Technology, Culture and Consumer Adoption: An Interview with Steve Stout, Ben Horowitz and Kanye West

During the Canne Festival of Creativity, Steve Stoute, Ben Horowitz and Kanye West took the stage for a discussion titled 'Technology, Culture and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape'. 

The talk itself was a rather rambling affair (Kanye as usual got lost off on various tangents of thought) but there was definitely some interesting ideas put forward. I have provided the video and my take on the whole thing below.

On Technology and Culture

Technology is now so prevalent in consumer hands. It has democratised the technology products themselves, and it has democratised our entertainment. It now plays a huge role in everybody's life.

The flip side to this is it has created incredible complexity and noise. We have created a fast food mentality with our information, treating culture as disposable.

Looking to the future, we will start to see a much stronger focus on culture playing a bigger part within technology and marketing. The Beats acquisition by Apple is a classic example - two innovators (Iovine and Dre) with creative force and cultural relevancy were essentially brought on to bridge the culture gap for the company. Apple will build upon their true core, to be a truly aspirational brand. 

On Achieving Relevancy

Bridging cultures is all about creating shared values. What is authentically you (the brand), and what is authentically us (the consumer). And what is mutually beneficial for us both. Bring them together - that's the basis of a relationship.   

When you don't follow this, and just write a big cheque, it becomes largely an expensive mess. The younger generation loses interest. Having a celebrity figure head who also fails to embody this shared value is also a trap to failure.

Instead, have a cultural curiosity, create shared values, and build a model around that.

On Innovation

Time is the only truly valuable thing in the world. Technology from a first principles standpoint therefore means creating a better way of doing things. This often means makes things simpler, easier, and advantageous for our time.

If you are in the business of doing things better, there is always going to be someone who will keep trying to do it better than you. So if you don't continue to innovate, to create shorter product lifecycles and actively make things better in your organisation, you are going to die out. It's that simple.

On Design

People spend the majority of their time looking at screens now. It is our modern day version of Rome, but the Internet is largely visually ugly.  

If this is the place that most brand interactions now take place, we should strive to make the Internet look as good as possible and to have taste. Because bad taste is vulgar.

We need to empower the best content creators, and foster great creativity to achieve this.

On Vision 

This last quote from Horowitz is incredible. A Google search suggests he paraphrased this from his partner Marc Andresen, and it goes something like this:

The difference between a vision and a hallucination is that other people can see the vision.

A good thing to remember when you craft your purpose in the world.

Watch the full interview below: