¡Bong! "Our educational policy must enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture."
- Mao Tse Tung, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (1959)
There will soon be a new face at Bong Ventures. The UK government's loss is Bong Ventures' gain, as Downing Street Policy Advisor Rahul Sativa joins me as Imagineer-in-Residence, with a brief to nextify education into an open gamification platform.
I'm thrilled to have such a calibre of visionary join my startup investment engine. Let's run through some of this government's achievements in pivoting the economy into the post-profit digital age, of which Sativa has been such an inspiring part. Regular Bongaddicts will be familiar with some of this but it's worth spraying my warm sunlight into your eyes again anyway.
It's free thought leadership, after all.
1. Make Love Not Profits
Traditional measures of profit and loss are not appropriate for the connected digital age. Rahul really GETS THIS - and his enthusiasm made it the central philosophy of Conservative 2.0's industrial strategy. Allow me to explain.
In the physical world, when a company loses more money than it earns, it eventually goes bankrupt. In the weightless world we are now entering, companies never need to generate profits. They pivot and exit.
Nor is "profit" what drives this brilliant new generation. As visioneer Ben Hammersley says: "I would like to measure our success by the happiness and joie de vivre of everyone who lives around [Silicon Roundabout] – not the baseline profit of some multinational companies who rent space there."
It's all about fun, now.
2. Shoreditch First
By appointing an ambassador to a roundabout in east London, Rahul sent a clear message that old-style enterprise based on inventing and designing things, the kind of activity that went on in dreary provincial backwaters like Cambridge, belonged to the past. Gamification, SEO, social platforms and Open Data are where the UK economy must head.
The appointment of Hammersley as ambassador to a frankly terrifying London road system told the world:
"THIS IS NO ORDINARY ROUNDABOUT."
3. Technology, Innovation, Growth and Work have all been Redefined
This is the Conservative-led Coalition's greatest achievement: changing the meaning of so many words. Taking their old, discredited definitions and changing it to mean something exciting, new and completely different.
Work is now play, as Hammersley says. But growth had to be redefined too - which Chancellor George Osborne deftly did thanks to the help of Eric Schmidt from Google. Osborne and Schmidt used a new definition of GDP minted by the Boston Consulting Group, which Google itself had originally commissioned. They found the internet was far bigger than anyone had previously realised.
Some dreary pedants objected - such as this man - but there's no looking back.
Drynancial Times economics wallah Chris Giles
Thanks to the totally tuned-in UK media, including the brilliant BBC, "innovation" has also been redefined. Boring and smelly boffins toiling in their laboratories, coming up with useless "inventions" such as "graphene" are not the image we want to project. We want to project an image of social hipsters casually networking at Meetups, while Google and Facebook can get on with mining your Big Data. I want to thank Danny Boyle and Fi Glover in particular for REALLY GETTING IT.
Don't believe me? Look at Tech City UK that Rahul was personally responsible for creating to promote Silicon Roundabout as "a tech hub". TCUK redefined all kinds of Shoreditch's businesses such as nightclubs, bars and hairdressers as "tech businesses".
We are all Media2.0sluts now, and we are so tech, it hurts. Everything is "tech", see?
Where else can government help directly, asked Rahul? Not by subsidising failure, but by backing success.
Rahul and his brilliant young turks at No.10 - who are not all Turkish - discovered that the banking system is still stuck in the old world - refusing to give loans to ambitious but inexperienced social media consultants taking their first tentative steps into the Meetup and Drop-In networking scene.
Take my social network for pets, Catflapp. They were refused finance by every bank in town until friends of Bong Ventures stepped in with Angel funding.
As I wrote on The Registry last year:
subsidies are what dinosaur-era metal-bashers and boffins get to prop up their old-world businesses, or muck around in the chemistry lab with their silly and pointless new materials, like graphene. Catapults are what vital new social media agencies and innovation imagineers - like BongVentures - get to deliver the weightless, frictionless post-profit new media open data economy.
For more on what's being called "Bongonomics" - tap your finger here.
5. Scrapping red tape and medieval regulations, like Intellectual Property
Do you think your medical records belong to you? Think again. You're a social creature, with a social brain. Your data should therefore belongs to everyone. In fact, all our so-called "personal" data is really like the internet itself: nobody should own it, so everybody can use it.
Copying itself is also an act of innovation. Real creativity is generated by the Hive Mind - it's our collective intelligence that generates ideas, and in the 21st Century it's now wired together by networks in a gigantic version of Charlie Sheen's brain.
Yet, believe it or not, there are still antiquated regulations that allow people to "own" things. Standing on Silicon Roundabout itself, and quoting Google, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to repeal our so-called intellectual property laws. Soon copyright will be completely null and void in the UK - giving my Big Data-mining startups and Google UK a world-class advantage.
And the Open Government License will see some of the most valuable UK data given to Google for nothing - a brilliant giveaway for which the UK taxpayer will thank this Coalition for generations to come.
[Legal Note: Bong Ventures asserts ownership on all algorithms and trademarks used by startups in which its invests - back off]
Rahul will be exploring educational opportunities in the post-copyright world. He tells me that everyone is already using Wikipedia anyway.
He's carved out an incredible record of achievement - in just two years. So come June, there will be a new face around the Tramperies of Shoreditch.
Let's give him some respeck.
Bong Out. ®
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Steve Bong (formally Lord Bong) is the founder of Bong Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator focussing on innovative new technology start-ups based in Shoreditch, London. When he's not helping rear the next generation of business models, Steve enjoys parties, foreign travel, extreme cuisine, Open Data and draws his inspiration from Ayn Rand and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He advises No.10 policy guru Rahul Sativa on mindfulness and innovation, Mark Zuckerberg on the Perfect IPO, the Republic of Kazakhstan on emergent social media strategies, LOCOG on brand enforcement, and imagineered the Olympic Opening Ceremony with Danny Boyle. He wants to pivot the BBC into the 22nd Century, and favours Small Government but Large Catapults.