By Felix Gillette, Jennifer Kaplan, and Sam Chambers via bloomberg.com Article
Big Tobacco Has Caught Startup Fever – It’s not smoking. It’s platform-agnostic nicotine delivery solutions.
“Mature industries typically have a hard time disrupting themselves, but, flush with cigarette profits, the big competitors have decided to try. Since the rise of e-cigarettes, it’s no longer such a stretch to imagine a messianic engineer in a garage somewhere inventing a nicotine-delivery gadget capable of doing to cigarettes what Uber did to taxicabs or Napster did to the compact disc. If your profits hinge on nicotine addicts, you might want that visionary in your employ.
Everywhere you look in the industry, companies are pouring money into product development while borrowing liberally from the style of Silicon Valley. They’re funding tech incubators, running venture funds, hosting TED-style talks, and developing apps. The new dogma has spread. Cigarettes are the industry’s past. Reduced-risk tobacco platforms are the user interface of the future.
Tobacco executives often sound like media owners talking about content. That is, they’re open to delivering their drug via whatever pipe the consumer chooses—be it e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, gum, lozenges, dip, or some medium that hasn’t been invented yet. They are, as the media gurus would say, ‘platform-agnostic.'”