Slightly later than planned, Happy New Year to you all.
Things I found interesting over the holidays:
- Toymaker Playmobil is hoping that the next big thing in the corporate innovation toolbox is a $600 set of customisable Playmobil figures (its competitor LEGO has supported ‘Serious Play’ for years). In this piece, half a dozen innovation consultants and an appropriately cynical journalist try both methodologies.
- There’s an interesting report here on how corporates and startups interact (with a significant small-n warning): Silicon Valley and Israel are the key hubs, acquisitions are on the rise with 80% of corporates looking to buy startups versus 74% the year before, but traditional accelerators are losing ground to startup studios.
- Most of the media industry has spent the last ten years transitioning from ownership to access models. The same trend is affecting other sectors: this piece looks at how business models in consumer goods are evolving through rental and resale models, which have grown 21 times faster than pure retail since 2016. (For evidence that a more sustainable model is needed, see this FT piece on ecommerce—US consumers returned $100bn of goods between Black Friday and Christmas, returns rates for some categories such as women’s clothes are over 50%, and a significant proportion of returned goods have no resale value).
- For readers interested in publishing and digital transformation, there’s a podcast interview here with Wolters Kluwer CEO Nancy McKinstry: under her stewardship, digital has grown from under a third of group turnover to over 90%.
- New research published in Nature suggests that more than three and a half hours a day of television viewing is related to cognitive decline. (This would explain a great deal about the world in 2020.)
- Just to illustrate that hitting that three and a half hours has never been easier, there’s a great chart here on output of TV content: Netflix released more original shows last year than the entire television industry in 2005.
- More than thirteen percent of songs on Spotify have never been listened to—and there’s now a service called Forgotify just to highlight them. (It’d be interesting to know the equivalent figure for episodes on Netflix...)
- Pitchbook marked the end of the decade with a look at venture funding trends, highlighting in particular the huge growth of Chinese startups: of the ten largest VC investments of the decade, three were in one company alone—Didi Chuxing—in subsequent years (2016, 2017 and 2018).
- Another significant development over the last decade was London’s growth as a tech hub, with government launching the Tech City programme in 2010. There’s a really interesting analysis here of how successful that intervention was, which matters to anyone looking at up-and-coming tech clusters elsewhere in the world.
- The BBC ran out of home advertising in London and Birmingham for the new version of Dracula that aired over Christmas. Despite not being in either city, I saw the advert several dozen times over the break—because the rather clever creative kept being mentioned on social media. If an advertiser has a sufficiently remarkable out of home concept, maybe one or two billboards is now all they need because they can reach a far bigger audience through it being highlighted on social media than from those who see the actual thing?