Romantic Comedy — A Startup Comedy


Romantic Comedy is Dead



Winner-take-all markets are proliferating via infotech.

From 2014 book The Second Machine Age — Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, co-authored by MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson:

Call it talent-biased technical change. In many industries, the difference in payout between number one and second-best has widened into a canyon.

. . . Digitization creates winner-take-all markets . . .

Winning 101: Be in the “flow” state of mind as much as possible.

From 2014 book The Rise of Superman — Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance:

“Flow's two defining characteristics are its feel-good nature (flow is always a positive experience) and its function as a performance-enhancer. The [neuro]chemicals described herein are among the strongest . . . the body can produce.”

“A ten-year study done by McKinsey found top executives reported being up to five times more productive when in flow. Creativity and cooperation are so amplified by the state that [a] Greylock Partners venture capitalist . . . called 'flow state percentage'—defined as the amount of time employees spend in flow—the 'most important management metric for building great innovation teams.'

. . . Flow feels like the meaning of life for good reason.”

Flow via collaboration often sparks romantic flowmantic attraction.

From The Rise of Superman:

In jazz, the group has the ideas, not the individual musicians . . .

When performance peaks in groups . . . this isn't just about individuals in flow—it's the group entering the state together . . .

[T]here are extraordinarily powerful social bonding neurochemicals at the heart of both flow and group flow: dopamine and norepinephrine, that underpin romantic love . . .

Unsurprisingly, flowmance is an ideal kind of romance for many people.

From a December 31, 2010 article in The New York Times:

“In modern relationships, people are looking for a partnership . . . [C]lose partners 'sculpt' each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals.”

“Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam . . . called it the 'Michelangelo effect' . . . ”

From a December 31, 2009 article on

A new international review of seven papers on “the Michelangelo phenomenon” shows that when close partners affirm and support each other's ideal selves, they and the relationship benefit greatly.

Flowmance 101: Being polyamorous is often a key to maximizing one's gains from collaborations.

From 1997 book Organizing Genius — The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, by Warren Bennis:

Great Groups are sexy places.

. . . [During the early years at Apple, Steve Jobs mandated that] employees share [hotel] rooms when they were at conventions and other professional meetings . . . to limit bed hopping . . .

From 2011 book Marriage Confidential — Love in the Post-Romantic Age:

The “typical” open marriage today . . . is between well-educated middle-class or affluent professionals . . .

From the March 31, 2014 article in Rolling Stone titled “Tales From the Millennials’ Sexual Revolution”:

Termed “The New Monogamy” in the journal Psychotherapy Networker, it's a type of polyamory . . .

Fun fact: The link between professional success and polyamory is unlikely to favor a particular gender.

From 2013 book What Do Women Want? — Adventures in the Science of Female Desire:

[R]ecent science and women's voices left me with pointed lessons:

That women's desire—its inherent range and innate power—is an underestimated and constrained force, even in our times . . .

[T]his force is not, for the most part, sparked or sustained by emotional intimacy and safety . . .

[O]ne of our most comforting assumptions, . . . that female eros is much better made for monogamy than the male libido, is scarcely more than a fairy tale.

From the July 12, 2013 article in The New York Times titled “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too”:

Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men, and that women were reluctant participants, more interested in romance than in casual sexual encounters. But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.

. . . “We [i.e., a group of friends who are undergraduate women at the University of Pennsylvania] are very aware of cost-benefit issues and trading up and trading down, so no one wants to be too tied to someone that, you know, may not be the person they want to be with in a couple of months,” she said.

From What Do Women Want?:

Terri Fisher, a psychologist at Ohio State University . . . asked two hundred female and male undergraduates to complete a questionnaire dealing with masturbation and the use of porn. The subjects were split into groups and wrote their answers under three different conditions: either they were instructed to hand the finished questionnaire to a fellow college student, who waited just beyond an open door and was able to watch the subjects work; or they were given explicit assurances that their answers would be kept anonymous; or they were hooked up to a fake polygraph machine, with bogus electrodes taped to their hands, forearms, and necks.

The male replies were about the same under each of the three conditions, but for the females the circumstances were crucial. Many of the women in the first group—the ones who could well have worried that another student would see their answers—said they'd never masturbated, never checked out anything X-rated. The women who were told they would have strict confidentiality answered yes a lot more. And the women who thought they were wired to a lie detector replied almost identically to the men.

. . . When Fisher employed the same three conditions and asked women how many sexual partners they'd had, subjects in the first group gave answers 70 percent lower than women wearing the phony electrodes. Diligently, she ran this part of the experiment a second time, with three hundred new participants. The women who thought they were being polygraphed not only reported more partners than the rest of the female subjects, they also . . . gave numbers a good deal higher than the men.

