I just reviewed Michael Malone’s new book, The Future Arrived Yesterday, and also interviewed him on video. Here’s the top of my review.
The Good: Malone’s prediction of a mercurial new corporate form is an idea that’s both simple and well-supported in the book
The Bad: In places, the author veers off track when he switches from prognosticator to management consultant
The Bottom Line: In 1993’s The Virtual Corporation, Malone’s calls were on the money. His new ideas are radical, but they ring true
The Future Arrived Yesterday:
The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You
By Michael S. Malone
Crown Business; 295 pp; $27.50
When he became one of the first reporters to cover technology as a beat, back in 1980 for the San Jose Mercury News, Michael S. Malone made telling the story of Silicon Valley his raison d’être. Then, in books such as 1993’s The Virtual Corporation, Malone boldly—and presciently—described how technology would reshape corporate reality. In his 2007 book, Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company, he reached into the past to chronicle the Valley’s first startup.
Now, with The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You, Malone has his forecaster hat back on and another game-changing theory. And because his past predictions about the impact of digital technologies were so often on the mark, many people really do want to know what he’s been noodling over.
The central idea here is both simple and powerful: The global economy has entered a new era, and a mercurial corporate form Malone calls the Protean Corporation will become the dominant species by the middle of the next decade. “These Protean Corporations,” he writes, “will behave like perpetual entrepreneurial startups, continuously changing their form, direction, even their identity. They will be true corporate shape-shifters.”