The triangle between ocean front, the Ciutadela park and Diagonal street — the district of Poble Nou — is now synonymous of innovation, famous for its startups and incubators and specked with universities. How did the once industrial project transform into a technological model and what impact does this have on the social relationships? We move in this area every day, shape it through using its services, setting up our own companies and bringing international talent yet few are the times that we wonder about its history. Let’s take a look at Poblenou’s 22@ and the transformation it has gone through.


If you are currently in Barcelona you can learn more about this topic in a visual way by visiting the photographic archives of the city until mid May (Archivo Fotográfico de Barcelona) to discover Darius Koehli’s view on the neighborhood and its transformation.

History of Poblenou

In the time of the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century Poblenou was a place of industry with many factories dedicated to textile production and later with the settling of food and metallurgical industries. Between 1861 and the early 20th century the textile production continuously expanded and branched out to further specialize. Until 1939 the industries in Poblenou consolidated including the first car factories, which further grew in the coming two decades.

In the 1960s the industrial growth came to a halt and factories were relocated or dismantled. The abandonment of the Poblenou area and the general need to transform the city of Barcelona to stay relevant, led the government to introduce the first of many following restructuring plans.

With a move from an industrial to a more tertiary sector, Poblenou became more and more abandoned until the year 1992, which brought the Olympic Games. The 1992 Olympic Games initiated a process of metamorphosis in the city that turned it into a clear paradigm of urban change and international exposure where political will plays a determining role (Pareja-Eastaway, 2009). The Games also gained Barcelona a place on the map. With international recognition the city now called for further improvement of infrastructure and new developments: The Ronda de Dalt and the Ronda Litoral were built, the train lines were lead underground and the street grid started / envisioned by Cerdà (already in 1859!) was consolidated. Poble Nou was as such now placed in a new center, connected to the rest of Barcelona and embedded in the infrastructure.

In the following years a new model of cities within a city (poly-centric city) emerged. Today the Vila Olimpica, the area around Diagonal Mar and the Forum building tell the story of the construction for this sport event. Recently artists, young professionals and students — an especially young population rejuvenating the neighborhood — started moving into the old industrial plants and slowly converting the wide open spaces into lofts, shops and galleries. Nowadays you will also find architecture, art and design schools or studios in these spaces.

Urban planning for transformation

The transformation of the area began as a government initiative aimed to transform the historic but rundown industrial Poble Nou neighborhood into a technology and knowledge-driven economic powerhouse. In 2000 the new urban plan, soon known as 22@ altered from the industrial zoning denominator 22a, came into effect. A mixed model of urban planning, both focussed on social cohesion and economic development divided the area up into five different centers: Information and Computer Technology (ICT), Bio-Medical, Design, Energy, and Media. These five clusters were defined with the aim of concentrating economic activity with growth potential. Through this the aim is to “facilitate collaboration, capture talent and develop a sustainable business ecosystem”.

The plan included:

  • 4000 units of subsidized housing
  • Creation of green areas
  • Facilities for the productive fabric like the Media Tic building or the business incubator Almogàvers Business Factory
  • Facilities for public life like schools or community centers
  • Redevelopment of streets

The City Council put it all in motion by moving public companies and university to the district so as to support the clustering. Nowadays you can find the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and BAU of the Universitat de Vic all in close proximity. Through their joint work with the district office they offer collaborations with local companies like internship boards and a database of companies accessible for graduate students. Furthermore in the research cluster, the company Telefonica has set up their Research & Development facilities in the area and the big biomedical research park cannot be overlooked. The city of Barcelona also gave support to the social structure by promoting diverse collectives as it is the case for Hangar, La Escosesa and La Central del Circ — who are all privately managed organizations dedicated to the arts residing in municipally-owned buildings. Similarly Poblenou Urban District is a nonprofit association that aims to establish the neighborhood as entrepreneurial epicenter in Barcelona organizing activities and events like the Walk the Barrio open night.

in 2008 an additional support to businesses wanting to install themselves in the district was launched by the city: 22@ PLUS. Similarly Barcelona Activa, the city’s local development agency — with its Do it in Barcelona program — also played a strong role in supporting and promoting entrepreneurship and business incubators. Even though the planning of redevelopment and transformation has been severely delayed by the 2008 financial crisis the changes are visible to the eye and notable for all businesses in the district. Since the introduction of the renovation plans, on average 545 new businesses have been set up in the area.

Technological hub today

We at itnig aren’t the only ones to love the area of Poblenou and to have set up shop here. Like us about 400 other startups have decided to move their offices here. Barcelona attracts young people for its climate, for comparably lower costs of living and for its location in close proximity to the sea, the mountain as well as other European cities. Actually, the foreign population from the EU-28 is over-represented in this area, as compared to the whole of Barcelona.

