That is my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
The virtues of business startups have led to many a success story. These enterprises start with clean slates. They embody the focused and often idiosyncratic visions of their founders. The successful ones grow faster than their competitors. Even after they become larger and more bureaucratic, these companies often retain some of the creative spirit of their startup origins.
It is less commonly recognized that some nations, including many of the post-World War II economic miracles, had features of startups. For instance, Singapore started as an independent country in 1965, after it was essentially kicked out of Malaysia and suddenly had to fend for itself. Lee Kuan Yew was the country’s first leader, and he embodied many features of the founder-chief executive: setting the vision and ethos, assuming responsibility for other personnel, influencing the early product lines in manufacturing and serving as a chairman-of-the-board figure in his later years.
Other start-ups nations have been UAE, Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Estonia, South Korea, and of course way back when the United States. You will note that many of these examples are imperfectly democratic in their early years, and they do not in every case grow out of it. And this:
The world today seems to have lower potential for startup nations. This is in part because international relations are more peaceful and also because most colonial relationships have receded into the more distant past. Those are both positive developments, but the corresponding downside is not always recognized, namely fewer chances for reshuffling the pieces.
This is the close:
To paraphrase John Cleese from Monty Python, the startup nation concept isn’t dead, it’s just resting. Whether in business or in politics, the compelling logic of the startup just isn’t going away.
The best chances for future start-ups may be in Africa, around the borders of Russia, and perhaps someday (not now) Kurdistan. Do read the whole thing.