Sunday, August 1, 2010

Billion Dollar Baby

Last week, a friend told me his dream: to become an inventor. This friend was already a successful Senior Associate at an up and coming law firm in Makati, earning a comfortable salary every month thanks to his dollar-billable hours, bought two condominium units in the past year, and recently invested in the food retail business. So naturally, I was a bit surprised to hear him say that he dreamt of becoming an inventor. "What do you want to invent?", I asked him. The thought of poor Filipino inventors dying without getting the proper compensation and credit they deserve for their inventions popped in my head.

"The next big idea." he said. "Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Wikipedia. Imagine if I can create something like that. A billion dollar company."

So appparently, he was referring to following the footsteps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the creators of the billion-dollar company Google, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook or Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. While the idea seemed thrilling, I just had to burst his bubble one more time.

"But everything has been invented on the Internet." He disagreed and we engaged in a long debate on whether the Internet has reached its full potential or not. I subscribed to the idea that everything that can be done online has already been created. Online libraries, radio, television, comics, online shopping, online maps, online recording, online deliveries, online burol, online church service, online govenance... EVERYTHING has been done online. He told me I was limiting myself if Ithought that the World Wide Web has reached its full potential and has no more room for expansion.

"A few years ago, do you think someone would have thought of creating Wikipedia?"

I challenged him to think of an idea for a Website and I would Google it to see if a website catering to his idea already exists. True enough, all his suggestions went kaput.

So that's the question that's been bugging me for the last two weeks or so. Wouldn't it be interesting if indeed, the Internet has finally reached satiation? That ideas no longer exist? That the only thing left for the rest of us to do is to replicate or modify all the great ideas of our predecessors?

Despite my being a Devil's advocate, I encouraged my friend and told him I would help him conceptualize. Who knows, someday, we might come up with that billion-dollar idea, too.

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