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Keen On… Jaron Lanier: Why Entrepreneurs Need To Make Their Customers Wealthy

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The distinguished tech inventor, entrepreneur and writer Jaron Lanier is nostalgic for the future. In his acclaimed new book, Who Owns The Future?, which is out today, Lanier takes Silicon Valley to task for monopolizing ownership of the future.

Explicitly comparing the “extractive” business models of Wall Street with Silicon Valley’s “free” content economy, Lanier told me that we are “pulling the value out of bits”. “Free” is the big problem, Lanier says. This Facebook/Google model is “not a sensible way to run the world,” he says, because it takes advantage of naive consumers, thereby impoverishing them and shrinking the economy.

But Lanier, for all his criticism of Silicon Valley, remains an optimist about the digital economy. “Work your f$@king butt off,” the inventor of virtual reality advises startup entrepreneurs. And, in what may be the best free advice anyone gives you this year, he tells entrepreneurs to focus on making your customers wealthy.