The Next President ― and the Internet's Third Wave

May 17, 2016 - 12:00pm

Co-founder of AOL; chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation


A Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, and an Apple iPhone 5c.
Photo credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

To the 45th President of the United States

From: Steve Case

Dear 45,

Welcome [back] to Washington! As you move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and go to work on your agenda, I want to remind you that 250 years ago America itself was a startup. It was just an idea. And now we’re the leader of the free world ― in large part because we have the leading economy.

That didn’t happen by accident. It was entrepreneurs who led the way in the agricultural revolution. It was entrepreneurs who led the industrial revolution. More recently, entrepreneurs led the technology revolution. That’s why we are home to the largest, most innovative economy in the world.

Today, we’re at the dawn of a new economic order ― what I call the Internet's Third Wave. I’m convinced that people don’t realize how fast the tectonic plates of our economy are about to shift. Because of significant advances in technology and the ubiquity of the “Internet Of Everything," entrepreneurs now have the tools to transform major sectors of the economy and in the process change the way we live our lives. That means innovating in health, education, financial services, energy, transportation and food. It means that some of America’s oldest corporations may get toppled. And it means changing how we think about work itself, as more people opt (or need) to embrace flexible schedules possible in the freelance economy. 

In order to create the conditions for companies, workers and the country to continue to lead in this Third Wave, we need to adopt a new playbook. For the next president, that means fixing our broken immigration system so we win the battle to attract and retain talented innovators from across the globe; reforming securities laws to increase access to capital so everyone has the opportunity to put their idea into practice; and modernizing the social safety net to reflect the “uberization” of more jobs. And it means we need to have an open, constructive dialogue between government and innovators so we balance the need to enable companies to grow while putting in common-sense regulations that reflect this new economic order. 


The First Wave was about building the Internet itself ― and government played a key role. Companies like AOL, Cisco and AT&T helped to lay the foundation for the online world. The Second Wave was about building apps and mobile capabilities on top of the Internet ― companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Waze led the way. I’m optimistic about the future of our country and the future of entrepreneurship as we enter the Third Wave ― especially if we make important decisions today that ensure a strong startup culture in the years ahead.

I’m looking forward to working with you on these important issues.


Steve Case
Chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation

About the Author

About the Author

Co-founder of AOL; chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation