“Fearlessness begets happiness, which begets creativity, which begets innovation, which begets profits.”
James Whitaker has written up an interesting outline of where Twitter’s true value lies and the business it could potentially become if it wasn’t so hung up on an advertising model (like the rest of the world).
“It’s not the product I find stupid. Nor the company that makes it. What is stupid is Twitter’s insistence on ignoring their value as an engine of commerce and mindlessly following the lead of Google and Facebook as an engine of advertisement. Wake up Twitter. Business is being conducted right under your nose and you are doing nothing to either assist it or profit from it. You own a river of commerce and you are raising billboards to obstruct its flow. That’s stupid.”
Here’s a clever topic for an article: The Guardian interviewed a bunch of leading technology executives and asked them what rules they have for how their kids are allowed to use technology.
Here’s a quote that jumped out at me:
“My daughter recently went to the cinema for the first time and told me it was ‘like the biggest iPad you’ve ever seen.'”
If I were Bill Simmons, I’d be tired.
In the aftermath of his abrupt exit/dismissal from ESPN, it’s easy to forget how quickly he built a remarkable empire that became the crown jewel of the biggest sports media company in the world (outside of their actual league TV rights of course).
In just 14 years, Simmons went from publishing his first ESPN.com column to reinventing the way sports are covered in this country. That had to be exhausting.
But now, with that chapter of his life and career over, all eyes are on Simmons to see what he’s going to do next and which of the many opportunities at his disposal he’ll pursue.
Here’s what I would do if I were him…
I wouldn’t join another big media company.
FOX Sports may have a lot of money to throw at him and Turner Sports might have a relationship with Simmons’ beloved NBA, but there’s no sports media platform that will be as good for him as ESPN.
Ultimately, that didn’t work out because Simmons doesn’t want to be constrained by corporate politics and corporations (no matter how “cool” they claim to be) ultimately behave like corporations.
If this was 20 years ago, maybe even if it was just a decade ago, there would be some credence to the argument that Simmons needs that kind of massive corporate platform to succeed on the level he wants to, but I don’t think that’s true any more.
The media landscape has changed and he’s already benefited from years of huge promotion from the worldwide leader in sports – he’s built a fanbase that will travel with him to whatever venue he chooses to take his wares.
So there’s a lot more downside to joining another corporate entity without all that much upside. If I were him, I’d want to start my own thing.
I wouldn’t worry about the future of my old franchises.
Grantland has become home to the best sports and pop culture writing on the web, the documentary series 30 for 30 has been amazing, and the BS Report podcast has become one of the most popular in podcast-land.
But, they’re all doomed.
Even though their success was the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people not named Simmons, the reality is both of those projects were direct reflections of his voice and his vision.
Neither will succeed without him.
30 for 30 has the better shot since you’d like to think that ESPN could easily hire talented people to tell similarly interesting and offbeat stories now that the template has been established, but I think ultimately something will be missing.
Meanwhile, Grantland is going to crash and burn in a hurry. Simmons name may not have been on the site, but his voice was reflected in every bit of content on it and I don’t see that continuing without his presence there.
The public has already picked up on it – just look at some of these comments in response to a Grantland tweet posted a few days after Simmons was gone.
I don’t know any of Grantland’s writers personally, but I’m sure they’re devoted to Simmons and can’t be the least bit happy about what’s gone down. I’m sure most are already looking for new gigs and/or anxiously awaiting an invite from Bill to join him at whatever his next creation becomes.
As for the BS Report podcast, I’d like to think ESPN isn’t dumb enough to think they could continue that without Simmons’ involvement, but you never know. After all, they’re going to be tempted to upload something to that account which has so many subscribers waiting for whatever comes next.
But Simmons is likely to be able to take his audience with him to whatever platform he wants when he starts something new, just like Howard Stern did back when he jumped to satellite radio.
Speaking of which…
I’d give Howard Stern a call.
Here’s my out-of-the-box idea for what I’d do if I were Bill Simmons. I’d call Howard Stern and discuss a partnership.
While Stern is the furthest thing in the world from a sports fan and I don’t know if Simmons is a Stern fan (though I assume he is on some level), there’s actually a lot of ideological overlap between the two.
Both have built huge, dedicated fanbases over the years while reinventing media and representing the voice of the people. They both pride themselves on speaking their mind and have had their share of issues with corporate interference.
They’ve both shown an ability to translate their voice and vision into a variety of different mediums. Most importantly, they both value their creative freedom and control and aren’t willing to negotiate it away.
And the timing is perfect.
With Simmons a free agent and Stern’s Sirius contract about to expire, they also both find themselves about to make big decisions about their future with a slew of options at their disposal.
I think both would be best served at this point to create their own thing, so why not create something together?
The media landscape has changed significantly since the last time each chose a home for their work, and they’d be able to build something from the ground up (which they’ve both shown a remarkable ability to do before) with complete creative freedom and all the financial upside they could want.
The other interesting thing about a Stern-Simmons joint venture would be that while there is a lot of overlap with their audiences, they also both bring very different things to the table. Their shared pop culture interests would be enough for them to bond over, while Simmons’ sports perspective would be complementary and not conflicting with Stern’s core interests.
And they’re both close pals of Jimmy Kimmel who I’m sure would be happy to broker a deal.
While each of these guys has plenty of options and financing available to them to start a new venture, if they were to combine as a package deal I can only imagine that investors would be climbing over each other to get involved.
Now, I know this is probably wishful thinking.
It’s unlikely that Howard Stern would be looking for a partner at this stage in his career and neither of these guys need the other to make their dreams come true.
But, it certainly would be an interesting proposition and one that seems at least worth a conversation, right?
At least it would be to me if I were Bill Simmons.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
– Thomas Edison
via Jason Hirschhorn