Network Shows and Networks A Free Association Riff on What's Next
Just how many entertainment franchises have ended or are about to end this year?
this is a bit more of a pop-culture riff, that will rapidly lose all meaning with enough time and be completely nonexistent or sources of digital dumpster-diving for hipster nostalgia for some (hello Gen Zs).
Big Bang Theory
The Walking Dead
Game of Thrones
Avengers (sort of)
Star Wars (well the current story cycle)
They were all conceived in the tail end of the last boom and bust, and were sustained by character-based stories. The main characters changed over time. In the meantime, Netflix rose to power and platforms and modes of entertainment changed. Twitch, formerly “Justin TV” is now the nursery for a whole new form of sports entertainment. Time shifts and “on demand” media dominate viewing and sleeping habits.
And a long running show in the investment world moves onto its final season:
A decade of unicorn startups that raised pots of money,
busy spinning up cloud instances of aggregation and modularity (h/t Ben Thompson),
steering toy-like apps up utility and asymptotic curves into tools (h/t Ben Dixon at a16z, and Eugene Wei),
and turn in their hoodies (or is that fleece vests) for public company pants.
In past cycles, the guts of The Big Stack were still being pulled out thin air and silicon and turned into pipes, fiber, chips, transmitters, receivers, and switches and more for hardware, and then services and software to keep these atoms glued together so that electrons and photons could do their laps on the ever growing race-tracks, to provide data, delights and decision-making for humans.
The current cycle has now built another layer on top of all the accumulated tech hardware and software strata. It’s all getting ever closer back to us. First it was far away, all the backbone, the data-centers, the HQs, the tax havens, and then it got into our daily lives, all amped on network effects.
”Backbone” to Backbone it comes this way, from silicon to right underneath our skin.
Now it’s right up against us, whispering 24/7 in our ears “on demand”, “subscription”, “engagement”. Right into the last mile, in our homes, in our pockets and in our hands. Next up it gets even closer, right under the skin, down to the bone, our nervous systems, our ganglia, our code - but that’s for the next cycle.
By then both Mr. Market and Mankind will have renewed for another season and a new story arc. Networks and chill.