More Reflections From Palo Alto: The Millennials Cometh!

By Todd Harrison  MAR 28, 2012 1:10 PM

"The digital generation has blurred the line between skill sets and experience."


I've received a lot of thoughtful responses to my story, YPO: Getting Social in Palo Alto. Here's the latest, republished with permission from author, Bill Francoeur.

In your article today (Random Thoughts: A Quarter-End Bender Approaches), you write:

Another takeaway from Silicon Valley? Confirmation of my long-standing sense that the Millennials will be the human doers of the next generation. The digital generation has blurred the line between skill sets and experience.
We talk a lot about green shoots—it’s an over-abused metaphor.  Your column yesterday regarding The YPO Digital Media Conference and your follow-up this morning got me thinking.

The Millennials are correlated, but they are not the cause.  Here is my case, and please forgive the lack of brevity...

The world as we knew it was crusty.  By crusty, I mean that there were countries, institutions, establishments. These were solid, had mass, and could be an impediment to progress. 
Maybe ice is a better description.  Glacial in pace, established and immovable.  If you were an American car manufacturer or programmer, you didn't fear labor in Brazil. 
Publishing a book?  You better get a publisher and they owned your ass. 
Releasing an album?  Gotta get with a label and they’ll get you on radio stations. 
You were a broker for Goldman Sachs (GS)?  You didn't fear a newsletter or an independent broker. 
You were a lawyer and were a member of the Bar Association, because you had to be to be "in."  The education system locks kids into schools—and often, careers.

The ice is melting and we're becoming hyper-connected and fluid.  Digital connectivity makes ice melt and allows fluid motion where before it was static—there was nothing. 
Want to publish a book these days?  Amazon (AMZN) publishing does it. 

Pay big money to a Bar association?  Don’t waste it; I'm fighting off LegalZoom and need to boost my Google (GOOG) presence. 
Brokerage fees? See ya! I'm trading ETFs through one of my online accounts and have a subscription to Minyanville. 

The Valley/Geek angle to this is that new tools for this model are coming out.  Amazon Web Services, app development using Groovy/Grails, Ruby/Rails are quantum-leap improvements and have made the cost to destroy a 100-year-plus institutional model negligible. Collaboration tools like Rally, Atlassian, CollabNet are cheap and mean you can be worldwide with 2+ employees.  

All of this means, you're fluid or you die.  Some companies are dead and just haven't realized it. 
The Millennials will inherit that world, bend it to do new things in new ways but most importantly, be raised with only that model in their mind. Give them a smartphone, a tablet, and the cloud and they will blow up your old model. They aren't only building the tools, but they are being raised on the model.  

It's happening everywhere -- except government.  But that too will come.

Makes me all tingly inside thinking about it. 

Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

Twitter: @todd_harrison

Twitter: @Minyanville

No positions in stocks mentioned.