Silicon Valley Should Buy Hollywood
JAN. 19, 2012
By JOHN SEILER
The Hollywood movie and recording companies are trying to censor the Internet. They’re pushing SOPA and PIPA: the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate. Given the garbage movies and records produced in recent years, calling this stuff “intellectual” is a stretch.
Under these draconian acts, Hollywood potentially could kick you off Facebook if you post a short video from one of their movies. Or it even could shut down Facebook.
It’s also ironic that Hollywood and the record companies, which bristle at any attempt to control their content through censorship, want to censor common people as well as the large Internet companies. All in the high-minded interest of “intellectual” property, of course.
Aside from the censorship angle, this also is Hollywood vs. the Silicon Valley companies. According to the San Jose Mercury News, “In the 2012 election cycle, the movie, television and music industry offered up $7.7 million in direct campaign contributions to congressional candidates. The computer and Internet industry contributed $6.6 million.”
We can expect Silicon Valley to up that ante.
But there’s a better solution. Silicon Valley should just buy Hollywood. The net worth — the “market capitalization” — of the Silicon Valley companies is an order of magnitude greater than the Hollywood companies.
Here’s the market cap of some Silicon Valley companies, as of Jan. 19, 2012:
Apple: $399 billion
Microsoft: $238 billion (actually based in Redmond, Wash.)
Google: $206 billion
Oracle: $144 billion
Intel: $130 billion
Amazon: $88 billion
Hewlett-Packard: $53 billion
Walt Disney Co.: $71 billion
Comcast: $70 billion
News Corp. (Murdoch): $50 billion
Time-Warner: $37 billion
Viacom: $30 billion
Sony: $17 billion
So, just pair them off: Apple buys Disney, with which it already has a relationship dating back to the days of the late Steve Jobs.
Microsoft buys Comcast. Google buys News Corp. Oracle buys Time-Warnet. Etc.
This would bring up antitrust concerns. The solution to that is simple: the legal bribery known as campaign contributions. That’s how the Microsoft antitrust case was settled a decade ago. Microsoft’s enemies got the Clinton administration to attack the company because it “tied” its Internet Explorer in with Windows. Nowadays, the whole thing obviously is absurd. People use all kinds of browsers.
Until that point, as Internet guru Jerry Pournelle pointed out, Microsoft and its boss, Bill Gates, largely had been apolitical. They then got involved in politics. Although Gates himself always has been a Democrat, he brought in executives with ties to the Bush family. Soon after Bush became president in 2001 — surprise! — the feds settled with Microsoft on easy terms.
The same could be done today with ample contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Already, President Obama is ticked off at Hollywood. Reported Politico, “President Barack Obama regularly graces glitzy Hollywood fundraisers, studio execs have given big to his campaign, and big-name musicians and movie stars have stumped for him.
“But when it came time for Obama to have Hollywood’s back, his administration slighted the longtime Democratic force in favor of a powerful new ally — the tech industry.
“On Saturday, the White House put out a statement that read like it was trying to split the difference on two anti-piracy bills pushed by Hollywood. But by making clear that it wasn’t enamored with the bills, the White House helped slow down momentum, sparking grumbling among entertainment industry insiders.
“That Hollywood can be taken for granted on one of its top priorities reveals a seismic shift in Democratic politics that could have a lasting impact in party fundraising in 2012 and beyond.”
Hollywood in 2011 suffered its most dismal year in decades. All they seem able to do is churn out dull sequels. No wonder Obama is casting his fortunes with the Internet companies, which are building the future.
That’s why Silicon Valley needs to buy Hollywood. Bad movies and bad politics have turned Hollywood into the stereotypical Bad Guy who needs to be outhustled by the Good Guys, the way Newman and Redford did it in “The Sting.”
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Steven Greenhut: A funny video from our friends at the Orange County Register:
On Friday, President Obama travels to Stanford University to give the keynote address on a topic much in the news: