When you’re little, being a disruptor will get you put in the corner; today, it gets you in the corner office. That was the theme of The New Disruptors: Content, Devices & Distribution at the 7th annual Steed Symposium, held March 22 at CAA and sponsored by LMU School of Film and Television.
Moderated by producer Paula Wagner, the panel consisted of DVD godfather Warren Lieberfarb, former president of Warner Home Video; Ross Levinsohn, VP of the Americas region for Yahoo!; Michael Fuchs, former chairman and CEO of HBO; Rick Allen, CEO of SnagFilms (Indiewire’s parent company); Sarah Pollack, YouTube’s senior marketing manager and former production executive at Big Beach; and transmedia pioneer Lance Weiler.
Encouraging disruptors sounds a little like rewarding misbehavior -- but what better sign that Hollywood may finally understand the value of technology? Here’s four ways that Hollywood can practice getting unruly.
1. Learn How to Apple-ize
Citing Harvard Business School professor Clay Christiansen, author of “Disrupting Class,” Allen cited three different ways to create disruption: 1) with the content or product; 2) with a technology that delivers faster, better, cheaper; or 3) by creating a new business model.
“Those who can find ways of hitting more than one of the three,” Allen said, “like HBO or Apple with the iPad, creating a need that people didn’t perceive prior to Steve Jobs telling them they needed a mobile tablet device, those are the few disrupting with the biggest and most revolutionary ideas.”
Fuchs attributed the demise of the modern music industry to the Apple-ization (his phrase) of selling music.
“It hit like a summer storm,” he said. “And looking back, I can’t suggest what the music business could have done to prevent that besides being more innovative, which they didn’t know how to do.”
2. Abandon the Fear Culture
“There are too many senior business leaders in big media that are fearful,” said Levinsohn, “but Silicon Valley, they are fearless.”
At least half of the panel last night agreed that too many of traditional media’s senior business leaders fail by not taking chances. That’s not the case in Silicon Valley, which is why they’re taking the lead.
“They’re not managing their businesses from Wall Street,” Levinsohn said. “Silicon Valley is fearless in disrupting and Hollywood is fearless when it comes to creating beautiful programming, yet still the relationship between the two valleys is tense.”
Levinsohn said he hopes a mutual respect will grow from both innovators; if that happens, the next decade could see a century’s worth of innovation.