Michael Saylor on the Next Great Age of America
Editor’s Note: *We are so thankful to Michael Saylor for sitting down with us last month. We got such a positive response to the first article that we’re back with more insights from Georgetown resident and the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of MicroStrategy, author of “The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence will Change Everything.” *
It was at the beginning of the era of the personal computer, when the world, according to Saylor, “took a hard left.”
“The Latin-Roman alphabet is superior to symbol-based languages, like Japanese and Chinese, for writing software code. Look at a keyboard. How do you create a keyboard for a language like Chinese that has 25,000 characters?”
The PC era gave us Microsoft, Oracle and Intel, then Dell, HP and IBM. When the World Wide Web came about, it was EBay, Amazon, Yahoo! and then Google at the forefront. All American companies, all using English as their primary language, for programming and for business. Today, if you want to become a software programmer, no matter what country you live in, you have to learn English. “If you speak English you can purchase everything cheaper. If you sell in English, you will sell everything, your product or service, more expensively…The center of gravity of Western civilization is English.”
Saylor sees other factors, beyond software programming, contributing to America’s Newest Great Age. One of them is the formation of the European Union – hear his take on that. Another is that the mobile wave provides people around the world, both adults and children, with easy access to American culture and ideals.
“We aren’t just exporting American technology. We’re exporting American technology, American values, American products and services, American currency, the American legal system. It’s all becoming a standard in this creeping way.”
Saylor sees the United States as the biggest beneficiary of the formation of the European Union. Click to hear his take (4 minutes)
“Technology doesn’t work at all; technology fails…until it succeeds.”
Much of Saylor’s perspective on the mobile wave is driven by his studies at MIT. In addition to aeronautical engineering, his coursework covered the impact of science and technological advances on society. All new technologies begin with an idea. There are often fits and starts at the beginning, while the innovator is working to overcome obstacles so that the idea can become reality.
Click here to listen to Saylor's Take on Technological Innovations in Aviation (4 minutes)
Saylor gave us a quick lesson in this, illustrating the history of aviation from the Wright Brothers to the space shuttle. It’s a fascinating study (hear it here), one which he sees the software industry mirroring.
Not too long after we put a man on the moon, aviation technology advancement slowed considerably. At the same time, computer and software technologies progressed to the point where the general public could begin to use them. As consumer adoption increased, advances have come rapidly – all the way from the desktop computer in the 1970s to Internet access on your smart phone today in 2012.
Regarding Privacy Concerns: “At the end of the day I’m not concerned about the plight of consumer; the consumer is the big beneficiary of the mobile wave.”
Click here to get Saylor's insight into consumer privacy concerns and how they will be resolved (3 minutes)
If you’ve ever used Google maps on your smart phone, you were probably happy that it knew your current location and could use it as a starting point to give you directions to your destination. There’s a good chance that targeted content or advertising, based on what Facebook or other entities know about your online habits, has led you to products, services or information that you enjoyed.
But there are two sides to this technology. While it can be comforting to track the websites your teenager is visiting and his or her location throughout the course of a Friday night, would you be comfortable with your employer, marketers, the government or other entities knowing what you’re doing online and where you are at each moment of the day?
Many are concerned about the erosion of civil liberties. Some people readily admit that they find this aspect of the mobile wave “scary.”
Saylor acknowledges the concerns, but he sees the benefits of the mobile wave outweighing the potential downsides. He’s a big advocate of transparency, meaning that consumers are told upfront what information is being collected on them and how it will be used. He sees current privacy laws evolving to keep up with the new challenges brought by the mobile wave.
The sub-title of Saylor’s book is “How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything.” So, will it? It’s an engaging read. We encourage you to pick it up (or download "The Mobile Wave") and decide for yourself.