In the Air

There are not many writers whom I really envy because of their intelligence, range, grace and style. John Updike is one. Another is Malcolm Gladwell. He’s just made me seethe with admiration with this lovely New Yorker essay which is partly about Nathan Myhrvold but mainly a meditation on innovation.

In 1999, when Nathan Myhrvold left Microsoft and struck out on his own, he set himself an unusual goal. He wanted to see whether the kind of insight that leads to invention could be engineered. He formed a company called Intellectual Ventures. He raised hundreds of millions of dollars. He hired the smartest people he knew. It was not a venture-capital firm. Venture capitalists fund insights—that is, they let the magical process that generates new ideas take its course, and then they jump in. Myhrvold wanted to make insights—to come up with ideas, patent them, and then license them to interested companies…

Draw up a chair, pour some coffee, and read on.