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Ikea dismantles tradition to seek inspiration from car industry
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times Richard Milne in Oslo.

Sometimes the complexity of their own companies can surprise top managers. Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of the owner of the Ikea brand, looks wide-eyed as he describes how the furniture retailer has nearly 100 different cabinets, sometimes with only 4-5 millimetres difference between models.

In storage solutions it has Pax wardrobes, Godmorgon bathroom cabinets, Metod in the kitchen and Besta in the living room — similar products but with subtly different heights or widths, making things difficult not just for the customer but also for Ikea itself.

So the world’s largest furniture retailer has looked to the car industry for inspiration. Platforms have dramatically changed the process of making cars — different models with vastly different pricing can be built on the same basic chassis. Changes are made between models on the things customers see — like the dashboard and entertainment systems — but much of the back-end that is invisible to drivers can be common.

Now Ikea is looking to bring platforms into home furnishing....Ikea is experimenting with city-centre and smaller shops as well as services such as home delivery and assembly. It is looking into renting out furniture instead of selling it, and smart home technology that brings it up against Silicon Valley.

Its platform initiative is one of its most important, albeit largely invisible to customers. Much still remains to be worked out such as just how much is common between different products — a dilemma recognisable from the car industry where Volkswagen faced complaints that there was little difference between VW and Skoda models except for the price.....standardisation should lead to lower prices for both it and customers. ....“How can we scale up in an efficient way? It’s difficult if we make each product uniquely. With platforms, it’s easier to adjust to new markets,” ...The new approach is not without risks though. Developing new platforms can be a costly business and in the car industry has often led to just as much complexity as before, particularly in companies like VW that are known for overengineering their vehicles, or confusion among consumers as to how big a difference there is between supposedly rival products.

Mr Loof is aware of the problem. “We need to define what makes sense to have on the platform and what not,” he says. “If you go too far you can arguably say you have decreased your range offer.”....for the furniture group, facing the same rapid changes in the retail landscape that have caused dozens of brands to fail, there is a feeling that it needs to do as much as it can even if it is likely to have failures on the way.
automotive_industry  CEOs  complexity  furniture  home_furnishing  Ikea  inspiration  platforms  retailers  risks  small_spaces  standardization  Torbjörn_Lööf 
october 2019 by jerryking
Looking Ahead After a Quarter Century Into the Digital Age - CIO Journal
Aug 16, 2019 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

* Large economic potential is linked to digitization—and much of it is yet to be captured
* Digital superstars are rising far beyond the U.S. big four and China’s big three
* Digital natives are calling the shots
* Digital changes everything—even industry boundaries
* Agile is the new way to compete
* Playing the platform economy can boost earnings
* Self-cannibalization and innovation are a necessity for digital reinvention
* Going after the right M&A is key
* Effective management of digital transformation is vital—but challenging
* Leveraging and transitioning from digital to new frontier technologies is an imperative


Effective management of digital transformation is vital—but challenging. High incidences of failure can be found across industries and countries regardless of the objectives of the digital transformation, including customer experience, the most common type of transformation.

The report recommends five key actions to improve the odds of a successful digital transformation: shared responsibility and accountability; clarity of objectives and commitment; sufficient resources; investments in digital talent; and flexibility and agility.
artificial_intelligence  digital_economy  digital_natives  digitalization  industry_boundaries  insights  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  McKinsey  M&A  millennials  platforms  self-cannibalization 
august 2019 by jerryking
Opinion: Why economics must go digital - The Globe and Mail
DIANE COYLE
CAMBRIDGE
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JUNE 9, 2019

But economists’ benchmark mental world – particularly their instinctive framework for thinking about public policy questions – is one where competition is static, preferences are fixed and individual, rival goods are the norm, and so on.

Starting from there leads inexorably to presuming the “free market” paradigm. As any applied economist knows, this paradigm is named for a mythical entity. But this knowledge somehow does not give rise to an alternative presumption, say, that governments should supply certain products.......Having led a review of the spread of anti-microbial resistance – which will kill millions of people if new drugs are not discovered – O’Neill is dismayed by the lack of progress made by private pharmaceutical companies.

Drug discovery is an information industry, and information is a non-rival public good which the private sector, not surprisingly, is under-supplying. That conclusion is not remotely outlandish in terms of economic analysis. And yet, the idea of nationalizing part of the pharmaceutical industry is outlandish from the perspective of the prevailing economic-policy paradigm......Or consider the issue of data, which has lately greatly exercised policymakers. Should data collection by digital firms be further regulated? Should individuals be paid for providing personal data? And if a sensor in a smart-city environment records that I walk past it, is that my data, too? The standard economic framework of individual choices made independently of one another, with no externalities, and monetary exchange for the transfer of private property
Big_Tech  digital_economy  drug_development  economics  increasing_returns_to_scale  market_power  network_effects  personal_data  pharmaceutical_industry  platforms 
june 2019 by jerryking
Technology platforms are losing control
MAY 22, 2019 | | Financial Times | John Gapper.
Amazon  competition  platforms 
may 2019 by jerryking
How Spotify’s algorithms are ruining music
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | Michael Hann.

