Your invention can revolutionize the world but it won't necessarily make you rich, Marco Rinesi argues:
Why is this so? Rinesi notes that "most industries, no matter how advanced," simply sell tools to other people. Those who use the tools are most likely to gain the most benefit from them. When reading of this, I think mostly of Mikhail Kalashnikov, whose humble assault rifle was widely pirated and copied. Despite the production of 100 million AKs, Kalashnikov lives on a meager state pension and is buying shares in umbrella companies. This is a reason to look askance at claims of disruptive innovation making instant billionaires. Rather, it's worth reflecting on how niche inventions and tools developed out of existing platforms have been the most successful. Kalashnikov did not invent the first assault rifle--rather he invented the most cheap, reliable, and user-friendly variant. Similarly, the team behind Facebook didn't invent social network sites but created a juggernaut through innovative redesign of an existing template and platform.
"But for all of its undeniable power, the printing press wasn’t the source of large fortunes for the engineers, investors, and businessmen involved in this industry. Profits were made, yes, sometimes significant ones, but nothing quite proportional to the influence of the technology. The bulk of the benefits came to the organizations that leveraged this technology for their own ends like modern states, which would have been logistically impossible without the printing press, or the myriad business that cannot be conceived without a superbly well-educated (for pre-modern standards) source of workers and consumers.
The same pattern can be seen in many other technical advances, specially those that impacted society the most. Contraceptives, telecommunications, refrigeration: they are often overlooked foundations of the contemporary world, each of them enormously disruptive, yet none of them, over the long term, a gold mine of extraordinary returns."