A fundamental principle at Social Starts is the “Social Construct.” To understand our fund and our singular investment philosophy, it is essential to understand what the Social Construct is and isn't.
Like any construct, the Social Construct is the product of the people whose lives and actions it mediates. If we all believe bare breasts are shameful, they are; if we are a tribe that sees bare breasts as a proud symbol of motherhood, that is what they are. Back when America was formed, big bellies indicated prosperity, solidity and health. Today, they indicate gluttony and lack of discipline. Both of these are constructs.
Constructs shift over time and, because they represent universal mythology, have deep power over what people in a particular time and place believe and how they act.
Today's Social Construct is the product of the emergence and near ubiquity of social and mobile technologies. These technologies, unlike those from any previous tech revolution, presented themselves to people right from the beginning in a natural human form. They allowed anyone to connect with others over distance and time as never before and facilitated deeply human actions that previously could only be undertaken with the few folks close at hand. Dating. Gossip. Sharing news. Boasting. Spreading joy. Paying it forward. All could, via social/mobile, now be done with anyone, anywhere. People saw this, they liked it, and they began integrating these behaviors into their lives.
So, today's Social Construct is the change in human behavior brought about through the emergence of powerful social/mobile technologies. As such, the Social Construct flows much deeper than any particular element of its enabling technology. Social media was an early, and quite possibly transitory, expression of the Construct. Social media was, however, essential in that it catalyzed early phases of behavioral change. But the Construct is much bigger than social media. If Facebook, for all its success and scale, vanished tomorrow, all of the behaviors associated with it would continue and would flow to new outlets. The Social Construct has a power beyond any company, community or single mode of expression.
The Social Construct is still evolving and will continue to do so for at least a decade as the first generation to fully live within its borders, the youngest Millennials, grows to adulthood. We are just at the beginning of its power, which is why it represents such a rich area for investment opportunity. And no industry, no matter how progressive or conservative, will be immune from its effects. But, already the Construct has some clear central characteristics:
FRICTIONLESS FLOW OF INFORMATION. The unfettered flow of information – from person to person, and in the years ahead from device to device and even body to body – is the essential element of the Social Construct. This frictionless flow powers people’s belief that ever more core information, experiences, and connections can happen at a distance and travel with them anywhere. The resulting common, shared reality is the heart of the Social Construct. And that tech-driven experience, already strong, will only deepen over time, creating ever more enriched and shared behavior.
HUMANS MATTER. The Social Construct is all about people. They and their behavior is all that matters in the end. Everything else is simply enablement, expression, codification, or prediction of that single definitive measure. All success, for individuals and organizations, will come from enabling this human behavioral shift effectively. Even the emerging Internet of Things, is actually about people. The "Things" are merely new modes for bringing information to people and capturing people's behavior in new ways so the Construct can deliver even more and richer connection opportunities.
RECURSIVE WAVES OF CHANGE. Change created by the Social Construct is recursive and erosive. Each new wave of technology sets changes in behavior. Those shifts force companies and other organizations to shift in response. These organizational alterations create new opportunities for connection and response within the Construct, generally in the form of new technologies and start-ups that deliver them. The resulting new potentialities kick off more changes in behavior, causing the waves to expand and to touch and transform more and more areas of the human experience. We believe, over time, no aspect of business or society will survive the Social Construct without being transformed.
THE SAME, THE SAME, THE SAME, THEN UTTERLY DIFFERENT. The process of the Social Construct isn't constant, gradual, or steady. It is apocalyptic and Darwinian. As the waves roil from technology through people to business to culture and back again, it may appear as though fundamentals aren't really shifting. Change feels modest, temporary, even trivial. But then, after the change has had time to really dig in, the true shift it represents emerges as sudden, startling, absolute, transformational, and often unexpected. Major TV companies never anticipated Netflix. And Netflix is only the beginning of the change to hit them. Transportation experts never saw Uber coming. And Uber is batting practice for the changes yet to come.
When the Social Construct has fully expressed itself, over the next generation, we will be living in an utterly altered, but completely fascinating world. Our fund is dedicated to understanding and tracking that profound shift and extracting value at the earliest moments of creation for each and every ripple along the way.