Things I found interesting this week:
- My favourite thing was a new essay by Craig Mod on media, attention patterns and business models, based on his lecture at this year’s Yale Publishing Course: “The main adversary of books and book publishing is: Anything that eats attention... Any number of media inventions have threatened to eviscerate the book market: radio, movies, television, et cetera. But smartphones tip the scales unlike any previous object. They do so by placing into our pockets a perfect, always-at-hand vector for “lopsided user contracts,” arriving in the form of apps and websites.”
- I also recommend this new NESTA horizon scanning report on emerging methods for supporting innovation, co-authored by subscriber Abi Freeman: there are especially interesting sections on the benefits of neurodiverse teams, and reducing bias in funding decisions.
- In contrast to the received wisdom about creating Minimum Viable Products, companies should focus on creating the Minimum Lovable Product: “Say you’re trying to test whether people like pizza. If you serve them burnt pizza, you’re not getting feedback on whether they like pizza. You only know that they don’t like burnt pizza. Similarly, when you’re only relying on the MVP, the fastest and cheapest functional prototype, you risk not actually testing your product, but rather a poor or flawed version of it.”
- Thanks to subscriber and friend Grant Heinrich for pointing me to this fantastic, super detailed case study here on how Morning Brew built a referral programme that grew its newsletter audience from 100k to 1.5 million subscribers in 18 months.
- Adtech/content recommendation rivals Taboola and Outbrain are merging. Their combined scale is being spun as a benefit for the publishers that use their platforms, but Media Operator breaks down the numbers here and shows why consolidation will hurt publishers.
- There’s an interesting piece here on the challenges of financing fashion startups where timescales and potential returns aren’t well aligned with traditional VC: “It’s not something you can inorganically pump thousands of percent of growth into year-over-year like you might be able to in tech or some consumer categories.” (It particularly resonated with me because many of the same arguments apply to developing media and publishing businesses).
- On the subject of alternative financing approaches, I’ve been reading about revenue-based investment as an option for early stage firms in place of venture capital (one notable exponent of this approach is indie.vc). My understanding of RBI was improved by this great post and downloadable Excel model from investor Jamie Finney.
- For anyone raising traditional venture investment, this is a useful resource for modelling dilution over multiple funding rounds.
- Finally, a good data point on the scale of blockbuster games versus Hollywood: in its first three days on sale, the latest instalment in the Call of Duty franchise made double the opening box office for Joker.