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Facebook’s Local News Problem

Facebook has been in the hot seat this year. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was such a debacle that it won Mark Zuckerberg a two day trip to testify before congress. Facebook’s admitted lack of oversight compromised millions of Americans’ data and spread fake news from big cities to the smallest of towns, and Uncle Sam still wants to know what happened. In the wake of this scandal, as Facebook tries to Humpty Dumpty their consumers’ trust, they’ve made a big to-do about their preemptive foray into local news and their new set of tools to support local publishers.

In February, Facebook created a Local News Accelerator. The program allots $3 million dollars for marketing to help newspapers get digital subscriptions. Publications from Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and other major news hubs will divide up Facebook’s ad dollars. The jury is still out on its success, as no reports from the companies in the accelerator have confirmed increased digital subscriptions. But there has been one study done that confirms a recent decrease in the reach of local news publishers on the Facebook platform.

The Takeaway:
  • Facebook is a groundbreaking tech company with a global vision, but local journalism requires microscopic detail, not just global vision.
  • Facebook is still not sure how to tackle the news space and with Pew Research deducting that 44% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook, that’s not the best conundrum to be in.
  • The jury is still out on the success of Facebook’s News Accelerator, as no reports from the companies in the accelerator have confirmed increased digital subscriptions.

Which local publishers? Ironically, the very ones participating in the Local News Accelerator. In fact, only 2 of the 13 have seen a single digit percentage increase in reach on Facebook since their enrollment, while reach has actually decreased by double digits for 9 of those 13 participants. The Denver Post claims the unwanted crown with a staggering 56% decrease in reach since it entered the program. If Facebook is going to hurt more than it helps, then it needs to re-think its strategy. Communities need the localized information and journalistic accountability to connect them to their local ecosystem, and that connection is important.

Studies show that local newspaper closures are followed by rate hikes on the cities’ borrowing costs, sometimes as much as 11%. A pattern emerges where a few years after a local paper closure, people begin to take advantage of the lack of oversight, especially in revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are the instrument used to finance schools and hospitals, projects that generate ongoing revenue. This debt is then repaid to the city from the revenues generated by the project. Without hard-nosed, local journalists there to make sure no one dips their hand in the cookie jar and money starts to go missing.

Apart from an investment in local news, Facebook has also taken away their global trending feature and are testing ‘Breaking News’ features in the newsfeed and on the Watch platform. Nothing’s figured out and with Pew Research deducting that 44% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook, that’s not the best conundrum to be in.

Facebook is right. They do have a responsibility to help local news. All the big tech companies do. Google’s ad revenue grew $86.3B from 2004 – 2016. Companies in that same time frame spent $31.5B less on print ads. Organizations like Facebook are great and most people use them everyday. They’re a groundbreaking tech company with a global vision, but local journalism requires microscopic detail, not just global vision. We’ll wait and see if that’s a problem Facebook is equipped to solve.

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Apple Will Make You Pay For Selfies

If you were born in any time other than the last 10 years, you likely remember an age when you had to actually buy a camera. In those days you could purchase a disposable camera you would turn in to Walmart to develop your photos or bulky digital cameras needing a USB cord to upload your pictures. With the dawn of the Smartphone, camera use changed and now our cameras are one of the most defining pieces of technology for the modern age. That’s why it turns heads when Apple files a patent that can disable your camera, opening the door for censorship, extra fees and abuse of power.

When you go a little deeper, Apple providing a way to curb camera use makes a lot of sense for the technology giant. Imagine a world where artists worried about a ruined live experience, like Alicia Keys and comedians like Dave Chapelle who say “no cameras allowed” are suddenly incentivized to allow camera use if their customer pays an additional 25 – 50% of their ticket price? Or what about museums? You just paid $10 to go to the Smithsonian and now, to use your camera, you have to pay another $5?!

This would be a win for special screenings in Hollywood, which currently employ companies like Yondr to keep cell phone footage from leaking at test screenings or premieres by locking your phone into their branded pouch. This Apple patent however, would allow for entities to simply leverage infrared technology to disable your phone directly.

