Bryce Roberts: we need a declaration of independents

Can we navigate a path through the bootstrapping self-starters and the VC-funded rush for the big exit? Maybe we can, if we look at models from the past, says Bryce Robers

Bryce wants to talk about revolutionaries – and in particular the revolutionaries of the American Revolutionary War. The colonies were flexing their muscles a little bit. They weren’t happy with the services they were getting from the UK. In 1775, a group of colonists came up with a document, which they called the Declaration of Independence, which laid out the 30 grievances they had with the UK at the time. They would become free and independent states. A massive step – but a fairly small group of people initiating it. There were only 56 signees.

In 2013, we have unemployment sky-rocketing across the world. The governments we relied on to prepare us for the 21st centuries have failed us. The companies we spent the majority of our lives building are making more and more profits, but wages are stagnating or tumbling. People are doing more with less and being paid less to do so. Companies and services Рlike Wikipedia Р are becoming virtual nation states empowered by networks. The protests against the SOPA legislation in the US turned around sentiment faster than senators had ever seen before Рthrough the actions of these internet nation states.

Our grandfathers were company men – they stayed with a company their whole lives. Our children won’t ever understand this concept.

Macklemore started producing music himself in the early 2000s without a label – he did it all using digital and online tools. He became only the second person to top the Billboard chart without record company backing. He’s what we called a bootstrapper – who build their own businesses, without support or venture capital. Venture capital is the other route – a financial-focused world, where the founders and the VCs make all the money, and success is measured by big numbers. People see these two as polar opposites. People put their lives on hold and go for the massive exit, or they bootstrap themselves. There seems to be no middle way.

So, could we have a declaration of independents?

There are around 2 billion people connected to the internet. If we’re not proactive about coming up with a set of principles, and what that means, then the next 2 billion to come online won’t be as gracious as the first 2 billion.