Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Strategic Bankruptcy of the Boardroom, Writers' Strike Edition

Wanna know why the writer's strike keeps dragging on...and on...and on? Ultimately, it's because boardrooms still don't have a clue about how or why media and consumer economics are in shock.

Media boardrooms, today, are like pathological versions of these guys.

You know what I'm talking about - the hobbyists that very elaborately re-enact old battles.

Except where for the hobbyists it's just, well, a hobby - media boardrooms are trapped in a fantasyland where they goose-step through yesterday's imaginary battles endlessly.

Of course, the only thing left on that battlefield today are the ghosts and shadows of a dead industrial past.

For example. I'm astounded (honestly) that in 2008, the general counsel of NBC can say:

"...Fair use in the digital age is the same as fair use in the non-digital age."

Oh, the epic, epic lulz.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Tim Wu, in the same debate, argues what I pointed out a depressingly long time ago: that in fact, the economics of copyright are deeply + irreversibly broken, because in an edgeconomy, people sharing/hacking/using/etc your goods can actually create massive amounts of value for you.

How massive?

Well, for example, MySQL just created $1 billion of value. That's an existence proof the size of Jupiter of the negative value of fair use.

Or you could just take a look at Google's market cap.

Look. There's a very powerful (exponential) correlation between mediacos who refuse to drop yesterday's tired and wrong assumptions, and the depth, intensity, and duration of strategy decay of said mediacos.

Put more simply: to craft strategy, you must have an accurate understanding of economics.

But when you've can't even understand the most basic economics of your business - when you've got the economics utterly ass-backwards - don't be surprised when connected consumers, shareholders, and radical innovators all kick you squarely in the face.

More concretely: we can't craft new solutions to old problems - like the strike - without understanding the next economics of media.

See the point? Guys like Rick Cotton are still arguing furiously about a world which no longer exists. Media boardrooms are stuck in fantasyland: they've totally - seemingly absolutely - lost the ability to think, reason, and judge with any validity or accuracy.

Ultimately, the rot is in the boardroom, and it's high time Google (etc) put these jokers out of their misery. They are, at the moment, a deadweight loss to the economy.

You know, Heroes is my favorite show. I luv it to bits. Or, at least I did - until the strike killed it dead.

So imagine how much better it would be - how much better off everyone would be, from an economic point of view - without these clowns in the loop.

-- umair // 3:01 PM // 3 comments


damn, who the hell are you? i am knocked out..

ok... given that you know what you know, what are some action steps to be applied in the world right now...

is it enough to be a wise observer, as you are, because entrenched systems are going to (have to) die off, and not much to do but maintain a suicide watch...

systemic reinvention, no doubt at all about the need for that...

and established guys wont listen

sorry, thinking out loud

i will read more of your stuff, you are speaking my language
// Blogger gregory // 4:03 PM

Hot post, Umair..very hot post.

Tell me what you think, mate:
// Anonymous preetam // 12:38 AM

Along with the almost complete industry agreement in targeting home runs, I found Fred Wilson's point that his kids buy more DVD's of TV shows than movies as an indicator of how this plays out.

Most bloggers succeed on fresh content, in fact thrive on it. Readers of the stuff do, too. As this translates into the broader economy, we all begin to expect more new content, faster. Just think about when media companies realize that consumption is tied to freshness, instead of the tried and true rinse-and-repeat-mega-hit. In fast product cycles, companies will be compelled to care less about IP rights and more about the innovation pipeline.

The market is badgering traditional companies to speed up or die and are choosing all these other venues and hopeful contenders to find what they really want: new, easy to access media.

Great stuff.
// Anonymous CoryS // 5:07 AM
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