Offered a Lateral Move in Media, What Would You Do?

With hiring at Spotify slowing while Netflix sheds a few with the same concerns, media companies like Cameo and Outside are announcing layoffs, reminding us that our world is no more resistant to others when it comes to a recession. And yet, what we can appreciate is that there is always demand for innovation and media – that, when one niche struggles, another might thrive.

Two notable employers came to my attention when I was asked for advice about changing jobs…

“Currently working at Meta and have been offered a new lateral move (no pay increase) but have also interviewed and been offered a slightly more senior role at Disney Streaming. Approx 13% pay increase. Focus is on scaling Disney+

Any thoughts?

Very cool question, frankly, regardless of your personal circumstances, here we’re taking two major media companies (brands) and seriously considering them next to one another.

What you do when considering a lateral move in media, is mix perception with a dose of reality.

People think Facebook (Meta) is building THE Metaverse. People are wrong of course, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is perception and just as people perceive the metaverse is thanks to Facebook’s rebranding, people also perceive that Facebook (and often Facebook alone) is doing bad things to them in social media; now building this metaverse thing, which most don’t really understand, or they think it’s a Web3, NFT, crypto play.

Neither of those circumstances are ideal for Facebook (or Meta). Those are perceptions but in weighing a job change, particularly in the very public world of media brands, perceptions matter greatly.

These perceptions will weigh on Meta because the company, and Mark, are the new target of Governments and Politicians. Governments are on the attack (for no real genuine reason, frankly) because people are suspicious; and when people think there is a problem, Politicians will rally to fabricate a problem they can solve, to win votes and support.

This creates a chink in the corporate/brand armor, meaning too that other companies and even startups/investors, will race in to get a piece out of it.

Some Web3 things have raised hundreds of million dollars to decentralize social media, for example (recent crypto collapse aside, the fact that it happened is what matters). And the existing VR/Metaverse world has aggressively gone at pointing out how far behind Facebook is.

Perception OR reality is irrelevant, our perceptions of Meta present some challenges that one should weigh in considering jobs.

How much of that perception is reality?

  1. Yes, companies and governments are killing off tracking that is the cornerstone of Facebook revenue
  2. Yes, social media alternatives are booming
  3. Yes, “Facebook” was the target of political attention, which no doubt played a part in their rebranding as Meta
  4. Microsoft is argued by many to be the certain bet for the future of Metaverse (they have half a billion from the U.S. DoD for HoloLens plus then own all the most popular Metaverse kind of games, besides Fortnite). Facebook has a world circa 2005 technology, buggy concerts, and a lot of attention and criticism

So, love or hate Facebook, appreciate how you can (and should) weigh perceptions and realities when it comes to jobs.

Now, as asked, compare this to Disney

Disney is like the Teflon coating of the cancel culture because regardless of any slight, or even actually wrong that Disney does (and they do, they mishandled Mandalorian casting, they messed up their LGBT position, etc.), people see and LOVE their brands, not their Executives, and people will always love and support Mickey.

Who doesn’t want to go to Disney World?? Have you seen what they’re inventing to make Star Wars real?? And Disney+ is the *must have* subscription for every family in the world.

Problems? Yeah. COVID and PR mistakes have messed with the Parks. Bad decisions about Socially Conscious issues are just wrong.

But will that ruin Disney? Hell no. No one wants Disney ruined, and you can’t say the same thing about Facebook (be honest).

Disney+ OWNS the most valuable library of content ever. Streaming is the present and future of media consumption which means not only is Disney in a better position, Disney+ can’t fail and will only be more and more successful. They can grow into steaming music, Metaverse, and crypto/NFTs (whatever that might really mean) and people WILL want it.

Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw, “Media companies have already committed to spending money for this year. While Disney cut $1 billion from the 2022 budget, it will still spend $7 billion more than a year ago. Netflix isn’t going to stop releasing an endless barrage of new shows just because it is off to a slow start.”

— now, an aside, or clarification.

Despite what seems like criticism or favoritism on my part, make no mistake, I actually LOVE Facebook.

I work in this business.

Facebook has been villainized. Unfortunately. They’re the big target, people don’t truly understand social media or monetization, and they pivot their brand name to something else that hasn’t yet worked well (the Metaverse has been around since about 2003).

Personally, Facebook isn’t actually doing anything untoward or wrong, as a platform, but people don’t know that! And even if people generally agreed with my sentiment, Politicians and competitors are on the attack rendering facts rather irrelevant.

I’m attempting to help you think through this pragmatically.

Facebook MAY come through this successfully, but they won’t come through it unscathed. They’re taking punches and the competition in the space they’re moving into, is FAR more capable and funded, than social media competition.

Disney WILL come through this successfully and they will still and always be a popular and beloved brand. They are getting some deserved punches, but people want them to course-correct those mistakes and be the Disney we all love. They don’t have meaningful competition, and even if some tried, they still wouldn’t have meaningful competition because you can’t compete with the Parks and things like R2D2 and Minnie Mouse.

If it were me, telling myself in hindsight what to do, I’d make the move, if only because it would make your resume, experiences, and career that much more interesting ?? We say that recessions are the best time to start startups, they’re also great times to make a move in your career.

