Cold Takes

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

(First published on 1/27/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more)

After a late-night rant post — like the old days! — I’m sticking to just the links today. Just the links, ma’am. Happy Friday all.

5ish Links

Inside Instagram’s reinvention

Kurt Wagner sat down with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom and head of product, Kevin Weil to talk about how the network has evolved and is evolving:

“[There was] a change in philosophy internally of not being too precious about what got us here,” Systrom explained. “I learned a lesson from watching other companies who held onto things too long. If you look at the history of companies that have succeeded and the ones that have failed, there’s a pretty clear pattern that the ones that have succeeded typically morph every couple of years into something new. And that change is fairly uncomfortable.”

This is absolutely true, but so much easier to say out loud than to pull off. Really great to see Instagram — a company I’ve followed for a long time — pulling this off, especially as a part of a larger org (Facebook).

Art Market Mines Gold on Instagram

Speaking of Instagram, here’s Scott Reyburn looking into the world of high-end art selling on the network:

Christie’s declined to comment on the Basquiat, though it would technically regard it as a private sale, rather than an online transaction. But Mr. Gorvy, who is now a partner in the newly branded Lévy Gorvy dealership, said, “From the buyer’s point of view, this was a total Instagram sale.”

The Basquiat in question sold for $24 million. Feels like that could be another interesting little business for Instagram!

“They had the most enthusiasm.”

Anne Thompson on how Amazon Studios was the big winner of Sundance, by winning the rights to distribute The Big Sick for $12 million:

“They had the most enthusiasm,” Apatow told IndieWire via email. “Loving the film is essential. They are a young film company and we knew we would be an important film for them. It is so easy to get lost out there. We were also very impressed with the campaign for ‘Manchester By The Sea.’ That is a complex film and their marketing and distribution has been really impressive. Being Amazon, they have many innovative ways to tell people about our movie and we are excited to collaborate with them on the campaign.”

The latter parts of the equation are obvious reasons to go with Amazon: resources and reach. But the “enthusiasm” part is interesting. Amazon is seemingly doing a good job convincing the creatives it’s about more to them than just the business side of things. This is what you hear time and time again with regard to Netflix with Ted Sarandos.

Finally, Amazon’s willingness to stick within Hollywood’s theatrical windows — in an increasingly VOD world — marks a huge advantage with filmmakers eager to achieve a broad theatrical release with all the bells and whistles a big marketing and publicity campaign can bring.

This largely matters for Academy Awards contention as much as anything else these days. But also, perception. A film is still only considered a “real” film if it’s released in theaters. I wonder how long that lasts

Jaunt Unveils 2017 Production Slate

Speaking of Sundance, Jaunt, a GV portfolio company in the VR space, had a lot to talk about at the festival. Including a resurrection of The Lawnmower Man — a seminal movie about VR — in VR!

Amazon’s Oscars

Speaking of Amazon, they nabbed their first Oscar nomination with Manchester by the Sea — and became the first of the streaming folks to have a Best Picture nominee. The times they are a changin’ quickly…

Inside Jerry Seinfeld’s $100 million decision to jump to Netflix

But fear not, not all is lost for Netflix. They just stole Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee from Crackle for the low, low price of $100 million.

Jethro Nededog dives into the reasons beyond just the money:

Seinfeld likes to be in control of all aspects of his projects and becomes very personally invested in their success. He calls his celebrity guests to book them for the unconventional interview show himself. So one of Seinfeld’s biggest gripes was Crackle’s advertising model and the demands placed on him by Acura, the exclusive sponsor of “Comedians.”

Acura, for example, could demand one of its cars be featured on a specific episode set to stream on a date that matched its marketing plan, and Seinfeld didn’t like giving up that creative and production control. So while shopping the show, he overwhelmingly targeted companies that had subscription revenue models that didn’t depend on advertising. In addition to Netflix and Hulu, Seinfeld approached HBO. The premium cable network considered the offer, “kicked the tires” as one insider from HBO put it, but things didn’t proceed to any “meaningful discussion.”

I’m not saying there’s a groundswell against advertising-based models, but… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

500ish Words

The Voice

Some thoughts on vocal computing as the next potential platform…

(First published on 1/27/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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