Professional Millennials and Super-Powered Smartphones are Changing the Working World

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Alex comes from a background rooted in internet policy, external relations, community affairs and digital marketing. Prior to running LiquidTalent, Alex worked for Google from 2005 to 2013. His career at Google was divided between the Sales and Policy departments. As External Affairs Manager, his duties included building relationships with government officials, managing an investment fund for nonprofit entities, and serving as the chief architect in developing eight Google sponsored outdoor WiFi networks; the most notable being the Chelsea CIC WiFi network, the largest contiguous NYC WiFi network ever created. He is a proud alumni of UC Berkeley and the Haas School of Business. Alex was born in San Diego, and currently lives in New York City. Alex is a committed optimist, a global citizen and a tough ping pong player. 

I’ve always loved reading The Economist. As a college student, it was my peephole into the real world; a taste of the economic and political realities from the safe confines of UC Berkeley. As a bright-eyed 18 year old, the print informed me of international affairs, US policy and business trends. It made me wonder and muse about life post-college. In many ways, it provided me more education than some of the education itself (no offense, Dr. Roberts).

The Economist is crisp, clear, informative, balanced; it’s a stalwart of the American publishing industry. So when I walked by my local bodega on January 3rd in the heart of New York City, and saw the cover of my favorite magazine featuring the Future of Work story ‘Workers on Tap,’ I paused — and saw the past, present and future blur into one. This is the year when modern technology squarely intersects with the economy and the workforce. This is the year that marks a noted change in how we work as individuals, and as a collective. This is the year of the Millennial Generation takeover in our professional world. This is the year that marks the beginning of the Independent Workforce Revolution.


Two reasons (in addition to the fact that The Economist’s Cover Story suggests it as so):

1) Millennials Take Over

Millennials are the largest generation at 82 million strong. They do not have the same priorities as past generations and their professional incentives are quickly changing. They care less about maximizing profit, finding a secure job and taking 2.5 weeks of vacay. In fact, 54% of Millennials assert that they want to start a company one day, or already have. This generation is now 50% of the workforce, and will be 75% of the workforce by 2020. These percentages may seem staggering but with 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring everyday (every single day!) we can see this tectonic shift happening before our very eyes. Yes, the Baby Boomer glaciers are melting into retirement, and we hope that the rising tide does in fact lift all ships (even if we do lose some stable land).

“The idea that having a good job means being an employee of a particular company is a legacy of a period that stretched from about 1880 to 1980.”

Nineteen-eighty is long gone. Thirty-five years gone, to be precise. 1980 also marks the start of the Millennial generation. The Bureau of Labor statistics states that millennials stay in a job, on average, for only 18 months. Apply, get hired, contribute, get bored, quit. Rinse, wash, repeat. Their attention spans are short and precious. These young, urban professionals are technology-infused, global-travelers that consume Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week and Eric Ries’ Lean Startup (on their tablets). These Future of Work Mavericks, Rogues and Pioneers want to see a world that allows “access to [their] spare time and spare cognitive capacity.” Spare capacity leads us to opportunity costs which lead us to improved, holistic decision making.

Technology has helped create the on-demand economy, and put a spotlight on economic principles such as spare capacity and opportunity cost. But it hasn’t always been this way. Which brings me to our second reason…

2) Mobile Technology

We are all working towards creating a professional world that is sustainable, equitable, optimized and actualized. A goal that is now more attainable than ever. A goal that can be accomplished through the support of our phones. Yes, our mobile smartphones. I can see Alexander Graham Bell smiling from up above…

“This boom marks a striking new stage in a deeper transformation. Using the now ubiquitous platform of the smartphone to deliver labour and services in a variety of new ways will challenge many of the fundamental assumptions of 20th-century capitalism, from the nature of the firm to the structure of careers.”

We have our economies in our pocket. We can work anytime from anywhere, and source professional opportunities with a simple swipe. The proliferation of mobile productivity apps (ie Slack), globalized workforce platforms (ie eLance) and professional networks (ie LinkedIn) show the power and growth in professional, mobile technologies.

The on-demand economy is the result of pairing that workforce with the smartphone, which now provides far more computing power than the desktop computers which reshaped companies in the 1990s.

IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, HP — these companies thrived in the 1990s as the employees of the working world all demanded a desktop computer. 20 years later, and we’re witnessing a massive tech trend in mobile computing, where companies like Apple, Google and Samsung thrive because of this shift in demand towards mobile. Worldwide smartphone penetration grew 25% in 2014, and more than 50% of American’s have one in their pocket. By 2018, there will be 5 billion global smartphone users. Fueling this momentum is an ever-connected globe through the world wide web. We surpassed 3 billion connected people in 2014; that number was 1 billion in 2005. Cellular and WiFi networks are covering much of today’s planet. Today’s world is connected at lightening speeds, and a truly on-demand economy is emerging.

Smartphones and millennials. Millennials and smartphones. These are the fundamental change agents driving 2015. They are core to The Economist’s ‘Workers on Tap’ and they are the backbone of LiquidTalent.

The Economist offers a hopeful perspective about the on-demand economy: “it will usher in a world where everybody can control their own lives, doing the work they want when they want it.”

More and more professionals are choosing a life that promotes balance, lifestyle and wellness. These are the types of people we’re currently attracting to LiquidTalent. Perhaps you are wondering, “what is LiquidTalent, anyways?”

LiquidTalent is a mobile marketplace that matches developers and designers with on-demand job opportunities, in real-time, through social connection. Our match criteria include skill level, availability, location, cost and mutual reference. We are bringing the Future of Work to you today through a mobile platform that is changing the way we professionally connect in the project-based Economy. A platform that ultimately empowers the 53 million+ Americans who claim Independent Worker status and the Millennials who are taking daily leaps of faith into entrepreneurship. We know the Independent Workforce Revolution is upon us, and we are helping power it.

Today, I’m 31 years old, and no longer attend UC Berkeley. I have traded my Motorola flip phone for an iPhone 6. But some things never change — I’m still reading my favorite magazine, The Economist, and still love a good poppy seed salad at my favorite Berkeley cafe (hello, Telegraph ave.)

As LiquidTalent’s Co-Founder and CEO, I feel that ‘Worker’s on Tap’ validates our company’s thesis to a wider audience. Millennial preferences, coupled with a rapidly evolving mobile technology industry; is the growth agent featured in the article, and is LiquidTalent’s spark of life.

There was even a cherry on top this Economist sundae — the article leverages our analogy of the on-demand workforce becoming more fluid. ‘Workers on Tap’ has a nice ring to it, and may have just become LiquidTalent’s newest tagline. I’d like to offer a sincere thank you to the author of the article for opening 2015’s tap on the right note, by featuring professional millennials and super-powered smartphones. The Economist and LiquidTalent are in flow and I’m in start-up heaven.

 Alex Abelin || CEO + Co-Founder || @alexabelin || || @LiquidTalent

And don’t forget to attend the Start-up Industry Expo on April 2nd!

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