The band Chvrches plays at F8

Let’s Make the Future of Media Again

Instead of just watching everyone else make it

I’ve been to a dozen NABs. You know, TV’s biggest annual conference in Las Vegas. I loved to walk the endless halls and lose myself in new technology.

But I’m not going to NAB this week. I went to Facebook’s F8 instead.

I could go to NAB to find a $30,000 TV camera with a few more features. Or a $150,000 live truck with better gas mileage.

Or I could go to F8 and witness the world’s largest, most innovative media company show us the future of mobile, video and VR. A media company that’s a technology company, too. Like the old days of TV.

Ok, I’m not a Facebook fanboy; I’m a realist. Look at what’s happening. Look at what’s in front of you. Look where the audience is shifting in droves.

Facebook VP of product Chris Cox at F8

“Our early adopters are super excited they don’t need these anymore,” Facebook’s Chris Cox says, pointing to an image of a live truck. He was introducing Live API, a way for any internet-connected camera to stream straight to Facebook.

Yes, live trucks are still needed, but think about the bigger picture for a minute. As much it may hurt to realize…

He’s right. Everyone’s phone is a live truck, a mobile studio that’s jacked into the largest content discovery platform on the planet.


Just three months after launching Facebook Live to all users, Mark Zuckerberg decided to go big, realizing in a February meeting that the company should make Live a top priority. A BuzzFeed story on Live tells us what happens next, quoting Facebook Media’s product lead Fidjij Simo:

The original Live team was composed of only a dozen or so people. But the vision laid out for the product at that February meeting would require more than 100 engineers to build. “The meeting was on a Thursday, and on Monday, [Facebook Media engineering lead Maher] Saba and I were standing in front of 150 engineers,” said Simo.

From 12 engineers to 150 in less than a week. That’s the new pace of the media business.

The sooner we as an industry admit that Facebook and Google and Apple and Snapchat are running the tables on media innovation — mobile and video innovation — the sooner we’ll do something about it. The sooner we’ll take exponentially bigger, patient bets to solve real problems. The sooner we’ll embrace failure instead of saying we do, only to lay off the very teams who fail trying to invent our future. The sooner we’ll invest to recruit the best developers, designers and product leads, empowering them to break the “rules” and accomplish things we never imagined.

Facebook has just a few mobile designers. Here are two of them, Cat Audi and George Kedenburg III at F8

Yes, let’s work with the platforms, but it’s time to realize that tech and product are core to us, too. That R&D isn’t a 5% cost but a 15% investment in our livelihood. That the all-stars at our companies are wave-makers who don’t care about the next quarter but care deeply about five years from now.

Let’s not blame everyone else, but take a hard look at ourselves.

Until then, we’ll just be sitting around waiting for the next cool thing to piggyback on, the next launch partnership, the next distribution deal. It will be with technology we didn’t build, data we can’t see, experiences we don’t control, money we’re leaving behind.

It’s the future we’re not making.

Media friends, don’t let uncertainty slow you down. Now is the time to accelerate our efforts, tackle harder problems, take bigger bets, make bigger waves. Now’s the time to band together.

Let’s make the future of media again. You with me?

#makethefuture

(Ok, here comes the full disclosure: I work at the coolest startup at a media company, Breaking News, and NBC has been fantastic. We’re solving a big hairy problem while *also* making great things on Facebook’s platform. And we’re having a blast. But I worry about our industry…)

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