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Venture capital, the fetish of artificial intelligence, and the contradictions of making intangible assets

Kampmann, David (2024) Venture capital, the fetish of artificial intelligence, and the contradictions of making intangible assets. Economy and Society, 53 (1). 39 - 66. ISSN 0308-5147

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Identification Number: 10.1080/03085147.2023.2294602


This paper examines the venture capital-driven process of making intangible assets in platform start-up firms. By examining the case study of the rise and fall of a venture capital-backed ‘unicorn’ firm developing a digital health platform, this paper argues that the process of real valorization of capital invested in platform start-up firms involves the making of algorithmic systems and data as intangible assets as well as the experimentation with strategies of exploitation and appropriation, which are inherently linked to the future-oriented financial valorization process of equity shares since unprofitable start-up firms continuously require outside capital to expand operations. While the fetish of ‘artificial intelligence’ posing the firm’s chatbot for self-diagnosis as an intelligent ‘doctor in your pocket’ plays an important role in financial valorization, it is the failed real valorization process in making profits that ultimately leads to the platform start-up’s financial collapse. The conceptual contribution of the paper centres on the contradictory nature of assetization processes which sheds light on how class domination operates in and through venture capital-driven accumulation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2023 14:00
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2024 04:15

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