Resurrecting a 19th Century Business
• Then go after Cunard, Norwegian, Carnival, Crystal, Sea Cloud, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Celebrity to name a few others.
• You can run the information through Google's Translation Service and market these products in 72 languages—from Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, American and Azerbaijani to Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yiddish.
In short, Mr. Frommer, welcome to becoming a true 21st century publisher!
Takeaways to Consider
- If you can tweak and test existing products or services and repurpose them for new markets, the cost will be a lost less than a cold new-business start-up. And profitability could come a lot quicker.
- Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people in America. In my opinion—as founder of amazon.com and inventor of the Kindle—he is a conceptual thinker, à la the late Steve Jobs of Apple. A most fascinating development is Jeff Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post, founded in 1877. With the exception of a website, The Post business model is out of the 19th century. The newspaper division lost $49.3 million in the first six months of 2013. In my opinion, Bezos is one of the few people extant who could bring it to profitability in the 21st century. Below is the lede paragraph of Bezos' Aug. 5 memo to The Washington Post, causing many old-time Post employees to reach for the Valium vial or the Bombay Sapphire gin: There will of course be change at the Post over the coming years. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.
- Remember my Takeaway last month describing American Girl—exquisite, upmarket dolls for little girls. It started with dolls and dolls' clothes. The company expanded into dresses for little girls to match their dolls' outfits and adult clothes for mothers to dress like their daughters. The extensions included a magazine and catalog. The company has headquarters in Chicago and stores in major cities. Doll owners can bring their dolls into a "doll hospital" (for repair). While waiting, they can dine, attend parties, shop, play games and much more. Best of all, American Girl enjoys an inexhaustible pipeline of brand new customers—little girls growing up.