edison recently and the sheer volume and expanse of his creativity and innovation is almost unbelievable. He is credited with over 1093 patents in his lifetime and with the creation of over 100 companies. What struck me however was that he was not only focused on the creative and generative process, but that every “invention” had to be practical and have some economic feasibility. There would be no WeWorks coming out of Menlo Park.  It got me thinking about disruption, and the scope and scale of disruption as it exists today versus Edisons day. You can be sure that there were outstanding ideas and inventions that permeated the labs in that New Jersey suburb, but yet never saw the light of day because they weren’t feasible, feasibility as defined by profitability. Contrast this with WeWork, which was neither innovative nor profitable, however in the absence of both was  still able to amass substantial investment dollars, that is until the brick wall that always ends such schemes:Financing.  Describing the selection of growth over profits WeWork management stated back in the heydays of early March “We can very much, if we chose to, moderate our growth and become profitable,” Artie Minson, WeWork’s president, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s a time for us to continue to accelerate.”

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