On Wednesday, Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, quit his day job at the Daily Planet. That's not news anymore as this column hits the newsstands and digital domain four days after Superman's decision went public.
Fifteen years ago, I would have expected you to be hearing about it for the first time in this publication. But today I don't expect to be the first one to tell you. If you hadn't read it in a blog or on Facebook or a Tweet by now, you've been living in 1997 anyway.
The current Superman story line is a perfect 2012 drama, with many newspapers still taking a beating in the digital domain. People don't want to pay for content, because free content is so easy to find. Perhaps that notion will find its way into future Superman comic books. Even if it doesn't, we're all wondering how Clark will land -- and where. Will he start writing a blog on his own, as some conjecture? Or will he find his way back to the Daily Planet?
I didn't see a job listing in my email from Mediabistro.com, the website that follows media industry jobs. Nor on Monster, nor Craigslist. I even clicked the "Jobs" link on dccomics.com; but didn't find a listing on the resulting page at warnerbroscareers.com. (Warner owns DC and Superman.) So let's assume that the Daily Planet isn't looking to fill the position yet.
I've got some ideas on where Clark might land, any one of them perfect for today's connected world.
He might go to work for a malware protection software company. As Superman, he gets to save the world; but as Clark, he doesn't stand a chance to do it physically. That's why malware protection is such a natural. He can rid the world of nasty spammers and scammers.
With his help, you'll no longer get unexpected emails from that UPS account you don't have or the Better Business Bureau (which doesn't really send out those alerts that you see in your inbox). No more messages from your grandkids saying they're stuck in Europe having been beaten up and left without money to survive. Clark can save the day.
He can start his own blog. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everybody's saying that. That's thinking way too small for Superman.
He can start a venture capital fund. This is a natural for Clark. It would give him power without having to do all sorts of superhuman stunts. It would give him impact on the economy, and therefore on the world, much the same way he has impact as Superman. And he wouldn't even have to break out his cape. It can stay in his closet while he meets with hundreds of entrepreneurs wearing a blue, open-collar shirt and sports coat.
As a venture capitalist, Clark would be able to fund medical devices to help civilization lead longer, more fruitful lives. He'll be able to help create a new, faster infrastructure that powers the next generation of Internet -- or work with a very smart geek who comes up with the next wave of mobile applications. Careful, Clark, or you might work with companies that totally upset entire industries.
He might even be able to fund the guy who figures out how to knock Mark Zuckerberg off his perch as the leader of the evolving social networking space. Discovering the next Facebook would be cool; and he'd have to think in the trillions, instead of the billions. Yes, that's still Superman behind those glasses.
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