Or, more precisely: What stories are in the set of inspiring stories that EA can use to explain itself and build momentum?
David: What Roone had realized and built within ABC, that will then get taken over to ESPN and be a big part of their success, was that they weren’t showing sports, like just televising a football game, or the Olympics, or some random event that they did on the Wide World of Sports.
Without a story, it was flat, it was boring. They were selling story-telling. They were selling entertainment.
What were the narratives? Who were these people? Where did they come from? What adversity have they faced? What was the storyline of the game? All of that was really pioneered by ABC Sports and by Roone.
Ben: We could probably save ourselves a lot of time if we had done this episode 3½ years ago because I feel like it took us 3 years to figure out the reason people like Acquired is not, “Let’s do a discounted cash flow and figure out if that acquisition makes sense financially five years from now,” it’s the stories behind the deals.
Ben: ...It’s only recently occurred to me that everything is story-telling. I’ve obviously worked on a lot of pitch decks. Human beings absorb information best through story.
It’s a multi-billion dollar realization that Roone had, that would play out over the next several years, that this was the way to build enduring fanhood.
David: Yeah, and what’s super cool about this is that I feel like this one of the key meta-themes for Acquired that runs across everything we look at on the show, and Acquired itself.
I’m thinking about Sequoia and Don Valentine. Hopefully, many of you have gone and watched on YouTube the talk he gave at Stanford. He says in there the most important thing is story-telling. Money flows as a result of the stories. If you can’t tell a story, you’re not going to raise money.
I think this quote is interesting because it includes three successful companies all saying that an underlying principle of their success was the ability to tell a compelling story.
Obviously there are counterexamples. But if I had to bet, I'd bet that telling a compelling story is a driving factor of a venture's success more often than not, especially when the venture involves engaging >100 people with diverse worldviews.
EA is an ambitious project, and its success almost certainly hinges on engaging >100 people with diverse worldviews.
So, what is EA's story? What's inspiring about it? Why should people care?
(I'll add my own answer below, once it distills.)