TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Employers Get Flirty (and Some Will Play Dirty)

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J.T. O'Donnell is CEO and founder of CAREEREALISM Media. O'Donnell is also founder of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career coaching membership site.

The tables have turned and now talent is finally getting the upper hand

I’ve been waiting for you, 2015. Being in the HR industry for the last 18 years, this is the year I knew would eventually come. I know that sounds a little smug. But, as you’ll see, when Father Time marches on, so does the employment ecosystem. Shifting demographics are kicking in, and it’s going to make a lot of employers start to act very desperate. Here’s why…

As Generations Age, The Talent Shortage Gets Magnified

The unemployment rate is dropping — and will keep doing so. Why? As millions of Baby Boomers continue to retire (you can’t stop the aging process of 77 million people), the generation behind them, Gen X (just under 50 million people) doesn’t have enough people to replace them all. The brain drain is coming fast and furious, and even though the Millennials (roughly 70 million twenty-somethings) are flooding the job market behind Gen X, they aren’t skilled enough to hit the ground running — something employers are now recognizing with eyes wide open. [I just read this book on the coming demographic storm that does a good job of explaining the magnitude of what’s about to happen.]

A recent study by the Career Advisory Board says 93 percent of hiring managers surveyed feel they can’t find the right talent for their jobs. Time to fill rates in certain industries are up to 59 days — and climbing. They haven’t been this high since 2008. These stats rang true while I was on the phone with a CEO in San Francisco this past week. He said the unemployment rate for software developers in his area is at zero. There’s an all out war for top talent there. In his words, “I wish we had 5.3 percent unemployment like the rest of the country — they’ve at least got some talent to choose from.”

The tables have turned and now talent is finally getting the upper hand. With that switch will come a major shift in how companies approach attracting, hiring, and keeping top talent.

Want To Hire Top Talent? Your Company Needs To Get MUCH Hotter!

The internet, and now more specifically, social media have truly disrupted the hiring process. Recruiters are using it heavily to find candidates. During the recent recession, job seekers were forced to develop their professional identities online (i.e. build LinkedIn profiles, etc.), as a way to catch the attention of hiring managers. But now, it’s the employers and recruiters who need to improve their digital “hot factor.” The technical term is “Employment Branding,” and it’s how companies woo top talent. They showcase their company culture, values, benefits, perks, executive team, staff members, business mission, and anything else that will make a great candidate want to work for them instead of their competitor. [FYI – Here’s information that shows exactly how recruiters use Employment Branding to tell good company stories.]

However, just like someone who has been out of the dating scene for many years, many companies will stumble, bumble, and ultimately fumble their initial Employment Branding efforts. For example, this article cites a study that shows how managers who think the best way to attract younger talent is to install ping pong tables is going to fail miserably.

Most Companies Don’t Know How To Play Up Their Hotness

Recruiters are trained to evaluate candidates, not build marketing plans to attract them. Which means, many companies will be slow to develop and promote the stories they need to tell on social media to impress top talent. This is a big concern in the recruiting industry. In fact, studies show that 70 percent of companies plan to invest in Employment Branding so they can quickly figure out what’s most attractive about them as employers. The sooner they do, the sooner they can get in the game and flirt with talent. [Here’s a slidedeck that outlines global talent trends for recruiting in 2015.]

Unfortunately, Flirty May Turn Dirty (Talent Beware!)

When it comes to marketing, we all know some companies play dirty. They make promise they can’t keep. They make claims that are untrue. They tell lies in order to acquire customers. When it comes to recruiting and the use of Employment Branding, we can expect the same. Some companies will invest in elaborate promotional strategies that will make them seem hot, only for new hires to realize quickly it was a scam. Just look at the comments in this article about UPS’s latest holiday video’s Employment Branding potential and you’ll see some people chime in with their version of a reality check. Job seekers do need to be careful. If a company sounds too good to be true, do your homework. Even a company as great as Google may not be the right employer for you. This article shows why…

Get Ready For Some Smokin’ Hot Employer Stories In 2015!

I can’t wait to see what companies share about themselves in 2015 in order to woo top talent. Google, Zappos, Amazon, and Facebook aren’t the only hot employers on our planet. They’re just the ones that embraced Employment Branding when others didn’t. But soon, we’ll be seeing companies of all shapes and sizes strutting their stuff in hopes of catching our eyes. It’s going to be a great year!

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. J.T. O’Donnell shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow J.T. O’Donnell and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: How Bricks and Clicks Can Live Happily Ever After

The Grove shopping mall in West Hollywood, Ca.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Grove shopping mall in West Hollywood, Ca.

