Famed Silicon Valley investor (and avid landscape painter) Michael Moritz claims the world has entered a new kind of industrial revolution, one powered by cloud computing and faster processing power. Factories? Those are still part of the equation, only he thinks of them as "data factories" that have the potential to boost wages, increase per capita GDP, and make it easier than ever to become a self-employed business owner.
Moritz, a managing partner at Sequioa Capital who spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt Monday, says that this revolution has led to the rise of massive data-driven companies like Google, Amazon, Airbnb, Etsy, and eBay.
These companies, in turn, have given small-scale entrepreneurs and small business owners the ability to launch and run companies of their own. eBay, for instance, has 25 million active sellers. Airbnb had 3 million guests in 2012. And about a quarter of all best-sellers last year were published on Amazon's Kindle.
But just in case that vision sounds altogether too rosy for you, Moritz did offer a bit of a reality check. His vision assumes that tech companies can change and improve lives significantly--but not necessarily for everyone. Those that don't (or can't) participate in the technological revolution will likely get left behind.
"What does it mean?" he said. "Life is very tough for most everybody in America. Life is tough if you're poor. We are very lucky here. We are extremely fortunate."
Moritz also noted several factors that make this industrial revolution unique. For one thing, it's happening all over the world simultaneously. Less positive, however, is the fact that the data factory requires far fewer employees than the factories of yore.
In other words, this new industrial revolution, while full of economic potential, has not reached into the far corners of this country and boosted crucial economic metrics like standard of living and average wages. The real question is, will it ever?