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Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Great Reads: Andreessen, Hirshland, Goldstein

If you haven't yet read Marc Andreessen's post, 'Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley's Image, I recommend it. (Andreessen is the serial entrepreneur who helped start Netscape, Ning, and Opsware.) Try to filter out some of the Silicon Valley "we know the future best" rhetoric.

The one place where I think Andreessen is wrong, at least about today's world, is in the willingness of venture capitalists to invest in new content ventures. What we've seen so far are investments in sites that are trying to aggregate lots of content, or build communities, like, JibJab Media, and Not really in people creating individual series, feature films, or docs. Many VCs are still scared at having to put money behind a creative group and hope for a hit.

Mike Hirshland, a VC with Polaris Venture Partners (an investor in JibJab and Heavy) has two really great posts on that topic, titled Investing in Digital Content: The Problem with the 'Hits' Model and Investing in Digital Content: When it Actually Does Make Sense. Hirshland suggests that things may be changing, in terms of VC funders and digital content:

    While I certainly agree that most content plays are a bad fit for VC investment because they require investing alot of capital in the risky proposition of generating a hit, I think our panel’s preoccupation with the “hits” aspect of traditional content led it to miss an important point: the emergence of the digital [platform] is changing the rules and allowing some content business models to fit within the venture model."

Hirshland was referring to a panel at the recent NewTeeVee conference in San Francisco.

(Another worthy read: Patrick Goldstein on the need for screenwriters to be more entrepreneurial.)

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