Peter Guber is Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a multimedia venture spanning movies, TV, sports, sports entertainment and digital media. Guber is also an owner of NBA's Golden State Warriors and MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers.

A stay-at-home sports fan could watch games while multi-tasking on a PC or while traveling anywhere at anytime on a mobile device

It used to be if you just built a shop, a mall, or a stadium, “they” would come.

Then in came the revolution of new technologies and out went “feet in stores” and “butts in seats.” If you were a “brick,” the financial consequences of this abandonment was painful, often public and in some cases, even deadly.

If you were a “click,” it began to look like the proverbial best of times. The efficiency of technology rewarded “clicks” by solving a plethora of customer problems from the inconvenience of traffic and parking, to sourcing and delivering any product anytime right to the purchaser’s home while personalizing the entire experience. Likewise, the stay-at-home sports fan enjoyed the option of watching seven games at once in his home theater, in his pajamas on 65-inch screens with surround sound and with second screens connecting visually with disparate fan friends. Or, he could watch games while multi-tasking on a PC or while traveling anywhere at anytime on a mobile device.

“Clicks” and “bricks” were in a tussle for the attention, pocketbooks, and mindshare of their audiences. That was then…

2015 and beyond will mark the courtship of “bricks” and “clicks,” likely culminating in a blended family maximizing the best of both worlds. Realizing this will require that brick and mortar establishments, i.e. all physical locations, perceive themselves as being in the location-based entertainment business. This will necessitate that many physical locations reinvent themselves to offer not just product, but experiences – both online and off — that delight and engage their customers and fans. The result will be their metamorphosis from commodity shops to “go-to” destinations rich in experiences.

This doesn’t mean that “bricks” and “clicks” won’t also exist independently. But when “bricks” perceive their enterprise offerings as entertainment and incorporate “clicks,” the interactions, services and experiences they can provide customers and fans take on an entirely different spin. The experience becomes emotional in addition to utilitarian and the result is a more resonant, memorable and ultimately lucrative relationship. I call this being in the emotional transportation business and it’s the future of every location-based establishment if they want to survive and thrive in 2015 and beyond.

Consider The Grove shopping venue in Los Angeles. Designed by Rick Caruso and Caruso Affiliated in a location that was originally considered the wrong part of town, it has since become one of the top grossing shopping centers with many professionals studying it in hopes of duplicating its incredible success. Its secret sauce? A laser focus on “audience” and tenant experience successfully blending high-end retail, community and entertainment. From a free ride on the trolley to a dancing fountain, art, sculpture, special live events, concierge services and dining choices to suit every taste, it is the epitome of the successful location based entertainment experience. The per cap retail in this location is astounding.

Critical to this success is the blending of technology with the physical experience to generate efficiencies that deepen customer loyalty. From paperless parking using a swipe of a smart phone, to digital signs on every parking level showing how many spots are available in real time, to signing up, creating profiles and managing CARUSO Rewards using their CARUSO mobile app, to earning points and rewards with their receipt scanner, to receiving personalized communication on things that matter most to each individual customer, The Grove elegantly partners with and leverages technology to its greatest advantage.

In sports, venues must recognize that folks coming to the games want to be participants, not just passengers, believing with absolute certainty that they play a role in the outcome of the event. This means venues must engage them by giving them the digital tools to interface with all facets of the stadium – from easily purchasing parking and event tickets online, to buying food and the newest merchandise through their mobile devices, accessing analytics, selling seats, connecting to players, tapping into fantasy sports, and dialoging with friends in the stadium and at home while at the venue.

As owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Dodgers, when one of my colleagues at a league meeting exhorted that mobile phones were actually a distraction to the game, he was told that he was missing the whole point! The audience has become habituated, if not addicted, to their mobile devices. The interactivity that mobile devices provide is an emotional treasure trove for marketing products and processes. The key for all in-venue sports businesses is to make it easy for fans to control and personalize their experiences using current and emerging technologies. This will strengthen the bond between the venue, the team, the fans and the brand.

As I look to 2015 and beyond, the business professionals who will thrive in this blended environment are the ones who are ambidextrous. They will be curious rather than critical of all possibilities. They won’t be risk averse. And they will push the envelope in both the “brick” and “click” worlds creating new emotional experiences that catalyze the return of “feet in stores” and “butts in seats.”

