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The Value Game Plays The Valley Game

(The following is a draft of the unveiling presentation for The Value Game at The Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on February 28th 2011)

Hello;

The Ingenesist Project is developing a new class of business methods that convert social value into financial value, and vice versa.  The premise is that when people cooperate to do useful things, they can also create an amazing amount of social value.

Historically, we have seen how each of the great eras of human civilization was derived from the prior era when the tools of that prior era became integrated.  Like when the wheel, wedge, and pulley integrated to become the printing press.  Great social transformation followed.

So it is that integration of tools that we are most interested in.

Today, we can see this drama playing out across the Globe as people integrate the tools that were created over the last 30 years. People are reorganizing and in doing so they are directly challenging the power of financial currency with equally powerful social currency.

So it is inevitable that a conversion factor between social currency and financial currency will arise.  And that, we believe, will mark the next economic era.

So we developed something called The Value Game that we believe will help build the social infrastructure for the creation, storage, and exchange of social value.

The Value Game is a new class of business methods designed to specifically create social value.  The rules of the Value Game are very simple.  The Game Starts and Ends with money but all of the new value created in the game is denominated in Social Currency.

A Value Game is created by assembling 3 or more communities around a single shared asset in such a way that their interaction with each other relative to the asset creates social value.  In this form, social value can then be more readily converted to a financial value.

To demonstrate this, we helped launch a new company called Social Flights.  The objectives of Social Flights are to aggregate a large fleet of Private Turbine powered Aircraft and deploy them to the Social Graph instead of the Hub and Spoke system used by the Commercial Airlines.

The Shared Asset is the jet.  Player 1 is the traveler community.  Player 2 is the community of private aircraft operators. ,  Player 3 is the community of entrepreneurs at the flight destination.  The True Value Calculation compares the true door-to-door cost of using Social Flights versus other alternatives such as commercial airlines.

For example, flying between two smaller cities like Bellingham Washington and Vail, Colorado.  A Commercial flight would take close to 14 hours traveling through two hubs.  A fully utilized private flight would cost about twice as much but can make the flight in 3 hours.  So right off the bat, the True Value Calculation issues a par value between alternatives.  So if your time is worth less than, say, 70 dollars per hour, you are better off taking commercial airlines.  But if your time is worth more than 70 dollars per hour – for whatever reason – then you should take the private flight.

Now, a hotel in Vail may say – wow, here is a group of 10 people staying 5 days. They can divert advertising budget and issue a 100 dollar “discount coupon” to everyone in the group. Now the par value of the private flight is reduced to 60 dollars per hour. Next, Ski slopes, restaurants, bars, and services will deploy Coupons against the airplane lowering the par value toward closer to middle class incomes and certainly well within the business class of a commercial airline.

Things will get really interesting as people start gaming the game. The more demographic information that the traveler provides, the greater the likelihood that more and more vendors will issue them a discount coupon – which they can even resell on Craigslist.

In effect, why would someone let Facebook sell their information when people can sell it their selves?  Why would vendors pay for advertising when they can find the perfect customers directly?  Why would a manufacturer pay a retailer when the community can sell it for them?   Here we see a great deal of financial value can also be articulated in a Value Game.

Theoretically, we could build a Value Game around any shared asset from zip cars, public infrastructure, energy production, education, natural resources, even the totality of human knowledge, etc.

But for now, let me introduce Allen Howell, Chairman of Social Flights who will discuss how this new business method is developing in practice.

Social Flights should be very interesting to many of the people here because it integrates several of the hottest properties in the Valley; Travel, Coupons, Gaming, and Social Media.  Each of these communities have seen astonishing valuations lately so it will be interesting to see what happens when they, in fact, become integrated.

So please welcome Allen and I can take questions while he sets up.

Creative Capital; The Hidden Hero

 

Social capital, intellectual capital and creative capital are the factors of production for the Innovation Economy; next economic paradigm.  Few people realize that Silicon Valley arose from a perfect storm of social capital from the 1960’s, the music and arts scene of the same era, and the proximity of academic centers Stanford and Berkeley.  The Bay area corporations may have been the beneficiaries, not necessarily the originators of innovation.

