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The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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—Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of LeanIn.Org
“I've been waiting to read Steve's story and I wasn't disappointed. His business career is straight out of Horatio Alger and carries important lessons for all entrepreneurs.”
—Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
“We are at the beginning of the next industrial revolution where the combination of software and industrial machines is building the foundation for a new wave of innovation. With clarity and passion, Steve provides a manifesto for the future of innovation and entrepreneurship. It's a must read from a visionary leader for entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and anyone trying to succeed during the Third Wave."
—Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
“The Third Wave is essential reading for leaders in business and government, as well as for anybody trying to make sense of our rapidly changing world. I’ve worked with Steve for two decades, and I've always been impressed with his intellect and captivated by his insights. If you read this book, you will be, too.”
—General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State (and former AOL board member)
“Steve Case made history when he created America Online and introduced the Internet to the world. Steve's startup story is captivating, and chock full of important insights and lessons. But this is not a book about the past; it’s a bold and compelling vision for what’s coming next. The Third Wave is required reading for every entrepreneur.”
—Brad Feld, co-founder, TechStars and Foundry Group, author of Startup Life
“A true visionary, Steve Case understood years ago the tectonic shifts that were to occur in society, fueled by technology and acted with purpose and passion. Case’s book, The Third Wave, clarifies for leaders the decisions necessary to thrive in a future increasingly disrupted by accelerating knowledge-creation and sharing.”
– Alvin and Heidi Toffler, authors of the original ‘The Third Wave’
"The Third Wave is an indispensable book for understanding the history of the Internet and preparing for what's next. Entrepreneurs looking to build truly transformational businesses should listen closely to Steve Case's insightful advice."
– Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb
“An extraordinarily frank and incisive book from an extraordinary business leader. All budding entrepreneurs, and all who care about the future, should read The Third Wave and heed the lessons as well as the insights.”
—David Rubenstein, Co-founderand Co-CEO, The Carlyle Group
“What’s new and noteworthy here is Case’s effort to draw a connection between his own history and an impending era of change. Moreover, he’s particularly thoughtful on the subject of how digital innovation and existing regulatory regimes will need to work together in the coming decades. . . . There’s little doubt that Case’s insights have value.”
—Jon Gertner, The Washington Post
“Case believes the third wave, which is only just beginning, will have far more impact as the internet transforms real world sectors such as healthcare, education, transport and energy. He shows how existing technologies can be deployed far more smartly rather than assuming that we will see further heroic breakthroughs.”—Financial Times
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I'll concede that this is an insightful idea, and I wanted to be drawn in and inspired. Unfortunately, the book doesn't seem to make great use of the 273 pages it occupies. There a lot of pictures of Steve Case with various powerful people, and I presume that the book manages to somehow spin these trips down memory lane into something faintly relevant to the main thesis, but there was an element of self aggrandizement, ill concealed by a fig-leaf of false modesty, the net effect of which was somewhat off-putting. The book just wasn't engaging enough in other ways to compensate. It didn't take too long before I just didn't want to bother with the chore of reading it further.
Steve Case, the founder of AOL who was responsible for the first Internet experience of many people (including me and probably many folks reading this review), outlines his vision of "The Third Wave" of the Internet. The First Wave was what AOL and others did in the 1990s--just getting people online. The Second Wave, the Wave of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, created a flurry of people using the Internet to communicate and share information--but when you think about it, Steve says, the Internet has barely begun to transform the way we live our everyday lives. Our food, health care, education, and energy systems are pretty much the same as they were before the Internet--with slightly better information-sharing and communication. In the Third Wave, the Internet will integrate into everything we do.
As Steve begins to predict how, he artfully and entertainingly outlines his lessons learned from AOL--successes and failures--as he sees many parallels between the Third Wave and the First Wave (when he and others built AOL). The stories still hold very real applications to entrepreneurs today. Unlike some books that make vaguely interesting predictions but don't go into detail, Steve then refreshingly and creatively goes into detail of HOW the next wave of the Internet will transform our lives, highlighting the "Rise of the Rest," how the changing face of the Internet will transform entrepreneurial opportunity outside of hubs that have won the Second Wave such as San Francisco and Boston. If you read the newspaper headlines or listen to any political candidates, you'd think that the economy in most cities in the world is a lost cause, but Steve convincingly portrays a different story. Highlighting startups from New Orleans to Nairobi, the Third Wave illustrates how cities you wouldn't expect are changing the face of how industries rise and economies grow, and anyone who cares about the future of technology needs to pay attention: the next great innovations in food systems, for example, could be more likely to come from Louisville or St. Louis than they are from San Francisco.
