Despite only being separated by a six-hour drive, there has long been a tense rivalry between the film industry of Hollywood and the tech launching pad of Silicon Valley.
In recent years, the animus shown by those in northern California has intensified toward Hollywood, in light of the Stop Online Piracy Act.
I’m not here to defend my native city of Hollywood or the people in it. But rather, I’d like to shed some light on the very reason we need to give some credit to Hollywood where credit is due. I am leading a start-up with ties to both Silicon Valley and L.A., and there is no question that not only can Silicon Valley learn from Hollywood, the opposite is also true.
I find Hollywood to be innovative, much like Silicon Valley. If you view movies as a product, one movie gains massive scale, with a global reach far beyond our U.S. borders. Hollywood looks for the most innovative ways to market their films, reaching people on the far corners of the planet – even those places without the Internet. Other than a few major companies (Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter), Silicon Valley does not launch hundreds of products on a global scale as frequently or with as much success as Hollywood.
Hollywood is also spending millions of dollars in game-changing companies like Industrial Light & Magic, pushing the limits of computer graphics to produce a more realistic and magical experience. They’re continually looking for new ways, like Silicon Valley, to impress, improve and push the limits when it comes to technology. For example, a movie like “Avatar” featured a new way to film movies using cutting-edge 3D-filming technology and CGI to bring a new view for movie fans.
In addition to filmmaking innovations that achieve world-wide saturation through global marketing efforts, there is a lot Silicon Valley can learn from Hollywood on an emotional level. No other product in the world tugs at the strings of our hearts like movies. A movie can have a much larger emotional impact on people and their lives, making memories that can last a lifetime.
Movies transcend time, affecting generation after generation, like “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” When considering a movie as a product, there is no other product like a movie coming out of Silicon Valley that lasts over many decades: reaching and influencing billions of people in various cultures, languages, rich and poor alike.
When it comes to impact, I am unsure if any of these technological apps “get me” in the same way a movie can either. Hollywood, as a whole, is an amazing engine that creates some of the most entertaining global products of our time. People really fall in love with hundreds of movies, with a much deeper connection than any products out there in Silicon Valley (aside from Apple). There’s a real opportunity to collaborate with Hollywood, to help to solve and improve its existing methods of marketing, filming, distribution and all other aspects.
America is famous for several innovations internationally, but the most notable global exports from the United States are movies, fast food, and defense technology. The Hollywood industry produces the most influential global products from the United States, reaching people on a world-wide scale daily. In addition, while we’re outsourcing to other countries, Hollywood is really the only industry insourcing its talent. When it comes to SOPA, Silicon Valley protects their products just as heavily as the next city. We all have patent, trademark, and general attorneys supporting our creations. We’re also very protective of our intellectual properties and hope that our ideas do not get stolen.
Without the great content coming out of Hollywood, Silicon Valley would be unable to engage people on a personal, emotional and deep level that Hollywood knows so well. I’d like to think that in 20 years, Hollywood will have its content on our Google Glasses, SmartWatches, and virtual-reality glasses – all created up in San Jose and San Francisco. Perhaps we will watch movies that seem more real than ever before, in the comforts of our own homes, immersing us even more into the magical content Hollywood continues to put out, thanks to the technology Silicon Valley unleashes on a daily basis.
Years ago, Steve Jobs spoke about the gulf that exists between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and I still think there is a chance to learn from, blend, and improve these two worlds. I have faith that these very innovative and creative areas can play nicely in the same sandbox together because in the end, it is too small a world. And it is too short a lifetime to turn your back against what we can learn from most – Hollywood.
So, if you are in Hollywood and want to transcend the traditional way of doing things, look at Silicon Valley to see people upending the boundaries of what is expected. And if you are in Silicon Valley, take a break from those 18-hour days and check out a movie. The film should move you and make you think, whether it is funny, ribald or devastating.
It is the hope that people from each locale can be inspired by the other. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.