Creative Capital remains the least understood, yet most important element of the Next Economic Paradigm.  As we continue our march into the regime of social media it is imperative that we understand, support, and develop this critical factor.  We cannot “take it for granted” that creativity exists and will always exist.  It must be recognized, developed, and integrated into the fold of Social Media.

Here are some stats:

Wikipedia:

  • Social Capital has it’s own page with 6816 word article
  • Human Capital (Intellectual Capital) has it’s own page at 2597 words
  • Creative Capital does not have a page of it’s own on Wikipedia

Twitter:

  • I found 20 Tweets referencing “Social Capital” in the last HOUR
  • I found 20 Tweets references to “Intellectual Capital” in the last 6 HOURS
  • There were 20 Tweets that referenced the term “Creative Capital” in the last WEEK (mostly as a trade name)

Facebook Groups:

  • Social Capital Groups: 2000
  • Human Capital/Intellectual Capital Groups 1000
  • Creative Capital: 412

Linkedin Groups:

  • Social Capital: 69
  • Human Capital (intellectual Capital): 272
  • Creative Capital: 12

While the ratios vary, the trend is fairly clear.  Creativity is not often interpreted as a financial instrument otherwise it would be associated with the term “Capital”.  There are other factors as well that may play into this.  Artists are often self-actualized outside of the trappings of material possessions and therefore less visible as economic or political power brokers.   As a professional class, they may be under-represented in social media space.  In addition, creativity does not punch a clock and is likely not working for wages as such. Or they may be running around dressed up like Engineers :)

I’ve made the point that was intended so now I’ll leave the remaining analysis to a person who has done a great deal to advance the modern understanding of the field of study related to creative capital; Richard Florida – an unsung hero for whom Wikipedia does have a page:

Richard Florida (born 1957 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American urban studies theorist.

Professor Florida’s focus is on social and economic theory. He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. [1] He also heads a private consulting firm, the Creative Class Group.

He is best known for his work in developing his concept of the creative class, and its ramifications in urban regeneration. This research was expressed in Florida’s bestselling books The Rise of the Creative Class, Cities and the Creative Class, and The Flight of the Creative Class. A new book, focusing on the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration, titled Who’s Your City?, was recently published.

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Creative Capital in Austin (SXSW)

The SXSW Music and Media Conference showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over eighty stages in downtown Austin.  By day, conference registrants do business in the SXSW Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center and partake of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature.

We at TIP find this combination of music, indi films, and Geekdom to be extremely interesting.  According to the work of Richard Florida; Engineers and scientists think and act more like artists and musicians than like production workers.  This calls into question much of what we assume to be true in corporate America (specifically 9-5 work weeks, wages vs. royalties, and who manages whom).

The mashup of music, film, and social media/technology is the basis of the most under-recognized factor of production for an innovation economy; Creative Capital. All the academics and corporate outsourcers thought talk about Intellectual Capital.  All of the marketers and PR experts talk about Social Capital.  But the SWSX is reflecting something very different.

As such, there are some interesting Filters in play. The following observation by Janet Fouts points out the curious absence of known superstars on the panel list.  It’s not the all-star game that traditional media loves so much. I would also encourage the reader to look at some of the Hot List Ideas that Janet Links to below.  My mini-rant: For the parents among us, the addition or elimination of Arts from any curriculum should not be under estimated.  Thanks Janet:

***

With all the talk about Twitter grades and the social media elite it’s sobering to look through the “hot” list form SXSW and see the proposals currently in the top of the voting. Sure, I looked for my proposals first and no, they weren’t on the hot list, but more importantly neither were many of the social media superstars I expected to be at the top of the list. After all, it is the interactive division of SXSW and that’s not all about social media folks.

There’s some pretty cool stuff in here for the web developer part of my brain too. A few people I recognize like Jason Wishnow from TED, Adam Pash from Lifehacker , Peter Shankman from HARO, and Skylar Woodward from Kiva, but there are a a lot of people I don’t know, and that’s pretty darn interesting. I spent an hour or two this morning finding some new information resources, and isn’t that really the point? Why not take a few minutes to browse the hot list to see what people are voting for and find next year’s superstars?

***

It is crucial to watch how events evolve and to recognize how people organize themselves.  Austin is not NYC, Silicon Valley, LA or Chicago – they are largely disassociated with traditional media, financial, and political power centers.  The purity of this disassociation cannot be underestimated.