In theory, this sounds intriguing and may actually make perfect business sense, but when you get into situations like protests, rallies, legislative meetings, and corrupt public workers, the idea of “recording disabled” sounds more violating than anything. As the camera increasingly becomes an actual tool for expression and communication, the idea of censorship treads right up against The First Amendment. The thought of “Big Brother” monitoring our data is crazy enough, and now the possibility of them deciding when and where we can use our technology is even scarier. Apple is soon to be a trillion dollar company representing a higher GDP than most countries. Do you really want to entrust your freedom of speech to any company or organization?

This is the problem inherent with the proliferation of technology. We give up more and more control in our quest for convenience and comfort until we are ultimately inconvenienced, and without freedom. We become addicted to the use of the thing we hoped to give us joy.

Phone camera censorship could actually be a big opportunity for companies like Instax or Polaroid, the latter having somewhat survived the digital photography revolution after being a film company for almost 100 years. There may be a future where the best way to capture a special moment or an injustice without censorship, payment, or hurdle is to use a Polaroid.

Apple submitted this patent in 2009 and it was granted in 2016. It’s caused a lot of private debate and conversation. Any person who leverages the phone camera, for communication or business should be paying very close attention as its implications are far reaching. This issue will likely grow as our cameras become more and more ubiquitous, and organizations want more and more control, but for now, you can enjoy your selfies.

future party med men

From Sack To Shelf – Marijuana’s Third Wave

Spring is here and weed is in the air. Literally and metaphorically speaking, cannabis is everywhere we turn. What was once an illegal and underground business has entered into a new era. While on a national level the conversation remains in the court of Jeff Sessions, on the state level we’re seeing a flex of sovereign rights to overrule the law of the land. Shipments still can’t cross state borders, but the merchandise from producers is no longer hurriedly stuffed into ziplocks, it’s on the shelves in dispensaries all over the country.

This transition from the sack to the shelf has started an entirely new race. The first wave came with the farming of marijuana, and the second was the medical modernization and distribution of the commodity. The third wave, occurring now, is the branding of the products that fuel cannabis consumption. Now that there are retail distribution centers, the territorial networks of drug dealers are no longer as effective. In turn, this encourages more vendors which fosters competition. In 29 states consumers aren’t forced to buy whatever they can get from a smoke filled apartment, they have options. Now the cannabis brands have to vie for their customers attention just like the rest of the corporate world, and they’re rolling out some pretty rad packaging to show off their market savvy.

San Francisco based Bloom Farms is playing to the boutique hipster market. They boast “single origin” oils, a classic value add from the coffee aficionado space. Bloom Farms doesn’t stop there, they employ word play for their pen products as well, calling them “highlighters.” Snoop Dogg, never to be left out of the cannabis conversation, has launched Leafs by Snoop.  The line boasts dazzling packaging and the name is a comedic nod to longtime collaborator Dr. Dre’s “Beats by Dre.” Marley Naturals have a built in brand awareness and a definite head start over many of their competitors. At the very sight of the name on the label they’re able to take advantage of the magnitude of the Marley brand.

This new market is not only for smoking. The edible market is a cresting green wave making up many of the thousands of cannabis brands flooding the nascent market. Prepare also to see tons of cannabis infused dining experiences. With any food products the interaction with the FDA adds an extra layer of regulation to the product, not unlike the alcohol industry’s return from prohibition under the watchful eye of  the ATU, the fromer moniker of the modern ATF. The variety of products is driving a booming legal marijuana industry. What began as a $9B annual business domestically in 2017 is projected to grow more than 400% to in excess of $47B by 2027.

So, what does the market look like at 5X the current size?  Who becomes the 800-pound gorilla in this market? MedMen, a multi-million dollar chain of dispensaries certainly has the potential. They are shaping the future of the cannabis space with their efforts to destigmatize the industry while simultaneously migrating the west coast centric industry to the east coast. They are experts at creating a great customer experience. They recently opened an Apple store-esque medical dispensary right on 5th Avenue in New York, their 4th in the state. It’s companies like this one who push the boundaries of how we will both perceive and interact with the cannabis industry that will win big as the green machine continues to overtake the country and the world.

