Cornerstone wins five-way auction for Azhar debut

Cornerstone wins five-way auction for Azhar debut

Cornerstone has won a five-way auction for the first book by Azeem Azhar, described as the UK’s most-followed tech thinker.

Exponential sees Azhar, a writer, entrepreneur and creator of the Exponential View newsletter and podcast, argue that accelerating technology risks leaving our social institutions behind, with devastating implications for our way of life.

Senior commissioning editor Rowan Borchers bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Exponential from Jeff Shreve at the Science Factory. The book will be a lead title for Random House Business in September 2021.

Drawing on nearly three decades of conversations with the world’s leading thinkers, Azhar outlines a model that explains the effects technology is having on society. New technology, he shows, is developing at an increasing, exponential rate. But human-built institutions – from our businesses to our political norms – can only ever adapt at a slower, incremental pace. The result is an “exponential gap” between the power of new technology and our ability to keep up.

The publisher said: “Azhar shows how this exponential gap can explain our society’s most pressing problems. The gulf between established businesses and fast-growing digital platforms. The inability of nation states to deal with new forms of cyberwarfare. And the sclerotic response of liberal democracies to fast-moving social problems. And he delves into cutting-edge research from fields as varied as economics, political science and psychology, to sketch out how we can harness the power of tech to serve our real needs – fostering new ways of doing business, innovative forms of politics, and fresh approaches to national defence. The result is a holistic new way to make sense of how technology is changing the world.”

Azhar's weekly newsletter is read by 200,000 people from around the world and his chart-topping podcast has featured guests including Yuval Noah Harari, Reid Hoffman, Mariana Mazzucato and Tony Blair. The founder of a number of successful tech companies, he is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council, sits on the board of the Ada Lovelace Foundation, and is a contributor to publications including the Financial Times, Prospect and the MIT Technology Review.

He said: “I’m excited to be working on Cornerstone to share the message that technology is vitally important, too important to be left exclusively to technologists. We need to establish some new norms to take advantage of the possibilities of the Exponential Age.’

Borchers added: “I’ve been reading Exponential View for aeons, because it’s objectively the best-researched, most judicious and most thought-provoking newsletter in tech. So imagine my excitement when I discovered that Azeem’s book idea was even more compelling. Exponential offers a wholly new way to think about technology. It will allow each of us make sense of the rapid social changes we’re living through – and help us move towards something better.”