Janet is right – events such as SXSW may be the best way to predict the future –  and with surprising and uncluttered clarity.

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When The Kids Arrive – from MySpace

Several articles have come out refuting the death of MySpace as researchers try to make sense of the continued persistence of what many people consider last-year’s news. Here is an interesting article by Misiek Piskorski from Harvard Business Review answering the question “Where are all those My Space Users”?

“Both traditional and social media have declared MySpace dead. Even a brief scan of articles reveals that media mavens “don’t know anybody who uses MySpace anymore,” which reportedly is not a huge loss as the site “is ridden by spammers” and “its atrocious HTML, bLiNgY graphics, and horrific backgrounds” are offensive. Many of you reading this post probably do not know anyone who uses the site either.

Yet MySpace is the 11th most visited site in the world, with unique 60 to 70 million U.S. visitors every month. Even though the site is not growing, it is a far cry from “dead” if you ask me.”

But wait!

Notice how the “Media Centers” Los Angeles, Chicago, New York are in Facebook territory.  Also note how the technology power centers; Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston are also in the Facebook territory.  Academics from Harvard, Yale, Stanford are taken by surprise in Facebookville.  The great financial centers; Wall Street, LA, SF and Chicago are all Facebook.  Maybe the prognosis for the future of social media is skewed by the proximity to major media, academic, and financial centers. Centralized power is the antithesis of social media, Right?

Looking for Disassociation.

Here at The Ingenesist Project we have long been looking for a disassociation between main stream media and social media.  MySpace may be the social experiment that indicates a deeper and most promising trend.  Is it a requirement that a social media analyst be located in Silicon Valley? Do celebrity endorsements really mean anything tangible?  Does editorialized news always provide what people need?

MySpace Demographics:

The resulting sample is representative of the MySpace population. 53% of users identify themselves as women. Of all users below the age of 50, half are 21 years old or younger, and 30% are between the ages of 22 and 30.  Everyone knows that Kids don’t Tweet and late adopters to Social Media are also later-in-lifers.   The population of the world is finite, so when will Facebook level off as Twitter has?

Looking for reversal:

Next, we are looking for a reversal where Social Media drives s0-called traditional media – not the other way around. Can a blogger in Arizona drive the great branding strategies of the future?  Can a Webinar from Montana introduce the next age of enlightenment?  Can Nashville become the next great Venture Capital hub? Can a community of children in Florida band together to sustain the next great social movement.  Will democracy, voting, and public opinion be driven by youth culture? Will corporate innovation respond to social priorities rather than Wall Street Priorities?

Ideas whose times are coming:

There are many examples of the above miracles of social media, however, a disassociation and reversal with traditional media will be an event of flip-floponomics of great significance – a watershed moment in the history of the next economic paradigm.  Traditional media, understandably, may inadvertently be assigning a premature death to many great ideas yet to come.

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The Fertilizer Economy

The bad, the good, and the ugly

The bad news is that United States has a global comparative advantage in producing bullshit. The good news is that we may actually be able to till it into fertilizer for the Innovation economy.

America’s financial crisis was caused by money created from money which was in turn a derivative of wild-eyed speculation in assorted proxies for real productivity, including real estate.  Stock prices were supported by imperfect information in a Tickle-Me-Elmo culture while broker fees are embedded in every conceivable transaction.

America has become a world leader in hype, marketing, lawsuits, and fantasy. None of these industries actually produce anything yet nobody can say they are not immensely creative, induce sweeping social movements, and their propagation demands extraordinary intellectual resources, flexibility, and adaptability.

The Theory of Comparative Advantage

It is not efficient for, say, Ghana to produce rice and Vietnam to produce cocoa. If they each produce their natural endowments and then trade the differences, fewer resources are expended to produce more goods.  This theory is the basis of global free trade and the efficiencies are irrefutable so globalization is here to stay.

Meanwhile, the literature on the subject of innovation agrees that innovation is maximized as a function of endowments in social capital, creative capital and intellectual capital.  Silicon Valley is widely held as the poster child for emerging from the deep social movements of the 1960’s attracting an inflow of diverse people where high tolerance, creative art and music were abundant in close proximity to intellectual centers of Stanford and Berkeley.

