It’s all about People

Yesterday we finally unveiled what we have been working on for months; the launch of our brand new Venture Capital firm, People Ventures.

So why am I so excited about that?

First of all because it is a validation of how we have been operating since 2018; backing great visionary entrepreneurs not only with money but also with resources and people to help them achieve more and move fast forward with their businesses.

It is a very active approach that we have seen very positive results from. So it made a ton of sense to focus even more on that and just double down on helping even more entrepreneurs succeed.

And then it’s just such a cool name that truly captures who we are, and what we’re about: People.

Nobody succeeds without great people.

If you don’t have great people to help you out, even the best of ideas will most likely tank.

Great people can combine to ensure that even something that might not be the biggest thing since the invention of sliced bread can become a spectacular success.

And great people take care of each other when things hit a sour patch – as they will every once in a while – to ensure that emerge even better on the other side. That shouldn’t be neglected at all.

And we won’t do that at People Ventures.

(Photo: Private)

Logic goes a long way

…if the mission of these aliens calls for stealth, they seem surprisingly incompetent. You would think that creatures technologically capable of traversing the mind-boggling distances between the stars would also know how to turn off their high beams at night and to elude our primitive infrared cameras.

Astrophysicist Adam Frank, “I’m a Physicist Who Searches for Aliens. U.F.O.’s Don’t Impress Me”, The New York Times

Agree 100 %. When weird stuff happens it is ok to revert to your sense of logic and common sense. It is most often a pretty good guide for what to believe and what not to.

Hyperlocal belonging

The other day I saw a survey that claimed that 44% of all Danes would like to know their neighbors better.

In a globalized world, where we’re so busy figuring out when and how to travel somewhere next, this is somewhat a mind-boggling number.

You may say that you’re global. But the fact of the matter also is that most of us (not me though) live alone – many even single. We venture out to meet people, but when we are at base, we’re most often alone.

To more and more people that turns into a feeling of anxiety and even depression. The Covid-19 pandemic certainly hasn’t helped with psychiatrists reporting a large influx in ‘new’ patients who all have in common that just a year ago they would have been deemed far from in need of seeking help with their mental health.

So, having said all of that, it is comforting to see that once again there is a surge of interest in the hyperlocal space. In building local (mostly) digital communities, where people who might otherwise feel slightly isolated and alone can get a sense of belonging.

That’s the good part.

The not so good part is that for all the initiatives, I see being announced especially in Denmark, I have a feeling that they will be missing the target and the real opportunity.

Both Jysk Fynske Medier and JP/Politikens Hus have announced that they will be rolling out new hyperlocal mediainitiatives in select geographies in the coming months. It should be applauded. It not for anything else then for the jobs it’s going to create in a media industry that is by now more infamous for its frequent job cuts.

But is a hyperlocal NEWS site really the answer to the question of hyperlocal belonging? Maybe. But I am guessing ‘no’.

It will most certainly be able to fill a need to be informed about what’s going on around you. But is that enough to make you feel connected too? I doubt it. I think that in order to achieve that you need something more.

Considering all the issues with people feeling lonely and borderline depressed, the opportunity to find new ways to connect people and by proxy help build mental stamina and health seems both really good, worthwhile and as something that could have some interesting positive business consequences.

Because people are more than willing to pay for services and products that give them a feeling of being substantially better off on a personal level. And what is more personal than the sense of belonging, being part of something bigger, being seen, heard, appreciated and connect with likeminded people for various activities?

Not really that much.

So I will be curious to see who the first ones will be who make the bet to build a hyperlocal model not based on information as the primary thing but on the psychological levers to make the individual feel better as it’s core.

That’s a really intriguing and cool opportunity.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Bond. Jeff Bezos Bond

Amazon is reportedly looking to acquire MGM Studios for close to 9B USD.

That’s a lot of money to fork up just to get in with a shout at becoming the next James Bond. You have got to hand it to Jeff Bezos:

When he does something, he does it in style.

Neither shaken nor stirred.

Just solid.

Let’s get serious for a moment, ok?

Not only will Amazon get its hands on the James Bond-franchise. Despite my obvious affection for 007 that’s a minor detail. What’s important is that they will get access to a content powerhouse that will be an interesting competitor in the streaming wars being waged between Amazon Prime, Disney+ and that ‘old incombent’, Netflix among others.

The really interesting bit is just how important a part of the overall Amazon offering, streaming is becoming. To me at least it seems like it’s a key ingredient in keeping the Amazon Prime rundle interesting and value for money for consumers. It’s the icing on the cake. After you have eaten the cake, that is.

Taken into a larger context it seems rather bizarre by now that we have been discussing the value of content over the years as something that approached zero, when it’s becoming fairly obvious that great content is a key differentiator that makes the bundle turned rundle ever more evergreen and attractive to consumers.

People have never spent more money on content than they do today. They are just spending it with a set of very different providers and value propositions than they were a couple of decades ago.

Where does this leave the media players that used to skim all the profits?

Almost like a failed Bond villain.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Saboteurs

We’re so used to innovating and building products and businesses for people, who have a need for what we are looking to go to market with that we completely forget about the other people.

The saboteurs.

