Move over, Donald Trump! Guard your tech rock star status, Bill Gates! Never content to stand still for long or to stay in his own sandbox, former "American Idol" honcho and current "The X Factor" judge Simon Cowell is planning a competition of a completely different nature. According to a story in The Sun, an English newspaper, Cowell is teaming up with rapper will.i.am to search for the next Bill Gates.
As Will himself reports, the dynamic duo are working on the details of a project that they call "X Factor for Tech," with a goal of not only identifying a new technology wizard but also helping to create new jobs. The Black Eyed Peas singer revealed the news during a guest-speaking appearance at a recent technology conference in London.
This seems an odd move for Cowell and has the ear-markings of a publicity ploy, reminiscent of the short-lived "World Idol." That gem pitted winners from various versions of "Idol" from around the globe and was staged shortly after Kelly Clarkson took home the first American title. Of course, Clarkson received top billing in all of the pre-competition press pieces and was installed as the heavy favorite to sweep the "World Idol" hardware into her trophy sack, as well. When Kurt Nilsen of Norway upset Kelly and Simon's proverbial apple cart, the idea was shelved and hasn't seen the light of day since. Cowell was working hard to establish the "American Idol" brand, and any smudge on its shine was quickly dispatched.
With "The X Factor" bumping along through its second season and in direct competition with "The Voice," the timing of this announcement could work to bring a new set of eyes to Simon's latest singing vehicle. Technical types, who have never seen the show before, might tune in to see what "The X Factor" is all about, since there may soon be a tech version to peruse (or compete on) in the future. It's also not hard to imagine that Cowell might hope to gain a competitive advantage by siphoning talent from his adversaries. After all, will.i.am served as a coach on previous renditions of "The Voice," so landing him for a new project is a feather in Cowell's cap.
As for the idea that the eventual victor of "X Factor for Tech" would be able to create a decent chunk of new jobs -- well, it all kind of depends on which direction the competition takes. If it devolves into a personality popularity contest, as the singing shows often do, then the winning idea may or may not have much commercial merit. If, however, contestants are chosen and advanced based on a set of criteria that keep in mind mass appeal or utility of the end product, then there is a chance for a niche to be carved.
One thing we know for sure about Simon Cowell is that he's perfectly willing and able to fill any niche that presents itself. If you thought you'd already had your fill of Simon, hold onto your hat: It appears that we're just getting started.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Simon Cowell
- Bill Gates
- Kelly Clarkson