Friday, May 14, 2010

Corporations are re-enacting the histories of Nations

At least in some sense, Corporations and Nations are each large hierarchies of people that serve a common purpose. It's interesting to look at some recent corporate situations and see how far the comparison takes us.

Apple v Adobe

Apple and Adobe, founded around similar times by similarly minded people, have each grown spectacularly, and each hold very similar values. Recently, Apple decided that Adobe might have a bit too much control, and so decided to attack(No Flash, and Section 3.1.1, various written statements). Adobe has counterattacked in various ways (working around tech limitations, but mostly written statements), and the two could be said to be at war with one another. It's interesting to see how they manage to fight each other without spending lives, and while continuing to hold similar ideologies.

Google v China

Google is at war with China over ideology. One of the world's largest companies is fighting the government of the most populous nation on earth over what comes down to human rights. That a corporation can see itself as an adversary and competitor to an enormous (super?)power like China shows how much corporations are themselves like nations today.

Facebook v The People

Facebook is currently dealing with a revolt. The large-scale population of its users may or may not be aware of it, but a vocal minority is calling for the downfall of the site, and regularly publishing articles, studies, and anti-facebook propaganda, while organizing events designed to help get people to quit. I'm not particularly a fan of facebook myself, but it doesn't change the tactics that are being used. Facebook, a corporation, is at risk of being overthrown by its population and disbanded.


To my mind, there are at least three major corporate wars taking place in the tech world at the moment. There are classic rivalries like Coke v Pepsi, Nintendo v Sega (or Sony (or Microsoft)), acquisitions and annexations occur all the time, and corporations live their own lives as entities on a scale above our own, just as nations do, only corporations are borderless and have the ability to pivot themselves. Religious organizations may fit within this class of entity as well, and certainly wars and revolutions have occurred within them, but perhaps they are not as successful as the corporate being is, because there were by necessity so many fewer of them? Small population, small diversity, slow evolution?

Regardless of what my own spin is, living in a time where such tremendous conflicts as Apple v Adobe, Google v China, and The Facebook Revolt are taking place has me excited. The balances of power are shifting restlessly, and that means there's probably a way to gain advantage and come out with a lot of power.