In the Poblenou area you will find big companies like Edreams, Skyscanner, VICE Media but also those that have grown up to be big like Typeform, with their now close to 200 employees in their beautifully designed Bac de Roda offices. Close to the long-standing Encants markets, the new Design hub with a dedicated museum, the art promotion agency FAD and library and other public facilities has been erected.

For our startups as well, our strategic position in 22@ has been an important part of attracting international talent. Barcelona itself attracts a lot of foreigners and is a good argument to move and of top of that 22@ makes an even stronger case. Even outside of the city, the three letters of the district are easily recognized and associated with entrepreneurship, research and technology.

Where to go and what to do here today?

BAU School of Design

Part of the University of Vic the BAU Center for Design the design school offers pioneering courses in all kinds of design disciplines as for you as a passer-by interesting student exhibitions.

Codeworks

Codeworks is a coding bootcamp. Over three months selected students are immersed in an intensive, fully English-taught JavaScript course aimed at immediate application in the workplace after graduation. If you are just visiting the area, their events and conferences might be interesting for you.

La Escosesa

La Escosesa is a resident for artists offering different work spaces, halls and promotional help on a self-managed basis. If you are working, living or just visiting the area La Escosesa is well worth a stop!

itnig

Last but not least you have our very own space, itnig. More than an office or co-working space we see ourselves as an open ecosystem with events dedicated to learning, an open podcast to share ideas and a space ready to accommodate fellow entrepreneurs.

Buildings that withstood the test of time

The technology may be new in Poblenou but the area itself has been inhabited and used for a long time. To get a feeling for the past and observe the changes this area has undergone stroll through the streets holding your head up high. In the perpendicular passages on the west of Rambla del Poblenou you will come across factories turned into beautiful lofts and you will get a glimpse of the towers and smokestacks of the old Can Gili Vell factory. Similarly the once chemical factory ‘Valls, Teixidor i Jordana’ and Can Ricart merit a stop on your way through the district.

Can Ricart, a former factory measuring about 4 blocks of Eixample and waiting for its revitalization and incorporation into the Universitat de Barcelona campus dedicated to lifelong learning. Close by in the Poblenou park you will also come across the history museum (Museu de historia de Barcelona — MUI IBA) http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/museuhistoria/ca), which features many more such examples of the development of the area.

Coffee shops to soak in the new urban atmosphere

Nomad Roaster’s

One of Barcelona’s biggests roasteries offers their doors to curious. With the intense scent of freshly ground coffee beans spilling out on the street you cannot resist .

Espai Joliu

Do you like plants and coffee equally? This is the place for you. After a small narrow entrance you will be surprised by the room opening up and the delicious cakes amidst this small urban jungle.

Skye Coffee

A coffee truck inside a big industrial hall and scattered chairs all around. Come here for a good coffee and an interesting place to contemplate or work.

Republic Cafe

A bit farther away from the main startup ongoings, on the southern end of Rambla del Poblenou you will find Republic Cafe with a cozy interior and a traditional terrace right on the Rambla itself.

Shopping & Strolling

For a more urban flair a stroll down Rambla del Poblenou is your first address. This avenue framed by trees winds down from Diagonal to the beach of Marbella and is a great point to soak in the more residential air of the neighborhood. Come here on a Saturday morning to buy fresh produce and artisanal products, have a coffee on one of the terraces observing people walking by or listening to one of the many street musicians, join the crowds of after work beer drinkers or venture out early in the morning like many of the local residents getting some exercise before heading to the office.

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T.

The reasons why Disney will dominate the media industry

The perception that Disney is only a producer of children’s content is long gone. The company has managed to multiply by 10 its market capitalization in 10 years and I believe it will do it again in the next 10 years based on 3 factors: content, the entry in new businesses and spillover effects on current businesses.

CONTENT

Disney has been making movies for almost a hundred years. They have been movies for all the family but targeted to kids, which are the ultimate decision-makers when going to the movies. This is an example of the classical content they were producing up until the last 10 years.

Found in Pinterest https://www.pinterest.es/pin/129548926755761740/

Despite having a powerful content library, Disney has amassed the most impressive collection of content in the world via acquisitions:

  • 21st Century Fox: 71B
  • Lucasfilm (2012): 4B
  • Marvel (2009): 4B
  • Pixar (2006): 7B
  • Hulu (2009): ??. They acquired 30% and an additional 30% with the acquisition of Fox

With the recent acquisition of Fox, there are only big four other movie studios left in the market: SonyWarner BrosUniversal, and Paramount.

