For industry people who keep up with the daily technology news cycle of incremental feature updates, startup launches, and seed funding stories, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture of how tech has changed how the world operates. So sometimes, it’s fun to just step back and realize how crazy something that’s happening today would seem to someone who time-traveled from, say, 100 years ago — or even how improbable it would seem to yourself just five years back.
To wit: People are now signing $100 million contracts not with a pen, but with a finger. And it’s not because they’re signing in blood. It’s because they’re using an iPad.
Now, digital signatures are nothing new — surely anyone who has received a UPS package or used a credit card at Walgreens in the past few years has done a similar thing. But when it comes to huge money and major contracts, it always takes a bit longer for people to adopt digital tools. But from the looks of one very large professional basketball contract made this week, it looks like when it comes to digital signatures, the tide has turned from physical to virtual even at the highest levels.
And of course, he Tweeted the moment too:
It’s funny. Just a few years ago, a good friend of mine’s father bought her an expensive Montblanc pen when she graduated from law school and landed her first job as an attorney, telling her: “You can’t be signing million-dollar contracts with a 10 cent Bic pen.” It was a really thoughtful gift, and at the time it made perfect sense. But nowadays, the rise of the iPad has made it so that pens may not be needed at all.
Changes like that are pretty cool to step back and think about — and they really make you wonder, “What’s next?”
In case you’re wondering, the title and feature image of this post is a bit of an homage to this Tumblr, which I discovered today thanks to an enthusiastic Tweet from TechCrunch’s founding father Michael Arrington.