“Disrupt or die”. This was the message of Geoff Cohen, GM of 24.com at our October Media Lab Monday event. Geoff spoke frankly about the future of digital media in South Africa and the rest of the continent, and highlighted the importance of companies’ (and by implication individuals’) ability to adapt to change.
Geoff highlighted eight realities for the current (digital) media ecosystem:
- More and more people on this continent will use the internet to solve problems everyday
- This is one of the most intellectually stimulating periods in the history of the earth
- Also one of the worst to be a media owner
- More content – more problems
- The roles have changed: The economics have changed… And that was just yesterday
- We are running out of ways to describe scale: Millions of websites, Billions of devices, Trillions of pieces of content… And all I want is the weather in my area!
- Who are the winners: Those that embrace the agents of change AND Can solve a problem. Who are the losers: Everyone else.
- The problem we want to fix: The right information, For the right people, At the right time, From people they trust
Geoff touched on entrepreneurship in general, stating “if someone comes to you and explains their services as the ‘next abc (product) for xyz (industry)’, run away. They are intellectually starved”. He stressed the importance of being able to scale your solution. “Look at the opportunity hard. Ask yourself: ‘Is this a problem only I have, or do millions of people face the same problem?’”
The audience had the opportunity to ask Geoff a myriad of questions, ranging from his opinion on users’ comments on 24.com articles to our local Protection of Information Act, and his frank responses led to some interesting discussions. Geoff also recommended Tim Wu’s book The Master Switch – The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.