Friday, October 15, 2010

The 'Out of St. Louis' Theory

People pay less attention to where you are located than they used to in business. Sometimes, they don't even know where someone is emailing or calling from, and don't care. But it wouldn't take more than a few seconds to Google the fact that the Digital Content Exchange is from St. Louis. Then, you would have to decide if it's likely that the solution to the Whole Digital Music Mess can come out of a city ranked only 18th in the US for population and equidistantly far from L.A., San Francisco and New York.  And would you pick up the phone if it was someone from St. Louis calling with that solution?

But it happened before, when St. Louis' Bridge Data Company provided the innovation needed for the financial securities industry to thrive and prosper under the new digital landscape of the 1970s. The technology developed by Bridge was sold for 40 times its original investment, purchased by Thomson Reuters, and aids in the buying and selling of stocks to this very day. The developer of Bridge's technology, James M. Yates, has been working exclusively on the media industry's digital problem since 2002 and filed US patent no. 10591416 (priority date March 4, 2004.)

I'll spare you all the theories about folks in NY and LA not being able to see the forest for the trees, about St. Louis being the crossroads like ancient Phoenicia, and that since St. Louis was started as a fur exchange that exchanges of fungible commodities are in our blood. But the music industry needs an Exchange and the know-how to create one is here, in 18th-ranked St. Louis, with Jim Yates and his tiny team of programmers. A good start would be for the entertainment and book industries to realize that they have a fungible commodity on their hands, and what that might mean.

I admit, I might not even pick up a call from Cincinnati or Des Moines. But I ought to.

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