After completing my undergraduate degree in 2006 I spent the next 15 years working in tech. I’ve worked in / run multiple startups and gone through venture financing, a couple of acquisitions, an IPO and a wind down.

Then the pandemic presented me with the opportunity to pause and reflect. It struck me that the world of technology startups I entered in 2006 is unrecognisable to the one I left in 2020. I would like to answer the question: what changed? But I am smart enough to recognise that to answer that question you’ll need more time (and more words) than a master’s programme allows for.

One pretty evident change is the power of “big tech”. At the start of 2006 users of Facebook still had to be university students. Apple hadn’t released the iPhone. Amazon was worth about $20B (it’s now worth $1.5T). And Google had yet go on a run of acquisitions that would build the company it is today – YouTube, DoubleClick, Postini, Waze etc. Examining the size of these companies and contemplating the changes that should be made to reign in their power is the central thrust to my research while at King’s. More specifically I am interested in:

  • Interoperability as a regulatory tool. Mandating the “opening up” of large platforms to provide users with more control over their data and to foster more innovation.

  • Algorithm power. The most important algorithms in our day to day lives are controlled by a handful of companies, this is an overt centralisation of power that society must reject.

  • Kill zones. There is a growing body of evidence that the presence of “big tech” within a market is stifling innovation due to the vacuum in funding they seem to create.

I shall use this blog to explore some of these issues, while also being mindful that I should avoid plagiarising myself. If you’re interested, I also keep a link roll (sometimes with commentary) on Feedly which I may consider integrating into this website in the future.