Umair, Jarvis, Disney, and Me

I think and write a lot about the future of media. It’s a big part of our investment thesis. We don’t invest directly in media, at least media the way its been constructed traditionally. But we invest a lot in businesses that are transforming the way media is delivered, consumed, and monetized.

And like everyone else, I rely on others to help shape my thoughts. The most influential thinker for me is my partner Brad, whose ideas I liberally steal from and out on this blog and the Union Square Ventures blog all the time.

After Brad, two of my biggest influences are Jeff Jarvis and Umair Haque.

Jarvis
Jeff has an undending enthusiasm for the explosions that are happening all around us and transforming the world of media. 

He’s an insider, who knows how the traditional world thinks, but is pushing the transformation forward with his words, and increasingly his actions.

He’s the cheerleader for exploding media.

I rely on Jeff for his reaction to important stories, for his words of disgust and joy, and I pay attention to what he pays attention to and notice what he doesn’t.

Umair
Umair is a thinker, a big thinker, who sees a world of media that we are not living in today, but will almost certainly live in tomorow. 

He’s not a cheerleader, he’s a free consultant, who happily shares his views on important issues with anyone with the brains and guts to read them and understand them.

So it was with interest that I read Jeff and Umair’s reactions to yesterday’s news that Disney was making its TV shows available for free on the Internet.

Jeff was characteristically enthusiastic. He, like I did, sees this as a defining moment for TV content companies.  The move to the Internet is upon us.  Jeff calls it "seismic".

Umair, on the other hand, sees this move by Disney as a terrible mistake.  He calls it "unbundling withtout rebundling". And he feels that Disney is handing their content to the "YouTubes and MySpaces".

I totally agree with both of them. But my interest in this whole situation is simply to keep moving forward.  We can’t get to Umair’s world of microchunked, rebundled media without the critical first step of freeing the content and focusing on monetizing it with new advertising models.

So after consulting my media gurus, I still come out where I was yesterday morning, Disney has done something big, important, and critical to moving the media model forward. They will certainly have to continue to innovate around their distribution models (for example what about delivering the TV shows in Feeds?). I am certain that Feedburner would be happy to help Disney with that.

But you can’t get where we need to go with the content locked up.

It’s coming out.  And I am excited.