Many companies are trying to find that next new hit. The bigger or older or more successful the company, it seems, the more difficult this experience truly is. Innovation from within is something that seems to be in a drought in America (at least). It feels (and I’m not going by data here, as much as observation) as if bigger companies are struggling to come up with the next transformative thing, while newer companies are eating their shorts in the interim.
I’m thinking about media companies a great deal as I say this. Tom Steinert-Threlkeld wrote a piece about how older media organizations are having a rough time figuring out the new stuff. Here’s a quote:
The Fourth Estate hasnâ€™t done that great a job of creating a Fifth Estate, on the Internet. Name one breakout online site or service created from within an established media company.
Beyond this, there’s a lot to absorb, and it’s worth checking out. I pulled that one quote to say that it is interesting to consider.
Consumer Reports or Consumerist? (hat tip Paul Gillin for this idea)
People or Perez Hilton?
Newsweek or the Huffington Post?
I’m not one of those “kill all the old newspapers” types. I think there’s a lot a company can do. But it’s HOW one gets there that I’m starting to wonder about.
If I Did It
I’d make an “escape pod” model, something like this:
- Pick a small core team, half insiders, half raw new outsiders.
- Stake them a startup seed round.
- Let them go a few months on that.
- No corporate oversight, only report backs. It’s spend/try/live-or-die.
- Assess. Good? Then raise an A round or give them more corporate assets.
- Revise revenue targets.
- Observe. Kill, or green light.
I’m starting to think this is the way to incubate ANY property in this newer media environment, and I’m curious as to your take on the above model, and/or whether you think traditional media organizations CAN put new crops into the ground without pulling up the roots to check how they are growing?
What do you think?
Photo credit, lexdenn and sage.