Accidental Empires, Chapter 3 — Why They Don’t Call It Computer Valley

Intel-logoACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER THREE

WHY THEY DON’T CALL IT

COMPUTER VALLEY

Reminders of just how long I’ve been around this youth-driven business keep hitting me in the face. Not long ago I was poking around a store called the Weird Stuff Warehouse, a sort of Silicon Valley thrift shop where you can buy used computers and other neat junk. It’s right across the street from Fry’s Electronics, the legendary computer store that fulfills every need of its techie customers by offering rows of junk food, soft drinks, girlie magazines, and Maalox, in addition to an enormous selection of new computers and software. You can’t miss Fry’s; the building is painted to look like a block-long computer chip. The front […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood, part 3 — think small, not big

Some readers of my last column in this series seem to think it was just about the movie business but it wasn’t. It was about the recorded entertainment industry, which includes movies, broadcast and cable television, video games, and derivative works. It’s just that the movie business — like the mainframe computer business — learned these lessons first and so offers fine examples.

Whether from Silicon Valley or Seattle, technology companies see video entertainment as a rich market to be absorbed. How can Hollywood resist? The tech companies have all the money. Between them Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel and Microsoft have $300 billion in cash and no debt — enough capital to buy anything. Apple all by itself could buy the entire entertainment industry, though […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood, part 2 — There’s no business like show business

theproducersA friend of mine who is a securities lawyer in New York worked on the 1985 sale of 20th Century Fox by Marvin Davis to Rupert Murdoch. He led a group of New York attorneys to Los Angeles where they spent weeks going over contracts for many Fox films. What they found was that with few exceptions there were no contracts. There were signed letters of intent (agreements to agree) for pictures budgeted at $20-$50 million but almost no actual contracts. Effectively business was being done, movies were being made, and huge sums of money were being transferred on a handshake. That’s how Hollywood tends to do business and it doesn’t go down very well […]

In the land of the blind Krikorian could become king

krikorianThis may seem like a distraction from my theme of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, but please stick with me for a moment as we consider the fate of Blake Krikorian who is best known for the Slingbox and now seems to be selling his current company, the awkwardly named Id8 Group R2 Studios, Inc.. I think Krikorian’s career arc and our fascination with it give some insight into the whole tech-vs-Hollywood theme, showing how aimless and confused are some of these big technology companies.

The post I read that got me thinking in this direction came from Kara Swisher at allthingsd.com, which is part of the Wall Street Journal. Krikorian is reportedly selling his […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood 2013 — Setting the scene

winter-is-comingI wrote here nearly a year ago that there would be no more annual lists of predictions and I’m sticking to that. I’m trying to retire, remember? The ads are gone, you might notice, and with them my income. But I’m not out the door quite yet and have time for a series of columns on what I think will be an important trend in 2013 — the battle for Hollywood and home entertainment.

The players here, with some of them coming and some of them going, are Amazon and Apple and Cisco and Google and Intel and Microsoft and maybe a few more. The battleground comes down to platforms and content and will, by 2015 […]