Several weeks ago, my “twenty-something” daughter suggested that I read “The Digital Divide” – a compendium of essays edited and introduced by Mark Bauerlein which present arguments both in support of and opposed to the new world of social media in which we currently reside. The first chapter of the book is a reprint of an article, first published in 2001, by Marc Prensky entitled Digital natives, Digital immigrants. The “Digital Natives” he describes are members of the generation that has grown up surrounded by technology, my “twenty-something” daughter included. In contrast, the “Digital Immigrants” were not born into the “digital” world ( black and white TV was considered a big step for this generation) but rather have adopted new technology later in life. Although the focus of the article was on the different learning styles of “digital natives” and the implications for our educational system, the basic tenets apply as well to those of us engaged in angel investing.
As an angel investor and “digital immigrant”, for many of the investment opportunities that I see, I am clearly not the “demographic”. In evaluating these potential investments, it is important to try and view both the product/service as well as the market opportunity through the lens of the “digital native”. If you are fortunate enough, as I am, to have children as well as nieces and nephews who are members of the “technology generation”, you will find that you can learn a lot by listening to their perspectives and asking a lot of questions. I have moved forward slowly from the introduction of the 28lb Compaq Portable in 1983, which at the time seemed like an incredible leap forward due to it’s “portability”, to being armed with an IPad, smartphone and MAC as well as utilizing twitter, facebook, linkedin and other forms of social media on a daily basis. The more I practice the new language(s) of my adopted “digital world”, the better I understand not only the power of this technology but also the implications for the investment opportunities which are focused on the “technology generation”.
I have a ways to go towards establishing full citizenship in the “digital world” but with the advice and guidance of the “twenty somethings”, I hope to achieve that goal.