Brad Burnham is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures. He started working in information technology with AT&T in 1979. Brad spun Echo Logic out of Bell Laboratories in 1989 and joined AT&T Ventures in 1993. Brad co-founded TACODA in 2001 before joining Fred to create Union Square Ventures in 2003. Brad majored in political science at Wesleyan University. He is married with two kids and lives in New York City.
The rapid concentration of market power in the largest Internet services is a market failure, but it’s not the result a fundamental flaw in markets. It is the result of a misunderstanding of who “owns” the data. Is it Facebook’s, or Facebook’s users’? Is it Uber’s, or Uber’s drivers’? Control over this data is the source of network-effect market power and the root cause our concerns about privacy, personal agency, even income disparity. Some look to the state to address these market failures, but they are asking the state to address the symptoms, not the problem. Worse, it is likely to exacerbate the problem by further strengthening Uber’s market position. Instead, we should work towards a shared understanding of what a property right in data means. Getting it right, will allow for the decentralized, emergent innovation that markets are so good at. We have not even begun to debate who’s data it is. It is time to start.