Speaking of media companies: While the reverberations of the Warner Bros. decision to put all its 2021 movies on its HBOMax streaming service are sorting themselves out, the shift is permanent — whether offended filmmakers like it or not. Creators who adapt will benefit, especially if they devise new models of payment.
The longtime entertainment business model was built on powerful gatekeepers that made most of the money and relied on a vast network of middlemen. But in the new world, those who can assemble a fan base that they directly service will profit. Imagine the future relationship between creators and fans as a subscription business, and the economics get much more interesting. Hollywood will have to become much more nimble and entrepreneurial.
So, too, will more Americans in general, since the pandemic has accelerated the introduction of what will be permanent changes in how we work. Last December, I urged tech to be at the forefront of this major overhaul:
“And rather than accept that poor pay and poor protections for gig workers are inevitable and that the pressures of a global work force are too hard to push back, tech companies should figure out how to creatively and humanely deploy talent across the world to show that they are interested in dealing with the consequences of their inventions.”
This was pre-coronavirus — an exogenous circumstance. Now I am often asked when will work go back to normal, which is really a question of when will we get back to physical workplaces. That will certainly happen in the coming year, but in all kinds of new ways.
The coronavirus has forced the kind of work experimentation that would have taken a decade to eventually happen: limiting business travel, cutting in-person office time, questioning every cost associated with the analog workplace. Technology is making doing business cheaper and more efficient and, as it has turned out, more productive.
These changes have proved nearly useless and even dangerous when it comes to education, where physical presence is much more of an asset than we thought. More consideration will be put into how to make technology and schooling mesh better and how to provide students with the kind of experience that they are not getting, as well as a bigger focus on universal connectivity for those who are without it.
While pandemics are short term, the looming climate disaster is not. So, lastly, I’ll repeat my 2019 declaration that the “world’s first trillionaire will be a green-tech entrepreneur.” President-elect Biden, who is championing green technology, will be more successful if his efforts are seen as job creators, and not so much as giant government programs.