Andreessen Answers Me, But Are Studios Listening To Him?

Marc Andreessen
Marc Andreessen

After Marc Andreessen, the Netscape and Opsware co-founder, posted some new media advice for his old media counterparts in Hollywood on his blog, his thoughts sent tongues wagging. I blogged about this Friday.

So I reached him that afternoon and asked that he come on our air to discuss his feelings about the Writers' Strike now entering its second week. He declined. It's such a critical story to the West Coast--even the nation's economy--that I didn't want to give up. I believe his take on all this is pretty persuasive.

So I thought I'd try him at his own game, offering a "new media"-style, e-mail interview instead. And he agreed. Me from my Blackberry; Marc from, well, I don't know where! And here's our exchange:

Jim: Why would you want to weigh in on such a controversy?

Marc: I've been listening to people in the media industry lecture me on the Internet for 15 years. Figured it was time to return the favor :-).

Jim: Why is Hollywood being so intransigent do you think?

Marc: Hollywood is an industry that has now fully passed from being run by entrepreneurs to being run by professional managers -- professional managers who CHOSE to go into a field that other people had created long ago. If they were entrepreneurial by nature, they wouldn't be in that field -they'd be in some new field. And so, faced by massive change that forces them to rethink the fundamentals of their business, they freak out. It's not because they're not smart, or well intentioned, or highly effective at what they do. It's because they are not used to thinking like entrepreneurs.

Jim: We saw Hollywood's reluctance to embrace new technology with the recording industry, something that sent the business into disarray. How surprising is it that Hollywood didn't seem to learn anything from that experience?

Marc: At this point, I'm no longer surprised :-).

Jim: Seems the studios need the writers more than the writers need the studios. What are your thoughts?

Marc: The studios don't seem to believe that, interestingly. To go to the writers with a straight face and claim, for example, that Internet streaming is only "promotional" and doesn't count as distribution indicates a fundamentally adversarial position that they don't seem to expect to be bridged anytime soon.

Jim: How will this shake out do you think?

Marc: I have no idea! I do know that the Internet is becoming THE major force in the entertainment industry and that this episode can only accelerate that.

Jim: What advice would you give to each side?

Marc: Get on to the incredible challenge, and opportunity, of creating the new entertainment businesses that can be built in the new medium--which is what I believe the founders of their industry would be doing right now if they were here today.

Jim: I'm sure you have friends in Hollywood. What are they telling you?

Him: Nothing you don't already read in the press :-).

Thanks Marc. Studios, did you get all that?

Questions? Comments?