Paul Lachine

The Dangerous Myth of the Hero Entrepreneur

All over the world, children study math and science in the hope of becoming Bill Gates. But the hero-entrepreneur myth can be dangerous, because what healthy economies really need is not more entrepreneurs, but rather enough people who are willing to work for them.

NEW YORK – Earlier this month, I sat on a panel in Monte Carlo, a hotspot of the establishment, discussing the question, “Why can't Europe be more like the US?” The formal name of the panel was “Silicon Envy: Will Europe ever build the next new media giant?”

But I think people are focusing on the wrong question. After all, what is the actual value of a Microsoft or an Apple, Oracle, Google, or Twitter to a country in the first place? Surely, it's not the taxes paid by Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Larry Ellison or Sergey Brin, nor even the taxes paid by their companies (of which other countries get a share anyway).

The real value created by many of these companies is much broader. Their employees become productive workers and, ultimately, consumers in some local market. And their products and services generate value even when pirated or used in countries where the provider doesn’t sell much advertising. A country can get all these benefits without actually being the entrepreneur's home country.

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