New media profits are a Long Game
More companies need to be as realistic with their shareholders as Disney. The company has warned that the return on the current online-based investments are around 5 years away.
Once you get your foundations right, you can do great things, and you can do them fast. But getting to that stage is a long and expensive journey which requires some risk-taking.
Google started in 1998 and is reaping the rewards of being patient (a little) and smart (a lot). The foundation they built means they can start up a new sideline and have it buzzing away in a few months.
Likewise BBC News Online, which launched in 1997 (with your author as employee number 29) went through years of painstaking development -and the odd mistake and backtrack – of a unique management system which could control the individual elements of literally millions of pages with a publishing speed we eventually measured in microseconds.
Years were also given over to the development of online content as a story-telling medium in its own right. Have a look at the Millennium Dome microsite, the most comprehensive online resource of what the Dome contained and the only one to remain live (although the odd link might have died).
Because of their investments these entities deserve every single one of the dollars they earn (Google) and awards given (BBC News Online).