The tech industry has won at capitalism. From America to China, from Amazon to Alibaba, from Alphabet to Tencent, the most valuable and most dynamic companies in the world are technology companies. But what kind of capitalism? Because there are really two different modes, two ways to get rich.
One is to claim a share of the wealth that already exists. This is the capitalism of Wall Street, of Russia1, of cronies and rent-seekers, of the infamous “resource curse.” Obviously the more wealth there is around you, the more incentivized this approach becomes. Call it the siphon.
The other is to create new wealth; manufacture better goods, offer better services, design better hardware, write better software. This is — or is supposed to be — the capitalism of Silicon Valley, of China2, of rocket ships and electric cars, of Moore’s Law. Obviously this is the purer, more idealistic form of capitalism. Call it the forge.
It seems apparent that public opinion has turned sharply agains the tech industry of late: