Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
@hmikitani_e

Most people think of disruptors as individuals – perhaps as entrepreneurs coming up with innovations that change the way we do something. But I think if you’re looking for the next disruptor, don’t necessarily watch for an individual. Instead, pay attention to macroeconomics.

There are two distinguished theories in the field of macroeconomics. One is Keynesian. The other is Joseph Schumpeter’s innovation theory. I think many people in Silicon Valley are applying his innovation theory, which states the only way an economy can grow is by innovation. Schumpeter defined innovation as new connections. So for example when the Internet was deployed in retail, a new connection between the retail industry and the technology industry was made.

Schumpeter’s theory holds that supply and demand are basically consistent. Human beings only have 24 hours per day and the level of natural resources is limited. So the only way for the economy to grow is through the innovation by creating new products, services, demands and improving efficiency. Growth comes from new connections.

We are seeing more of this today:

FinTech – or financial technology – is connecting the Internet and the world of finance. This innovative, new connection we are creating is pushing economic growth.

AI – or artificial intelligence – and deep learning are connecting people to the Internet ecosystems in new and exciting ways. At Rakuten, our merchants are seeing sales conversion rates grow by 3x or 4x by use of data intelligence.

Autonomous vehicles – or driverless cars – are changing our relationship with transportation. Great companies like Lyft are partnering with GM to redefine car ownership by building fleets of autonomous vehicles and national rental hubs for Lyft drivers to access short-term vehicles.

We are always pushing ourselves to innovate and create new connections. This is the process by which our company will grow and we believe, the global economy will grow.

Looking for the new disruptor? Look for people who think innovation is the key to economic growth. That’s where disruption will take hold.