Comparative Advantage for Innovation:

By the theory of comparative advantage, if a country does not possess a comparative advantage in intellectual capital, creative capital, and social capital, they would not hold a comparative advantage in an innovation economy.

For example; China has a huge endowment of intellectual capital and throughout history they have been an inspired creative force.  However, the current government thwarts social capital.  Therefore, whereas China has a comparative advantage in a manufacturing economy, they would not necessarily have a comparative advantage in an innovation economy.

Many other countries have endowments of intellectual capital as well as democratic governments, but cultural norms may still constrain diversity related to gender roles, social classes, lifestyle tolerance, or the acceptance of “outsiders”.  As such, they may have comparative advantage in a knowledge economy, but the relative deficiency in creative capital would inhibit a comparative advantage in an innovation economy just as quickly.

The Fertilizer Economy:

That said, the United States has a vast abundance and tremendous economies of scale in social capital, intellectual capital, and creative capital in comparison to any other country in the world.  The problem is that these assets are sequestered behind the corporate veil, suppressed from true wealth creation by the priorities of a financial system built to produce nothing except analyst expectations.  Like sugar calories, lots of energy is delivered, but sustainable health is not.

The harvest in the wind

The brokers, speculators, and marketers are not bad people – in fact, they are brilliant.  They are simply stuck with the wrong set of incentives.  The Ingenesist Project dramatically changes the incentives and promises a far better allocation of intellectual capital, social capital, and creative capital.  By making such assets tangible outside the construct of the Wall Street, the comparative advantage of the United States in an innovation economy will be astonishing.

Where there is fertilizer in the wind, Wall Street will lead. Where there is a harvest in the wind, Wall Street will follow.

Got a Life?

Geographic Compatibility:

In the early 1990’s, traffic in Los Angeles was so horrendous, it could take hours to travel a dozen miles.  Commuting was a nightmare and the last thing anyone wanted to do was sit in more traffic.  As a single professional, every time I met a prospective lady friend, I had that elemental question in the back of my mind – and so did she: are we Geographically Compatible (GC)?

The sweet spot:

I recall many a magical conversation ending with that mutual inevitable shrug of the shoulders; a secret code for “have a nice life”.  In Los Angeles, GC peaked in the sweet spot of 1-6 miles.  After that, GC diminished roughly proportional to the square of distance with 20 miles as an absolute maximum.  Any more was no closer or farther than, say, Nashville.

The cost of ownership:

Today, not only must we contend with traffic and the cost of owning a car, we must attend to a warming planet were every gallon of gas burned spews 19 lbs of CO2 to the atmosphere.  In addition, we have a deepening deficit of the most valuable asset in our lives and the lives of those around us; time, bandwidth, productivity, sleep, money, innovation; it’s all the same convertible currency.  All are wasted equally behind the wheel of an automobile.

Social Experiment:

With this in mind, I did a little experiment.  I went to Linkedin and conducted a search for everyone within 6 miles of me.  All that they offered was a 10 mile range and with keyword search too.  The results were very interesting; not ideal but not too shabby.  I tried the same with Facebook, and the best I could do was search by zip code.  It was very awkward and the profile search feature only allowed me to query my existing contacts.  I am guessing that there is some sort of security issue that restricts this type of searching.  Too many nuts, flakes and stalks in that granola, I suppose.

Not unlike the LA dating scene, the future of innovation economics, global sustainability, quality of life, social support structure, family values, and money management will rely increasingly on GC; and the constraints will not end soon.  Social Media must understand the monetization potential of GC and develop robust applications to support it.

If that is not enough convincing, try this:

‘The Jane Jacobs externality’ named after a transformational sociologist of the same name, suggests that concentrations of educated and skilled people attract companies and investment to a geographical area.  The presence of such investment attracts more educated and skilled people to that area; also referred to as “intellectual capital”.

Harvard Professor and Author, Dr. Robert Putnam concluded that people acting in groups can produce far more economic growth faster and better than corporations and government combined. This is called “Social Capital”.

Carnegie Melon Professor and Author, Dr. Richard Florida, suggests that artists and engineers think more similarly 24/7/365, than managers and production workers.  This is called “Creative Capital”.

