New media platforms are enabling a new creator type: Digitally Native Vertical Creators

Eric Feng
8 min readAug 23, 2020

One year ago this month, Hollywood was counting their box office tally for the all important summer movie season that contributes nearly 40% of domestic theatrical revenue. The results for the summer of 2019 were exciting: US moviegoers spent $4.86 billion, which effectively tied the all time summer box office record of $4.87 billion set in 2013. That was thanks in large part to a little flick you may have heard of called Avengers: Endgame that eventually went on to become the most successful movie of all time. The theatrical movie business was booming.

This month, that same accounting exercise is a far different picture for Hollywood as Covid-19 has grounded the theatrical movie business to a screeching halt. The entire 2020 summer movie season — 4 full months — has brought in a meager $12 million in total revenue, or only 0.2% of last year’s take. It took Avengers: Endgame just over 1 hour of ticket presales to exceed that mark. The box office has been so bad this year that a 29 minute movie called Unsubscribe, shot entirely on Zoom, topped the charts the week of June 10th with a $25k gross. We are witnessing the most dramatic collapse ever for theatrical Hollywood, due to the Covid-19 crisis.

But there’s another story happening within the media industry at the same time. This year, Netflix added an all time record number of new subscribers in Q1 (16 million), and then posted all time record revenues in Q2 ($6.1 billion). Disney+ crossed 60 million subscribers in August, 4 full years faster than original industry forecasts. TV viewing has grown 12% this year, which will be the first time TV viewership has grown year-over-year since 2012. The live online streaming market grew 45% in Q2, and is up 100% year-over-year. We are witnessing the most dramatic acceleration ever for overall media consumption, due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Covid-19 taketh, but it also giveth. The pandemic isn’t so much ruining the media industry as it is rewriting the media industry. While there will be many media casualties like the theatrical business, there will also be many media successes born during Covid-19 times. The question now is which is which?

Digitally Native Vertical Creators

Eric Feng

Current: Co-founder of @cymbalxyz, Co-founder of @GoldHouseCo Ventures. Past: @Meta (via Packagd), GP at @KleinerPerkins, and CTO of @Hulu and @Flipboard.