This blog isn’t 10 years old and as such this is the first new decade that I can reminisce as a blogger. Inspired by Axios’ Pro Rata podcast, let’s do this year by year with one major story per year (or two if one isn’t enough):
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010. Axios mentions that this was the first big movement communicated over social media. It seems like Facebook and Twitter have been around forever, but Facebook only became open to the public in 2006 and Twitter launched that same year. And while social media may have helped the Arab Spring, Axios overlooked how faxes helped prevent the coup in Russia in 1993. I’m old enough to remember faxes as a very early semi-digital social sharing network..
Occupy Wall Street was in September, 2011. That was the beginning of the discussion of income inequality and the start of the “1%” as a meme. It would be two years later than Capital in the 21st Century would be a New York Times bestseller, setting me off on my quest to understand cures to inequality global poverty.
While Axios thought the big story of 2012 was legalized cannabis in Colorado and Washington State, the big story for me in 2012 was a change from serial entrepreneur to parallel entrepreneur and mentor. 2012 was the year I started teaching at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the year when the first of The Next Step books was published, and the year that Fledge first launched.
Edward Snowden blew his whistle on the U.S. Federal Government and opened up the conversation about privacy on the Internet and in everyday life. This was the year most of us discovered the existence of the organization WikiLeaks, which would reappear in the news a few times in the 2010s.
Axios thought the still mysterious loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was the biggest story of 2014. I’ll disagree and point to this year as the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. I don’t often post about politics on this blog, but in 2014 we had clear, definitive proof that the United States’ State Department has no idea what do after the U.S. Military wipes out a foreign government. Hopefully the next generation of leaders in the 2020s (and beyond) will notice this too and stop starting wars without first planning for peace. Or skip the wars and simply work on peace to start with.
2015 began the 21st Century Space Race, moving space technology out of the purvey of governments and into the hands of private companies. SpaceX was founded back in 2002 but 2015 was the first time it launched a reusable Falcon rocket, putting the company on the path to lowering launch costs by an orders of magnitude. And 2015 was also the first public news from Blue Origin, which is following that same reusability path.
America is still living the big story of 2016, the election of Donald J. Trump. I was hoping we’d make lemonade from that election upset, but no. If history repeats itself in 2020 I’m going to reprise Plan 11.
Meanwhile, 2016 was the year I started growing Fledge from a small business accelerator helping a few companies per year from Seattle into a global network serving entrepreneurs in all corners of the world.
#MeToo started in 2017, and wow did that movement take forever to show up! I grew up watching Mary Tyler Moore and That Girl on TV in the 1970’s and lived through the first women this and the first women that. Who knew it would take an unexpected Presidential election, a corrupt movie producer, and a million pink hats to finally wake up the country to treat women as equals?
The other story I can’t ignore for 2017 was Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It’s impossible now to be a room full of entrepreneurs without at least one of them pitching their blockchain-based idea. If you are a fellow investor, my lessons on how to think about these deals are viewable here.
2018 didn’t have one key story. If anything, it was the first year where the “news cycle” shrank in length from a week to hours. The rise of 24/7/365 cable news channels in the 1980s and 1990s sped up the delivery of news, but those channels simply repeated the same story hour after hour for days on end. The rise of internet-based news in the early 2000s gave us the same story repeated on thousands of websites and across social media, but each individual story lasted for days. In 2018 the news from Washington DC, Brexit, Big Tech, and the rest of the world brought us new news just about every day, and sometimes with only hours between stories and scandals.
Here at the end of 2019, we’re in the new normal of multiple news stories per day, almost every day. Which is the bigger story for this year?: The new anti-trust discussion around the trillion dollar tech companies, the third impeachment of a U.S. President, Brexit, the longest economic recovery in U.S. history, a world where negative interest rates feels normal, WeWork‘s failed IPO and Softbank‘s failure at capital replacing viable business models?
The 2010s as Whole
Wrapping up a decade… the 2010s have been an interesting time. The world feels more complex and out of control than ever before, but at the same time despite growing wealth inequality it feels like we’re making progress on global poverty, world hunger, gender inequality, and waking up to the urgency to end the use of fossil fuels.
If nothing else, as a news junkie this decade has made keeping up with what’s happening so much easier, with ubiquitous wireless touchscreen devices connected to a constant stream of news no matter how far I wander from home, and I’ve been wandering quite a lot as this decade comes to a close.