One of my favorite parables is about a man who arrives in a village with what he claims is a magic stone. Put the stone into a pot of water over a fire, he says, add a just few ingredientsâ€”some vegetables, some old ham bones, a few spicesâ€”and soon you will have a delicious, life-giving soup with magical healing properties.
In this folk tale, the man is a trickster: The point of the story is that his magic stone is just a plain old rock. To modern eyes, however, this man is an entrepreneur. His â€œmagic stoneâ€ is perhaps the germ of an idea, a product concept, or a marketing innovation. The entrepreneur takes the stone and adds ingredients (commodities or software), attracts people, gets them to work together, and perhaps tosses in a pinch of branding. The result is value where before there were only unexploited resources.