Oh great digital prophet, tell us what the future will bring.
Lately it seems like everyone believes the young, rich, Internet entrepreneurs will help bring about world peace and provide a chicken in every pot. I just listened to an interview with Groupon CEO Andrew Mason done by Matt Lauer from the Today Show and it was quite nauseating.
Mason’s cyber coupon company reportedly turned down $6 billion to be bought by Internet giant Google, and everyone is freaking out over why anyone would say ‘no’ to a mountain of money. The media has also become obsessed with the kooky and confident 30-year old Mason; their latest in a string of young cyber entrepreneur love fests, most notably Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg.
There’s already been a movie made about Zuckerberg. By contrast, one of the first feature films about Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company in 1903, “Ford: The Man and the Machine,” wasn’t made until 1987. It’s unclear if Facebook will even be around that long. But I guess we don’t always care about staying power. It’s all about the influential of the moment.
First of all, it was unclear what Lauer was referring to. Clout in business? Clout in the United States? Clout in the Universe?
Second of all, why does our society now put so much faith in people like Mason and Zuckerberg? Yes, they both have business savvy, but why are we expecting these guys to change our world?
Mason came up with an idea to further boost our consumeristic society, something that really hasn’t helped the fabric of this nation given the economic hell we’re going through now. Yes, Groupon is making lots of money, but if we’re looking to these individuals to make a real difference in society, or we look to them as the pinnacle of what everyone, including our kids, should be striving for in our careers, there will be no artists, nurses or anyone who can really make our world a better place.
That said, I loved Mason’s reply to Lauer when asked what he was going to do with his new-found, I’m-a-really-rich-guy clout:
“I feel like clout is something that builds up on your teeth. I can’t even take that question seriously.”
OK, maybe I wasn’t entirely fair. Mason may have already made the world a better place with that comment.