The book also outlines the rise and importance of "impact investing," detailing how as the Internet integrates into our lives, the very nature of technology startups will change from seemingly frivolous apps that help us order food to areas that we have more traditionally thought are the realm of government or nonprofit--the areas that matter most, such as how we educate our kids and how we power our planet. Over the past 30 years, many tech entrepreneurs have been building companies with the sole purpose of creating as much financial value as possible; in the "Third Wave," we're starting to see an exponentially increasing group of people seeking to create social value as well.
Finally, the book is a bit of a warning: Steve outlines how, after traveling thousands of miles across the country, venture capitalists, politicians, leaders in big corporations, and entrepreneurs alike have no idea how the Internet is about to change. People are building companies and making policy as if the way things work today will go on forever. Take financial services, for instance. Politicians talk about either "breaking up the banks" or regulating them less to ensure economic growth, and large banks spend incredible sums of money protecting advantages of incumbency, but technology startups are already literally breaking the functions of banks--lending, credit scoring, wealth management, payments, and more--into faster, more personalized services that everyday people are jumping on top of. Sectors such as health and energy are ready for similar disruption.
So--what do we do in the face of the changing Internet? The final chapters helpfully outline whether you're in policy, a founder, an investor, or just someone looking to get involved in the next wave of the Internet. One of the best parts of the book is Steve telling his own story, as the Head of Pizza Development for Pizza Hut, hacking his own way into the early circles of people building the Internet in what he calls the "First Wave." This book is a useful, clear, specific way for people inspired to do the same in the Third Wave.
If you're intrigued with how the Internet will transform our lives over the coming decades, interested in a roadmap for what the changing economy looks like, or just want a great story, pick up this book.
If I were a technology entrepreneur, this is one book that I would keep on my shelf as a reference. Tech entrepreneurs need to stay several steps ahead of those in other sectors and have to be able to predict how the internet will be used not only as a source of revenue but as another source of innovation.
Entrepreneurship often reminds of the famous newspaper ad Ernest Shackleton is said to have placed before his 1914 attempt to explore Antarctica: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship, and that's what you need to know when you sign up for it.
Thanks for sharing your vision on the third wave. It's a total paradigm shift.
Top international reviews
- It seems he wasn't clear what the purpose of the book was. It is a half-hearted account of his time at AOL, and throws in some actions towards the end. It does justice to neither.
- He neglects the opportunities and risks the climate change presents (only 1 short sentence in the epilogue), which I think is a big miss.
- The book is very short; they've used some pointless pictures in the middle, a slightly large font and big spaces to make it seem bigger - still only 220ish pages though.
- Finally, it is pretty US-centric - that doesn't mean the teachings aren't relevant for others, but at points I felt like skipping bits (although I didn't).
I thought the recent books by Yuval Noah Harari, Tapscott and Martin Ford were more insightful.
Decent read, but likely not seminal reading.
Bien que Steve Case annonce que les entrepreneurs de la 1ère vague (comme lui) sont mieux parés que ceux de la 2ieme vague pour saisir la 3ieme vague de l'Internet, ce n'est aucunement explicité. Étonnant.
Je reste donc pas mal sur ma faim.
Néanmoins, comme toute histoire entrepreneuriale qui est une success story, ce qui est passionnant c'est aussi de voir qu'avant que le succès n'arrive, la mort est venue rodée plusieurs fois.
Et une fois arrivé au sommet (fusion AOL Time Warner), ce fut dur d'y rester...dire qu'à un moment donné AOL Time Warner valait 160Mds$ !
J'aurais aussi aimé que Steve Case parle plus des entrepreneurs qu'il finance maintenant à travers son fonds, Révolution. Il mentionne qu'il en a financé une centaine, mais quasiment aucun détail dessus.
I really enjoyed his book, probably more so because I was part of the Internet scene during the time that made him famous.