Catching up on my Flipboard “10 for Today” emails this morning, a Vanity Fair headline caught my attention, “The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News“. The ex-journalist in me was grabbed by the headline and behind why I started reading, but I soon found that it was the entrepreneur that became engrossed.
In brief, the article centres around the public discovery of US anchorman Brian Williams’ inexcusable fabrication about coming under fire in a U.S. Army helicopter during the Iraq war in 2003.
In a day when true investigative journalism is scarce and it’s never been harder to compete for viewers/ readers due to the sheer volume of content available, to have a well-respected anchorman for one of the biggest media outlets in the US admit to lying — it’s a serious blow to the credibility of an already-shaky industry, not to mention society in general as it is the access to verifiable information gathered by independent media sources that empowers citizens to meaningfully participate in the political process. But I digress…
The Vanity Fair article goes on to demonstrate that the Williams’ scandal is just the latest catastrophe in a series that have plagued NBC News since NBCUniversal was bought by Comcast in 2011 – and this is where the entrepreneur perked up.
You see, Fiona and I are facing some big decisions at the moment regarding the direction of Workible. In our four years of business, we’ve never been in a stronger position and that is evident by the number of interested parties that have started to come calling — private and institutional investors, global partnerships, licensing deals, joint ventures and the like.
Reading the NBC story, you can see how key decisions began to destabilise the media company – long-regarded as one of the gold standards of television news in the US. Inappropriate hires, poor management, civil war amongst staff and the biggest blow being the sale of NBCUniversal to Comcast, the Philadelphia cable/phone/Internet giant who applied cable utility company business logic to a broadcasting company where talent management is key. And, actually, a very similar situation occurred when NBCUniversal was taken over by General Electric in the ’80s which was also followed by a period of instability and scandal.
Fiona and I have always been aware that the decisions we make from new hires to partnerships to investors have the potential to make or break the future of Workible. On several occasions we’ve rejected offers of investment – even purchase – because the fit or timing just wasn’t right for one reason or another — not an easy thing to do as a up-and-coming tech company where cash is king and competition is never far behind.
I can’t help but feel that we’re at a juncture that we’ll look back on and point to as a significant landmark along the Workible journey.
So, as we navigate the opportunities we’re so fortunate to have, it’s cautionary stories like that of NBCUniversal/ Comcast that remind us to tread strategically and keep the long-term vision at the forefront of our minds at all times.
Watch this space!