No one knows when the rules of a game changes

Joe DiNucci kicked this session off at Silicon Valley comes to Oxford, called Changing the Rules of the Game. He said that when he started an electric charging scheme  for electric cars, the lefties thought it should be free.  It was not conceived as a socialist enterprise. That company is Coulomb Technologies. At first, there were no cars. At first there were no customers, but he said building the infrastructure was important.

Brian Sager of Nanosolar said that instead of building big pieces of glass, it went to a printing press and has raised half a billion dollars and selling at an economic price. That involved a different type of thinking, he said. He kind of didn’t hit a glass ceiling, so to speak.

Anthony Rose said that it was interesting to see which people are innovators and others just want the old technology to stay. It’s the marketing peoples’ job to embrace new stuff and make sure people know it’s there. The music business spent 10s of millions suing everyone they could. But they could have knocked themself out of the game.  Some people just want disruptive technology to go away.

Maria Sendra, a partner from Jones Day, made a point that no one has come up with yet.  The world economic situation is seriously affecting the biotechnology industry. She used to have startups coming to her for money, but now countries are coming to her for money. Spain was ahead of the curve in the solar industry but things are beginning to break down.  She wondered how we could build things together again. The world economic situation is one of the things that changes the game.

Megan Smith, a Google exec in charge of new business development, wonders if things were much simpler when teams were small. She wondered if there was a way all companies could collaborate to get out of hot water. The question, however, is whether anyone would want to collaborate with the MegaGoog. She is basically suggesting horizontal rather than vertical structures including something she described as “rapid prototyping”.

The chairman wondered if it was OK treating business like a game and acting in a Machiavellian manner.  Sager said that at the municipal level the gamesmanship goes away when you deal with the concrete rather than the abstract – at the federal level of government there’s paralysis because they’re playing games.

Richard Sergay, from The Curiosity Project for Discovery Commmunications, said that disruption in story telling – which he claims is what the IT business is all about – is critically important. He stood up and made a pitch and wants to show us all a film, out of the blue. It’s an attempt to build 250 interesting and intelligent people from around the world. He’s an ex-hack from ABC News.  One lady said she had asked about the meaning of life and had come to the conclusion that the answer was to be polite to everyone. Martha Stewart, in this film, said she is an optimist.  The idea, we think, is that if you put a lot of bright people together it will change the game.

Games are not always bad and not always about killing people, said Anthony Rose – it can be very creative. Small groups of people, said Sager, could solve problems that supercomputers couldn’t solve, simply because they took a creative approach to stuff.