2020 seems like the media world accelerated by a decade. As video becomes omnipresent in a 24/7/365 connected world, it’s expanding as a form of content around community into commerce.

You’ve come a long way, baby. The video landscape today is unrecognizable from when we launched WatchMojo in 2006 to serve audiences’ informational and entertainment needs. As a storyteller/entrepreneur, it was clear to me then that the best opportunity given my skills and interests was to focus on the middle Premium layer of the content programming pyramid.

While the lower end of that pyramid – user-generated content (UGC) was so revolutionary to publishing and media that Time magazine named YOU as the person of the year, the reality was marketers were not at all comfortable around it. As a result, while aggregators like Youtube won through a winner-takes-all distribution battle, most of the investments that went into UGC fizzled.

In that startup success formula of Ambition + Vision + Execution + Persistence + Timing + Luck + Focus + Resiliency, the timing was off.

But inasmuch as an entire generation grew up on YouTube, their definition of quality programming had changed, which is why we consider YouTube to be revolutionary while Netflix has been more evolutionary.

In that 15 year period, UGC went from being the disruptive-yet-unsavory layer of programming online to the standard. Recall that the successful programming of a given era takes into account the distribution reality in order to find Platform/format fit.

Tiktok may have been the new shiny toy in 2020, but short videos edited in a quick style had grown normal over the years. When we started to produce WatchMojo’s content, we adjusted the formula of length, editing pace, tone etc. to reflect a new sensitivity of audiences then. Consumer behavior and perception of UGC have now evolved considerably where short Tiktok-like content is the norm while longer TV/theatrical style content is the exception. Jukin, for example, may have had a relatively speaking hard time in 2006 doing what it can do now, even though such UGC-style content had a precursor in America’s Funniest Home Videos.

What changed? Consumer perception.

In fact, when I took a look at that pyramid I drew in 2005, it was no longer valid for two reasons:

  1. The worlds of audience and content are converging, and
  2. As A16Z’s Connie Chan alludes, younger audiences don’t even really discriminate between short Tiktok-style content or longer form. It all coexists in their mind… though executives are slow to realize that.

Ironically, UGC’s bountiful nature made supply of ad inventory soar, providing a double whammy to challenging ad unit economics online.

All to say, now what we are seeing are the results, and commerce (and why we invested in Livescale via the Granicus fund) and education are not only catching up, but surpassing the rest due to Covid’s accelerant nature.