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When Tech Companies Enter Zero-Sum Markets

We are accustomed to talking about technology companies as having infinite or near-infinite addressable markets. Productivity is almost by definition an infinite market; people have an uncapped appetite to do more with less. Communication is largely the same story; there is no clear end to how much people want to talk.

Technology companies often fiercely compete inside the technology industry. But in infinite markets with open-ended growth potential, these technology companies have generally been non-zero-sum with the outside world. Companies like Yahoo, Google, Twitter, Aol and Facebook have, with an occasional exception, grown without dramatically taking away from other legacy businesses. In many cases productivity and communication technologies have grown the pie for everyone.

But those times are changing and increasingly the most interesting technology companies are competing in finite markets against legacy companies. Technology companies are entering zero-sum spaces.

And that change is leading to a big change in sentiment around them.

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