Lanier: Big tech firms need to be more like Netflix

Posted Aug 31, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Silicon Valley's Jaron Lanier has assessed the problems faces by many big technology firms and concluded that the solution is for firms to be a little more like Netflix.
A booth showcasing the game consoles available for Netflix at the Toronto event.
A booth showcasing the game consoles available for Netflix at the Toronto event.
Jaron Lanier made his comments in an interview with CNBC. The interview took in Lanier's assessment of the technology field, and his two main points. Lanier's first point is that major technology firms can begin to address their problems by making the user the customer. Second, Lanier says that to fix what has already been broken, technology firms must start the remediation process by fixing themselves. He suggests that as a role model technology companies begin my mimicking Netflix. With the Netflix model the user is the customer, rather than the advertisers.
Jaron Lanier is a computer philosophy writer and computer scientist, and he has been called a 'founding father' of the field of virtual reality, by New Scientist magazine. He currently works at Microsoft Research as an Interdisciplinary Scientist.
With the reference to Netflix as a suitable business model, Forbes has focused on the success of Netflix's customer focus, especially with recognizing that customers want customized offers. Key to the Netflix model is the process whereby the company logs and analyzes every customer interaction to predict viewing preferences and deliver personalized recommendations.
Jaron Lanier - computer philosophy writer  computer scientist  visual artist  and composer of classi...
Jaron Lanier - computer philosophy writer, computer scientist, visual artist, and composer of classical music.
vanz (CC BY 2.0)
Lanier is critical of many social media companies and their ad-based, data-driven business models. This, he sees, as being one of the reasons for the current data privacy scandals and the accusations about some content providers being open to external influences. This has the effect of leading to lower quality. In contrast, Netflix has structured itself around the customer.
With this in mind, Lanier told CNBC: "What we have to do is change the business model so they become more like real businesses where the user is also the customer", adding "We need to go through that transition to clear the trash out of the Internet."