Comments on Offered a Lateral Move in Media, What Would You Do?

  • Anonymous

    Wow. It has taken me some time to digest all of this, because I wanted to reply appropriately and express how deeply grateful I am for these incredible insights, this feedback and advice. Your comments were beyond valuable and helped me take a step back from the minutiae of comparing two different jobs with two different salaries… and really consider the longer term implications of these companies, and their brands, on my career.

    On your first point – I couldn’t agree more. Facebook has become a scapegoat for much of what hasn’t yet been controlled online. Lack of clear regulation coupled with unpopular leadership and their respective decisions has landed the company in hot water. For quite some time. And from an employee’s perspective, I have definitely felt the impact of that. The fluctuating brand identity and recent tectonic shifts in strategy have led more junior professionals feeling a bit lost in the chaos of it all. I also agree that competition in the Metaverse is fierce which puts even our longest term ambitions at risk.

    Having said that, I still love Facebook. I know there are so many challenges to work through, but I still believe in the power of this infrastructure when used for good. There is a part of me that doesn’t feel quite emotionally ready to leave because I still feel like I could have a real impact in some way.

    That’s my heart speaking. My head though recognizes that there couldn’t be a better time to join Disney, and there couldn’t be a better organisation (Streaming) to join. As you said, the opportunities are endless within Streaming, but what about when that’s overlayed with the metaverse, crypto and wider streaming universes… possibilities are endless.

    The role is a big one and I hope I can do it justice and learn a lot. The increase in salary is just an added benefit.

    Thanks to many conversations I have had with mentors, as well as your helpful post, I think I will be accepting the offer at the end of the week. Exciting times!

  • Anonymous

    Wow this is AMAZING

  • Anonymous

    Such a good perspective! Thank you for sharing!

  • Mike Handy

    Disney+ vs Meta isn’t really a hugely different paradigm

    • Paul O’Brien

      That’s what made the question a little more intriguing to me. When then is the difference?

      • Mike Handy

        Paul O’Brien when we’re talking about moving from an F10 company to a private company or F1000 to F2000…
        In this case you just tell Meta I’ve got this opportunity, and if I am going to stay you guys need to beat it,

  • Scott Mac Leod

    “The best strategy is the one that gives you the most options.”

    • Paul O’Brien

      Scott M. Mac Leod You’re not wrong, and yet, I left a discussion group this morning and the topic of discussion happened to be the The Dilemma of Choice and how the way forward might in fact be narrow

  • Lee Jones

    Watch Obi-Wan Kenobi and it’s a no brainer!

  • Malcolm Stephenson

    Thanks for the effort invested in sharing your thoughts on this subject. Not short yet concise on each of the corporations’ industry status and probable near future performance. Much to think about here. The answer Should be situational of course. I’d like to think I’d “go for it!” Even if no pay increase results. IF the the promised work will strengthen my professional skill set and creates a sense of excitement at the thought of doing the work I would make the move (with appropriate background check of new company.).

    • Paul O’Brien

      Indeed, and agreed. Sounds like such a decision is what’s being taken, and it’s working out as hoped.

  • Lisa Bracken

    Great perspectives on FB and Disney, Paul. If had the capital of cash and time (working on both) I’d start my own media network along with a foundation (working on both of those too). The world of media is vast in its potential and – along with everything else – is undergoing needed revision. Old brands like Disney and Facebook stand to become irrelevant by outside circumstance and their internal reactions to them.. just as we ourselves undergo everyday of our lives. Adaptation comes down to awareness and adaptation. To do that effectively, you have to be open to all. This is the age of diversification. Lots will rise. The most resilient will stand the greatest chance of lasting to adapt further forward.

    • Paul O’Brien

      Very very well said. Build for resilience in media

  • Nick

    Meta has to win the platform wars to win. Disney+ doesnt care. Their platform is a nice to have, but their biggest value is in their IP. They can sway the metaverse winner with their IP and have a massive negotiating position. They dont have to build the streaming winner either. They are most families #2 and launched at a time where people are ok with multiples. They can win being #2, because they don’t have to go all in on anything.

    • Paul O’Brien

      We’ve seen how Content is King in the streaming wars that have beat down Netflix and given Disney+ that market. Ultimately, Facebook will suffer from the same issues… their content is ours, and decentralizing social media (Web3) will only make that tougher for Meta; that people are increasingly comfortable taking their content/audience elsewhere (where ever meaningful to people),

      • Nick

        I would actually argue that Netflix (and FB to some extent) is at fault for not realizing the value of their partners. Netflix had an exclusive streaming deal for Marvel and could have made Disney+ by licensing the rights before Disney had a chance to realize the full value. Netflix undervalued Disney content and lost.

        Meta is now a lagging indicator for trends on social. They are plowing tons of money to try to be a leader but at the same time they are wrecking their existing products to try to make them something they are not (IG and video, FB stories, etc). Meta trying to be the platform for everything Metaverse will likely be too ambitious even for them.

Offered a Lateral Move in Media, What Would You Do?

by Paul O'Brien time to read: 4 min