The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ recent efforts to shut down ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft highlights a troubling trend of bureaucracy straining to protect outdated business models. From television-streaming services to vacation rental sites, today’s cutting-edge business models are challenging the status quo. And in this period of rapid innovation and technological growth, businesses and the regulators that govern them must adapt.
Gary Shapiro | All Articles
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Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association CEA)® the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His views are his own. Shapiro's latest book, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses, will be released in January. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.
The United States leads the world in the commercialization of the Internet. This is not only good for the investors and employees of Internet companies; we all benefit as these entrepreneurs pay taxes, create jobs and provide services. Today we buy and sell cars online. And groceries. And books and computers and plane tickets. More, we turn to the Web to find answers to just about all of our questions. Across the board, the Internet is one big economic bright spot in the U.S., creating new opportunities and enhancing our lives.
When I began my career, it was impolite to discuss one’s religion, sexual preference, politics or pay. Today, this cultural zone of privacy is collapsing as social mores, the Internet and even the law have shifted the playing field of personal disclosure. In many ways, we have gone from “Don’t ask, don’t tell” to “I have a right to know.” The result is a workplace culture of labels and distrust, as personal information – especially salary details – becomes everybody’s business.
The leaders of the world’s most successful technology companies know they always face a choice: continue to innovate or become irrelevant. New products and services are constantly upending the status quo, and companies that aren’t looking ahead get left behind. This fierce competition drives our economy and is the backbone of the American dream.
We live in dangerous times. Government agencies charged with keeping us safe must have access to information to protect us from terrorists and other threats. But we do have and need Constitutional safeguards. If last year’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone and Internet data taught us anything, it’s that we need a national discussion on how our information is obtained. As we search for a balance between protecting privacy and maintaining security, we must understand exactly how private our information is.
Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a landmark case that paved the way for an explosion in digital recording technology innovation. Products and features we take for granted today – MP3 players, iPods, DVRs and so much more – would not exist if the Court had ruled the other way in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, more commonly known as the Betamax Case, in 1984. Now, as innovative new services offer consumers greater access to content and more control over how they get to it and where they store it, Sony’s precedent is being threatened.
We have a holiday to celebrate our nation’s independence, a holiday to be thankful, holidays to mark religious milestones, and even a holiday to begin the New Year. What we need now is a holiday to honor and tell the truth.
When we talk about American exceptionalism, we think of examples like Apple, a bevy of Internet companies, biotech, Hollywood, medicine and space flight. American creativity gave birth to all of these things and much more. But while the glamorously inventive intellectual property ventures capture headlines and kudos, breakthrough innovations in drilling have been quietly transforming our nation’s economic, manufacturing, and even foreign policy prospects.
From mobile apps for flight check-in to finding friends and family at baggage claim, and at almost every point in between, portable electronics make air travel easier and keep passengers connected, entertained and productive.
On July 1, subsidized Stafford student loan interest rates doubled after Congress failed to act on a measure to keep rates low. The rates jumped from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, with PLUS loan rates rising to 7.9 percent. The hike would have affected more than 7 million students, costing them $2,600 extra, on average. But on July 24, the Senate passed a compromise bill that will keep student loan interest rates low – close to 3.9 percent – until 2015, and then tie interest rates to the market, with caps. The bill passed House on July 30, and President Obama has said he will sign the bill into law. It’s nice to see the rare bipartisan cooperation that led to the compromise, but the focus on loan rates is distracting us from the real problems with higher education.
America’s openness, democracy, freedoms, opportunity and diversity have attracted people from all over the world for more than 200 years. People of all nations come to our shores to pursue a better life. Many of the world’s best and brightest students come to America to pursue their passion and earn higher degrees at our prestigious universities. Yet due to our broken immigration system, too many of these students are not permitted to stay once they graduate, sending innovative ideas that could benefit our economy to other nations and costing us countless jobs.
We’ve made amazing technological progress in the last century. Just over 100 years ago, the “horseless buggy” was the cutting edge of innovation.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the fastest growing entitlement, now costing more than food stamps and welfare combined. Disability payouts totaled $132 billion in 2011, and the 2012 report of the Disability Fund Trustees warned the fund would be exhausted in 2016 --- two years earlier than reported in 2011. While the disability system provides critical support to those truly in need, too many Americans are abusing the system, adding to the drag on our already weak economy. Adding insult to injury, these wrongdoers are taking resources from those who need help the most.
Last week, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the Moment of Truth Project, released a new budget plan, titled “A Bipartisan Path Forward to Securing America’s Future.” This updated plan is the latest attempt by these two men to restore some sanity to our nation’s fiscal situation. While it leaves much to be desired, the plan is a step in the right direction as Congress moves into yet another phase of the ongoing budget debate.
While the world sees our sequestration controversy as evidence of America’s receding primacy and Americans look on with disgust, Washington politicians keep blaming each other rather than solving our budget impasse.
When people imagine the world’s most successful innovators, they often imagine them starting out isolated in their garages, toiling away at their latest gadgetry or endeavor. The truth is, successful entrepreneurship relies not on isolationism, but on assembling the right team. That is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States thanks to federal inaction on immigration reform.
The fiscal cliff is looming, and many of us are looking to our elected officials for answers. While Washington’s action is required to address the combination of tax increases and spending cuts expected to hit in the new year, we need to look elsewhere for real leadership.
This year’s election consumed and divided America. While those who supported President Obama can revel in their victory and enjoy the policy fruits of their success, the 47 percent of the American electorate that voted for Gov. Romney must also move forward with the feeling that they too are contributing to improving our nation.
In the classic Hans Christian Andersen fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a beloved but inept emperor is convinced to wear “special” clothes that are invisible. Neither the emperor nor his subjects will admit to not seeing the clothes. Finally, a young boy blurts out the unspeakable truth that the emperor is naked.