Pop!Tech: What Can Innovators Learn from Pirates?

Matt Mason, author of "The Pirates' Dilemma," spoke at Pop!Tech this morning about what we can learn from pirates. These seven tips may save your company.

Matt Mason, author of The Pirates’ Dilemma, spoke at Pop!Tech this morning about what we can learn from pirates.

1. If you want to beat pirates, copy them. If pirates are adding values to your customers, it’s an example of market failure. Look at it as an opportunity to learn and do better.

2. Good business is the best art. Quoting Andy Warhol, Mason notes that the way we rebel as a society has changed. The way we kill bad ideas is to change them. Music industry: take note.

3. The art of storytelling is changing because of abundance. Today, it’s about letting people be part of the conversation, and letting them tell stories themselves.

4. Never let the legal department ruin a good remix without talking to marketing first. When their legal teams kill YouTube video mash-ups of your product, they’re doing you more harm than good.

5. Abundance is better than advertising. When Novartis started giving their leukemia drug away to poor people in Thailand, they not only thwarted the pirates, they got a rep as a socially responsible company — advertising they could never have managed to afford.

6. Some good experiences will always be scarce. Hollywood claims it’s being ravaged by pirates, but they’ve had several blockbuster summers. The experience in the theater is not the same as on TV, and people will still pay for that difference if it’s good enough.

7. In an economy based on abundance, your business model needs to be a virtuous circle. “Heroes,” one of most pirated tv shows on web, now has revenue streams — from itunes to publishing, to integrated ads, to t-shirts — that reinforce each other.

Long live pirates!

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