OpenAI's Mega-Media-Deal & What It Means For Solo Businesses

Do this to steer your business through the AI age

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musings on AI and marketing on this Tuesday morning.

I read a news article on OpenAI’s media deal with Springer this am that’s highly relevant for solo business marketing. Felt the urge to discuss it with you!

In this edition:

  • The OpenAI-Springer media deal

  • What it means for the future of solo business marketing

Let’s get into it!

The Deal

OpenAI and Springer inked a deal that gives the AI company access to Springer’s media content - even what’s behind paywalls.

With this deal, ChatGPT will provide a real-time news summary when prompted by a user. OpenAI will also get access to the content of Springer Media outlets (for example Politico in the US and crusty tabloid Bild in Germany, urgh!!!).

According to the news article I linked above, ChatGPT will attribute where it got the news from. The financial aspects of the deal are not clear (i.e. will Springer get paid for their content?, etc.).

“So what?”, you might ask yourself, “what does this have to do with me?”


Let’s Zoom Out - Why This Matters

Imagine this: One day in the maybe not so distant future, instead of opening your phone to check the weather, you just ask ChatGPT. Instead of reading the news on your favorite sites, you just ask ChatGPT for a summary. Instead of…I think you get the gist.

When I was in VC Jedi school (learning how to be a VC from VCs), one of the things tech investors kept drilling into us was to look for moats. They wanted a business to be defensible. Ideally, so defensible that it squashes all competition around it.

The existing social media landscape is a great example for this. Their moat (especially because of their market size) is so big, that immediately all competitors vanish around it or are bought up before they can gain traction. That’s what happened when Facebook bought Instagram, for example.

What I suppose OpenAI is doing is that they’re building a new foundation for how we experience the internet and digital connectivity. Already, you can ask ChatGPT a truckload of things from what to see on your trip in London to the ultimate recipe for a chocolate cookie - and often get decentanswers. When OpenAI starts inking more of these deals, more ways we use the internet for will get sucked into it. This creates a mega moat as deep as a black hole, basically.

Also, bear in mind: OpenAI now has its own type of AppStore, where you can access custom apps that are built on top of their systems. More moating.

What we’re likely witnessing here is the emergence of a new tech platform that has the potential (and maybe the intent) to swallow the internet as we know it whole.

Why It Matters for Solo Business Marketing

Honestly, when I read this, I got stressed out. I’ve been thinking about tech and its effects on our lives for years and years and dove deep through practical experiences (VC Jedi school, for example), but also my PhD research. Thinking about the bigger picture context of the media deal above is not pleasant, at all.

The type of internet experience OpenAI seems to be building is not conducive to the health of solo and small businesses. How are you supposed to compete with a company of this size and influence.

This is hard for many solopreneurs in the age of social media, already, when it feels like you have to do so much and churn out so much content to please the algorithms.

Algorithmic anxiety is a thing - and we’ve only been experiencing easy mode in terms of the influence of algorithms on our lives.


How to Address This In Your Business

You and I cannot compete with the scale of these developments. It’s impossible. We can, however, create a different version of and vision for doing business in the age of AI (and whatever OpenAI and the other companies planning).

AI will never be able to replicate the experience of face-to-face encounters. It can look at human life from an extremely abstract perspective. Maybe, it even can predict our behavior, wants, and needs.

What it cannot do, is replace the human experience, all of it. Me writing to you right now, because my brain nearly melted when I read the article this am. You reading this thinking I’m either unhinged or clearly have a point.

AI cannot commodify this exchange of emotionality, perspective, humanness, ever.

Social media has tried already, and made us very, very miserable in the process.

The antidote to that is connection - with your customers, audience, and other business owners:

Our direct connection to each other, human to human, is the best way forward to navigate the incoming changes - especially as solo business owners.

AI cannot replicate the human experience. So, I think it’s the best long-term strategy to invest in the channels we can own and that support our direct sharing of our experience.

The OG internet of the 90s was unruly, messy, and vastly creative - like a developing, interconnected organism. I think we can use more of that now.

Marketing Takeaway:

The best thing you can do is build out a marketing channel that’s personal and where algorithms can’t interfere. A newsletter/email marketing is the best option here.

That’s it for today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above.

In the meantime, I’ll make myself another cup of coffee and indulge in some gingerbread. Nom!

Happy Marketing,

Johanna 📣

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