(1) FINAL DAYS OF EMI, By Eamonn Forde, Omnibus, RRP£20, 320 pages
(2) SPOTIFY TEARDOWN, By Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 288 pages
(3) WAYS OF HEARING, By Damon Krukowski, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 136 pages

In April, the IFPI — the global body of the recording industry — released its latest annual Global Music Report. For the fourth consecutive year, revenues were up, to a total of $19.1bn, from a low of $14.3bn in 2014. Nearly half those revenues came from music streaming, driven by a 33 per cent rise in paid subscriptions to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal...... It is worth remembering that 20 years ago, the IFPI reported global music revenues of $38.6bn. Today’s “booming” recording industry is less than half the size it was at the turn of the century.....The nadir for the recording industry coincided with the first shoots of its regrowth. ....In August 2007, the British record company EMI — the fourth of the majors, alongside Universal, Sony and Warner — was bought by private equity firm Terra Firma (Guy Hands, the fund’s founder and chairman) for $4.7bn; a year later, a Swedish company called Spotify took its music streaming service public. The former was, perhaps, the last gasp of the old way of doing things — less than four years after buying EMI, Terra Firma was unable to meet its debts, and ceded control of the company to its main lender, Citigroup. Before 2011 was out, the process of breaking up EMI had begun...EMI’s demise was foreshadowed before Hands arrived, with a blaze of hubris in the early 2000s. Forde, a longtime observer and chronicler of the music business recounts the “disastrous and expensive” signings of that era......Handspreached the need to use data when signing artists, not just the “golden ears” of talent scouts; data are now a key part of the talent-spotting process.

* to qualify as having been listened to on Spotify, a song has to have been played for 30 seconds.
* hit songs have become increasingly predictable, offering up all their pleasures in the opening half-minute. Their makers dare not risk scaring off listeners.
* for all the money that the streaming services have generated for the music industry, very little of it flows back to any musicians except the select few who dominate the streaming statistics,

.......On Spotify, music consumption has been reorganised around “behaviours, feelings and moods” channelled through curated playlists and motivational messages......The data Spotify collects enable the industry to work out who its market is, where it lives, what else they like, how often they listen to music — almost anything, really. It’s the greatest assemblage of information about music listeners in history, and it has profoundly altered the industry: it has made Spotify music’s kingmaker......when an artist travels abroad to promote a new album, the meeting with the local Spotify office is more important than the TV appearances or the newspaper interviews. ...Spotify enables artists to plan their band’s set lists so they can play the most popular song in any given city.............So what? What does it matter if one model of music distribution has been replaced by another.....It matters because Spotify has profoundly changed the listener’s relationship with music....Older musicians often wax about how, when you had to buy your own music as a kid, you listened to it until you liked it, because you wouldn’t be able to afford a new album for another month. Now you simply skip to the next one, and probably don’t give it your full attention. Without ownership, there’s no incentive to study...........Faced with the impossibly wide choice of Spotify, it becomes easier to return to old favourites — easier than when flicking through your vinyl or CDs, because the act of looking through your own music makes things you had not thought of in years leap out at you. Spotify actually makes people into more conservative listeners, a process aided by its algorithms, which steer you towards music similar to your most frequent listening.....The theme of Krukowski’s book is that the changes in the way the music industry works have been about controlling and eliminating excess noise. That’s in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one, too. Streaming has stripped music of context, pared it back to being just about the song and the moment....but noise is the context of life. Without noise, the signal becomes meaningless......The world of the old EMI was one of both signal and noise; where myths and legends could be created: The Beatles! Queen! The Beach Boys! Pink Floyd! It was never all about the signal. The world of Spotify is one of signal only, and if you don’t appreciate that signal within the first 30 seconds of the song...all may be lost
abundance  algorithms  Apple_Music  books  book_reviews  business_models  curation  cultural_transmission  data  decontextualization  EMI  gatekeepers  Guy_Hands  hits  indoctrination  iTunes  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_industry  music_publishing  noise  piracy  platforms  playlists  royalties  ruination  securitization  signals  songs  Spotify  streaming  subscriptions  talent  talent_scouting  talent_spotting  Terra_Firma  Tidal  transformational 
may 2019 by jerryking
The death of cultural transmission
April 3, 2019 | FT Alphaville | By Jamie Powell.

music publishing = the business of licensing songs for films, television and advertising.

Valuing [a record label's] music catalogue is... crucial for anyone looking to bid for a stake in the business.

Despite the prominence of new music, established artists are still fundamental to recorded music's success. .......So let's think about these golden oldies as assets. Assets whose appeal has, arguably, only been heightened by the advent of streaming which, with its recurring revenues and growing audience, has made recurring payments from established acts even more bond-like in their cash flow consistency.
But like fixed-income assets with long durations, these cash flows are also sensitive to the smallest assumptions about their future viability. Assumptions which are not as rock solid as some investors might imagine. Let's use The Beatles as a point of reference here, as "The White Album" was UMG's fourth best-selling album last year. (If you're asking “why The Beatles?” Well, Alphaville likes The Beatles, sure. The Fab Four could easily be replaced by its other legacy acts, such as Queen and Nirvana).

