I was eating a slice of pizza on a snowy afternoon in my suburb. A group of boys--I'd say there were seventh graders--was making a lot of noise at the next table. One of them said, out of the blue: "How does MySpace make money?"
"Advertising," another one said. "They put advertisements on the pages."
"They don't need money!" said a third. "It's just a Web page. I could set one up and it doesn't cost anything."
The kid who knew about advertising made the point that MySpace needs money to maintain the Web site, especially if millions of people are visiting it.
Then they started talking about YouTube, and one of them said that Google bought it for "one point seven million..."
"Billion," one of them says. "One point seven billion..."
It occurred to me as I began my trudge home that these kids are orders of magnitude more tuned into business than my group was at that age. I think it's largely because young people can start businesses that shake the world. In my day, we never bothered thinking about Ford or Zenith's business plan. And the people who ran those companies all looked incredibly old. They'd paid their dues, which surely involved years, or decades, or drudgery. At least that's how we saw it. (And not one of my friends even flirted with business classes in college.) For these kids, business is a much more vibrant and relevant subject. They know that a start-up is just an idea away.
This raises two questions:
1) How can BusinessWeek reach this generation?
2) I wonder how they're doing in math...