High Times has long been a brand ubiquitous with weed but the list is growing. Now there are strong brands from flower tycoon Moon Rocks to Kandypens and Pax revolutionizing the vaporizer. There are even brands like Garden Society with a distinct focus on marketing to women, and this is just the beginning. Whether you smoke or not, be prepared for a future where grabbing a case of Bud Light or a bottle of wine at the grocery store is as commonplace as finding your favorite joints at the mall.

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Kindness Wins In The Workplace

If you’ve ever watched Swimming with Sharks or HBO’s Entourage, or even read the infamous Mailroom, you’ll know that everyone’s perceptions of a driven and successful workplace has been dominated by anger, frustration, anxiety and “paying your dues.” Recent news has shown us how toxic corporate cultures can greatly affect a business. Situations with The Weinstein Company and Zenefits are stark reminders that it doesn’t always pay to be “the bad guy,” “the asshole,” or anything other than put together, strong and empathetic.

How many of us have worked at companies with a toxic culture, or for an employer that we dread going into work for because of the way they make us feel and how they treat us?

Given how much time we spend at work, company culture has a significant impact on our livelihood and well-being. No generation is more aware of the importance of wellness than millennials. To a great degree, millennials are responsible for the burgeoning wellness market and are recognized for being a generation driven by values. Now, as they are expected to become nearly half the working population by 2020, they are having a drastic impact on company cultures.

Generation Nice” is no longer tolerating less than ideal workplace environments. Kindness is becoming more than a golden rule for companies. It’s a must. And if you want your company to succeed, kindness as a company value is critical.

According to a study by the American Psychological association, and as reported by the Harvard Business Journal, health care expenditures are 50% higher at high pressure companies than other companies, and more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress. This amounts to 500 million workdays lost each year due to stress on the job, not to mention 60% to 80% of workplace accidents are stress-related as well. .

Unhappy workers become disengaged, resulting in 37% higher absenteeism and 60% more errors and defects. Organizations with disengaged employees showed 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Quantified in a dollar amount, a company of 5,000 hourly employees has the potential to reduce costs by $7.9 million per year, or 3.2% of total payroll, through promoting positive employee wellbeing.

Finally, employee turnover as a result of unhappiness is incredibly costly to businesses. It is estimated that replacing a single employee costs approximately 20% of that employee’s salary, and a lack of employee well-being leads to an increase of almost 50% in voluntary employee turnover.

So, employee well-being and kindness in the workplace is more essential to winning than you might expect. Happy workers are more productive workers. By implementing kindness as a value at your company, not only will your business perform better, but your workplace will generally have a wonderful, positive and welcoming environment that will contribute to your employee’s happiness.

A smile can work wonders in someone’s day, even offering to grab them coffee. Something so small can have so much impact. Kindness also helps the people who give it. A study that Kindness.org conducted showed that performing acts of kindness had a positive effect on the performer’s overall well being including having a positive impact on the kind person’s happiness, life satisfaction, compassion, trust, and positivity regarding humanity and social connection.

Employee well-being comes from having a positive culture. That’s why we developed the Kindsouls application which is a social support app for people to offer goodness to those in need of a little empathy & understanding. We recognized how important kindness is to well-being and how exhibiting kindness has a positive impact on individuals who choose to implement it as a value.

You can find out more about our kindness application by going to www.kindsouls.co, and you can download our iPhone application at www.kindsouls.co/app. Join our Kindsouls #kindvibetribe and start spreading kindness today.

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How We Used Instagram To Launch Our Business

Can you remember the last time you asked someone where they got their shoes? I can… because I do it for a living.

