Internet Just Another Utility

Making billions off the excitement of the Internet is so 1990s, says Mark Cuban, who leveraged a software startup into $2 million in seed money to start, which he sold off to Yahoo for $5.7 billion five years later:

Its unfortunate, but true. The internet is not a driving force in our economy. Its a stable mature platform on the same level as electricity, phone service and TV. You can’t live without it, but don’t it expect to be a catalyst for the economy. We now argue about whether new companies have a business model and can be profitable and get excited about updates rather than new competitors. Thats the sign of a stable market.

Its time to look elsewhere for that “thing” that takes us out of our economic doldrums. These blog posts created a big stir when I originally posted them. They aren’t controversial anymore.

If you are young, super-smart and looking to have an impact. The internet is what your mom and dad got excited about. Find something us for all of us to rally around and change our lives. Please.

He’s right.  There’s plenty of money to be made online still but it’s simply by using the Internet as a distribution network for information, goods and services.   So, if you want to get rich enough to buy a professional sports franchise, you’ll have to come up with something new.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. odograph says:

    “utility” implies “net neutrality.” At least it does if you want those innovations to keep coming.

  2. James Joyner says:

    “utility” implies “net neutrality.” At least it does if you want those innovations to keep coming.

    I tend to support the net neutrality idea but don’t think it’s absolutely vital to treat all usage the same. The power and water companies often have graduated rates, for example, charging markedly higher rates after a certain usage threshhold.

    While I absolutely agree that it would be bad for ISPs to be able to prefer, say, ESPN to CNNSI or vice versa, it’s not immediately obvious to me why they have to treat ordinary Web viewing the same as downloading massive torrent files or streaming video.

  3. odograph says:

    I think “neutrality” is the same as “pay-per-bit,” which is what you are supporting.

    No one thinks “neutrality” implies unrestricted bandwidth. It is about, as you say, making sure one vendor is not favored, or that new technologies are not blocked.

    (The “torrent blocks” that people oppose start with the first byte.)