Raise your hand if this question sounds familiar. “So are you a tech company or a media company?” Sometimes, it’s an easy one to answer. But often, that question is met with a pause, and a few moments of pondering. “Well, that depends . . .” is often the reply. But the real answer is: Every company wants to be a tech company to a certain degree, but tech and media, more than most industries, have quite a bit to learn from each other.
This labeling game sometimes centers around how a company wants to be perceived. To be a “tech company” is often to be seen as more innovative, disruptive, and valuable. Sometimes the label has other significant implications—for example, a media company may be held responsible for content posted on its site in ways that a social media platform would not.
Netflix is an interesting example. While other companies call themselves “platforms” to avoid more traditional labels, CEO Reed Hastings recently called Netflix, “a content company powered by tech.” Netflix uses big data in very innovative ways, like leading tech companies. (Just look at how it came up with the idea for “House of Cards.”) Financial services juggernaut Goldman Sachs has been calling itself a tech company for a few years, and engineers make up over a quarter of their workforce.
Though the labels can get confusing fast, tech and media’s goals are often next-door neighbors, and these two powerful industries seem to be embracing the opportunities to learn from each other.