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NY Times Magazine: Boom Box [the Tivo as cultural watershed]

Aug 13, 2000, 22:48 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Lewis)

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"The new technology from Tivo and replay provides the ultimate in television convenience. It will also spy on you, destroy prime time and shatter the power of the mass market."

"...On any time line that describes this phase of American capitalism, you would have to include (in addition to Nov. 9, 1989) April 4, 1994 (birthday of Netscape), Nov. 10, 1994 (birthday of Amazon.com), May 5, 1996 (birthday of eBay) -- and Aug. 4, 1997. Aug. 4, 1997, was the beginning of the end of another socialistic force in American life: the mass market. Forty years from now when you have your grandson on your knee and he asks you, "Grandma, how did 50 million Americans ever let themselves be talked into buying the same mouthwash?" you will say, "Well, you have to know how things were before Aug. 4, 1997."

"That was the day a pair of Silicon Valley engineers named Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay started their own technology company. They had no idea what that company might do. It didn't matter: all over Silicon Valley engineers were founding companies before they had any idea of what their companies might do; the urge to innovate preceded the innovation. The Internet had created a climate of entrepreneurship. It was assumed that even ordinarily smart engineers with the desire to create something new could do so with impunity, and Barton and Ramsay were more than ordinarily smart. They were so smart that a pair of venture capital firms -- New Enterprise Associates and Institutional Venture Partners -- advanced them several million dollars to get them started, few questions asked. "Three million dollars was pocket change," Ramsay explains."

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