While I totally understand why we never think about those, who don’t wish us well – it’s not the kind of thing you want to spend a lot of time thinking about – thinking about them may actually hold some merit.

Let’s think of it this way:

What are the scenarios where someone would aggressively try to detract other people from using your product?

And more importantly:

What can and should you do about it to try and counter it?

Maybe the answer to the last question turns out to be “Nothing. Haters are gonna hate.”

But just maybe it could spur a couple of twists to your products and services that not only deter the saboteurs from going crazy on your product but actually also ends up delighting your loyal customers even more than they already are.

If that is an option, wouldn’t it be worth spending just a little time reflecting on who your potential saboteurs are, and what you could/should do to counter them?

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Beware changing models

Can you start out with one type of business model and then transition to a new one without facing huge challenges?

The question is a valid one. And the answer is probably “No” in most cases. And it is worth exploring a bit further, as it’s often a topic that comes up when I meet with founders.

The issue with wanting to change the business model is that what I need and want as a founder and business owner is not necessarily the same as my customer needs and wants.

Let me a simple example from my own life as a customer:

When I order a case of wine from my preferred ‘wine pusher’, I expect it to be an interesting wine from a wine maker, I would otherwise never have heard of and at a reasonable price. Like I am used to.

I do not expect to get an offer for a wine they have produced themselves together with a chef, I have never heard of (even though it probably says something bad about me that I don’t). As I got the other day. And immediately decided to decline.

Why?

Because it broke the fundamental ‘contract’ I have with my regular supplier: You find regular wines from little known places that I can then get a good offer on. That’s the model, I have signed up for. You DON’T try to introduce your own brands into the mix, because that deviates from our ‘contract’.

Could I be more forgiving here and just try it out? Absolutely. And I fully expect that many of their customers do so. Otherwise they probably wouldn’t do it. But I think it goes to show how challenging it can be to make changes to your fundamental value proposition and business model.

I think you need to be very aware of this. Because while it may be tempting to try to change your business model to introduce new revenue streams, cut costs, increase sales, boost your bottom line or whatever, you won’t succeed in it if you’re out of sync with what your customers are expecting.

Don’t ever take even your loyal customers for granted.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Rest In Peace, IE

It’s been in the cards for ages, but now it’s official: Internet Explorer (IE) will be retired in June 2022.

Most people have long since moved on. And for good reason(s). But many businesses still have some legacy tools that for some silly reason loves IE more than anything else. They will now need to find a new object of their affection.

The reason why I wanted to briefly touch on it here is not for what is happening now but for what IE has meant to the world, to Microsoft – and to me.

For the world, IE was the first way many people got on the internet. Yes, you could argue there were always better, more sexy options. But the inclusion of IE in the Windows operating system effectively made it a no-brainer for consumers to use the browser. Which could again be seen by it’s market dominance for years.

Love it or hate it. There are many ways to make your mark. And IE certainly did that with millions and millions of people.

For Microsoft it also had tremendous importance – if for all the wrong reasons. It allowed the company to steam (late) into the digital era, and it was also the most important source of the anti-trust case filed by DOJ that out then CEO Bill Gates through his most excruciating interview ever (and no, he did not do well in that), and almost broke the company up.

How’s that for impact, huh?

For me personally, IE also played a pivotal role in my professional life. When I started out at MSN.dk in the autumn of 2000, our homepage was the standard homepage in IE and as such, we got a lot of traffic from it.

I honestly can’t count the number of times, I have received abuse and pointed remarks from competitors about the unfair advantage, they thought we had, and how we – in their eyes – ‘cheated’.

Of course we didn’t, and the only effect the criticism had on us was to motivate us to do even better and go and create some of the most popular content verticals on the Danish part of the internet, IRRESPECTIVE of the IE homepage.

We managed to build leading verticals within entertainment and lifestyle for both men and women with great local partners. And with that and more most certainly the most profitable display driven advertising business in the Danish media market with margins, our competitors couldn’t even dream of.

It was good times.

So for me, IE was a net positive. It helped me discover the internet, it provided an opportunity to join one of the coolest companies on the planet (which I am eternally grateful for), and it allowed our team to build a digital media business that was second-to-none in it’s time.

Rest In Peace, IE.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Data is subscription gold

Lars K. Jensen from Willmore does an excellent newsletter on innovation within digital media called ‘Products in Publishing’.

If you haven’t signed up for it yet, I suggest that you go and do it – even if you’re not in media. Because the way that he uses data and analysis to inform his thinking is inspirational.

His latest take is on digital news subscriptions, and why it’s probably not the news that are driving conversions from freeloaders to subscribers. You can argue that it’s quite obvious, since very few if any have had real success with digital news subscriptions. But that’s not the point.

The point is how he uses data. Because analyzing different use cases for content, how much content is published in each of them and how they convert, he’s able to do a pretty spot on analysis of what it is that drives value for digital news media subscribers.

And here’s the kicker:

Even though Lars is good, he hasn’t done anything that any media company with a decent analytics department – and yes, they all have one – couldn’t and shouldn’t have done a long, long time ago.

The data has been there for everybody who cared to see it and get to the same conclusions.

Why haven’t they made this analysis years ago? There’s obviously subscription gold in the data.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)