How human capital is tech's most valuable resource

Andrew Keen

It’s ironic. In spite of Silicon Valley’s awesome technology, human capital remains its most valuable resource. That, at least, is the opinion of best selling writer and entrepreneur Dan Schawbel

One of America’s leading authorities on the workplace, the New York City based Schawbel argues that what he calls “people capital” is the real killer app in our innovation economy. A great company, he says, exists because of its great people. Without strong human capital, Schawbel suggests, any company, irrespective of its technological resources, will struggle.

According to Schawbel, all is not well with the state of people capital in the Silicon Valley economy. As Freada Kapor Kleina href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/08/why-freada-kapor-klein-thinks-theres-a-moral-crisis-in-silicon-valley/">reminded us early this month, it remains the pretty exclusive preserve of young white men. "Burnout” is rife in Silicon Valley, he says, with tech workers sabotaging their own innovation with the excessive hours. There’s what Schawbel calls “the issue of aging workforce” which is also problematic in tech.

Moreover, Silicon Valley’s product is undermining human capital in the broader economy. Schawbel suggests that, in the always-on distraction of social media, solitude is a competitive advantage. Indeed, quoting a former US Surgeon General, he suggests that tech is making us so lonely that, in negative health terms, it’s the equivalent of smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.

But just as technology is the problem, it’s also the solution. AI, Schawbel suggests, can help solve Silicon Valley’s white male problem. And personal technologies like Fitbit are the key to the creation of the “workplace well-being” that, he says, is critical for the formation of long-term people capital.

Many thanks to the folks at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for their help in the production of this interview.

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