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Peter Guber shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Peter Guber and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: How Digital and Health Will Converge for a Better You

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Denise Morrison is the President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

The convergence of these two trends is accelerating the rise of “quantified lives”

When I was growing up, my father helped kindle my passion for innovation and technology. He was a high-ranking executive at AT&T and used our family dinner table as a focus group. I remember how excited I was when he showed me and my sisters the new Trimline phone, which I thought was really cool because it had push buttons instead of a rotary dial!

Today, as the CEO of Campbell, I’m just as intrigued by the convergence of innovative digital technology and the consumer’s increasing focus on health and well-being because it has implications for consumers and our industry. The convergence of these two trends is accelerating the rise of “quantified lives” or as Time magazine called it recently, the “quantified self” movement.

Whatever you call it, this movement will be a powerful force in 2015 and in years to come… a force that will shape people’s lives and help them keep their commitment to fitness, diet and nutrition. I see more people taking charge of their well-being through the use of data and digital sensors, wearable health bands and smartphone apps that can track and quantify everything from their heart rate, blood pressure and sleep quality to steps walked and calories consumed. The word “quantify” is what’s really important because people will use the personal data and feedback from these devices to make healthier lifestyle choices and adjust the way they eat, exercise, work and rest.

Why am I so interested in this movement? Two reasons. First, Campbell has been responding to consumers’ increasing focus on health and well-being by reshaping our portfolio to offer a growing range of packaged fresh and organic foods. Second, I believe it’s really important to understand how consumer behavior is evolving as the digital shift continues to transform our lives.

It’s not surprising to me that Millennials are at the epicenter of digital and food. About 19 percent of them are using mobile apps to monitor their fitness; 17 percent to count calories; and 14 percent to monitor diet and nutrition. That’s ahead of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, according to The Futures Company.

As our nation aims to reduce obesity, heart disease and other health problems through exercise, balanced nutrition and a focus on prevention – a goal that we support avidly at Campbell – I believe we are moving closer to a future where quantified lives will become the norm.

I’m seeing a dramatic reset in the consumer mindset about health and well-being. The next big step is innovation that will make measuring and managing your health easier and faster than dialing the wonderful Trimline phone my father brought home.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Denise Morrison shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Denise Morrison and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Reasons You Should Never Leave Another Voicemail Again

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Eric Delmar—Getty Images

Fewer people are listening to them anyway

Coca-Cola recently yanked the plug on its voicemail systems, replacing the usual inbox greeting with a pre-recorded message that advises the caller to find an “alternative method” of reaching out, Bloomberg reports.

There’s no shortage of voicemail alternatives, from emails to texts. Really, it’s a mystery that voicemail could coexist alongside so many superior technologies that let recipients more easily scan their messages for the pertinent details.

Then again, telegrams passed their sell—by date some some 150 years ago, but that didn’t stop one telegram service in India from surviving out of sheer force of habit until 2013. Voicemail could have a longer than expected shelf life as well unless users abandon the technology in droves.

Still, it’s probably time we all followed Coke’s example and ditched voicemails altogether. Here are four reasons why:

Fewer people are listening.

A survey by online phone company Vonage measured an 8% drop in voicemail usage between 2011 and 2012, USA Today reports. Voicemail retrieval dropped by 14% over the same period, suggesting that a growing share of voicemails are simply ignored.

Teens hate it.

Voice calls in general have cratered among the nation’s future workforce. Just 14% of teenagers say they use a landline on a daily basis, down from 30% in 2009, according to a 2012 Pew Survey. A similar decline was measured for cellphone calls.

Teens have shifted their communication to text messages, which they send and receive at a rate of 60 messages a day, up from 50 messages in 2009.

They’re annoying by design.

Is there any message that anesthetizes the brain quite like this: “At the tone please record your message. When you finish recording you may hang up, or press ‘1’ for more options.”

This preamble is annoying by design. It prolongs the call by a few extra seconds, enabling carriers to tack on a few extra cents to your next monthly bill. Former New York Times tech writer David Pogue once estimated that the major carriers may have skimmed up to $850 million off voicemail greetings, and in 2009 he launched a national “shame campaign” against carriers to have the messages removed.

The result? Several carriers shortened the message to seven seconds by removing an extra set of instructions for sending a fax or a page. Pogue, now writing tech stories for Yahoo!, is still dishing out secret tricks to bypass the messages.

They’re hopelessly analog.

No, this chart isn’t tracing the royal line of succession to the British throne:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 1.54.18 PM

Instead, it’s from Verizon’s guide to accessing a voicemail via touchpad, and it’s only missing a picture of David Bowie rolling a crystal ball over his fingers.

