DEW Conference: Futurist Rob Tercek on Internet Companies

Millennials, who typically get their video from Vine, Instagram, Snapchat and other social and online sources, are developing a new vernacular for viewing, said futurist Rob Tercek at the Digital Entertainment World conference in LA last week. He believes that the DreamWorks deal to produce children’s content for Netflix is a play by Netflix to capture and cultivate a generation of viewers, similar to the way Apple seeded schools with Apple computers. Similar trends are playing out with various Internet companies.

Tercek posited that all of the truly successful Internet companies are essentially ‘switchboards’ (his term) that connect buyers to sellers. For example: eBay (goods), Google (information), Amazon (goods), Wikipedia (information). Netflix is a switchboard for content. Netflix has about the same revenue as HBO, but is valued by the market at half of all of Time Warner, because of these two strategies.

Tercek also noted that they best way for a company to defend its market and grow its business is to “commoditize your complements.” Microsoft commoditized computers to greatly increase the market for its OS. Google commoditized information to make it difficult for another search engine to get established (example: Bing) and take away its user base and ad revenue.

When asked to predict who the winners will be in 2020, he noted that the winners in 2006 were Vodafone, Electronic Arts, Myspace, Microsoft, and Nokia. Digital media is a very volatile space. For Tercek, Netflix was the winner of CES 2014. Their announcement of plans to start 4K streaming to the home makes them a perceived market leader and trendsetter.

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