Factors of production:

All three; intellectual capital, social capital, and creative capital are wholly and utterly dependent on GC.  These are the factors of production of an Innovation Economy.

Evidence of these effects can be demonstrated by the civil rights movement, woman suffrage, neighborhood watch, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Greenwich Village, Austin Texas, Boston, Hollywood, Chicago, NYC, and many more locations where ‘wealth’ is located.  What came first, the money or the people?

So, what part of monetization is Social Media having difficult with?  The sweet spot is 1-6 miles, so get the hint and get it fast. Meanwhile, billions upon billions of magical conversations end with that inevitable shrug of the mouse; a secret code for “have a nice life”.  I say, get a life.

A System of Innovation

We have established that Innovation and wealth creation are profoundly related and that one cannot be sustained without the other.  A huge problem is becoming apparent because Money lives in a complex, global and highly integrated system where billions of dollars can circle the globe daily at the speed of light. Meanwhile, innovation does not live in an equally diverse, integrated and global system.

Instead, innovation lives in the patent system which is extremely slow, prohibitively expensive and full of secret language and legal strategy – certainly not accessible to most people who actually do the innovating.  In the immediate financial crisis where we are printing money at an astonishing rate, we must increase the speed, quantity, and quality of innovation at a comparable rate in order to preserve the balance.  We need an Innovation System to balance the Financial system.

Everyone knows that innovation happens in places like Silicon Valley, Corporations, a bunch of research labs, someplace in Japan, and of course the proverbial “Steve’s Garage”; but these places do not behave like a system, they are not integrated and they often compete rather than cooperate. Everyone knows what money is – but innovation is treated like some sort of mystery potion related to supreme knowledge among the gifted few.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember in the last chapter, the billions upon billions of tiny ideas are basically crowd sourced.  These ideas are combined into larger advances and that process continues until, say, an IPod rolls off the assembly line.   We readily call the IPod the innovation, but not the billions of tiny ideas.

A System of Innovation

Our accounting system is used to keep track of money, it is not designed to keep track of billions of tiny ideas.  So it calls human knowledge “intangible” while the IPod is “tangible”.  Somewhere along the line our culture reinforces this idea.  The truth is that knowledge is not intangible – knowledge is simply invisible.  This is a much easier problem to solve.

Intellectual Capital, social capital, and creative capital are locked up inside corporations sitting behind processes, job descriptions, and insulated from tangibility by multiple levels of management.  The command and control system arose from the industrial revolution, and with the help of Wall Street, is responsible for great innovation advances leading humanity to a global gross domestic product of 65 trillion dollars. However, the volume of innovation under this system is no longer sufficient to sustain the debt that it has also created.

Today, the phenomenon of Social Networks is showing us that human knowledge is desperately trying to become visible, and predictably, innovation in this area is increases at a remarkable rate!  The challenge now is to marry the phenomenon of social media to the financial system just like corporations are married to the financial system through Wall Street.

In market economics there are five components that are essential for a market to work properly; first, there is a currency of trade; like Dollars, or Euros, or Yen. Second, there is always an inventory so we can find pieces, count them, and build stuff. Third, there are financial and government institutions that are supposed to protect property rights to keep the game fair so that the people that own things don’t get ripped off. Fourth, we have entrepreneurs to do the fuzzy math, they interact with the system, they fill in the grey areas, and they manage risk. Finally, there is a business plan so that the entrepreneur can do what they do best – buy low, add value, sell high and pocket the difference. That’s how a market works. It’s quite simple.

Now listen carefully, these five elements are tightly connected and must be present in some way at every transaction. If any one of these elements is missing, disconnected, or corrupted, the system will fail. This is the underlying cause of the financial crisis, the system became disconnected.

We need to make “knowledge” look like money, walk like money, and talk like money and some real interesting things should happen.

The next several modules will go step by step through the five elements of market economics and we’ll uncover as best as we can those same five elements as they exist today in our knowledge economy.  Then we’ll connect the dots, fill in the blanks – and out pops the innovation economy!!!

After that, we’ll discover the new business methods of the innovation economy. And finally, we will talk about the thousands of new “corporations” that will arise. Literally, every business that we know of can be made more efficient in an environment where knowledge is tangible and a great deal of new wealth creation will occur.

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