Chapter 1Innovation Is Now or Never

Let’s talk unicorns. No, not the mythical horse-like creature with one horn that was used as a symbol for Jesus Christ in medieval times, and depending on who you ask, poops rainbows (thanks, Squatty Potty). The unicorns I’m referring to are those privately owned startups valued at a billion dollars or more that are currently taking over the world. As recently as 2015 there were only eighty-two such companies; as of 2018 there were more than 295.1 Fast forward just a year, and by April of 2019 there were 326, with a collective worth of almost $1.1 trillion.2 Many of those were household names, such as 23andMe, Stripe, and SpaceX, along with Uber and Pinterest, which have since gone public. Others you may never have heard of, like the real estate broker Lianjia, the Bitcoin mining application company Bitmain Technologies, or the ByteDance Internet and AI technology company, all three of which happen to be Chinese firms.3

Unicorns are here because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is transforming the way we live, work, and learn, unlike any changes seen before. As a modern society, we’ve come a long way since Britain’s technological advancements in the mid-eighteenth century that led to the First Industrial Revolution, a time that may seem very quaint in comparison to today. Within a hundred years, the world would experience the start of the Second Industrial Revolution, the birth of the assembly line and mass production, not to mention ...

Get Fearless Innovation now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.