Ten VCs say interactivity, regulation, and independent creators will reshape digital media in 2021

When we surveyed the capitalists of the latest ventures on their media investments, the big issue was the impact that the epidemic would have on the industry and the prospects for new start-ups.

Clearly, the epidemic has not gone away, but when asked to predict the biggest stories of 2021, VCs have pointed to themes such as new distribution models, new types of interactivity, new tools for creators, the return of advertising business models to media roles in a democratic society.

Javelin’s Alex Gurevich writes, “We are moving into a content world where the power of consumer choice rises to new heights – how to receive and pay for premium content and how to use it,” wrote Alex Gurevich of Javelin. “Customers will be the ultimate choice! Traditional media and content distribution companies are not.

For this new survey, we have heard from 10 VCs – nine who invest in media startups, and ten who are happy to see many media pitches and share their opinions. We asked them about the possibility of further industry integration, we asked more digital media companies to take the SPAC route and of course see what they are looking for in their next investment.

Here is whom we surveyed:

  • Daniel Gulati, founding partner, Forecast Fund
  • Alex Gurevich, managing director, Javelin Venture Partners
  • Matthew Hartman, partner, Betaworks Ventures
  • Jerry Lu, senior associate, Maveron
  • Jana Messerschmidt, partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
  • Michael Palank, general partner, MaC Venture Capital (with additional commentary from MaC’s Marlon Nichols)
  • Pär-Jörgen Pärson, general partner, Northzone
  • M.G. Siegler, general partner, GV
  • Laurel Touby, managing director, Supernode Ventures
  • Hans Tung, managing partner, GGV Capital
  • What do you think will be the biggest trend or story in digital media in 2021?

Daniel Gulati: Define the role of media in a democratic society. What responsibilities exist when following the scale of an individual organization leads to pointless expansion? When the terms of service of a platform appear to be in conflict with constitutional rights, who will call and what will happen? To what extent the effectiveness of local media organizations supported in the face of global competition and the rapidly changing digital landscape. The high stakes issues that will be front and center throughout the year.

Alex Gurevich: The uninterrupted disruption of content delivery models is the debating of cable through the proliferation of SVOD services, or the way in which new content will be published (e.g., at home versus movies) on demand. We are moving into a content universe where the power of consumer choice taken to new heights – how premium content will be received and paid for and how it will be swallowed up. Consumers will be the ultimate choice! Traditional media and content distribution companies are not. The epidemic has intensified this trend.

Matthew Hartman:  The two largest social networks, Twitter and Facebook, have removed a sitting president’s account and a set of related, follower accounts. This has reset the media stack. As a result, the government will expedite the process of adopting the plan, including the reconstruction of Section 230. Ripples will be felt across the media, will affect how news is disseminated through social media, how startups can use larger platforms on a larger scale, what are the exit options for small talent acquisition and fragmentation that is already happening.