Financial History Issue 119 (Fall 2016) | Page 12

EDUCATORS’ PERSPECTIVE Conquistadorial Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned By Dan Cooper and Brian Grinder In our last “Educators’ Perspective,” we argued that the Spanish Conquistadors were not professional soldiers but armed entrepreneurs. We concluded that although the Company of the Levant was successful, the outcome for many of its participants was less than optimal. The column ended with two unanswered questions, which we will now address. What can today’s entrepreneurs learn from the Conquistadors, and did the Conquistadors take on too much risk? Lessons for Today’s Entrepreneurs Beware! Creative Destruction Happens at the Most Unexpected Times Creative destruction occurs when disruptive events or technologies change the rules of the game and bring about the demise of current businesses or institutions. The book industry and the music industry are both recent examples where the creative disruption of the Internet radically changed both industries. When Atahualpa met the Conquistadors at Cajamarca, he was at the top of his game. He was heading south to Cuzco to claim the Incan throne after a long and bloody civil war with his half-brother Huascar. This journey should have ended with Huascar’s death and Atahualpa’s coronation, but the Conquistadors intervened. The presence of foreigners mounted on strange animals was a minor annoyance to Atahualpa. He planned to capture and kill most of the foreigners. Those he allowed to live would become eunuchs tasked with guarding his harem. He would then capture their horses and raise them in great numbers to bolster his power. The Conquistadors had other plans and eventually captured the soon-to-be Incan king. The Conquistadors prevailed with their superior technologies and their horses, but most importantly, they succeeded with the aid of native allies who vastly outnumbered the Spaniards. After 90 years of Illustration of “The Killing of Pizarro” from Kim MacQuarrie’s The Last Days of the Incas. 10    FINANCIAL HISTORY  |  Fall 2016  |