All of that said, tech journalists have been heralding the demise of voicemail since 2009, and again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Still, 2015 will give us another chance to move past the voicemail. Maybe that should be our New Year’s resolution?

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

Today we’re highlighting five of our favorite “Best Ideas” from 2014.

1. Affirmative Action should be adapted to accommodate structural racism and America’s modern segregation.

By Sheryll Cashin in the Root

2. The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity.

By Charles Ogletree in the Washington Post

3. The border isn’t the problem: A detailed, map-powered breakdown of the real story behind this immigration crisis.

By Zack Stanton in the Wilson Quarterly

4. Forty lost years: the case for one six-year term for U.S. presidents.

By Lawrence Summers in the Financial Times

5. The wisdom of crowds: The CIA is learning a lot by aggregating the guesswork of ordinary Americans.

By Alix Spiegel at National Public Radio

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Why You Should Love Hipster Entrepreneurs

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Zachary Crockett is one of the authors of the new book Hipster Business Models, the latest book from Priceonomics.

They bring typewriters to the park to write stories, they make yoga action figures, they sew pockets on underwear—and they're our future.

Everyone loves to hate the hipster.

A mere mention of the word hipster seems to conjure some primal, collective anger—anger directed at skinny jeans, fake reading glasses, unkempt beards, flannel, and every other superficial trait society has gifted to the hapless, young denizens.

Hipsters have become the lone scapegoats for a variety of social trends, from gentrification to the decay of quality music. At the same time, they are, in the words of author Joe Mande, nothing more than “unemployed city-dwelling narcissist[s] with a penchant for bad clothes.” This seems to be a definition most agree with.

But there’s just one problem. After spending nearly a year researching so-called hipsters for our new book, Hipster Business Models, the Priceonomics team and I have come to the conclusion that this breed of hipster simply does not exist. In fact, the “hipster” is merely an invention of those who are looking to do some good old fashioned bullying.

There was a time when a “hipster” was simply someone who embraced new ideas and found value in being different.

The word hip entered the American lexicon in 1902 as a term used to describe someone who was “aware” or “in the know” of new trends. Most etymologists believe the adjective derived from hepicat, a West African term meaning “one who has his eyes open.” After adopting its suffix (-stir) in the 1940s, a hipster came to be defined as a “character who [liked] hot jazz” or who frequented underground music venues. Soon, the term was used to identify the mainly white, upwardly-mobile youth who were “hip” to the African-American jazz scene.

Post-World War II, as a new literary scene emerged, hipsters were the young protagonists who explored America. “A generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters,” wrote Jack Kerouac in 1957’s About the Beat Generation, “is suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way.”

So, how did hipsters go from “graceful” and “beautiful” signifiers of a new way of life to detested objects of ridicule?

By the early 2000s, hipsters were defined solely by their commercial tastes. The Hipster Handbook, a sort of hipster-defining manifesto published in 2003, identified hipsters by their “swinging retro pocketbooks, European cigarettes…and platform shoes.” In a 2009 article, TIME magazine similarly mapped out the hipster’s requisite components: “Take your grandmother’s sweater and Bob Dylan’s Wayfarers, add jean shorts, Converse All-Stars and a can of Pabst and bam — hipster.”

The hipster has since been twisted into a mythological creature who serves no other purpose than to consume. In the process, the true meaning of the word hipster—“a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary—has been buried.

So, perhaps it is time to reconsider the hipster.

In an effort to lampoon hipsters, most media accounts gloss over the sheer number of young people tinkering, creating, and finding novel ways to make a living. Today’s hipster is not merely a consumer intent on showing off how cool he is; one could just as easily make the argument that he is a maker—the person out hawking homemade cheese, sweaters for your beard, or steel-framed bicycles.

Hipsters want to create unique products, and also to sell them. This is a trend we see playing out across America: Young people are in Detroit fixing up real estate, in Burlington starting farms, and in San Francisco building tech companies. The “kids these days” also aspire to be small business owners, startup founders, and inventors. They enter the workforce with no expectation of long-term employment with a single company, a pension, or the government swooping in to provide economic salvation; faced with the prospect of fierce competition with thousands of other applicants for jobs at large companies, many of them are instead opting to start their own businesses. Though many young hipsters may be Democrats, they represent the profile of a small business owner that Ronald Reagan would be proud of. (How’s that for irony?)

There has never been a better time to a be a hipster businessman or businesswoman. The cost of starting a company and finding customers has plummeted in recent years. Whereas creating a business with national reach once cost hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of work, it can be done today in a couple of hours, for a few bucks a month.

