In 2009, a St. Louis glassblowing artist and recovering computer scientist named Jim McKelvey lost a sale because he couldn’t accept American Express cards. Frustrated by the high costs and difficulty of accepting credit card payments, McKelvey joined his friend Jack Dorsey (the cofounder of Twitter) to launch Square, a start-up that would enable small merchants to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones. With no expertise or experience in the world of payments, they approached the problem of credit cards with a new perspective, questioning the industry’s assumptions, experimenting and innovating their way through early challenges, and achieving widespread adoption from merchants small and large. But just as Square was taking off, Amazon launched a similar product, marketed it aggressively, and undercut Square on price. For most ordinary start-ups, this would have spelled the end. Instead, less than a year later, Amazon was in retreat and soon discontinued its service. How did Square beat the most dangerous company on the planet? Was it just luck? These questions motivated McKelvey to study what Square had done differently from all the other companies Amazon had killed. He eventually found the key: a strategy he calls the Innovation Stack. In this interview I speak to Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder of Square and author of The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. We talk about how to build a pattern of ground-breaking, competition-proof entrepreneurship that is rare but repeatable. And how we can find the entrepreneur within ourselves and identify and fix unsolved problems–one crazy idea at a time.

Thought Economics

Colonel Terry Virts (ret) served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Harvard Business School. On Feb. 8, 2010, he made his first spaceflight as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavor during mission STS-130. His next launch was onboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-15M on Nov. 23, 2014, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. In March of the following year, Terry assumed command of the International Space Station (ISS) as Commander of Expedition 43. Virts has spent more than seven months in space. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Colonel Terry Virts about what it’s really like to be an astronaut, his experience of spaceflight, faith, aliens, and whether we will ever become a multiplanetary species.

Thought Economics

Justin Sun is the founder of TRON, one of the world’s largest decentralized blockchain ecosystems and CEO of BitTorrent, the leader in peer-to-peer software and services. A protege of Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Sun in 2017 was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for China and 30 under 30 Asia in the Consumer Technology category. Sun is an avid gamer, investor, and philanthropist. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Justin Sun about why we need a decentralised web, how blockchain and crypto currencies will transform our world and the future of digital identity.

Thought Economics

In her new book THE LONELY CENTURY: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart, renowned thinker and economist Noreena Hertz investigates how radical changes to the workplace, mass migration to cities, technology’s ever greater dominance of our lives, and decades of neoliberal policies that placed self-interest above the collective good have coalesced to  create a society in which loneliness, atomisation and isolation prevail – which COVID has only amplified. Hertz provides an empowering and inspiring vision for how to mitigate this, reconnect with each other and come together again. Hertz combines a decade of research with first-hand reporting that takes her from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to family-friendly Belgian far-right festivals, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to Ivy League colleges running ‘How to Read a Face in Real Life’ remedial classes. What she uncovers is a global population feeling more and more alienated and isolated. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Noreena Hertz about the causes of our loneliness epidemic, the consequences for each and every one of us, and what we can do to restore human connection in a world that’s pulling us apart.

Thought Economics

Steve Jurvetson is the Co-Founder of Future Ventures. He is an early-stage venture capitalist with a focus on founder-led, mission-driven companies at the cutting edge of disruptive technology and new industry formation. Steve was the early VC investor in SpaceX, Tesla, Planet, Memphis Meats, Hotmail, D-Wave, The Boring Company, Zoox and the deep learning companies Mythic and Nervana. He also led founding investments in five companies that went public in successful IPOs and several others that became billion-dollar acquisitions. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Steve Jurvetson– one of the world’s most successful venture capitalists – about disruptive entrepreneurship, the technologies and concepts changing our world, and how to invest in the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world.

Thought Economics

Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist developing a framework for how technology should “ethically” steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. He is now co-founder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, whose mission is to reverse ‘human downgrading’ and re-align technology with humanity. Additionally, he is co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention podcast with co-founder Aza Raskin. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce notes that, “Tristan Harris is probably the strongest voice in technology pointing where the industry needs to go. This is a call to arms and everyone needs to hear him now.” In this exclusive interview I spoke to Tristan Harris about how the technologies of social media and the smartphone are destroying our society, and what we can do to pull it back from the brink.

Thought Economics

Jaron Lanier is a renaissance man, and one of the most profoundly important thinkers of our age on the relationship of technology to humanity. He is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. He has been on the cusp of technological innovation from its infancy to the present. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams originating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. Officially, Jaron is Microsoft’s “Octopus”, which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist.. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jaron Lanier about the very essence of the relationship between technology and humanity, and why we need to evaluate the ethics of our platforms and our relationship to social media.

Thought Economics

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt is one of the world’s foremost computer scientists. He is chairman of the Open Data Institute which he co-founded with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He is a leading researcher in artificial intelligence and was one of the originators of the interdisciplinary field of web science. He is Principal of Jesus College Oxford, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a visiting Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Sir Nigel about open data and artificial intelligence are transforming humanity.

Thought Economics

Formula One (F1) racing is an incredible sport.  Some of the brightest minds in the world of engineering and human performance, equipped with multi-billion-dollar budgets, create staggeringly high-performance cars, run by similarly high-performance teams and drivers.  Nico Rosberg raced in Formula One for eleven years, claiming the title of World Champion in 2016 with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.  Since then, Rosberg has embarked on a career as an entrepreneur and investor in green technologies and mobility.  He is an early investor in numerous successful start-ups including Lilum, What3Words, Tier, Lyft and Formula E.  He is also co-owner of mobility engineering company TRE, and Co-Founder of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL; a global platform for cutting-edge green technologies.  In 2020, he became an official judge of the TV show Die Höhle der Löwen (the German edition of the BBCs Dragon’s Den) with the aim of investing-in and supporting sustainable startups. In this exclusive interview, I caught up with Nico Rosberg to learn about his life in F1, entrepreneurship and investment.

Thought Economics

Martin E. Hellman is a remarkable man.  He is perhaps best known for his invention, with Diffie and Merkle, of public key cryptography- the technology which (amongst other uses) enables secure internet transactions and is used to transfer trillions of dollars each day.   His work has been recognised by numerous honours including his election to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and most recently- receiving the 2015 ACM Turing Award, the most prestigious honour In computer science. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Professor Hellman on how, as our capabilities accelerate, our society must approach the ethics of technology.

Thought Economics

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