Sequels and Startup Clones

I was just browsing Google Zeitgeist 2011, and noticed that 7 out of top 10 movie searches in Turkey were sequels.  I thought, "ah, shame on the Turks, for not rewarding originality".  Then I made my way to the list top grossing movies globally, and immediately apologized from my fellow Turks: All but two of the global list are sequels. In fact, the top seven are all sequels!

Thinking of this phenomenon reminded to a popular topic in internet ventures.  In our industry, adaptation of successful, proven business models, in new markets or verticals is often scorned.  Entrepreneurs are chastised for their lack of originality and innovation.

I think there's a key difference between sequels and internet clones.  Film is a creative industry.  Formulaic churning of unoriginal content in a creative industry may very well be a strategic business choice by content companies, and while it may make business sense, it certainly erodes value from the "creative" industry.

In my opinion, internet businesses have no obligation to be creative.  Their objective is value creation: preferably, defensible, sustainable, "thick" value.  There may be a thousand eBay clones around the world, but if each marketplace is reducing commercial friction among buyers and sellers, then each of the one thousand  clones is creating value.

Anyway, food for thought…

Here's the sappy Google Zeitgeist clip:


One thought on “Sequels and Startup Clones

  1. Cem, here’s the key point: “In my opinion, internet businesses have no obligation to be creative.” Sure, one can argue about whether innovation is lacking when it comes to clones (or sequels in film). Yet, one has to argue that we as VC’s have a fiduciary duty to our LP’s of generating returns. Whether we do so via innovation or clones doesn’t bother them one bit. Same goes for the financiers backing films and their sequels. There’s a clear distinction between business and creativity. They can work with one another but oftentimes they work against the other and this is what leads to market cycles.


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