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Blindsided by Innovation: Stop Being Romantic!

Gary Vaynerchuk is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author, self-taught wine expert, and innovative entrepreneur. Find more at

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Innovation has never cared about anybody! The list of companies – big, small, and in between that have been crushed by the weight of innovation is long. People are asking how to innovate their businesses and the answer is you have to pay attention to the marketplace. Many of these were led by well-intentioned people who made the mistake of being either romantic, or being naive about what was actually happening around them.

Now here is something anybody can understand: The Internet is over 20 years old. It’s finally at scale, and that scale has accelerated to the speed of innovation at a tremendous degree. When you add that to my previous statement, you have a situation that comes with huge risk, but also huge upside. Innovation is inevitable in my opinion which is why I strongly advise businesses to learn how to innovate your business by paying attention to the marketplace.

I recently spoke at a conference for the biggest black-car limousine companies in the world. The coordinator of the conference was telling me about how they all fight with one another and I said to her “I bet they all rallied together to fight against Uber” and she said “yup”. Innovation is inevitable – either Uber learns how to innovate the taxi marketplace or someone else will. But trying to stop the inevitable is not good business intelligence. In order to succeed in business you cannot fight innovation.

I sat there thinking about a company like Uber that is now selling shares of it’s stock for ten million dollars in the secondary market that didn’t exist 36 months ago. I think about all the owners of those black car services that didn’t care when it launched or didn’t think it was going to work or all the arguments that I heard when I invested in it. Things like “nobody in New York City will ever use that there’s plenty of taxicabs.” We’re living through a gross underestimation of what’s happening in technology and business. People don’t buy an uber, because they need the taxi service, they’re buying time. If not for Uber, someone else would have figured out how to innovate this marketplace. Those extra seven minutes are worth it for a certain segment of society and thats why they do it!


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