Andreessen's solution to the writer's strikeNovember 12, 2007: 3:10 PM ET
By Josh Quittner
Marc Andreessen for president. Seriously, I love watching him think. Even when I disagree with his conclusions, I always learn something worthwhile. His heart is in the right place and his brain is without peer. Would someone please start a Facebook group for this?
In today's post, he argues that if the Hollywood studios don't capitulate to the writers they will effectively destroy their business -- and perhaps, spark a revolution in the business model that creates video entertainment. Marc suggests that the film industry is ripe for overhaul: the big, centralized studio model ought to be replaced by the smaller, decentralized Silicon Valley-style startup model where VC funding is abundant. The compelling part of Mark's argument is that the two main reasons the studio system worked -- marketing and distribution -- no longer matter. When everything is digital, distribution is virtually free, and old-style marketing doesn't work very well anymore. The rise of the social web allows good stuff to spread virally.
I believe most of that (though VCs HATE the content game, which is hit-based and utterly unpredictable.)
The bigger problem with his scenario is the same issue that has plagued the content-creation business since the advent of the web: The creators can't make a decent living here yet.
Those guys walking picket lines make very healthy six-figure salaries. (As they should! Writers ought to be among the highest-paid people on the planet!) Can they do that online, alone? No way. And not in the near future. No one has yet found a way to create the kinds of revenue streams from online content that would match what a pro makes working for traditional media.
Yes, we have a few one-man brands who are currently making at least as much money online as they could working for The Man. But so far, they are bloggers for the most part, with virtually no overhead -- most of the success stories, in fact, work from home. Until someone figures out a better way to generate revenue than display ads, this medium won't be able to attract the top talent.
Marc, please solve that one asap.