So here it is. We are there.
Gov 2.0 as Social Darwinism
Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed.
Recently the U.S. Federal Government has gotten into the “platform” business. A move I called for and therefore congratulate the GSA on.
At the same time as people like Vivek Wadhwa are finding a “Goldmine of Opportunities in Gov 2.0” – there are significant forces at work to try to stop some of those very entrepreneurs from succeeding. The very contests that are of such popularity right now actually harm the entrepreneur. Why you ask? Because instead of creating market opportunities – they become giant idea vacuum cleaners. This does not make a market for a product (usually.) It does turn a commercial product into something else, something more vague, less tangible. Luke Fretwell recently wrote about this.
Instead of creating new government contracts to more closely resemble the rapid change of technology advancement, instead the Government(s) is asking to get great ideas for a lot less then otherwise. This is not always bad. But it means the entrepreneur in the Gov 2.0 space needs to be able to play several games at once. The technology innovation and leadership game. The market penetration and traction game. The government contracting game; made even more difficult with Google logos emblazoned on government web properties, Facebook like buttons on other government properties and Microsoft using it’s decades of leverage.
Then, there is the survival game.
Not only are the entrepreneurs in the Gov 2.0 space fighting all the above simultaneously but they are also fighting Government funded competition. Both from Governments here in the United States and from those abroad. Just because you have never heard of the term “Sovereign Wealth Fund” does not mean they have not heard of Gov 2.0. The last big move from Sovereign Wealth funds was in 2009 into Cleantech. Gov 2.0 is on the radar screen. So your competition just got stronger. I have been writing about this for months.
I say this as an entrepreneur, involved in multiple projects in technology, Gov 2.0 and with an eye towards helping my fellow entrepreneurs. Recently I wrote about “Social Media and Gov 2.0 as a contact sport“.
Some of us already have our armor on and are prepared for what is to come. Others, are still falling into a unique trap, of the “OpenGov” and “Gov 2.0” communities. The very call for openness and transparency also reveals critical information to business competitors and to the Government itself.
Recently there has been lots of talk about other Government funded projects. As I indicated in this piece I wrote about “Monopolies and Gov 2.0” – I have been approached often in the last year by representatives of the U.S. Federal Government asking for free advice. True also of local and state level officials.
I am sure that I am not the only Gov 2.0 analyst or entrepreneur to be approached. Nor will I be the last. In fact it is good that the Government(s) are asking. Great in fact. But how does this work when the entrepreneur is almost competing with themselves now? My advice, get your armor on, and keep it on. Otherwise, you will be stripped bare.