Bloom's Law and Bringing Talent Into The Network

November 22, 2021

Development economics has a concept of “catch-up growth”. Countries like South Korea and Taiwan reached Western standards of living in two generations by speed-running developments that took two hundred years in the West: industrialization, urban migration, changing family structure. A key part was coupling their economies to the West (usually via exports), rather than looking inwards or to other, regional players.

An interesting blog post dropped this morning around an Indian startup working on improving air quality who got funding from Tyler Cowen’s Emergent Ventures, through Cowen to a New York-based VC who led a seed investment. The startup had tried to raise from local VCs but was met by incredible amounts of foot-dragging even after investors committed.

I hear these stories of VCs around the world doing ths sort of stuff relatively frequently. When you work in a fairly smoothly run ecosystem like Silicon Valley, it’s easy to forget Bloom’s Law: firm productivity varies more widely than you think.

(Bloom’s Law is named after Stanford economics professor Nick Bloom, who has studied firm productivity extensively. The term was coined in this blog post, by me.)

The solution is to bring talent into the network.

In other words:

  • Notice folks who are super talented…
  • …who don’t seem to be connected into networks that properly leverage and reward their talent
  • and help them connect into those networks

This tends to be some combination of knowledge sharing, coaching, and introductions. It’s rarely as prestigious as spending time with folks who are already in your network. But it’s often a lot more impactful.

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Written by Sam Bhagwat, cofounder & chief strategy officer at Gatsby; programmer, analyst, writer; follow me on Twitter!