Book Review | The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future, by Steve Case

Steve Case, a brilliant entrepreneur and marketer who dared greatly and accomplished much, sees far once again all the wonder that will be through the “Internet of Everything.” He takes us there, projecting its impact on health care, education, government, investment opportunities, and the entrepreneur.

Case has the credentials. He was a young, former P&G and Pizza Hut marketer when he joined Control Video Corporation in 1983. Founded by Bill Von Meister, a technical telecommunications start-up visionary, Control Video made it possible to download content to the Atari video game console.  But Control Video burned through almost $30 million in about six months — likely the largest loss by the venture capital industry up to that time—a start-up business disaster.

Lessons learned, Case became part of Quantum Computer Services, founded by the late Jim Kimsey from the remnants of Control Video. In 1989, Case re-positioned Quantum and renamed it America Online, as the online service for people unfamiliar with computers. By 1995, AOL was one of the most successful companies in America, valued at over $163 billion. Within a year it had lost 80% of it’s market value. Yet, AOL was also known as “the online cockroach” for its ability to survive. It bounced back, inking a 5-year deal to be bundled with Microsoft® Windows™ software.

Steve Case was present at the creation and a major creative force in Control Video, America Online, and AOL/Time Warner. In “Third Wave,” he gives us a firsthand account of the wildest business start-up and development ride of our time, including the emergence of the online web culture and the rise of the Internet.

It’s all here from one of the early visionaries who developed and executed the AOL business plan that buried its early competition.  Steve, in his direct and candid way, relives the trials and tribulations, highs and lows, fear and fulfillment of this company that almost failed many times only to usher in the age of the Internet.

But more than a recount of his firsthand experience, Case projects the next wave of the internet—his “Third Wave”—the Internet of Everything, in which “the internet will be integrated into every phase of our lives.”

Case also describes his strong efforts to support future entrepreneurs through his investments, road shows, and work with the government to improve and streamline funding and other business development regulations. He suggests that in this “Third Wave,” understanding and working with the government will be necessary to success ­— as many of the “Third Wave” major business opportunities such as health care, food, and education are highly regulated.

“You’ve got mail” once again from Steve Case. Buy this book, open it, and ride the “Third Wave.”