Early in my career, an old boss of mine, Ed Petner, insisted that I squeeze
the entire investment case for every stock I ever wanted to buy onto a
single sheet of paper. It was one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever
tackled, but it was well worth it. Hopefully, Ed will appreciate that the
entire presumption of this book is whittled to just two pages—and I am
even eating into it by relaying his direction. My aim is to address two key
issues that exist in the technology industry today.
issue 1: high-tech failure rates stink
The commercial failure rate of nominally great new
technologies is troublingly high.
That failure rate is consistent with the hatred and distrust
most normal human beings—which I like to call Earthlings—
tend to have of high technology.
That hatred and distrust is a bummer since our little planet
can use all the help technology might provide.
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issue 2: suppliers think they are in charge but in
reality users are in charge
The technology industry operates according to an implicit
That assumption is that if one builds great new disruptive
technologies and lets cost reduction kick in,
markets will naturally appear. This is known as
“build it and they will come.”
This mentality is a major problem. Adopting a new technology re-
quires changing the habits of users. The industry acts as if change is easy
when it’s actually quite difficult. Users will change their habits when the
pain of their current situation is greater than their perceived pain of
adopting a possible solution—this is the crux of The Change Function.
I believe that users are always in charge and that supply is a necessary
but not sufficient condition for commercial success. Companies and
products geared toward this holistic user orientation will succeed at far
greater rates than those stuck in a supplier-oriented mind-set.
The goal of this book is to look at what has failed in the past, to un-
derstand how the industry came to be