How many TV shows are there on cops?
How many on lawyers? Doctors?
There’s hundreds of them.
How many shows are there on Wall Street?
But Billions is not a reflection of a saturated market. It’s a single media franchise.
That’s right, there’s just one television show about Wall Street, a sector of the economy that makes up a tenth of US GDP and is based in New York - a city that the world finds compelling and fascinating.
For now let’s acknowledge there’s a huge opportunity here for someone and put a pin in that idea. I’ll circle back to it in a minute.
I’ve lived in New York my entire professional life and during the aughts I worked for a hedge fund that would make Bobby Axelrod look like a 2 dollar retail broker.
While consistently holding down a job on Wall Street, I’ve studied hundreds of business models and made multiple investments in different areas. I’ve also found it useful to follow certain individuals, and within the media space, the person to watch is Jeff Katzenberg.
Katzenberg was chairman of Disney, founded the animation company Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg, and recently raised three commas for his current venture WNDRCO. A decent IPO on Wall Street is $300 million… but this guy was able to raise a billion without breaking a sweat and hire Meg Whitman from Hewlett Packard.
What’s he planning to do with the money? Well, they’re playing their cards close to their chest but what’s clear is it hinges on high quality, short form streaming television content.
How short? Around the average length of my podcasts.
Now I don’t know Jeff Katzenberg and more importantly, Jeff doesn’t know me. But if this guy is buying into something, with his track record, I think that’s a business you’d want to be in.
Who else is buying content? Well all the traditional broadcasters, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Showtime, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, the list goes on - hell even Costco and WalMart are getting into the streaming content business.
So let’s circle back to the pitch again. We have a massively overlooked and compelling subject matter, with limited credible supply, and any number of potential buyers… the next question is, what makes me think I can create a viable product to fill it?
Well most importantly, I’m sitting here with an almost endless pool of original content - all of them true stories, ideal for a new streaming media show. My initial plan was to create 10 podcasts before year end, but I’ve published 20 in less than two months, with another 20 already in production for next season.
Secondly, people on Wall Street won’t talk to a real writer or journalist, but they trust me and tell me their stories because I lived through it all with them. If I prize my anonymity, I’ll have to protect theirs too. On a more personal note, I’ve also recently finished up another 10-year project, and my kids are out of the monkey stage - I’m in a position to just keep plugging away at this concept until I’m successful.
Lastly, the medium has matured enough to allow us to produce and distribute this pitch anonymously. Podcasts are a fascinating communication tool right now - I recently heard that for the first time since Gutenberg fired up the printing press, more people will be communicating via the spoken word than the written one. In fact, at the beginning of the year I remember running around trying to interest people in a 120-page hard copy of my screenplay. But the reality, is a podcast can travel halfway around the world while a screenplay is still putting on its shoes.
Let me wrap this up and come to my point - I do a lot of mentoring on Wall Street and one of the things I tell these people is that no meeting is unimportant, especially when you’re learning about a new space.
Well, it’s time for me to eat some of my own cooking - if you are in the media space, we want to talk to you. If you know someone in television, an agent, a successful writer, or a producer, we want to talk to them too. Even if your name isn’t Jeff Katzenberg, go ahead and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org