Bad Business


Over the past 15 years, clever digital ideas have captured imaginations, transformed habits and reshaped industries and economies.”

“It might seem surprising, then, that so many great digital products in this generation have come from bad businesses.”

“Spotify has reshaped music, but the company is still figuring out how to turn a consistent profit. Uber has altered cities and become a way of life for some riders and drivers. The company has also spent more cash than it has brought in over its 13-year life.


It’s never good to be compared to Uber.

Spotify is trying to overcome the ugly math of music streaming by expanding into potentially lucrative podcasts.

The real problem is “…that the winning digital ideas of the past decade have not necessarily been the smartest ones, but (rather) the ones with the most money to try and keep trying.

When there is this much capital focused on the wrong idea, we might never collectively find the right idea.

What opportunities are we missing?…Instead of Spotify’s ingraining a pay model that hasn’t worked for most musicians, alternative approaches might have thrived.

These companies, which haven’t found a way to make their products work financially, have become like a forest that hasn’t been culled of dead trees and undergrowth. New life doesn’t have the oxygen to flourish.

It’s a fascinating reflection by Shira Ovide which you can read HERE.

And perhaps some of you will also reflect about the idea that Radio has had a similar experience since deregulation.

The largest Radio companies, acquired through massive debt, have not yet figured out a way to approach the profitability the stations it acquired enjoyed before being bought.

So, following the typical Wall Street M&A model, staff has been slashed – especially the creatives that made Radio so profitable in the first place.

Even if iHeart can now pay its (restructured) debt on time, it’s killing the future of the medium with its shortsighted decisions designed to keep executive bonuses coming.

One last quote…

I find it disorienting that more than a decade into a profound period of digital change, it’s still not clear how history books will reflect on this moment. Are we at the beginning of lasting tech-turbocharged alterations to the world around us? Or has this all been a well-funded dream?

And, at least for Radio, a bad dream at that.