In digital media, as in fortune-telling, the future is pretty much treated as part of the present. “What is the next big thing?” is a question everyone who works with the internet asks continually. But after several years of boom, the question of what comes after social platforms is no longer so remote.
Luckily, some experts just gave us answers. On Monday evening, the Said Business School in Oxford had invited some very bright and successful entrepreneurs who spoke in front of a packed alumni audience as Silicon Valley came to Oxford for the ninth year. The event was chaired by the very lively and assertive Frances Cairncross, rector of Exeter college.
The first expert to confront us with an answer was Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and made early investments in Facebook and LinkedIn. He reminded us to evaluate first what stage we’re at with social networks. “With digital technology there is a tendency to underestimate when things are getting mature, but to understand the financial and technological situation it is really important,” he explained.
“If you look back from today, it becomes clear that in 2002 even experts missed that Google had already become the main search engine. If people would have understood back at that time that there was no chance any more to outrun Google, some investments would have been different. But back at these days we didn’t discuss Google like this.”
He asked the audience: “Where in the history of social network are we? Are we at an early stage, and most of the companies won’t be around in a few years’ time? Or are we in a late stage, when companies like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter are really mature and will be in business to stay?”
Then he floated a bigger and more daring possibility – that the development stage of the internet itself has come to an end: “Are we at the end of innovation of social networking? And is social networking the last innovation of the internet?“
Interesting take by some of the current *internet experts*… as to the last question… I would say NO! 🙂