Hello, welcome to your weekend!
“I am very optimistic about the future of the news business,” Marc Andreessen wrote in 2014, predicting 10x to 100x growth for the journalism industry over the next 20 years. “But as Tommy Lasorda said: ‘Nobody said this damn job would be this fucking easy.’”
Andreessen was right, though: the last decade hasn’t been a fucking easy one in the news business. Already devastated by the loss of ad revenue from Facebook and Google, newsrooms have been further decimated by the pandemic, with more than 16,000 journalists losing their jobs in 2020 alone. Even as I write this, news companies continue to lose talent. Just yesterday, Vox Media announced that it was laying off 7% of its workforce. The Washington Post, which Andreessen is rumored to be interested in buying, appears to be next. (Of course, Google and Meta have also faced their own swipe issues.)
The optimism and optimism that Andreessen expressed in his 2014 treatise was welcome then and is welcome now. But even someone as serious about the media as Andreessen hasn’t been able to crack the code of a “new golden age of journalism.” In fact, as Abe explores in this week’s cover story, the investor hasn’t had much luck betting on journalists. (Maybe that’s why he blocks so many of us—me included-On twitter.)
If the past is prologue, that won’t stop you from looking for your rosebud, a profitable news model for the new millennium. That is at least one cause that Andreessen and the press can agree on.
Marc Andreessen’s drive to shape the media to his liking has produced some lasting victories and a long string of failures. Still, he finds it irresistible. Abe dives into the famed Silicon Valley investor’s love-hate (or hate-love?) relationship with the media and asks, where does this media fixation come from and where could it go?
Whether a founder works from home, the office, or a spinning carousel of hotel suites, you can bet they have something nearby to play. In our new series, Founders’ Keepers, writer Paul Armstrong asks tech leaders which essential item they always keep close at hand.
Alice Globus is the CFO of Nanotronics, a nanotechnology company bringing AI to manufacturing. But the role of finance represents a big change for the daughter of this inventor. Globus tells Annie about her unusual career path, which she began with an internship with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Lightspeed’s newest gaming investor, Moritz Baier-Lentz, is always online, except when he runs seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. (Really?!) For this week’s edition of Screentime, he explains to Margaux his very active use of the phone.
Watching: A worthy adaptation of the video game GOAT
I was a latecomer to “The Last of Us,” playing the original video game nearly six years after its 2013 release on the PlayStation. But my experience was no less profound: It’s one of the greatest stories ever told, regardless of medium. Since then, I’ve been proselytizing “The Last of Us” for anyone who wants to listen. Now comes HBO’s much-hyped adaptation, and I’m happy to report that it’s also fantastic. For the uninitiated, “The Last of Us” takes place 20 years after a mutant fungus has turned most of the world’s population into zombies and other monsters. We follow the adventures of a middle-aged man named Joel tasked with transporting a young girl across a desolate USA in the hope that she holds the key to the future of the world. At first glance, the story seems to fall into familiar post-apocalyptic zombie tropes. But the narrative gradually frees itself from any horror gimmicks, focusing on the parent-child relationship. The series, from Neil Druckmann, who created the original game, and Craig Mazin, the showrunner behind HBO’s “Chernobyl” and a gamer, may be the most faithful adaptation of a video game to ever grace the screen. While I still find some of the changes unsettling given how married I am to the game, I’ll continue to watch it every week, not only to see the new episodes, but also to see the reactions of others discovering “The Last of Us” for the first time. time. hour. —Wayne
Reading: The war of a university against TikTok
“When you wake up and try to watch TikTok but your phone connects to Auburn WiFi,” user @mmassey22 lamented on TikTok. Alabama’s Auburn University is experimenting with a new type of campus statute that prohibits TikTok on campus WiFi. Auburn, like other public universities, banned TikTok out of concern that the app “possibly gives the Chinese government the ability to police users.” The students, according to Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times, are irritated but mostly unaffected, disconnecting from WiFi to use the app over cellular networks. The Times illustrates an ongoing tug of war between TikTok-obsessed students and their caretakers. As one student said: “I really don’t think my generation, in particular, is going to really change the way we use the app. It’s so big at this point.” —Annie
Listening: the past, the present and the sad future of music
Is the end of the streaming era nearing? That’s the thesis that music journalist Charlie Harding posits to present to Niley Patel during an expansive and brilliant episode of the “Decoder” podcast. The hosts begin with the glory days of the music business, when artists could sell CDs for $20 and get a decent (if never big) slice of the pie. They argue that the music industry has become a mirror image of the venture capital industry, with record labels giving artists seed funds to create albums and then pocketing 90% of the artist’s streaming revenue, until the artists grow big enough to sell their back catalogues. private equity firms, finally achieving an “exit”. It is a precarious model on the brink of collapse, Harding argues. And Spotify, which has to pay record companies billions a year, could be dragged down with it. The hosts may not know the solution to this existential crisis (although they seem pretty convinced they’re not NFTs), but they’re asking fascinating questions. —Margaux
It makes you think
Until next weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information