Scaling Malcolm Gladwell
Staking creators, Twitter for podcasts, essential oils, and developer credentials
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Developer credential management
Enabling least-privilege for infrastructure developers
In certain development environments, a "least-privilege" framework is optimal. This means that the developers working on a project are given only the information necessary to carry out their task without providing access to broader (potentially-sensitive) materials. There's a need for a credential management solution that grants ephemeral access to infrastructure resources (think GCP or AWS) in a secure and compliant way. Crucially, existing solutions like Sailpoint don't support infrastructure resources — compliance in that respect is vital for businesses at scale.
I’d like to see a credential management system that solves this problem, making it as easy to share access to infrastructure as it is to give “Comment” or “Edit” access on a Google Doc.
Personalized podcast ads
Voice synthesis technology to scale the soothing tones of Malcolm Gladwell
Historically, podcast advertisements have worked through direct response: advertisers pay a flat-fee per episode based on the audience size (usually $10-30 per thousand listeners) and provide hosts with copy. Hosts record themselves reading that script and then place it somewhere in the episode’s static mp3 file.
There are a few problems with this. Because the ad is hard-coded into that static file, it’s impossible to personalize the messaging for listeners in different demographics and geographies. Data collection is tricky (downloads are inaccurately counted as listens), back catalogs are difficult to monetize (you’d have to alter that static file), and programmatic advertising is impossible. Hosts might want to confine an advertiser to a certain number of downloads, for example.
Canned advertisements do exist and can be inserted dynamically. But host-read ads remain the gold standard. Given that fact, how can we combine the dynamism of programmatic ads with the intimacy of host-read ones?
Voice synthesis technology may be the solution. A new startup would help existing podcasters create “voiceprints” based on existing content. Then, within the system, advertisers could bid to target anonymized individuals based on their demographics but divorced from the podcast they were listening to. This would look a lot like Google and Facebook’s ad platforms. Whenever an advertiser won a bid, the system would create a synthetic version of a host-read commercial, stitching it into the episode, and delivering it to the chosen user segment.
The result could be a gamechanger, helping podcasts close the monetization gap.
Discovering creators first and sharing in their success
The overabundance of digital content has led consumer seeking out individual creators to serve as curators and taste-makers. As with many discovery-driven activities, there’s a sense of pride in finding a creator (or brand) that others haven’t. Social capital can be earned by demonstrating one’s ability to identify these personalities first.
Right now, though, there’s no great way to showcase and validate this ability. As an early-fan, you want to be able to visibly signal your support and maybe even benefit from it. Combine this desire with a creator’s need for capital, and you can imagine a kind of fan-creator investing relationship in which fans “stake” creators and then capture some of the upside in the event they blow up. A platform that enabled this behavior, giving the next Charli D'Amelio the cash to go full-time, would be intriguing.
Essential oils for everyday life
Curated therapeutic oils for modern ailments
Tylenol isn't always the answer, especially for millennials who are more apt to reach for custom supplement packs than a couple of shots of bourbon to treat a variety of maladies.
One solution? Essential oils. I imagine a beautifully-branded collection of high-quality products designed to do everything from turning your shower into an Equinox (eucalyptus, of course) to relieving tension headaches from staring at a screen all day (peppermint).
It’s time for essential oils to have a glow-up. A great DTC play would be to make them feel cool, curated, and quality-controlled, removing the need to ask your weird aunt who works for an essential oil MLM scheme or step foot in the overwhelming supplement aisles of a Whole Foods.
Twitter podcast app
Prove it can work, then sell
This is a little different than the usual RFS. Mostly, because I think it’s a business made to exit, likely in a short timeframe.
Maybe they don’t know it yet, but Twitter could be the most powerful podcasting app on the planet. The company’s social interest graph is perfectly and uniquely positioned to solve personalized discovery of podcasting. Even Spotify, Google, and Apple don’t have access to the same kind of information.
So here’s the play: create a podcast app with 10x better discovery, leveraging Twitter’s API. Add easy social sharing so that recommended podcasters and episodes can be shared on the platform. If properly implemented, big podcasters would be excited by their ability to reach large audiences through a distribution platform that hasn’t been tapped. That could lead to a breakout trajectory that would cause Twitter to take notice.
There’s a risk, of course. Whenever Twitter saw this was working, they might turn off API access and clone it. But I think there’s a genuine chance it might get taken off the table for a nice sum.
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