In our book, Hipster Business Models, we try to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes these young peoples’ companies unique. Our conclusion is that their business model is consistent and simple: Make a product you love so much that you’ll make it yourself. See if anyone wants it. Try again.

When these entrepreneurs want to build apparel companies, they teach themselves how to sew. When they dream of producing toys, they learn how to use 3D printing software. When they don’t know investors who will back their restaurant concepts, they open food trucks. They frequent public parks to see if anyone will buy their typewritten stories, use crowdfunding websites to raise money from customers before their products even exist, and post their ideas to massive web forums to gauge interest. In their world, sales come first, not last.

And most importantly, they possess a tremendous drive of persistence. Instead of giving up in the face of failure, they tinker—sometimes for years—until they get things right. They hit roadblocks and spend late nights anguishing over seemingly insurmountable obstacles, until one day, driven by a true passion to produce, they make it.

Hipster businesspeople have also benefited from the fact that it is now more acceptable than ever before to pursue oddball ideas. Today, food trucks are commended for their delicious food and nimble business models; a decade ago, we called them “roach coaches.” Living in a van while operating a small business might now be seen as a “life-hack”; in the past, this lifestyle exemplified failure. A skilled person who makes fine leather wallets by hand is considered a craftsman; in prior eras, he could have likely been deemed a Luddite.

While these ideas have become more acceptable, the people pioneering them have not. We should be cultivating a culture that celebrates hipsters for the good things they do: finding distinctive ways to make a living. It should be a culture where someone is encouraged, rather than criticized, for bringing his typewriter to the park to write stories, for making yoga action figures, or for sewing pockets on underwear, for instance.

In the end, the trend of “hipster bashing” says more about the people doing the bashing then the hipsters themselves. The kids today are alright.

Zachary Crockett is one of the authors of the new book Hipster Business Models, the latest book from Priceonomics.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Brands Will Be More Like Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball in Beverly Hills, Ca. on Dec. 11, 2014.
DAVID CROTTY—AP Kim Kardashian at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball in Beverly Hills, Ca. on Dec. 11, 2014.

Kevin Chou is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kabam.

Mobile games allow fans to interact with their favorite brands wherever and whenever they want

One of the big ideas for 2015 has actually been sneaking up on us the past few years. Mobile games will play an increasingly central role in a brand’s growth and development.

The mobile games market is expected to hit $25 billion in global revenues in 2014 and is projected to hit $30 billion in 2015, surpassing traditional console games as the largest game segment by revenues, according to market researcher Newzoo. Popular global brands pairing with mobile games is a large part of the equation.

Consider two phenomena that were watershed moments this year. One is Disney’s Frozen and the other is, yes, Kim Kardashian.

Whether you consider Kardashian a paragon or a punch line, her free-to-play mobile game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is an example of a brand leveling up in terms of both reach and revenue.

Variety reports that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood:

  • Generated $43.3 million in sales from the end of June through the end of September
  • Has been downloaded more than 22.8 million times
  • Logged more than 1.2 billion sessions, and players have spent more than 5.7 billion minutes with it on iOS devices alone

To compare, during the same June through September time frame this year, first-run episodes of the television show Keeping up with the Kardashians (season 9) were watched by a total audience of 23.42 million who spent 1.04 billion minutes with the show.

More than five times as many minutes were spent with her game than with her TV program — and this season even included the big wedding to Kanye!

Maybe you can’t stand keeping up with any form of Kardashian, no matter how many dollar signs are flashed. You are a Kardashian denier who will not be convinced. Then let’s move to a brand decidedly more family friendly – Disney’s Frozen.

During a recent mobile showcase, Disney Interactive President James Pitaro highlighted the success of the Frozen Free Fall mobile game, including:

  • 70 million downloads
  • 4 million daily players
  • 147 million daily minutes
  • 31 billion minutes played

Gigaom writes that “Users have spent more minutes with the app than theater audiences with the Frozen movie in theaters.”

Kabam has seen its own successes with free-to-play games based on blockbuster entertainment properties such as The Hobbit, which generated more than $100 million in revenue in less than one year, and Fast and Furious, which has been downloaded 67 million times.

Through mobile games, fans have an entirely new way to interact with their favorite brands. And this interaction is no longer constrained by a movie’s release in theaters or a TV show’s weekly schedule. The mobile app is always with the audience and always connected. There is always an opportunity to engage.

In 2015, we’ll all be keeping up with Kim Kardashian, and we’ll be better for it.