Just to give perspective. This is the list of the top 3 grossing movies for the last 3 years. Spoiler, they are all from Disney:

  • 2017: Star Wars The Last Jedi (rubbish if you ask me), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (not great) and Beauty and the Beast.
  • 2018: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2.
  • 2019: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel and Aladdin (Still not counting with Toy Story 4, Spiderman, The Lion King, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The rise of Skywalker)

Having content as an asset in the movie industry is relevant because of the fact that over 90% of every year’s Top Box Office Hits are not original. Notice that the 9 hits mentioned above are not original content, including Captain Marvel which is a character well known despite debuting in theaters. Moviegoers are risk-averse and showing characters the public is familiar with is synonymous of success in a market where the production of a movie can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another essential part of the content are the actors. They give credibility to a movie and top talent can’t wait to appear on a superhero movie. Just look at the roster of Avengers Endgame with cameos from the likes of Robert Redford, Rene Russo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Natalie Portman, William Hurt, Samuel L Jackson or Ken Jeong, the Asian character on The Hangover. All of this without accounting for the main characters. Where else can you see this?

Source: https://www.editorchoice.com/avengers-endgame-cast/

NEW BUSINESS

One of the acquisitions mentioned is Hulu, a streaming platform in the US which also allows watching live content. I believe this is the future. Cable TV operators are doomed. The number of subscriber to Cable TV in the US has declined over the past years.

Source https://www.statista.com/statistics/536356/cable-shopping-networks-revenue-usa/

It’s clear the consumers are opting in to streaming on-demand platforms such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. That’s why Disney is launching Disney +.

This is a global trend. People across the world may not own a TV, but they have smartphones and internet connection. Netflix has launched a 3$ monthly cell-only subscription in India. Check this relentless growth of subscribers by Netflix.

Take a look at the last Shareholders report by Netflix, a public company that is burning billions every year -3,5B$ in 2019- and is expected to invest 15B$ in 2019 alone in new content. In my humble opinion, Netflix has by far the best streaming platform and the content is remarkably good, just look at the masterpiece Stranger Things season 3.

Source: https://s22.q4cdn.com/959853165/files/doc_financials/quarterly_reports/2019/q2/Q2-19-Shareholder-Letter-FINAL.pdf

Netflix will be the main competitor of Disney, who will claw back its content from other platforms over the next years, reducing the earnings of licensing rights, but attracting customers to their platform. I believe there will be a time where platforms won’t share much content, but eventually, this will rise opportunities for multiplatform viewing apps and some years from now, platforms will reshare content once they settled a loyal customer base. Users will be subscribed to multiple platforms and they would still like to watch what’s best in every one of them. It’s not a winner take it all market.

My final bet is that there’s another big piece of content that is currently slipping away from streaming platforms, live sports. This is the last resort of traditional TV and cable TV operators who have been able to tell customers when and where to watch TV. This is no more, TV is dead.

SPILLOVER EFFECTS

Let’s get some perspective here. Disney is a corporation that currently (2019) has annual revenues of around 70B$ and a net income of around 13B$ (15–20%). Where do they make money from? This is a comparison YoY between the fiscal years ended on September 30th. of 2018 vs 2017. All areas grow except for merchandising. Figures in B$.

Source: company reports

MEDIA

The main source of income is Media Network, which comes from ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC… Here’s the evolution of this revenue stream fro the last decade.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/193211/revenue-of-walt-disneys-media-network-business-since-2008/

With the acquisition of Fox, this chart is going to experience a huge vertical shift.

PARKS AND RESORTS

Parks and resorts are the second biggest revenue stream of the Mickey Mouse company.

Walt Disney World Resort (Flick: Atiq Nazri)

This is a chart with the number (in millions) of yearly by visitors by each park. Around 150 million people go to a venue managed by Disney somewhere on the planet. This can only be achieved by a great hospitality experience and the best content:

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/194247/worldwide-attendance-at-theme-and-amusement-parks-since-2010/

STUDIO

This is the revenue that comes from the distribution of movies and music.

The chart below displays the Box Office market share evolution. Disney has managed to multiply by 2,5 in ten years, and now with the inclusion of Fox, the market share could get just shy of 50%, which is ridiculous. This is a major spillover effect from the massive content acquisition.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/14/disney-on-pace-to-earn-9-billion-at-the-global-box-office-in-2019.html

DIRECT TO CONSUMER

This is where the new platform Disney + will come into play. Disney + is a SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) as far as we know. Other alternatives are AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand) where the users access for free but get adds (Youtube) and TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand) which is what Google is doing among others.

One of the first screenshots Disney shared for Disney +

So far they have had Hulu in this category, but with the introduction of Disney +, this will become of the main revenue streams for Disney. Eventually, the main one if you ask me. My guess is that in one year, Disney + can produce revenues of about 20B$ and grow from there. This is what Netflix is doing right now.

The advantage of Disney + is that they already have the content and they would only need to produce specific content for the platform such as The Mandalorian or the Marvel spinoff series with Black Widow and more. That would imply big operating profits since most content has already been amortized. The downside, however, will be the loss of the licensing revenue they get from streaming onto other platforms included in the Studio section. I’m betting this will be a money-printing machine.

CONCLUSION

Disney is a company that has endured through decades and over the last years has taken on a path of content acquisition and generation that pays off very well. This is why I am “hodling” on its stock.

Disney’s stock price evolution over the years