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Roger and Me


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April 07, 2005

Roger and Me

Justin Hibbard

Last night, I interviewed Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners at a Harvard Business School alumni event in Mountain View, Calif. You've probably heard of Elevation--Bono from U2 is a partner in the firm, which is focused on buyouts in the media and entertainment industries. I reluctantly agreed not to quote Roger since Elevation is still closing its inaugural fund and is therefore under legal gag orders. That's a pity, since he was in rare form. Nevertheless, at the end of the evening, I jotted down a few non-Elevation points that various people made. I'll paraphrase them below (without attribution!).

But first, if you haven't read Roger's book, The New Normal, I recommend it. (I get nothing for saying that.) I don't agree with everything in it, but that's part of the fun--Roger is so unabashedly opinionated that you find yourself debating him as you read. Not surprisingly, a lot of the themes in the book spurred discussion at the event last night. To wit:

* The individual is more powerful than ever. Big bureaucratic corporations have slowly been decentralizing for decades. Now they outsource much of their work to small companies and entrepreneurs, and they lay off employees in greater numbers and more frequent waves than before. As a result, individuals have to make a lot more of their own decisions throughout their lives and manage more of their own time.

* Products that help individuals manage their own time are increasingly in demand. A good example is Tivo, which helps people make better use of their time spent watching TV. (Of course, Tivo, the company, hasn't yet been financially rewarded for this service!)

* People who plan their lives with the longest time horizon will gain the most control over their limited time on earth. Ask yourself what you want to do with your life.

* As the individual rises, there is a danger that community falls. Civility has taken a beating in modern culture. Just look at how nasty political discourse has become. In some corners of Silicon Valley, the me-first, get-rich-quick ethos of the dot-com era still lingers. We can't forget our interconnectedness as we empower each person.

For more, read Roger's book, or check out his blog.

09:28 PM

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