Jul 17 2012

Aereo's Barry Diller Proves Disruption Isn't Just for Youth

This 70-year-old media executive and investor is shaking things up in broadcast TV.

Remember the days when you had to adjust your antenna to get a TV signal from the networks, such as NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX? Well, Aereo — a startup that captures broadcast channels through antennas and then streams the signals to iOS devices — does, and they see no reason why “free” TV can’t make a comeback on our mobile devices. Predictably, broadcast TV networks didn’t agree with this initiative.

The four major broadcast networks sued Aereo, saying that its product violated their copyrights. But last week, a New York judge sided with Aereo and its major backer, Barry Diller, chairman and senior executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp. Diller was delighted with the news and confessed to Bloomberg TV, “I like disrupting things.” He is 70 years old.

Young people tend to believe that innovation lies with their generation and that stagnation plagues older generations. This is crystallized and exemplified by young CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning of Napster fame. All three of these men broke down old industries and helped erect new ones, regardless of whether or not the old industry was ready for their technological makeovers.

But Diller’s attitude proves that disruption and innovation have more to do with how young at heart you are than with actual age. So, entrepreneurs, don’t ever count yourselves out with the misguided assumption that you’re too old to innovate.