My book "Hedge": It's (Almost) On!

European Straits #75

Nicolas Colin

Dear all,

My book Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age will be launched in the upcoming days! A dedicated website is in the course of being completed.

As a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when the book is available for purchase. And I’m counting on you, as the vanguard of Hedge adopters, to read the book during the summer and start spreading the word about it!

I wrote Hedge to contribute to the conversation about covering economic and social risks in the digital age. I deeply believe that greater economic security for both households and businesses is necessary for inclusive economic growth and prosperity. History suggests that each time mechanisms are in place to provide such security, they generate considerable returns in terms of beneficial economic development. Conversely, whenever the safety net is reduced to a minimum, it always ends up with innovation slowing down, inequality widening, populism rising, and, in some cases, political strife, civil unrest, fascism and/or war. The fact that those all appear so unsettlingly visible today is one more argument for reading my book as soon as it’s out.

First and foremost, Hedge is a book for those working in the tech industry, starting with entrepreneurs. That’s because for years now tech people have started to take an interest in the difficult topic of social policy—including venture capitalists and executives at companies such as Google, Facebook, and Uber. Yet this newfound interest in social policy has remained superficial. And where solutions have been suggested, they have often been disappointing. (Most of them revolve around the nice but misleading distraction that is universal basic income—an idea that I discuss in the book.)

For entrepreneurs, discussing the future of the safety net is even more important with the current “tech backlash”. It’s not as if the tech industry can keep on growing as it has, with economic security seen as a marginal concern that tech moguls can address through the occasional philanthropic effort. Rather, the profound economic and political crisis that is affecting the Western world, which I analyze throughout the book, contributes to fueling antipathy toward tech companies. That’s because their growth is seen as concentrating wealth in the hands of the few and, simultaneously, as destroying steady jobs in legacy industries and local communities.

Hedge is a book about the world we live in. It deals with questions as diverse and important as why entrepreneurship is more needed than ever; why tech companies are different from incumbents and can contribute to solving problems that were previously without a solution; why the current Entrepreneurial Age is marked by an ever-growing pressure on wages and widespread instability; why the main trend of the day is the clustering of wealth, jobs, and opportunities in large cities; and why the state needs to radically rethink its approach to solving problems if government officials want to avoid irrelevance in the face of today’s challenges.

I’m also suggesting practical solutions. To be frank, I don’t expect all of those solutions to be implemented in the near future. But they are starting points, and if they do as much as spark a debate and further ideas, they have served their purpose. Making the case for a radical shift in policy led me to explore fields as complex as lifelong training, occupational licensing, affordable housing, consumer finance, social insurance, the tax system, and the future of trade unions and collective bargaining.

Altogether, these are the mechanisms that have always formed what I call the ‘’. The old version of this Great Safety Net served its purpose for many years, especially during the post-war boom. But now that the world has been radically changed by technology, it has become ever more urgent to imagine an upgraded version of the Great Safety Net. I call this new version the Greater Safety Net (or ‘Great Safety Net 2.0’) because the many risks to which households and businesses are exposed nowadays are even more critical than they were in the past.

It’s high time this Greater Safety Net becomes the focus of our global conversation. It should be high on the priority list of policymakers all around the world, and that’s why together we should push elected officials and civil servants to read Hedge and participate in this conversation alongside ambitious founders, tech professionals and venture capitalists. Above all, designing and implementing this Greater Safety Net should become the strategic goal of the tech industry itself—not only because tech’s success depends on inclusive institutions redistributing wealth to the many, but also because tech people have a central role to play in imagining a better future for all.

As many of my readers know, I've been writing and re-writing Hedge for well over a year with the support of key members of my team, as well as a few friends and talented contributors. So without doubt I’m excited for you to be the first to read it.

I’ve also been deeply touched by the attention and trust of those who’ve been kind enough to read through the manuscript and endorse its message: they include Carlota Perez, author of Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital; William H. Janeway, Senior Advisor at Warburg Pincus and author of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy; Kim-Mai Cutler, former TechCrunch journalist and a Partner at Initialized; Sir Nick Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister; our dear friend Vivek Wadhwa, a distinguished Fellow at Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University; and Azeem Azhar, the founder of Exponential View.

I'm looking forward to spending the coming months on the road and talking more about Hedge—in real discussions with the people who may be inspired by the ideas in the book:

  • I’ll be traveling to several European capitals during the last quarter of 2018 to talk about the book and stir up the conversation about the future of our Safety Net 👉 If you live in a large European city and would like to help arrange a visit, please reach out to me and let’s talk about how we can make the most of this opportunity.

  • I also plan to spend time in the US, especially the Bay Area and maybe some other cities 👉 Likewise, if you live and work there, let me know if your company or community might be interested in hosting an event to hear more about the Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age.

For those who can’t wait to know more, you can click on the following links to discover the book’s cover, the table of contents, and even the introduction. Let me know what you think, but please keep it all to yourself 😘For those who prefer to have the entire book, it should be out when you receive the next issue of this newsletter!

I’m grateful for your support and wish you the best! Warm regards (from London, UK),

Nicolas