Fun fact: The (potential) costs of being polyamorous have been declining. In particular, scientists and technologists have been producing aids to child development (i.e., help for (single) parents).

From 2012 book How Children Succeed — Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character:

[I]n the past decade, and especially in the past few years, a disparate congregation of economists, educators, psychologists, and neuroscientists have begun to produce evidence that . . . [w]hat matters most in a child’s development . . . is not how much information we can stuff into her brain in the first few years. What matters, instead, is whether we are able to help her develop a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence. Economists refer to these as noncognitive skills, psychologists call them personality traits, and the rest of us sometimes think of them as character.

. . . If there is one person at the hub of this new interdisciplinary network, it is James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago.

. . . [I]n 2000 he won the Nobel Prize in Economics for a complex statistical method he had invented in the 1970s. Among economists, Heckman is known for his skill in econometrics, a particularly arcane type of statistical analysis that is generally incomprehensible to anyone except other econometricians.

. . . [S]cience . . . says that the character strengths that matter so much to young people's success are not innate; they don't appear in us magically, as a result of good luck or good genes. And they are not simply a choice. They are rooted in brain chemistry, and they are molded, in measurable and predictable ways, by the environment in which children grow up. . . . We now know a great deal about what kind of interventions will help children develop those strengths and skills, starting at birth and going all the way through college. Parents are an excellent vehicle for those interventions, but they are not the only vehicle. Transformative help also comes regularly from social workers, teachers, clergy members, pediatricians, and neighbors.

From an April 18, 2010 article in The New York Times:

Virtual simulations, labs and tutorials allow for continuous feedback that helps the student along. The student's progress is tracked step by step [by the software], and that information is then used to make improvements to the course [i.e., the software adapts to each user]. Several studies have shown that students learn a full semester's worth of material in half the time when the online coursework is added. More students stick with the class, too. “We now have the technology that enables us to go back to what we all know is the best educational experience: personalized, interactive engagement,” . . . says [Joel Smith, vice provost and chief information officer of Carnegie Mellon University].

I've designed a next-gen variant of LinkedIn. The site will be ideal for flow(mance)-seekers.

From a 2004 email sent to me by's first Director of Personalization:

Frank, I just spent about an hour surfing around your website with a bit of amazement. I run a little company . . . We are a team of folks who worked together at developing that company's personalization and recommendations team and systems. We spent about 1.5 years thinking about what we wanted to build next. We thought a lot about online education tools. We thought a lot about classified ads and job networks. We thought a lot about reputation systems. We thought a bit about personalized advertising systems. We thought a lot about blogging and social networking systems. . . . I guess I'm mostly just fascinated that we've been working a very similar vein to the one you describe, without having a solid name for it (we call it “the age of the amateur” or “networks of shared experiences” instead of CLLCS [i.e., customized lifelong learning and career services], but believe me, we are talking about the same patterns and markets, if not in exactly the same way). Thanks for sharing what you have—it's fascinating stuff.

FUN fact: Popularizing an implementation of my LinkedIn variant is foundational for establishing the eBay of customized education.

From a 1998 email sent to me by the then Manager of the Learning Sciences and Technology Group at Microsoft Research:

Frank, you are a good man. Have you thought about joining this team? Your only alternative, of course, is venture capital. But their usual models require getting rid of the “originator” within the first eighteen months.

Since 2006 my primary focus has been learning how to run marketing as a profit center. More precisely, how to manage an analytics-savvy variant of Alloy Entertainment, a book packager and television-programming producer that was acquired for $100M in 2012.

This learning has given rise to Post-Romantic Comedy, of course. (Hereafter, this serial novel is referred to as PRC.)

My business plan for next-gen LinkedIn “guest stars” in chapter one of PRC.

The chapter's postscript provides a link to an email list you can join to receive an alert when I seek equity crowdfunding to build the site.

From the March 25, 2015 article on titled “SEC allows regular Americans to become venture capitalists, no Silicon Valley cred required”:

Startups can now raise up to $50 million [per year] by selling stock online to anyone, opening the door for Internet-based equity crowdfunding platforms to begin operation.

Hence startup comedy. :-)

Enjoy PRC!

Note: PRC is sexually explicit. (After my/our LinkedIn variant has launched, PRC will help to attract and retain users. Ideally, bigger companies that compete against my/our startup won’t attempt to produce close substitutes of PRC, even if PRC is very popular.)

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The first chapter of PRC is available for free.

Click here to view the chapter on SlideShare. (SlideShare was acquired by LinkedIn for $119M in 2012.)