Things I found interesting this week:
- A new book looks at the US government’s legal action against Apple and major publishers in 2012. The WSJ’s review puts it in the context of current debates on regulation, which it describes as ‘Hipster Antitrust’: “Politicians and social critics who worry about ‘the curse of bigness’—and vow to rewrite antitrust law to break up Facebook and Google—forget what happened the last time the government used the law against a Silicon Valley company... The unintended result was not exactly a victory for the consumer or for competition.”
- Media growth data: in 2012, there was only one sports team worth over $2 billion. Today there are 52. “The values of sports teams have skyrocketed on the backs of ballooning media rights deals and more owner-friendly collective bargaining agreements that restrain player costs.”
- A media disconnect: two thirds of British consumers in a recent study reported being worried about fake news, but only fifteen percent are prepared to pay for quality journalism. (Given that 25.8 million British households pay for a television licence, it begs the question of whether that isn’t seen as paying for news...)
- The Tow Center’s latest annual report on how publishers work with digital platforms shows that relationship as more complex than ever: “Success necessitates regaining control of revenue streams and putting core audience interests above platform demands.“
- There’s a great case study on exactly this here, discussing how the Economist has driven significant traffic increases to its own sites from social media.
- Media companies aren’t the only organisations struggling: startups that once relied on social platforms for viral growth are now having to deal with walled gardens and a post-GDPR world. This piece suggests new strategies to replace established growth hacking.
- I loved this piece by innovation consultants Fluxx on setting up a product innovation lab inside a corporate client: there’s some fantastic practical advice, from the optimal physical environment to hacks for setting up a temporary customer support line and online chat.
- Nearly 15% of European startup funding last year came directly from wealthy private investors (with another 8% coming from those individuals investing in VC funds rather than directly in companies).
- There’s an interesting argument here that the narrative that a startup establishes around itself is critical for investor support, and that the best way to shape it is through pseudo-secrets, a non-obvious narrative about the company that helps establish it as an outlier.
- It’s five years since the launch of the Amazon Echo, and this piece on voice hype seems overdue: “The benefits of being present on voice devices are assumed to be self-evident... But if this is the case, then why aren’t more brands talking about the results they’ve seen from their voice experiences? This conspicuous silence around the outcomes... mirrors the lack of concrete figures provided by either Google or Amazon on how much Actions and Skills are actually used.”
- Middle management often gets a raw deal, but an INSEAD study showed that while 80% of change projects initiated by senior management failed, 80% of those initiated by middle managers were successful and profitable.