Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Innovation Year-In-Review

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

It matters not that the sixth century monk - Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Short) - responsible for creating the distinction in time between B.C. and A.D. never included a year zero. We still celebrated the end of the twentieth century in 1999. And the end of this century’s first decade is marked as 2009. Although the foundation of our calendars is somewhat arbitrary if not merely imprecise, I can’t help think the passing of 2009 is a bit special. At the very least we’ll be able to start saying things like “twenty-ten” to refer to the current year, thus saving hundreds of millions of vocalized syllables (“twenty-nine”, because it’s a number in its own right, just confused people). In light of this monumental verbal conservation effort, I can’t resist taking a quick look back at some of the things illuminated this past year.

Raise a Glass and Some Cash
To date BuyABeerCompany.com (featured in the 12/08/09 FEI post The Biggest Beer Run Ever) has commitments of over $80 million. It will be interesting to see if or how close the venture gets to the $300 million needed to purchase Pabst Brewing Company. What will be even more interesting is whether a more traditional buyer will come forward when the crowdsourcing initiative falls short and whether this suitor figures out how to utilize the crowdsourcing commitments already secured. The $80 million in crowdsourcing funds could effectively lower the actual purchase price to $220 million (or less if more money is pledged). My understanding is that there are no rights associated with the crowdsourcing money – only a promise to provide an amount of beer equal to each pledge. A traditional bidder could get a reduced purchase price on Pabst Brewing Company and merely have to “repay” the funds in beer. Nice.

A CEO’s Decade of Innovation
In a 4/07/09 FEI post titled Innovation Jobs I highlighted the innovation efforts of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The particular point I attempted to make was Jobs consistency over time as it relates to innovation. In an accolade bestowed on him just recently that reinforces this idea, Fortune Magazine named Steve Jobs its CEO of the Decade.

Giddy Over Glee
After viewing the pilot episode before the show made its regular season debut this fall, I commented on the musical interpretations included in the FOX television program Glee in a 6/09/09 FEI post titled Everything Old Is New Again. For millions of viewers over the last few months, Glee has become a somewhat guilty pleasure. If you enjoy classic rock and fairly predictable campy television with an attitude, you can’t help fall for Glee. It’s become a runaway hit for FOX and has spawned two disks of music, a dvd offering, and an unrelated television vocal competition called the “Sing-Off”. In addition to the now immortal rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, my personal favorite is probably the cast of Glee’s version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”.

Man’s Greatest Inventions
In its December 17, 2009 “Our Annual Year” edition, under a front page heading that said “Innovations: Man’s Greatest Inventions”, the satirical newspaper the Onion identified several historical breakthroughs, including: the Inclined Plane, the Printing Press, God, and Easy Cheese. In its description of Easy Cheese, the paper wrote “A pioneering aerosol-powered food-delivery system that made it possible for people to discharge high-velocity streams of cheese directly into their mouths, usually from a prone or inverted position.” Anyone have a cracker?

In Memoriam
On August 12, 2009 the world lost a true innovator and musician whose impact on modern music is likely not to be equaled anytime soon. Les Paul, the virtuoso guitarist and inventor who created the solid-body electric guitar and numerous recording studio innovations, changed the course of 20th-century popular music. Of his many innovations, his most influential came in 1940 (or ’41, the exact date isn’t known). Seeking to create electronically sustained notes on a guitar, Les Paul attached strings and two pickups to a wooden board with a guitar neck. Dubbed “the log”, whose works were often concealed inside a more conventional looking guitar to make the instrument appear more traditional, it became if not the first solid-body electric guitar, certainly the most influential. Thank you, Les Paul. Rock on.

Goodbye Two-thousand and nine. Hello Twenty-ten.

1 comment:

C. Engdahl said...

BuyABeerCompany.com now has pledges in excess of $100 million.

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