Knocking down Romney and Khosla

Two big-name business people get whacked in the press today.

Mitt Romney gets dinged (again) because Massachusetts ranked 47 in job creation when he was governor here. Whatever you think of his politics, that misses two points: one, governors don’t really have much to do with job creation, outside of the realm of patronage. Two, much of the high-tech innovation in places like Massachusetts (robotics, information technology) automates functions once done by people, or creates tasks that aren’t meant for people in the first place (industrial sensors, for instance). New Hampshire and Silicon Valley are other areas of high-tech innovation that don’t create a lot of jobs, either.

Vinod Khosla, a famous venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, gets attacked in the comments section of this article on his talk at a recent conference. He’s taken to task for saying that only small companies can do inventive things. As readers point out, big companies often do inventive things as well.

But it is true that people who are able to work independently of big companies tend to develop more radical ideas (in “American Genesis,” for instance, Thomas Hughes argues that “Independents [inventors] invented a disproportionate share of the radical inventions,” citing their ability to solve problems of their choosing, rather than the corporation’s need [pp. 53-54]).

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