Rap Genius launched in 2009 when a television writer, a programmer and a laywer decided they were tired of their day jobs. Ilan Zechory, Tom Lehman and Mahbod Moghadam met at Yale University, where they bonded over their shared love of rap music and videogames. After graduating, all three went on to become conventionally successful, but they still felt something was missing. Zechory and Lehman tried to fill this need by launching two apps together; both failed miserably.
Last week marked the beginning of the Oscar awards season. Many critics bemoaned the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations, including high profile snubs in both the best actor and best director category. However no movie was more noticeably absent than Lego Movie, one of the year’s highest grossing domestic movies (#4 in fact, at just under $258M). This may be the only thing that went wrong for the Danish toy giant last year.
In his book, The Click Moment, Frans Johansson highlights two major principles of innovation: harnessing serendipity and following your passion. Johansson writes, “Passion is what sustains us. In fact, the passion one has for an idea might give us the best measure of its potential.”
The discovery and commercialization of graphene is a case study of both ideas in motion.
According to a January 2014 survey, professional football is the most popular American sport for the least 30 years. With 113 million viewers, the Super Bowl was the most watched event of the year. Second place? The Oscars, with less than 45 million viewers. Almost 22 million people watch NBC’s Sunday Night Football every week, making it the most watched series on television. In the fall of 2013, 34 of the 35 most watched television shows were NFL Games.
Like nearly all businesses football didn’t start out that way.
If you have ever worked with The Medici Group or follow this blog with any regularity, you know that we value passion more than most organizations. The reason for this is simple: we believe in results. In most cases, when executing an idea, passion will trump expertise almost every time. The reason for this is simple: human nature.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the pharmaceutical industry shed nearly 300,000 jobs in the last decade. To put that in perspective, in 2014 the three largest global pharmaceutical firms (Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Hoffmann-La Roche) employed about 292,000 people. The last two years have seen the industry rebound, but analysts argue that a lack of future blockbuster drugs may doom the industry’s slight resurgence.
Brian Schwartz is an environmental epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health. After earning a medical degree from Northwestern and a masters at the University of Pennsylvania, he devoted his life to studying the effects of different chemicals on the average person. According to Google Scholar, his research has been cited nearly 8,000 times across hundreds of journals. In the last three years alone he has published papers on the public health impact of lead, uranium and high-density farming. In 2013 he turned his focus to a contentious issue: fracking.
INNOVATION LESSON OF THE WEEK: This week, we look at crowdsourcing innovation programs. Los Angeles, following in the footstep so other cities like Atlanta, created a fund for employee-driven innovation. AT&T reports numbers on five years of such a program. Crowdsourced (or employee-driven or open) innovation programs have a fundamental flaw; they think innovation is predictable.
Last Friday’s crash of Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two has raised the age-old question of innovation and risk. With one co-pilot killed, many pundits asked, “Was it worth it?” In a Today Show interview, Richard Branson bullishly answered that it was “absolutely worth the risk”.
There are so many articles about innovation. We siphoned through the lot and picked a few that we believe illustrates some key lessons about innovation. This week, we showcase why passion matters, how to be resourceful, and why a small idea can have huge impact.
Michael Bergmann, a 30-year Nike veteran who we interviewed last year, assembled an innovative track and field program that applied Medici Effect principles. This led to the school's first conference title in 15 years -- and the turnaround only took two years. As if the immediate success didn’t answer any doubtful questions, the squad is back at it in 2014. Read what happened this year.
It started with a thread on Facebook this morning, and appeared a joke by the comments. The cited article reported that startup Walker & Company — a "Procter & Gamble for people of color" — had raised $7M in Series A funding from some heavyweight backers, including Andreesen Horowitz and Ron Johnson, former Apple retail chief responsible for the Apple Stores strategy. The comments on the Facebook post (private unfortunately) could have been accompanied by eye-rolling and head-shaking as a commentator lamented how Silicon Valley was trying to profit off America's "race issue".