This TED Talk is from Eric Giler, CEO of a company called WiTricity, which has developed a technology that will power and charge our electronic devices, wirelessly. This is a company that could change the world.
Think about it. Our phones, computers, gadgets, and cars are increasingly complex and powerful. The one thing that holds them back is power. iPhone's battery life is terrible. So is MacBook's. Electric cars may be the future, but they have to be plugged in, which sucks. This limits our mobility, our productivity, and possibly the resulting happiness that comes from things like mobility and productivity.
Where am I going with this?
Imagine if Coke had bought Twitter a couple years back. Its >70 million users would be exposed to Coke branding that many more times than they already are. Think that would be significant for Coke's business? Damn straight. Now think about Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and the other companies that are changing lives and societies on a daily basis. What if instead of spending billions of dollars to advertise on these networks, major consumer brands spent just a fraction of that amount in early-stage investment capital to fund these companies? Guess what:
- They'd have a better understanding of consumer behavior
- They'd make money, possibly lots and lots of money
- They'd earn the goodwill of being positioned as forward-thinking and innovative
- They'd have countless opportunities for integration and cross-promotion
Back when I started the Rebel Organization, the premise was that major corporate money should go to investing in culture. The vision was that brands could fund records, create works of art, invest in movies. Instead of waiting for an act to become huge and then spend for a tour sponsorship that nobody cares about, put the money in early to support artist development and have a fan for life in the artist, and that artist will tell all of his fans.
We were somewhat successful in that endeavor, but we've never brought it to the scale it deserves.
Russell Simmons recently called social media "the New Hip Hop." I agree completely, and that idea is reshaping my vision for a future where in addition to (or instead of) investing in culture, brands should also be investing in social technologies.
Heed my word: smart marketers will gain tremendous advantage over their slower competitors. Which one are you?