Renowned futurist warns shipping’s disruptors will come from outside the industry

Delegates attending this morning’s opening sessions at Nor-Shipping in Oslo sat bolt upright when Tony Seba started speaking. Seba, a Stanford economist who is also the founder of tech think tank RetinkX and a serial Silicon Valley investor, predicted some harsh realities for shipping in the coming decade.

Shipping will be 10 years behind all other industries in digital tech take up, Seba said, warning that disruption in maritime will come from outside the sector. He urged delegates to get into a mindset as if they had just started their businesses today, if they were to prosper in the future digital economy.

Shipping needs to stop thinking linear, he warned, technology disruptions tend to happen as an S-curve.

Seba discussed car-hailing phenomenon Uber and suggested that by 2030 95% of people will not own a car. He also maintained that electric vehicles will hit the global oil industry very hard by the same date.

Splash is reporting from Nor-Shipping all week. Our full archive of news from Oslo can be accessed here.


[Photo: Lena Göthberg, Shipping Podcast]

Hans Thaulow

Hans Henrik Thaulow is an Oslo-based journalist who has been covering the shipping industry for the last 15 years. As well as some work for the Informa Group, Hans was the China correspondent for TradeWinds. He also contributes to Maritime CEO magazine. Hans’ shipping background extends to working as a shipbroker trainee with Simpson, Spence & Young in Hong Kong.


  1. The big disruptions always come from outside the shipping business.

    Alfred Holt was a locomotive engineer

    Marcus Samuel sold shells

    Malcolm Maclean was a trucker

    What they each had was a Big Idea, which they were able to put into practice..

    We are tired of being told to expect disruption” from the digital sector by people who don’t have a Big Idea or the ability to put it into practice.

    When a big disruption comes, it will come in the form of a real thing, with investment behind it.

    Not talk at conferences.

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