One place where some excellent profits can be made is when a fragmented industry with a lot of small companies has someone figure out how to consolidate it. The consolidator tends to do very well. McDonalds is an example of this in that most hamburger stands were owned by small business men with no more than a few locations before it changed the hamburger world.
I was reading Professor Damodaran's blog a few days ago and he got me to thinking. His post was about they way higher education is done and how it is remarkably expensive. After thinking about this for a while I think he is most correct. College costs have risen much faster than the rate of inflation for about 30 years. An undergraduate education is now at the point where it is economically hard to justify for some careers. And it is a fragmented industry with a lot of different providers, no one of which has a commanding share of the business. So it would seem to be an industry ripe for someone to figure out how to do it better and cheaper and change the world.
Now there are some impediments to consolidation. People go to college for a lot of reasons besides education. At the higher end schools, the contacts you make can literally change your life. And at all the schools, partying is a big part of it. That might be hard to do if the college is a virtual one and people are scattered around the globe.
A number of places are trying to find a model for non-traditional education that will work. University of Phoenix is probably the leader here. The problem is that is has just a faint odor of second rateness about it, and whatever really takes off will have to be perceived as having some status appeal.
There is a lower tier of schools that do various kinds of training, but there have a number of scandals where people paid large sums of money for education that didn't actually lead to much in the way of job prospects. I think the government largesse that helped fuel part of the industry is gone for the forseeable future.
Given the economic incentives, I suspect that various entites will keep trying stuff until someone gets it right. And when they do, I want to own that company.