In the narrative of media evolution, what was once new becomes old and, ultimately, becomes obsolete. But vinyl music is enjoying a bounce – so what chance a return for other media formats?
“I’m seeing people beginning to pick up formats that were considered dead and reimagine them,” says Susan Lyne, the veteran media executive who previously ran AOL’s brand group and now runs its BBG venture wing.
“Five years ago, people were talking about magazines being dead. What I’ms seeing a lot of … are these gorgeous new magazines that have a very specific point of view, that are very thoughtfully received … and they’re charging $20 for them and they’re selling out. You’re going to see more of that.”
Lyne has been through a media evolution herself. Having once been managing editor of The Village Voice in the late 70s, Lyne created Premiere magazine for News Corp, co-headed ABC Entertainment, ran Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and then built Gilt Groupe in to a digital retail powerhouse.
In between, it was the loss of one of those high-profile jobs which shaped Lynes attitude to the rough and tumble of life in the industry she loves.
“My biggest setback was very public,” she confesses to Beet.TV in this video interview. “I was fired from a job running ABC Entertainment, which means running primetime, just a few weeks before we were announcing a schedule that included Desperate Housewives and Lost and Grey’s Anatonmy. I was excited about them … and I lost my job. I was furious, heartbroken, embarrassed.
“But I learned a few things from that experience. One was resilience – I could have sat there and wallowed in that for many, many months – my husband called me that nigh and said, ‘You have 24 hours to weep over this and then you’re going to get over it and think about all the things that you can do now that you couldn’t have considered 24 hours ago’. It was great advice – it did change my thinking about what had happened.”
These days, Lyne is busy righting a wrong – helping back women-led startups in a world where, she says, 93% of investment goes to the other gender. That comes in the shape of Built By Girls (BBG) Ventures, the seed investment unit she runs at AOL and which is billed as “the evolution of a media company as a platform for change”.
Change is the biggest disruptive factor shaping the entire media industry, Lyne reckons. “When you see new technologies emerging, that gives a whole new group of people to build businesses,” she says.
Just as she thanks her mentors for giving her the push she needed through her early career, Lyne thinks graduates today should seek a rewarding career in media.
“If you want to be part of the conversation … If you want to shape how people think about the world … go in to media; it’s a fabulous world,” she says.
Lyne was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. This video is part of a series titled the Media Revolutionaries, produced by Beet.TV and sponsored by Xaxis and AOL Please find the series videos here.