[*Statistics derived from: The sum of the ratings for each episode times the minutes per episode.]

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Kevin Chou shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Kevin Chou and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Here’s the First Prototype of Google’s Self-Driving Car

Google built the prototype from scratch, layering self-driving technology onto a patchwork of auto parts

Google unveiled its first prototype of a fully-functional, self-driving car on Monday, promising to send it for a whirl on its test track over the holidays.

“Today we’re unwrapping the best holiday gift we could’ve imagined,” Google wrote in a post on the project’s official blog page, “the first real build of our self-driving vehicle prototype. ”

Google’s engineers built a variety of prototypes from the ground up. Each model combined self-driving technology, such as laser guided steering, with car parts from conventional suppliers. “We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”

Project director Chris Urmson has previously told the Wall Street Journal that Google is not interested in manufacturing the cars themselves, but was looking to partner with existing auto makers in a bid to commercialize the technology in five years.

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 22

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. To meet the growing need for marketable skills in college, technology companies are launching metric-driven accelerated learning programs.

By Shawn Drost in TechCrunch

2. NASA just e-mailed a wrench to the International Space Station.

By Mike Chen in Medium

3. By analyzing Twitter content, researchers are gaining a better understanding of mental illness trends.

By Phil Sneiderman at Johns Hopkins University

4. Law schools are struggling to teach students how to deal with rape, and survivors of sexual assault could suffer.

By Jeannie Suk in the New Yorker

5. As USAID is employed around the world to address political crises, the agency’s true mission might lose focus.

By Nathaniel Myers at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Big Idea 2015: The Coming Micropayment Disruption

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Walter Isaacson is the author of “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.” Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has also been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine.

A flourishing digital economy based on easy payments could help save journalism and encourage the invention of new forms of media

The innovation that will shape the coming year, I think, will be the consumer use of digital currencies, such as bitcoin and its derivatives. Companies such as ChangeTip, BitWall, BitPay, and Coinbase – as well as other digital wallets that make use of cyber currencies or loyalty-points/miles currencies – will empower creators and consumers of content and wrest some power from the Amazons, Alibabas, and Apples. This will upend our current kludgy financial system and ignite an explosion of disruptive innovation.

Our current way of handling small transactions is a brain-dead anachronism. Even Apple Pay and other NFC systems, alas, require that payments go through the current banking and credit card systems. This adds transaction costs, both financial and mental, that make small impulse payments less feasible, especially for digital content online.

Likewise, instantly transferring money to friends, even those who have PayPal or Popmoney accounts, is more difficult than it should be. That’s why I have become addicted to my Akimbo card, which makes instant money transfers from my phone to friends and workers simple, and why I have invested in it and other disruptive money-transfer mechanisms.

An easy micropayment system for digital content could help save journalism. At the moment, most news sites are either beholden to advertisers or force readers to buy a subscription. Digital coins would add another option: people could click and pay a few pennies for an article. Frictionless coin systems that allowed us to buy digital content on impulse would support journalists who want to cater to their readers rather than just to advertisers. It would encourage news sites to produce content that is truly valued by users rather than churn out clickbait that aggregates eyeballs for advertisers

In my new book, The Innovators, I report on how the creators of the web envisioned protocols that would allow digital payments, and I argue that this would benefit individual artists, writers, bloggers, game-makers, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Ever since the British parliament passed the Statute of Anne four hundred years ago, people who created cool songs, plays, writings, and art had a right to get paid when copies were made of them. A flourishing cultural economy ensued. Likewise, easy digital payments will enable a new economy for those who sell such creations online.

A flourishing digital economy based on easy payments might also encourage the invention of new forms of media: collaboratively created role-playing games, interactive online plays and novels, and new ways to combine art and music and narrative.

In addition, it would expand the realm of crowdsourcing. At the moment, people make additions to Wikipedia or improvements to Linux out of the joy of contributing. That’s cool. But imagine a world in which non-fiction books, in-depth reporting, and various other creations could be done collaboratively, with a digital micropayment system that divvied up the revenues based on the use of each person’s contributions. I would love to curate the crowdsourced writing of a book this way.

That’s why I believe that digital currencies and micropayments are likely to be the disruptive innovation of 2015. Then we can move on to the big disruption of 2016, which will be breaking the stranglehold that monopolistic cable companies have over the way content is bundled and distributed for our televisions, so that we pay for only what we want, from wherever we want, and watch it when we want.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Walter Isaacson shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Walter Isaacson and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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