On Product Factories and Peanut Butter: It’s Yourhoo!

I’ve gotta say I love my peanut butter, as long as it’s with a good spread of apricot jam – without it I wouldn’t go near a pb sandwich. It’s the same for corporates — if they lack the magic ingredient, stay away.

That’s about as much as I’m going to say on Yahoo’s pb incident this week – it’s been more than adequately covered elsewhere.

Back to product factories — be they wily startup focused or larger players keen to innovate, both models require a good dose of apricot, aka entrepreneurialism to be palatable.

Unfortunately I had to take a raincheck riffing about this with Ben Barren last week while in Melbourne. Nontheless, Ben has some more to say on product factories and peanut butter here:

 I think of new web projects, and the related “Hit-Making” as similar to a film set; A group of tech specialists and talent form around an elevator pitch that a studio funds, which is turned into a script and then a shoot. 6-12 months of magic or dysfunction ensues. Then the product goes into distribution, and is ultimately absorbed into the media machine.

Playing the role of today’s Studios are the VC’s and angels, who are in effect middle men, who provide a bridge till the Networks pay a large acquisition premium for the latest successful beta. Wouldn’t it be neat if YahooGoog could give decentralised Cell Leaders (like Dave and other leading experts) who then Exec Produced, and sometimes directed (but not always:) new projects. Basically, the Y-Combinator model funded by large customer aggregators. (it would be money better spent than some of the too far out R+D that occurs) Also similar to how Al-Qaeda works in a highly decentralised cell manner.

Compare new product development within a GEMAYA entity now and it’s a very different proposition. If the model works for the film industry (the irony being private equity is getting increasingly into movies), why couldn’t it work for Internet media ? Because by definition, the best people do not want to be employees in mature businesses earning salary plus fixed dividend like stock options returns; And sometimes being a Solo Entrepreneur or Maverick (with or without VC) isn’t the way either. They want to be working on the New Thing. With Best of Breed people and friends.

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