Entrepreneurs or Predators?

About five years ago the New Yorker magazine abandoned its official nonpartisanship and, for the first time in eighty years, endorsed a Presidential candidate. Their preferred candidate, John Kerry, didn’t win, but the partisanship continued. If you want to read about art, culture, literature, music, personalities, trends, and pretty much anything that isn’t political in nature, the New Yorker remains probably the best general interest magazine in the English language. But when it comes to politics, the New Yorker has become a high-brow version of your average left-wing alternative weekly free newspaper.

Now one of the New Yorker’s regular writers, Malcolm Gladwell, has issued a muddled dissertation on entrepreneurs (The Sure Thing, January 18th, 2010) that reads, if you skim the piece, as a blatant attack on entrepreneurship, and under closer scrutiny, comes across as simply muddled thinking. The premise of the article is that entrepreneurs are not risk takers, but in fact are risk averse. Quoting other authors, Gladwell then describes entrepreneurs as predators.

Gladwell’s primary example of an entrepreneur is Ted Turner, a spectacularly successful entrepreneur. Gladwell argues that Turner took far fewer risks than one might think. His first example is Turner’s purchase of a UHF television station in Atlanta. Gladwell points out how Turner bought the station in a stock swap, meaning “he didn’t have to put a penny down.” He explains how Turner was able to market the station by using unsold billboard space owned by his current […] Read More