My company @shoesofnyc, documents street style photos and stories of people’s shoes. My business partner Huston and I (both NYC-transplants from Seattle, WA) spontaneously approach people with dope shoes and ask them if we can take a picture and record a quick interview. We post  the photos and narrative to Instagram for shoe enthusiasts everywhere. In 2014 we started the account as a passion project and in 2017, went full-time.

Now we have a variety of unconventional revenue sources such as white label content creation for footwear brands, @shoesofnyc branded partnerships and affiliate sales from our newly launched website, shoesof.com, which documents footwear around the world thanks to a network of contributing photographers.

So how’d we get here? How did we leverage Instagram to launch a full-time business? Enclosed are some lessons we’ve learned along the way.

You’ve got to find your thing. I’ve always been into writing, photography and fashion, pursuing freelance projects and different personal blogs while working a full time retail job post-college in New York. After retail, I moved into a marketing position for a jewelry company and learned the ins and outs of influencer marketing and the power of digital. I was fascinated by this space and all of my experience and interests led me to the concept for @shoesofnyc (shoes + storytelling). Whatever your thing, fitness, fashion, or sustainability, learn as much as you can about the space you’re interested in and if your intention is there, you’ll discover your own unique point of view.

Establish a consistent aesthetic and push your creativity within those self-set boundaries. Once we had our concept it was important that we found a signature style and posted photos that were immediately recognizable as @shoesofnyc. We could have gone many different directions for shoes + storytelling but after some experimentation, we landed on side profile, shallow depth of field, 5×7 crop and right-facing street style pictures. Without aesthetic differentiation (whether that comes from the colors, concept, crop, etc) it’s difficult to stand out and establish a voice, so it’s important to keep things fresh. How can you innovate within your boundaries? We’ve experimented with illustrations of shoes in our signature style as well as audio images where you’ll hear a voiceover in place of a text caption. It’s your concept and aesthetic coupled with an ability to innovate that will draw followers.

Pay attention to follower count – but don’t take it too seriously. The follower thing is a tough one. Before the algorithm we saw consistent organic growth and after the algorithm audience growth drastically decreased, but it’s not all about the numbers. Sure you need something and you’ve got to hustle to get those follower numbers up (we suggest manually searching hashtags/locations and leaving genuine comments on accounts who’d like your page as one strategy), but it’s less about having a million plus followers and more about engagement and establishing a niche presence. We have friends who’ve managed to create successful businesses with fewer than 10,000 followers. Whatever your angle is, make sure to foster relationships with current followers as opposed to stressing too much about new ones.

Network across and build up together. Too often we make the mistake of attempting to network up as opposed to partnering with other up-and-coming influencers and brands. Tap into your community to find like-minded partners – ask for intros, cold DM – and collaborate on fun projects and initiatives that are mutually beneficial and…often unpaid. We’ve done it both ways – we’ve hustled our asses off and gone after the big names and brands, most often falling flat. We’ve pitched Converse, Nike, Christian Louboutin and more. It wasn’t until we took a step back and began partnering with niche brands and publishers who were doing big things on a smaller scale, that we were able to build our name and portfolio, ultimately attracting the interest of larger brands.

Identify your value and look for opportunities to expand. So you’ve established a point of view,  created a unique aesthetic, built a solid-enough audience of followers and brought together a supportive community of partners and collaborators. What’s next? For @shoesofnyc our next move was clear – it was time to expand outside of Instagram. We realized we knew a lot about shoes and we knew how to develop strong narratives around footwear. We decided we could create content for other brands and started with the relationships we had already built with designers. We also  realized we could pursue @shoesofnyc branded projects with bigger brands based on our collaborations with like minded and similarly sized partners. Finally, we decided we could build our own website and platform for footwear discovery based on our unique point of view.

I’m not saying it’s easy to take a simple concept on Instagram and build your own business, but there are certainly ways to generate income if you have a distinct point of view and think outside the box. Maybe you could contribute to other publications with a fee per submission. You could also consult for brands given your own personal interests. Perhaps you create a product or service or even leverage your community for sponsored posts and advertisers. Maybe, just maybe… you can do it all.

