2nd Renaissance - Explosive Growth in Creator Economy

Early in my career, I teamed up with Todd Rundgren (classic rock artist, producer & tech genius) to form PatroNet which was the earliest artist D2C platform – later Patreon would come along with a nearly identical model now worth several billion $$s. Market timing is everything. That was Web 1.0. Now as we’ve entered Web 3.0, the proliferation of mass multimedia platforms and creator-centric D2C distribution & monetization is flourishing and taking off as never before.

Have a look at this deck by BitKraft Ventures which does a pretty good job at diving into the details associated with the current picture and the explosive growth taking place in this space.

I have a similar lament - of being too early to create a business around a future opportunity.

In 1997, I created an entertainment portal for 007.com that had over 800 hours of content for consumption in the form of 30 minute documentaries and interviews that could be streamed over the Internet. The idea was eventually to expand it to longer form entertainment and even movies, as technology allowed, in order to provide a video streaming service. Unfortunately, 14k baud modems did not proliferate as quickly as I’d hoped and not many people were able to enjoy it. A few years later, Homechoice offered a video streaming service in the UK by installing ADSL lines into people’s homes. Of course, they also were eventually supplanted by others, including Netflix.

In 1999, I created a company called 360 Ltd which had the idea of buying unused bandwidth from British Airways’ T1 leased lines and using a nascent technology called VOIP (which had only been introduced a couple years earlier) in order to provide the public with free international phone calls over the Internet. I even had a cool office in Shoreditch, London, to assemble the team. My impetus was British Telecom which was expensive and awful. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Skype came along in 2003 and did something similar.

In 2010, I founded a digital cooperative to enable creatives and consumer to co-create entertainment IP, in particular new franchises, and to own their own studio. Unfortunately, very few people were interested in this. They couldn’t understand why people would want to own their own IP and a share of the overall business when they could work for the other, established studios. As of 2021, we have seen the proliferation of DAOs which are very popular and offer a similar business model.

Timing is everything, it seems.

As you are well aware, futurists see the future as inevitable - never impossible. They just can’t tell you when it will happen and the exact form it will take. Nevertheless, it’s worth preparing for it anyway.

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I love hearing about your experiences as a fellow futurist and visionary David. Most of my life has been spent living inside a crystal ball waiting for the world to catch up; sometimes for painfully long stretches of time (like decades). I call it the ‘curse of the visionary’ – we’re typically right in what we envision, but the crystal ball has a flaw relative to timing (!!). And indeed, much to my chagrin, timing IS everything it seems – I hate to admit it, but it’s been proven out over and over in my own experience.

Still when you find kindred spirits to share ideas with who truly get it and resonate with your thinking, it can help make you feel like you’re not crazy when others don’t yet see the possibilities. And like you said, the future is worth preparing for and thinking about regardless.

Very true. For what it’s worth, I hope that there are people reading this that are kindred spirits and uplifted to know that they are not alone. Next step, of course, is to figure out how to get the timing right! Or, at least find good ways to bring the rest of the work along for the ride earlier than later.

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