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Are you good at picking consumer media companies?

In the scheme of things, we’re all probably pretty bad. Or so argues the following NY Times article: Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?

The big parallel for me is the fact that entrepreneurs are often building low-utility/high-entertainment value properties that solely depend on their ability to understand consumer behavior. Scary!

Here’s the opening paragraph of the article:

As anyone who follows the business of culture is aware, the profits of cultural industries depend disproportionately on the occasional outsize success — a blockbuster movie, a best-selling book or a superstar artist — to offset the many investments that fail dismally. What may be less clear to casual observers is why professional editors, studio executives and talent managers, many of whom have a lifetime of experience in their businesses, are so bad at predicting which of their many potential projects will make it big. How could it be that industry executives rejected, passed over or even disparaged smash hits like “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter” and the Beatles, even as many of their most confident bets turned out to be flops?

I’m sure you could say the same about Venture Capitalists :)

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