This article was originally published on January 23, 2018.

Podcasts, Everywhere

Over the past several years, podcasts have been on the rise. They dominate our earbuds and our conversation. The reason is fascinating because really, it’s just a more democratic & commercialized radio, it’s nothing new. Back in the 50’s, families used to huddle around the radio to listen to in-depth adventures and episodic stories. Now, over fifty years later, everyone has a podcast you can listen to anytime, anywhere, anyplace.

Made popular by the likes of Serial, which had over 100 million listens in its heyday and Gimlet Media who created the very meta Startup podcast, podcasts have been elevated into public light. They are a serious contender in creativity, education, entertainment, your attention, and ultimately making money.

There are a lot of juicy stats as to why podcasting is the next big thing. Like the fact that Google searches have seen a 32% increase in annual growth in recent years or that podcast adoption is predominantly driven by mobile usage.

Last week, LA investor Jason Calacanis sent out a note talking about the “The HBO of Podcasting”. He knows his stuff as he’s now making over $1M a year in revenue off of his “This Week In Start Ups” podcast. He claims 2017 is the year of the podcast. Is it?

He says, “If you could grab 20% of the top 500 podcasts over the next two years for the “HBO of Podcasting” at a $4m payment each, you would be looking at a whopping $400 million content budget — or as Sirius XM would refer to it, “two Howard Sterns” and Netflix would call it four “House of Cards” or “three weeks” (of content).” So clearly it will take some serious cash, but the theory is people would pay for it.

Spotify is bringinging podcasts to the mix. Soundcloud and French based streaming service Deezer are getting into the game as well. Technology is making it increasingly easier to create podcasts and there are some huge businesses surrounding the ecosystem like Midroll which is an award winning podcast ad-network. Clammr which helps you source podcast audio clips, Pinecast which gives you data to make better podcasts & Fable which is aiming to be one of the first podcast only distributors.

It’s not stopping either. This American Life, one of most prolific players in the space, and the company that inspired Serial just premiered S-town, Limetownjust had a huge moment and even we, The Future Party are experimenting, check it out, we’d love some feedback.

The Future of Podcasting is almost here. Pop in your Air Pods & grab some popcorn to see which podcasters grab a chunk of the $65 billion audio market, or you know, just create one yourself. Peace.

Sharing Economy

Lately there’s been a lot of divide in our world, but it’s encouraging to know when people come together, we as humanity are more prolific, economic and happy. In a world where we must work on this divide, individuals all over the world demonstrated this last weekend, that we’re all in this together, every last one of us. It’s important to understand we are moving towards a sharing economy, and in the future, as technology continues to threaten and disrupt jobs, sharing and working together is pinnacle to keeping them.

Brad Stone’s new book The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing The World, dives more into the successes of the sharing economy where just five years ago, it was all buzzwords. If you haven’t checked out his work previously from Hatching Twitter, this is a must read. These two monolithic companies did not exist less than a decade ago, but combined they are worth over $100 billion dollars and have disrupted the hotel and transportation industries without really owning their own buildings or cars. These services are powered by their users and every step of the way their people have determined how to steer it.

These companies have shown the ability to overcome obstacles and break down barriers through the power of the people. They were met with resistance from the government, but Airbnb + Uber fought the establishment by giving the power to the people who directed this passion to elected officials and if it were not for the people that not only steered the service, but clamored for it, it would not exist.

Vice + Ford recently created a campaign on “Living and Working In The City of Tomorrow” essentially talking about the incoming “Third Industrial Revolution” and the convergence of new communication, new energy, and new mobility. Sprinkle in a couple buzzwords like “the internet of things” and “smart cities” and you’ll see a future that’s truly reliant on human capital to function. It’s not a call to action to start creating Indie Gogo + Kickstarter campaigns, but a prompt to understand the opportunities one has to capitalize on platforms like these and the opening to create new ones.

