A Capitalist’s Dilemma. Clayton Christensen’s one of our favorite business thinkers…
…cash hoards in the billions are sitting unused on the pristine balance sheets of Fortune 500 corporations. Billions in capital is also sitting inert and uninvested atprivate equity funds.
Capitalists seem almost uninterested in capitalism, even as entrepreneurs eager to start companies find that they can’t get financing. Businesses and investors sound like the Ancient Mariner, who complained of “Water, water everywhere — nor any drop to drink.”
It’s a paradox, and at its nexus is what I’ll call the Doctrine of New Finance, which is taught with increasingly religious zeal by economists, and at times even by business professors like me who have failed to challenge it. This doctrine embraces measures of profitability that guide capitalists away from investments that can create real economic growth.
Executives and investors might finance three types of innovations with their capital. I’ll call the first type “empowering” innovations. These transform complicated and costly products available to a few into simpler, cheaper products available to the many.