How publishers can get started with startups

How to Collaborate with StartupsAt last week’s Tools of Change Conference in NYC,  Javier Celaya from the research consultancy DosDoce presented a survey DosDose recently conducted with 170 publishing companies, startups and VCs. In what O’Reilly Media’s Joe Wikert calls the most important document I’ve come across in quite awhile, Celaya makes a powerful case for why the publishing industry needs to step up their involvement with technology startups and how it can be done successfully.

And he believes if publishers do not, they do so at their own peril:

However large, small or specialized they may be, every publisher, bookstore or library needs an alliance with one or various technology partners to survive in the 21st century. Just as companies reached high positions individually in the analog age, leadership by sectors in the new era of social participation will be consolidated via company collaboration. The future success of any digital venture in the cultural sector will depend on the ability to create a strategic alliance between various companies working together for the development of a common project.

Here are just a few of the many survey results:

94% of startups would like publishers to take on a more dynamic role in the encouragement, creation and development of startups

59% of publishers are willing to allow part of their contents to be used in testing technology

26% of publishers have never held a meeting with a startup

Only 10% of publishers claim to have held monthly meetings with technology companies

80% of publishers are interested in investing in startups.

78% of startups would approve incorporating publishers as shareholders

So why don’t publishers and startups get together more often? According to DosDoce, one reason is that publishers see startups as future rivals:

Our experience in this area has demonstrated that management in the cultural sector tends to consider these new companies potential competitors, for which reason they are ignored. Other management teams agree to meet them with a view to extracting information on their vision of the future in the sector, without any real intention of working with them. Other, more arrogant, publishers feel that their broad knowledge of the sector, coupled with certain internal resources, are quite sufficient to face any digital challenges.

Wikert concurs:

And now we get to the heart of the matter. We’re afraid of competition, especially when it’s from a startup. I’ve definitely seen some of the arrogance referred to here and it’s remarkable given the opportunity startups represent.

But DosDoce believes cooperation is inevitable, and we would agree:

The results of this study have revealed that publishers and startups are destined to get along in order to benefit from the business opportunities offered by the Internet. In the era of participation, every company should establish strategic alliances to face the challenges of the digital age.



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