Transportation and hospitality have been disrupted, and we’ve seen things like Change.org or GoFundMe make waves in philanthropy and the government. Super cool apps like Rapchat in music allows users to rap off of producer’s beats uploaded onto the platform. TWYLA is another cool product that’s essentially Airbnb for art galleries and murals. Those in tech and business are increasingly familiar with the sharing economy business models and playbooks, but its impact has not fully permeated all industries. These are just a drop of companies that show how the power of the people utilizing technology can be impactful to our economy.

Employment is moving to a social economy where new jobs are going to be created. In that economy you need human beings, it’s social capital, not just market capital. It’s a world where people can buy, sell, and create directly with each other using their own skills and resources. With this lens, individuals can understand how to capitalize in a future where companies like Google, Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and Amazon continue to disrupt transportation, automation and every other sector. So, as we push forward, we have to be an inclusive society that is not fearful of each other, but stands up for the rights of others, because it is only with each other that we can all be successful in the future.

Spotify Acquiring Genius

Music is an essential driver of culture and trends in both America and abroad. Two of my favorite things are listening to and discussing music. I love finding new artists, analyzing lyrics, as well as learning about the production behind both classic and new albums. Spotify has been an incredible mobile utility to access large libraries and consume music through an easy user interface. With over 40 Million paying subscribers, Spotify is a mobile application many people can’t live without. As great as Spotify is, however, there are some additions the platform could make in order to enhance the experience as well as prepare themselves for a future IPO. This is where Genius comes into play.

For those unfamiliar with Genius, it is the internet’s destination for song lyrics. They have established deals with major publishers for the exclusive lyric rights to vast music libraries. Through a tiered hierarchy system, users can annotate and provide additional context to lines of lyrics. The approval hierarchy helps ensure there is a level of quality amongst annotations. Artists can become verified and annotate as well: Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, even Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Within the annotations, users can discuss music and provide their own interpretations of the lyrics. It’s fascinating to see how people interpret lyrics through their own unique lenses. The Genius community is extremely in touch with the latest cultural trends and even provides clever parallels between lyrics and modern day themes.

In 2016, Spotify and Genius partnered on “Behind The Lyrics” in which annotations that corresponded to lyrics appeared behind a limited number of songs, with the option for the user to view them. This is one of the best features added to Spotify in recent memory and it turned Spotify into a visual application instead of a passive listening one. With “Behind The Lyrics” there is now a reason to a look at the application beyond song selection.

Aside from “Behind The Lyrics” there is no where to learn about or discuss music on Spotify, yet there is so much opportunity. After listening to Drake’s Views album, fans should be able to watch a video like this on Spotify about the deconstruction of the tracks. Spotify should also add a gamification component to their application, similar to The Rap Test from a few years ago. These features allow users to learn and feel more connected to the music.

There is no doubt music discussion is something the platform needs to address in 2017. To do this, Spotify should really consider acquiring Genius in order to add a social and cultural component to their platform while tapping into the Genius community and creative team to jump start these discussions. A Spotify mobile and web-based music social network (derived off of the Genius framework) will allow Spotify to develop more revenue streams through advertisements and ultimately create a more compelling experience. Music is a rare topic that brings strangers together and there is a tremendous opportunity for Spotify to develop a strong social network from users’ love of music discussion, giving them an edge in the great streaming war.

Written by Matthew Stanton

Bring The World Closer Together

Bring the world closer together…

A couple weeks ago,  Mark Zuckerberg announced a new mission and focus for Facebook on fostering communities. We’ve grown up in the age of Facebook and it’s come a long way from the racy Harvard upstart. Now, they’ve accomplished a feat very few companies can claim as they currently have over 2 billion monthly active users, almost 30% of the world paying attention to them on a given month. That thought is both terrifying and eye opening. What’s more interesting is their recent move to no longer focus on making the world more open and connected, but to “bring the world closer together”.

Zuck feels membership in communities in general has been declining, and while that may or may not be true, they now want to help 1 billion people join meaningful communities all around the world. That’s a big mission that will support a lot of various communities from communities of faith, to communities for cryptocurrencies, puppies, cats, and even communities like our own.

