On January 26, the Entertainment and Media Club at HBS took a whirlwind tour through America’s media capital, meeting with close to a dozen MBAs who have built their careers in news and film in New York City. The trek led the HBS contingent to Brooklyn-based digital media and broadcasting company Vice Media, The New York Times’ headquarters by Times Square, Academy Award winning filmmaker A24, and YouTube offices and production studios. In addition to shedding light on the intersection of business and media, professionals from the host companies highlighted three best practices that are broadly applicable, irrespective of industry.
- Know your edge. The information age has brought with it a mix of opportunities and challenges for media. Despite constant consumer engagement with media in a connected age, the volume and breadth of content options has made differentiation more important than ever—for example, the YouTube community alone uploads over six decades of video content every day. Vice has fueled its ascent through a devoted millennial audience; The New York Times benefits from deep experience and a brand built over 166 years. The emphasis on identifying an angle is a familiar focus at The Harbus, which leverages its unique access to leading business thinkers and practitioners.
- Know your business. Strategic decision-making is, necessarily, informed decision-making. During the media company visits, the value of knowing the numbers and utilizing a data-driven approach could not be overstated. Corporate strategy, market segmentation, customer targeting, and marketing approach are all informed by analytics. With a ubiquitous shift toward digital delivery and consumption of content, there is no dearth of data to digest.
- Know your industry. Media has undergone rapid evolution, requiring continuous forward-thinking and innovation to remain competitive. A thorough understanding of the competitive landscape not only enables managers to anticipate competitive response, but it also provides insight into determinants of success or failure. Across the many media businesses with a broad base of users but minimal or negative profit, external perception of long-term sustainability and access to capital has been highly variable. Nimbleness, adaptability, and vision have been central to the players that have come out ahead.
The Entertainment and Media Club is grateful to representatives from the host companies for enabling an informative, successful trek.
Sumit Malik (HBS ’19) is an investor, writer, and entrepreneur. Professionally, his background is in venture capital and private equity at Warburg Pincus, strategy as a board member of Santander Asset Management Chile, and investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Personally, he writes for academic and popular publications and performs music and poi (light- or fire-spinning). He previously received an A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard College and an S.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.