The New Patronage Economy
I had the pleasure of getting referred to an article from James Governor discussing the merits of a patronage economy this morning by Hugh Macleod (who is also referred to in the piece). In it James covers the idea of the changing of portals where we seek out information, and it is best summarized in his quote of Stowe on deportalization:
It's the movement of power from the large companies at the center to the edglings: we, the people.
Larger corporations or businesses can sponsor people or small teams to do what they do best, which is create. Whether it be writing, drawing, or creating music and sharing their art, information, or services the small time developers are free to create a form of value that is difficult within the larger business structure. For a couple of great examples consider Hugh's work with gapingvoid or Robert Scoble's representation of Rackspace. The businesses fund creative individuals without hooks that force their hand or deter their enthusiasm.
It is this very force that has called me to writing. Inspiration, Enthusiasm and Passion are the foundations for unleashing our most powerful creative abilities. By promoting systems that steer away from these essential creative elements, we are inhibiting our societies potential for growth of value. Trust in yourself, and trust in the creative abilities of your employees, allow them the space necessary to find their motive energy.
One of the more fascinating trends I see happening is the hiring of talent or purchasing strategic software assets. Startup founders may find their new businesses purchased by larger corporations. The rationale for the larger corporation is generally grabbing incredibly productive teams. I think it's important to note that generally keeping a hands off approach has proven to be the most effective way to leverage a talent or strategic asset grab. Google and Facebook have done this with purchases of
- ReCaptcha (strategic asset leverage security for improved machine translation of text) and
- Friendfeed (talent grab, but have moved the team to different areas).
The earnings or payoff for a content creator can be enormous compared to hourly pay. Thanks to TechCrunch author Erick Schonfeld for covering MeetTheBoss's image of Google's historical acquisitions you can visually see how Google's strategic purchases are unfolding (click the image to go to MeetTheBoss's site, then click it again to enlarge for a very readable version).