Now that we’re into the second decade of the 21st century, I wanted to write a little retrospective of the last 10 years to help me recollect the recent days gone by and to assemble a picture of how the world of technology and entertainment has merged to where we are today. By looking back, we’ll be able to look forward in an informed way to set us up for future success.
At the start of 2000, I was responsible for coordinating the production and editorial team of digital and printed training material for Microsoft. I had been there for over two years; the US was in the midst of the dot com bubble and those of us in technology were riding high. Having worked in the financial world as Marketer/Designer and ad hoc Network Admin, before heading straight to the world of Microsoft, I was dying to get back into the cutting edge of technology.
I had just started dating Matt (who is now my husband and co-founder of Plexipixel). I got a job as Producer at the studio he had built a Flash animation and design production process for. The dotcom bubble popped for us in the early spring of 2001. I was laid off-last in, first out-along with another 1/3 of the studio. An entertainment company we were doing business with shut their doors unexpectedly and the studio needed to trim a significant part of their staff. Like many other companies at that time, the entertainment company had run through tons of funding and connections without a sustainable business plan.
Huge investments inflated the value of content on the web. Investors largely ignored the fact that most people were still on dial-up and the technologies to build and serve sophisticated content were immature. This meant creating the content was expensive and enough audience simply wasn’t there to consume the content to build a solid money-making plan. Early web content creators had already set the precedent of pushing out content for free, relying on investments and the possibility of advertising models to sustain their production costs making venues to make money through content on the web difficult.
The next three years (2001 – 2004) lead me back as a contractor for Microsoft working as Producer for the Windows Media and then Site Manager of the Microsoft Press website. Meanwhile, Matt and I were working on projects together forging our newly formed company.
During that time in 2002, Matt and I took a trip to Europe. We visited family and friends but also took some time to spend with people I met virtually through my job at Windows Media. I was responsible for coordinating the international Windows Media Guide team as well as the production of the UK Media Guide. I worked with web radio stations, record labels, and video content distributors to expose their content on the Windows Media Player. Large players like Virgin and smaller guys like Radio Magnetic got the same exposure. If they could foot the large streaming bills, we would give them free marketing in the player. Microsoft was simply looking for as much web content as possible to validate the value of the Player to hopefully drive more sales of the Windows operating system. It was then that the instability of the web content business model became very evident to me.