NETRALNEWS.COM - Jeremy Liew was the first outside investor in Snapchat, putting $485,000 into the company in 2012, and parlaying that early interest into an ownership stake that's now worth close to $1 billion.
Currently, he thinks the next big consumer tech hit will be the company that finds a way to replace "ambient" TV watching —and he believes smart home assistants like Alexa may take that place.
Recode's Kara Swisher interviewed Liew for the Recode Decode pod cast (transcript here). Liew noted that the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day, but they're not always paying full attention: Sometimes, the TV is on in the background, as a sort of companion.
He called this "ambient TV," as opposed something like "Game of Thrones," which is "appointment TV." Internet video providers like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu are all competing to become the digital equivalent of appointment TV, but Liew argues that nobody's doing a good job yet of becoming the replacement for ambient TV.
LG Electronics USA Vice President of Marketing David VanderWaal (L) and Amazon Vice President of Alexa, Echo and Appstore Mike George a LG press event for CES 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That need is going to grow as millennials, who grew up without a "TV habit," begin to have their own babies and look for a digital replacement for that background companionship.
He went on to propose that audio podcasts aren't the best replacement because they still require full attention. Instead, intelligent audio-based assistants like Amazon Alexa, who offer more interactivity, may evolve to serve the function filled today by ambient TV.
He also noted that a lot of screens in the current workplace environment sit idle most of the time, because we're thinking of them as computers instead of just screens. There's an opportunity to fill those screens with useful background video, too.