John Collison on the similarities of Uber and cable companies
John Collison on how history rhymes:
I was pretty interested in the cable companies that emerged in the late 1980s, early 1990s. This is like a particularly American phenomenon. It was a new technology platform, new technology paradigm, laying coax cable to all these towns across America. And you had way more television bandwidth, number of channels possible, than previously was the case. When you read it, it actually rhymes a lot with some of the technology shifts that we see.
Firstly, [there is] John Malone, who’s one of the most successful serial acquirers of all time with Liberty Media, where they basically continue to roll up small cable companies and build a very large company out of acquiring kind of small little local cable companies.
The second thing that was of course, interesting is it was one of the original kind of new technology company from out of town versus local municipalities. And it was funny as I was reading Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business, they describe how one of the cable companies, I can’t remember who, getting into spat with a local Colorado town and changing the programming to just be “Call your mayor and tell him you want cable in your town.” And you know, exactly like the tactics Uber might’ve used, during that period when they were getting into fights with local cities.
Again, there’s a lot of history repeating itself.