With the announcement came some snazzy new features, from monitoring and acquiring new members, to group insights, membership filtering and scheduled posts. All these new features are gratifying and will help enable better groups, but what’s most important is the new focus. Their push to grow Facebook by focusing on our relationships with each other.

At The Future Party, our community aims to help professional millennials be more informed, successful and happier through unique experiences and compelling content. We’ve been excited to grow ours over the past couple years with some of the coolest and most enthusiastic people from all over the world looking to do life better professionally and creatively.

Connection comes from intentional relationships and common viewpoints. As you grow as an individual, it’s important to understand how to empower communities for your own business whether virtual or physical. In the future, advertising will move from quantity to quality as brands and businesses will look for close knit communities to champion their offerings.

We believe the best businesses operate with some sort of community. It’s half the reason Marvel does so well. They tapped into a community of comic book enthusiasts and now they own Comic-Con and dominate the box-office. When you can tap into social circles you create meaning beyond the actual content or product, you tap into the enthusiasm of customers’ friends and family, leading you to drive strong economics.

Whether you’re Netflix, the latest start up, Coca-Cola, or the government, tapping into communities both virtual and otherwise will be the new normal. It’ll be where businesses and marketers get their biggest ROI and where they supercharge viral trends. Just some food for thought. Happy Monday.

Mega Monopolies

Good Or Bad…?

The Onion recently released an article titled “My Advice To Anyone Starting A Business Is To Remember That Someday I Will Crush You” penned from the perspective of Jeff Bezos. Really, should you even try starting a business if one of the big dogs will just copy your idea and run your business into the ground? Is your hard work, blood, sweat and tears, really worth it to just have it snatched from you? These questions are coming at a time where many are feeling the “start up boom” is over. No longer is it “cool” to create an app, but it’s actually tough to do, and while the “American Dream” of running your own company and making billions is awesome. Reality may not be so friendly.

Now, we aren’t saying don’t follow your dreams and passions, but we’re definitely saying think twice and really ask yourself if this is the life you want and if the product or business you’re creating is something you believe in. Excessive money and fame alone aren’t enough to warrant the grueling work and fame especially is hard to attain and not really important anyway. Over the past several years, tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple have become so ubiquitous they can just turn on a button and immediately release a feature or product that stifles any and all competition.

Take, for example, Google & Facebook who account for over 98 percent of growth in digital advertising in the last year. Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market and Apple owns almost half of the smartphone market in the US. The market cap of all these tech giants is higher than the GDP of most large US cities. So these monopolies definitely exist. And they can indeed hurt entrepreneurs. For example, Snapchat who are “successful” by all intents and purposes, can’t seem to catch a break, mainly from Facebook jacking all of their features. Even as they seek to enter hardware and augmented reality, companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple are right there to eat their lunch. How can an entrepreneur compete?

As an entrepreneur, it makes you wonder if you should even start a business knowing there’s a huge risk it will be eaten up. Your chances of becoming a unicorn are slim, your chances of being acquired are slim, many VC’s won’t even invest in you, and if you do get to a reputable place and have one of these guys offering you money, do you take it, or do you hope to be them someday and try to fight an often losing battle?

The simple truth is monopolies will always exist. And even those who have monopolies, still compete in some way against another giant. Monopolies are both good and bad. They create jobs and opportunities and they also hinder new ones. They stifle diversity and propagate inequality in the marketplace, but they also create diversity and equal opportunity within their companies. At one point everyone who now has a monopoly, didn’t. They were once the underdog, succeeding so well in one thing, they gained a massive customer base and they were able to leverage it into other things.

The solution may not be to regulate and break up these major companies like many are trying. If anything, monopolies should force any daring entrepreneur to really create something game changing. Something that’s in your DNA and not part of any scheme to be rich or famous. It’s the only thing that will keep you going. You need to create special ideas and products that can’t be replicated or easily destroyed, and if it can be, really ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, because Marky Mark, Bezos or some Google founder may just come and steal your thunder.

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