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Doing Business After the End of 'Move Fast and Break Things'

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 30, 2019 2:58 PM

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, the "era of move fast and break things is over." And in case you have no idea what this means, that phrase "move fast and break things" is attributed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and is the mantra of "tech disruptors."

However, now that the public has had enough of tech startups breaking things and then blaming the lack of government infrastructure, tech startups need to make sure legal compliance is a top priority before it's even required. Startups cannot merely disrupt regulated industries by offering the same services without complying with the same regs the rest of the industry has to play by and expect to emerge unscathed.

Disrupt No More

Disrupting industries has been a hallmark of the recent tech boom that followed the widespread adoption of smartphones. In the rush to provide the convenience that tech consumers demanded, companies like Uber and Airbnb rushed to provide solutions without considering the consequences of their disruption. It may be difficult to convince tech clients that they should play by the rules, but at this point, it'd probably be the most sage-like advice any lawyer could give.

The public saw these presumably grassroots tech companies competing against established and entrenched industries, and winning, at least when it came to price. However, what the public didn't see was the fact that tech startups were able to compete by skirting government regulations, like industry specific taxes and insurance requirements, designed to protect consumers. And when the tech companies weren't skirting regulations, they were providing seemingly free services, which consumers actually paid for via terms of service that allowed these companies to data mine.

Consumers Don't Want to Be the Product

Given this backdrop, new tech startups need to be wary when it comes to disrupting an industry, and would be wise to ensure that practices are put in place that mirror relevant government regulations that are designed to protect the public. After all, if your users/consumers are the product, they need to be well taken care of and kept happy and active.

In today's terms, keeping users happy and active requires maintaining forward thinking and clear user policies, high-levels of transparency, while also providing a product or service consumers want, and can't get elsewhere at a better value.

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