Reddit and Y Combinator Want to Take the Censorship Battle to the Entertainment Industry

For the last few years, the entertainment industry has been trying its level best to censor the Internet. It has been pushing the US government to pass arbitrary laws, which have less to do with piracy and more to do with controlling free speech. The matter is getting worse, with their bills getting more stringent and harder to oppose. A draconian bill like SOPA, which never should have been considered, required a massive protest to be rescheduled and dropped later! Censorship bills are created every few months, with backing from the media-industry lobbyists. If the anti-censorship opposition grows weak anytime, a censorship bill passes without doubt. This is a delicate balance, which we have come to accept. Finally, Reddit and Y Combinator have decided that it is time to stop fighting the small battles and address the root cause- the entertainment industry.

The first time I saw this idea springing up on a website was at “The best page in the universe” [mildly NSFW].

Instead of changing your Facebook icon to an anti-SOPA image for a day or two, here’s something you can do that might make a real difference: boycott the companies that supported this legislation. There are too many to boycott all of them effectively, so I propose we pick two or three, hit them, and hit them hard. Punish them for putting their interests above ours.

As suggested above, both Reddit and Y Combinator are gearing up against the entertainment industry in their own fashion.

Reddit is looking to boycott movies made by the top six recording studios, namely Walt Disney, Sony, Paramount, Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers. A huge discussion has started outlining the strategy and inventory for the battle.

Make [it] look professional instead of like a handful of angry nerds using rage faces and MS paint to call the MPAA [names]. It would be hard to blame piracy when a single studio starts to sink and a boycott announced weeks before said it was going to happen.

At the same time, popular startup-funding firm Y Combinator has decided to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV shows.

What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

The entire SOPA fiasco was an eye opener, both for the Internet (severe censorship bills) and for the entertainment industry (strong protests). Perhaps, it really should get worse before it gets better. Only time will tell how this ends.

The Best Y Combinator Demo Day Startups

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”

This quote by Sean Parker in The Social Network seems to have become the motto of every new Silicon Valley startup. With most of YC’s new batch already having enough runway, thanks to Yuri Milner’s investment of $150,000, they don’t have to worry a lot about capital initially, and can afford to dream big.

A few days ago, Y Combinator hosted the summer session of its Demo Day event, where its current batch of startups showcased their offerings to audiences comprising mainly of angel investors and VC firms.

There were 63 new startups in this batch, which made the event very exciting. Here are some of them which I think are most likely to be very successful, possibly billion dollar businesses.

Parse

Parse is Heroku for mobile apps. It provides cloud services for mobile applications and enables Android and iOS developers to add a backend to their mobile apps easily, abstracting away the boring details.

Heroku was acquired by Salesforce.com for $212 million. With mobile booming, Parse could easily be a much bigger business.

DoubleRecall

Double Recall might be what most web publishers and brand name advertisers have been waiting for. It allows companies to launch brand building campaigns which compel users to read ads and enter them into a textbox for much better brand recall and engagement. It is much more effective than standard display ads, and may provide a much better alternative to paywalls.

Vidyard

Vidyard is Youtube for businesses. It makes it easy for businesses to host videos, and provides detailed analytics for each video. It is much more suited to businesses and offers the ease of uploading and embedding videos like Youtube, adding custom thumbnails, using custom skins etc., while offering much more control than Youtube.

InterviewStreet

Interview Street is a platform which helps companies hire the best programmers, using much better programming puzzles, customizable by the companies. Recruiting is a very lucrative opportunity especially when there is a hiring boom right now for programmers and engineers. Interview Street gets a hefty cut every time a candidate is hired.

MarketBrief

Market Brief is like Bloomberg News, for company filings. It scans through thousands of SEC filings and generates articles automatically, based on what it deems newsworthy. It already has multiple new organizations and financial research outlets as users.

You can check out the entire list of YC startups which launched in this batch here – Y Combinator Demo Day: The Ultimate Roundup