Build a business that will undermine our own.
The mandate Macmillan Publishing has given to new hire Troy Williams in an effort to steer the company into the future. Macmillan has reportedly given Williams a $100 million fund to invest in publishing startups in the education space.
The plan is to let [the startups] exist autonomously… within the organization, as Macmillan transitions out of the content business and into educational software and services. Through the entity, called Macmillan New Ventures, Williams plans to do five deals this year and 10 to 15 over the course of the next five years.
He’s buying companies that will help Macmillan survive as a business once textbooks go away completely.
This includes Prep-U, a quizzing engine for classrooms, i-Clicker, a mobile classroom polling company, and most recently EBI, a data and evaluation startup…
…But what do those inside Macmillan think about his plan to kill their business?
Long pause. “I don’t know.”
“At the highest levels, everybody thinks it’s where we need to go. But they think it’s 15 to 20 years off,” Williams says. “I think it’s seven to ten. The people at the very top plan to be retired in 20 years so they think they have enough runway.”
FJP: A bold and necessary business model for planning for the future.