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Thinking Platform Shifts

February 26, 2009


I had a great visit yesterday with John Pleasants, the COO of EA. John formerly was CEO of Ticketmaster, where he helped steer the company’s successful transition from offline ticketing leader to becoming the leader in online ticketing.

Now, he is trying to do the same at EA. If anyone is equipped for the job, it should be John.

But it is not an easy task.  How does a company which has built such prowess in one business infuse its organization with the radically different thinking and skills needed to win in a dramatically different business? Are the skills which enabled EA to dominate the console videogame business readily translatable into what it takes to build a dominant online games business?

The very same challenges clearly are playing out across the media industry, where mainstream media giants are struggling to plat catchup on the web. And, for that matter, even first generation web companies like Yahoo and AOL seem to have missed the emergence of the new social web.

Can you think of examples where the 1.0 leader successfully won in the transition to 2.0?


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  1. Josh Lagenthal #
    February 26, 2009

    There was a professor at HBS who was studying this specifically in industry a few years ago that I heard present and a whole line of academic literature about it as well (the Innovator’s Dilemma is famous, albeit not such a great book). Why aren’t you posting this on your FB page?

  2. February 27, 2009

    I recently wrote a blog post about the shift in UK from television channels to television platforms:

    Basically, the tradition terrestrial TV channels appear to be merging so that they can compete more effectively in a world competing on tv plaforms (terrestial, satellite and cable).

    I believe in the Clayton Christensen’s idea that the very resources, processes and values that enabled the 1.0 company to succeed are what prevent it succeeding in the 2.0 world.

  3. Shane #
    February 28, 2009

    I think that the video game business basically revolves around the simple premise of creating compelling games. I believe that if they can create cool content, the platform is irrelevant. Although, as Gary Vaynerchuk so elegantly puts it “content is king, but marketing is queen, and we all know who runs the house.” It will be interesting, that is for sure.

  4. March 4, 2009

    Examples of a 1.0 leader having success rebooting itself:

    * Kodak (if 1.0 was celluloid film in 1900 and reboot was digital cameras and

    * Xbox (if 1.0 was dumb console that was getting its butt kicked by Sony, then reboot was advent of connected console and games like Halo2 to take advantage of it)

    * Wellsfargo (1.0 was stagecoaches and the original Valley Gold Rush in 1852 vs digital banking today)

    * Adobe (moved from boxed software for offline publishing to dominant position in online publishing)

    * Major League Baseball (National League formed in 1876. Today is held as shining example of how a sports league took control of their own digital destiny vs in hands of broadcaster)

    * Southwest Airlines (1.0 was a cute and cheap airline. Reboot was digital: Was one of first airlines to have website. Today it is the top airline site in terms of revenue– with over 75% of bookings and revenue being generated online and most of their fliers checking in online)

    * Newscorp (ok self-serving But: 1.0 was one major newspaper in Australia in 1980. Then: late 80s in Newspapers & Books and Movies, 90s in TV [broadcast channel, cable channels, satellite distribution around the world], 2000s internet [Myspace, IGN, Photobucket, etc] and Wall Street Journal. )

    * Ticketmaster? (Debateable. They are certainly in a dominant position today vs the 1980s– as internet allowed users to source and buy tickets more efficiently than phone. Though user experience and fees are still sore subjects.)

    * Netflix? (jury still out, needs more time. if 1.0 was dvd in mail and reboot is full digital delivery…Will their physical distribution/investment saavy matter?)

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