Hollywood is Dead. Long Live Hollywood.

By Miles Beckett , written on January 27, 2012

From The News Desk

There has been a lot of talk online about “Killing Hollywood.”  From the average consumer to the Silicon Valley elite, Hollywood’s archaic business models and anti-consumer behavior is frustrating everyone (except their lawyers!).

Their stubborn refusal to accept the “new rules” of the internet is like watching a drunk tie his shoes in the dark. The rules have changed and Hollywood will stop at nothing to go back to the old ways no matter how much collateral damage they cause in the process.

Thing is, Hollywood is already dead.  But it isn’t being killed by Silicon Valley.  It’s being killed by Santa Monica.  And Culver City.  And North Hollywood.  Across the city of Los Angeles, startups are popping up left and right, and “Silicon Beach” is beginning to turn out companies that will bring down the traditional Hollywood system.

Why?  It’s all about the talent.  The talent required to create a transformative pure play technology company is concentrated in Silicon Valley.  Since the 1950’s, every self-respecting geek has made the pilgrimage to the temples of Hewlett, Jobs, and Page.  These innovators have created incredible companies and magical products and services that have enriched our lives.  Our generation has seen the rise of massive internet companies with hundreds of millions of users.

But, it wasn’t always this way.

Way back in the ‘90’s the Internet was like a vast desert.  Early social networks like Xanga, MySpace, and Friendster were oases scattered across this scalding landscape, providing people with shade and a little water, and giving them the opportunity to do what we do best: socialize.

Now, this desert is overflowing with oases and they go by the names Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.  There are literally thousands of web and mobile applications that create powerful environments for socializing.

The problem is, they’re still basically just places to hang out, get some shade, take a few pictures, and maybe show off your tan.  I don’t care how interesting you think your Instagram feed is.  If the photos in your feed were from Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, and Lauren Greenfield, they would be more interesting than the pictures of your friend’s kid’s first haircut.

The platforms are here, but how can we leverage these platforms to make them more interesting?  I believe that we will build experiences.  Over the course of this year, we will see LA-based companies fill the desert with the digital equivalent of rock concerts, movie theaters, and theme parks.  They will build web and mobile applications that leverage existing platforms to create engaging experiences that work across all platforms and devices.

Contrary to what many in Silicon Valley believe, creating great content is hard.  Really hard.  There’s a reason why there are so many cat videos and laughing babies on YouTube.  This is why Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix are collectively spending billions to finance the production of high quality content for distribution on their platforms.  Most of this money is going to LA-based companies and startups because the talent is here.

Similar to Silicon Valley, since the 1950’s every self-respecting creative talent has made the pilgrimage to the temples of Clooney, Spielberg, and Eisner.  And guess what?  We have hot-shot programmers too.  Google just opened a massive office in Santa Monica.  Facebook is down here.  So is Apple.  And there are dozens of successful entrepreneurs on their second or third company, people like Brian Lee, Josh Berman, and Mike Jones, launching new companies and incubators here in LA.

Silicon Valley thinks it can kill Hollywood, but we’re already bringing Hollywood down from the inside.

Miles Beckett is the CEO and co-founder of EQAL, the next-generation media company that combines technology and people to power 24/7/365 digital media properties around consumer brands and celebrities.  He was the co-creator of the original web video series lonelygirl15, and was previously a medical doctor.

[Photo credit: Chang'r.]