Time For a New Challenge
I've recently decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a fantastic opportunity with Fox Sports Interactive.
While it was a difficult decision to leave the folks at ESPN, I can't wait to leave Connecticut. It's an safe, static existence here that is largely controllable--you go almost everywhere in your car and don't have much unpredictability in the form of contact with random people. While LA is no New York, it's much more urban and dynamic than Connecticut, and both Geneve and I are really looking forward to introducing more unpredictability and diversity into our lives.
The job at Fox is a Project Manager position, which I'm really excited about. It will formalize a lot of the things I have been doing over the last few years, and will enable me to focus on developing ideas for new products and helping projects run smoothly. I was really impressed by the process the Fox guys have set up for running projects, and there are a bunch of folks there who I will be able to learn best practices from.
The point at which I thought Fox could really be a place I could thrive and enjoy might have come just before I flew out to LA to interview. I had really hit it off with my future managers on the phone, and was excited to meet them in person. But, just before I flew out, this speech by Rupert Murdoch hit the interweb. Murdoch astonished me with his understanding of how news consumption habits are changing, and his desire to build products that will both speak to his customers and provide them with a voice. His views about media and paying attention to customers so closely align with my own that I wondered whether I should get a McGwire-esque tinfoil hat to prevent Murdoch's DirecTV satellites from scanning any more of my brainwaves.
What is happening is, in short, a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. They donít want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. They donít want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them whatís important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly donít want news presented as gospel.
They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle. Think about how blogs and message boards revealed that Kryptonite bicycle locks were vulnerable to a Bic pen. Or the Swiftboat incident. Or the swift departure of Dan Rather from CBS. One commentator, Jeff Jarvis, puts it this way: give the people control of media, they will use it. Donít give people control of media, and you will lose them... they want to be able to use the information in a larger community -- to talk about, to debate, to question, and even to meet the people who think about the world in similar or different ways.
The challenge, however, is to deliver that news in ways consumers want to receive it. Before we can apply our competitive advantages, we have to free our minds of our prejudices and predispositions, and start thinking like our newest consumers. In short, we have to answer this fundamental question: what do we -- a bunch of digital immigrants -- need to do to be relevant to the digital natives?
Being a digital native, I'm super excited to be joining some more of them over at Fox when the guy who signs the checks has such a solid understanding of how the business is changing.
One of the most difficult things about leaving ESPN is the cachet of those four little letters. The brand is sexy because they are the market leader in the dotcom sports space. I actually see this as an advantage for Fox: we are in a position where we have to pay attention to new technology trends. We can't be complacent, and we must take risks with our strategies and products to make our customers happy.
I was further encouraged that I made the right decision as I was walking out of the .com building for the last time. I ran into a co-worker who I hardly knew, but she told me I was making the right decision. I asked her why, and she said that she had seen so many people stay at ESPN, fearful that they'd never find a better job. But the people she knew who had left ESPN never looked back. "There is life after ESPN," she said, and I'm excited to see what it's all about.