Matthew Bishop is American Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief for The Economist. Philanthrocapitalism, his 2008 book (with Michael Green) on the business of philanthropy was described as "terrific" by the New York Times, and called "the definitive guide to a new generation of philanthropists who understand innovation and risk-taking and who will play a crucial part in solving the biggest problems facing the world," by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Economics A to Z", the official Economist layperson's guide to economics, was published in 2009. He is now writing a book about the current economic crisis, and what must be done to improve how capitalism works. He was previously The Economist's London-based Business Editor. Matthew is the author of several Economist special survey supplements, including "The Business of Giving", which looks at the industrial revolution taking place in philanthropy; "Kings of Capitalism", an influential analysis of the private-equity industry; and "Capitalism and its Troubles", an examination of the impact of problems such as the collapse of Enron in 2002 which highlighted many of the flaws in the system that led to the current crisis.
Before joining The Economist, Matthew was on the faculty of London Business School, where he co-authored three books for Oxford University Press. He has served as a member of the Sykes Commission on the investment system in the 21st Century. He was also on the Advisors Group of the United Nations International Year of Microcredit 2005. He has been honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He is a graduate of Oxford University.
Question: Is now is a good time to be an entrepreneur?
Matthew Bishop: I think entrepreneurs thrive in situations of change because they are people who are thinking hard about the future—where is the problem that needs to be fixed? And the more change there is, the more opportunity there is for opportunity. Clearly, the world at the moment is going through massive change partly due to this economic crisis, but also due to globalization, due to technological trends, biotech, or information technology. So, that’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurship. A recession is always good for entrepreneurship because many of the dominant firms in industry tend to be very inward looking and defensive in a recession and less likely to take risks. And so if you are a smaller business person you are likely to find less attention being paid to your new ideas by the big players. And so, you may be able to get further ahead before they realize you are there and start to squash you and by that point I may be too late for them. So, you actually see a number of the greatest companies in the world that have historically been founded during recessions.
Recorded on: September 24, 2009