In the first number of The Spectator (Thursday, March 1, 1710), Joseph Addison wrote:
I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, until he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiousity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper.
What is true for a book, may be equally true for a web site; and so I offer this page to gratify the curiosity of readers.
I learned about entrepreneurship at WorldStreet Corporation, where from 1996 to 2001 I held a series of leadership positions culminating in two years as Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. WorldStreet began as a developer of customer relationship management software and evolved into a social networking software pioneer, helping financial industry firms direct private information to recipients both inside and outside their firms. WorldStreet was named by InfoWorld Magazine as the 21st most innovative company of 2001, and was acquired by Thomson Financial in 2002.
In 2002 I co-founded Grupo Arca Inc., a membership club for Hispanics with social networking and sports (soccer) marketing components, and remained actively involved in the company until 2007.
I have also provided strategic advice for firms in the financial, technology, and marketing industries. These firms ranged in size from startups to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, and my help was generally focused on strategy, alliances, and the raising of capital. I am a Chartered Financial Analyst.
As a teenager I was keenly interested in economics and philosophy. At age 17 I had read most of the important works in economics up to Sir John Hicks's Value and Capital; but my affections were captured by Friedrich Hayek and the modern Austrians, whose critique of neoclassical economics struck me as sound. I arrived at M.I.T. intending to major in philosophy and economics, with the idea that a logical analysis of the foundations of social science might aid in the construction of an improved economics. However, the neoclassical orientation of the economics curriculum deterred me and I studied quantum physics instead. Inertia being characteristic of people as well as matter, I obtained a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley and then returned to Cambridge to spend four years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. At that time, attracted by the Internet and eager to become an entrepreneur, I joined a software startup.
The experience was profoundly educational. Arthur Pigou noted that economists have had little to teach business executives:
It is not the business of economists to teach woollen manufacturers to make and sell wool, or brewers how to make and sell beer, or any other business men how to do their job. If that was what we were out for, we should, I imagine, immediately quit our desks and get somebody - doubtless at a heavy premium, for we should be thoroughly inefficient - to take us into his woollen mill or his brewery. (Pigou, A.C., 1922, 'Empty Economic Boxes: A Reply,' Economic Journal 32: 463)
But businesspeople may have a great deal to teach economists. After years of business experience during which I have been privileged to participate at both high and low levels, I am convinced I can teach economists something about the economy.
I have therefore returned, at least on a part-time basis, to the scholarly interests of my youth. This may be a touch quixotic; I have sympathy for the claim of Will Rogers: "You see, medical science has developed two ways of actually determining insanity. One is if the patient cuts out paper dolls, and the other is if the patient says: I will tell you what this economic business really means." But something bids me seek to understand; my wife is indulgent; and seeking may, with grace, be followed by finding.
Copyright © 2005 Paul Jaminet. All rights reserved.