Pasting the Middleman Back In

Many people want to be entrepreneurs, but many of those don’t really know what kind of business they would start. It’s likely the biggest obstacle in the way of becoming an entrepreneur. Since the dot com boom, and Amazon, companies have made small (or large) fortunes serving just as the middleman. It’s not just for e-commerce anymore either. Basically, any process that can be simplified by a third party can be made into a company in some way.

Take the case of Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia for example. These two had just moved to San Francisco in 2007 with an idea for a company called Airbed & Breakfast. Soon after, there was a big conference that was booked in town, and all of the local hotels were booked solid. With bank accounts that didn’t match their entrepreneurial ambition, Brian and Joe decided it was the right time to get started and offered up the living room area to their apartment, that they couldn’t even afford, for rent during the conference. The guests slept on airbeds and were served homemade breakfast in the morning. They banked some $800 by renting out their place. Not two years later, that same apartment was now the home base for Airbnb.



Airbnb is a website that serves as the bridge connecting travelers to lodging. What was once a single room operation to rent their apartment to conference-goers, Airbnb can now put you, the traveler, in a place to stay all around the world. This idea for Brian and Joe could not have come at a better time either, as 2007 was just before the economy went into a recession. Being in San Francisco didn’t hurt either, being that it is basically the technological hub of the country (possibly the world), so a startup like this is well-suited for Silicon Valley. Also, being an internet startup provided immediate benefits as well. Being that this was taking off during the biggest economic downturn of our time, the low overhead of an internet company was certainly helpful in getting Airbnb to progress, and being online, instant access to customers and their feedback was available. Advertising was also available at the click of a mouse.

Just six years after being founded in 2008, Airbnb has over 800,000 listings across 192 countries, and as of April of 2014, Airbnb is valued at $10 billion.

This service, and services like Uber and Lyft, just prove that with technology the way it is going today, if you can find a way to simplify a task for someone, or just make things more convenient, you could start one of these so-called “middleman companies”  and find yourself one day a partner in a multi-billion dollar company.

Do you utilize the services of these middleman companies? What attracts or detracts you from doing so?


Cutting the Cord: The Beginning of the End for Cable Companies?

With Netflix all but eliminating video rental stores, nationwide (with an assist from Redbox), and Hulu’s presence as an online television provider, has it also begun to force cable programming companies to re-think their strategy as well?

netflix  rblogo  hulu

With HBO’s announcement last week that it would unveil a new monthly streaming subscription service, without the need of a cable TV provider, it has gotten people to ask themselves whether or not they really need cable anymore. Who can blame them? With the great original programming on Netflix, like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, as well as up-to-date (besides the currently airing seasons) series of other popular television shows like The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy and The Following, it seems like a no-brainer for HBO to follow their lead and just charge a monthly subscription fee for those of us who just want to watch Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire every Sunday night.

According to an article on Yahoo Finance, Netflix doesn’t see HBO as a competitor looking to encroach on what they’ve created over the past several years, but rather, another player in the internet TV and movie streaming game. It’s no surprise that someone from premium cable realm is finally starting to follow suit. The only real surprise is that it’s taken this long. Few people know that Netflix was actually started in 1997, and has been going by the monthly subscription model (for physical copies of movies) with no late fees since 1999. Granted, their clout in the industry wasn’t as strong then as it is today, but it kept gaining steam. After their initial public offering (IPO) in 2002, and subsequently their online database for streaming, Netflix took off, leaving the likes of Blockbuster and their attempt at a competitive online service in the dust.

The forecasting research has been done to insist that this trend will likely continue into the future. Take a look at these graphs from the Wall Street Journal and Leichtman Research Group:



Since 2010, while there has been a decline in the number of cable channels being subscribed to, there has also been a significant incline in the amount of households that have at least one TV connected to the internet. While some may say, “those aren’t HBO, or Showtime, or another premium channel, currently you can only get those movie channels as an addition to your pre-existing cable subscription, so the decline in these very basic channels, is actually showing a decline in cable subscribers in general.


So, my questions to you are as follows…

Have you cut the proverbial cord in your television life, or are you just riding the wave until your hand is forced?

Is this move by HBO just the first domino to fall in the eventual elimination of cable TV as we know it today?