Did you ever watch the show Seinfeld?
It turned out to be a huge hit in the 90s, and still is today.
The show features comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his friend’s everyday life in New York.
It’s funny to think though that this ‘show about nothing’ came very close to almost never happening.
According to an old memo from NBC, the pilot flopped with the test audience. They said the show was ‘annoying’, ‘boring’ and not ‘funny’. Nobody liked or related to the characters. And, worst of all, no one wanted to watch the show again.
Some at NBC studios worried the show was ‘too New York, too Jewish’ for audiences.
But they went ahead with it anyway…and the rest is history.
The show ran for nine seasons, ending on a high. By the time it finished in 1998, Jerry Seinfeld was getting a whopping US$1 million per episode. And, the show is still making billions — yep, with a ‘b’ — from the reruns.
The show has been around for about 30 years now.
And, if the Lindy effect is anything to go by, then Seinfeld could still be around for at least another 30.
The ‘Lindy Effect’
What’s the Lindy Effect?
Well, to be honest, I wasn’t aware of it until editor Ryan Dinse mentioned it during a chat.
While I often work from home, I like going to the office to exchange ideas with other editors, and Ryan always has some interesting insights.
The term Lindy refers to a deli in New York where comedians met up every night in the 60s to talk about the TV lifespan of comedians.
According to an article published at the time in The New Republic, they ended up realising that ‘the life expectancy of a television comedian is proportional to the total amount of his exposure on the medium.’ In other words, if a comedian had been around for long, as long as they show up occasionally on TV, it is likely that they will remain popular for longer. Yet new comedians with daily shows at the time have lower chances of being around in years to come.
The term has been applied to business since.
How? Well, to calculate the lifespan of something that’s not living, like an idea, a business or technology. The longer it is around, the longer it is likely to live.
The same obviously doesn’t apply to living things. The longer we live, our life expectancy reduces.
While new businesses and technology may come and go, if a business or a technology is 20 years old, it’s likely that it will be around for another 20 years. Every year they survive, it increases their life expectancy.
Why? The idea is that the longer something is around, it gains more trust and resilience.
But when Ryan mentioned it to me, he was thinking about bitcoin.
Bitcoin refuses to die
If you are not familiar with bitcoin, it is a digital currency created by Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym, nobody knows who the real creator is) as a response to the 2007 crisis.
How do we know? Well, because there was a bit of text written on the genesis block that is, the first block — block 0 — of the chain. It said: ‘The Times, 03/Jan/09, Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.’
This was the headline of The Times on the day the genesis block was created. It is most likely there as a time stamp…and to remark on the instability created by central banks.
Bitcoin has now been around for 10 years. It may not seem very long, but it is quite a long time for a technology.
The point is that every day bitcoin is around, the higher the probability that it could be around for longer.
Bitcoin has been around the longest of all cryptos, which could mean — according to Lindy’s law — that it has the best chance of all cryptos to survive.
It’s an interesting idea.
People have been predicting bitcoin’s death for years.
According to the website 99 bitcoins, which keeps track of bitcoin obituaries online, bitcoin has died 341 times at time of writing. By far, the most deaths recorded were in 2017.
As an average, people predict bitcoin will die every 1.2 days. With the ‘top serial bitcoin killers’ being Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Paul Krugman.
But, bitcoin refuses to die.
It has survived new crypto competition, hacks, a bubble, banning, regulation….
Will it die? We don’t know.
But, much like Seinfeld, bitcoin may have come close to never happening if it hadn’t been for the huge excesses that lead to the 2007 crisis.
And, the longer bitcoin survives, the longer it could be around.