You Say You Don’t Want a Revolution?

“Data-Driven Thinking” is a column written by members of the media community and containing fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Jonathan Mendez, CEO and founder of Yieldbot.

“It’s still day one (for the Internet). The alarm clock hasn’t even gone off. We haven’t even hit the snooze alarm. It’s day two when the rate of change slows and on the Internet, if anything, the rate of change is accelerating.”

– Jeff Bezos 11/16/2012

From 1812 to 1815, 140 different textile manufacturers built mills within 30 miles of Providence. From 1904 to 1908, 241 Automobile manufacturing firms went into business in the United States. From 1965 to 1969, over 2,800 companies formed to supply software programming services. The revolutions in Textiles, Automobiles and Software (to name just three) lasted decades, but each began with short periods of mass entrepreneurialism.

Yet, somehow in our industry people have a problem with the large numbers of start-ups. From the web pages of industry publications to the couches of the ad tech conference circuit, there are more and more outcries of negativity about mass entrepreneurialism taking place in our industry. The major lightning rod is of course the LUMAscapes and the VCs underwriting the start-ups.  The multiple LUMAscapes now have over 1000 companies on them — most founded in the past few years.

Why is this a bad thing? We should be rejoicing! There is no better evidence of the advertiser-supported media revolution (all media really) than all those logos. It portends a future fueled by innovation that is much different and better than today.

Few industries have been more disrupted the past few years than those supported by advertising and media. From newspapers and magazines to radio to music to books to movies to television, both consumer media consumption and the revenue foundations that underpin it have experienced a sea change due to digitalization. If you think anyone has a clue what the future holds you would be wrong because it is being invented right now.

As Bezos correctly assesses, the change cycles on the Internet are accelerating. This only lends more credence to having a large volume of companies trying to succeed. Of course, most of the start-ups on the LUMAscape are not going to be around in a few years. That’s not news to anyone. In every industry revolution the companies with the best ideas, best technology or best execution end up winning while the others get rolled up into the winners or die trying. Every industrial evolution has had this Darwinian cycle. Media technology is no different.

It is time to stop the self-hating and insider disparaging.  Most of the start-up people and companies in digital media have one thing in common. They are trying to create something new and better than what was there before. Since what was there before is being destroyed they should be rooted on and supported. Their existence may be the only thing that ensures the future of our industry.

Follow Jonathan Mendez (@jonathanmendez), Yieldbot (@yieldbot) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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