But the problem for a prospective buyer is why we're a fan. To put it simply: we had no choice. We were indoctrinated.

On a long car journeys to coastal summer holidays, or at home on a knackered JVC stereo, we, like many of our friends, were limited to a dozen or so records (jk: finite resources). One of which, inevitably, would be some form of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and George).

Call it the cultural transmission effect. Music would be passed on generation to generation, amplified by the relative scarcity, physical space constraints and high prices of recorded media.

This provided a boon for the major labels as it not only meant lower marketing costs but reissues, limited editions, and remasters became an easily repeatable trick, as younger generations grew up to become consumers themselves.......The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Marley are after all, great artists. Their music will live on. But that's not the question for a perspective investor.

The question is: to what degree will the royalties from these artists continue to flow? Assume Sir Paul and Sir Ringo will continue to grow exponentially richer off the back of streaming, and perhaps the quoted multiples don't look quite so mad. In this age it's hard to find assets which both grow, and have semi-predictable cash flows.

But if the next generation doesn't hold the same affinity to the artists which defined the first fifty years of the pop era, where does that leave the labels' back catalogues? May we suggest: in a tougher spot than most imagine.
Apple_Music  artists  assets  Beatles  biopics  bonds  cultural_transmission  digital_strategies  finance  finite_resources  golden_oldies  hard_to_find  indoctrination  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_publishing  platforms  Rollingstones  royalties  Spotify  strategic_buyers  streaming  superstars  U2  UMG  valuations 
april 2019 by jerryking
Lina Khan: ‘This isn’t just about antitrust. It’s about values’
March 29, 2019 | Financial Times | by Rana Foroohar.

Lina Khan is the legal wunderkind reshaping the global debate over competition and corporate power......While still a student at Yale Law School, she wrote a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”, which was published in the school’s influential journal..... hit a nerve at a time when the overweening power of the Big Tech companies, from Facebook to Google to Amazon, is rising up the agenda......For roughly four decades, antitrust scholars — taking their lead from Robert Bork’s 1978 book The Antitrust Paradox — have pegged their definitions of monopoly power to short-term price effects; so if Amazon is making prices lower for consumers, the market must be working effectively.....Khan made the case that this interpretation of US antitrust law, meant to regulate competition and curb monopolistic practices, is utterly unsuited to the architecture of the modern economy.....Khan's counterargument: that it doesn’t matter if companies such as Amazon are making things cheaper in dollars if they are using predatory pricing strategies to dominate multiple industries and choke off competition and choice.....Speaking to hedge funds and banks during her research, Khan found that they were valuing Amazon and its growth potential in a way that signified monopoly power..." I’m interested in imbalances in market power and how they manifest. That’s something you can see not just in tech but across many industries,” says Khan, who has written sharp pieces on monopoly power in areas as diverse as airlines and agriculture. " Khan, like many in her cohort, believes otherwise. “If markets are leading us in directions that we, as a democratic society, decide are not compatible with our vision of liberty or democracy, it is incumbent upon government to do something.” Lina Khan has had a stint as a legal fellow at the Federal Trade Commission, consulted with EU officials, influenced competition policy in India, brainstormed ideas with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren and — recently joined the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The 2008 financial crisis she thinks “about markets, and the government’s response to them, and certain forms of intervention that they do take, and that they don’t take”.....Khan, Lynn and others including the Columbia academic Tim Wu have developed and popularised the “new Brandeis” school of antitrust regulation, hearkening back to the era in which Louis Brandeis, the “people’s lawyer”, took on oligarchs such as John D Rockefeller and JP Morgan.....Lina sees Amazon as not just a discount retailer but as a marketing platform, delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, auction house, publisher and so on, and to understand just how ill-equipped current antitrust law was to deal with such a multi-faceted entity......a Columbia Law Review paper out in May 2019 will explores the case for separating the ownership of technology platforms from the commercial activity they host, so that Big Tech firms cannot both run a dominant marketplace and compete on it. via a host of old cases — from railroad antitrust suits to the separation of merchant banking and the ownership of commodities — to argue that “if you are a form of infrastructure, then you shouldn’t be able to compete with all the businesses dependent on your infrastructure”....“The new Brandeis movement isn’t just about antitrust,” .... Rather, it is about values. “Laws reflect values,” she says. “Antitrust laws used to reflect one set of values, and then there was a change in values that led us to a very different place.”

.
21st._century  Amazon  antitrust  Big_Tech  digital_economy  financial_crises  FTC  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  multifaceted  paradoxes  platforms  policymakers  predatory_practices  Rana_Foroohar  regulators  Robert_Bork  Tim_Wu  wunderkind  Yale  values  value_judgements 
march 2019 by jerryking
With the iPhone Sputtering, Apple Bets Its Future on TV and News
March 25, 2019 | WSJ | By Tripp Mickle.

The iPhone is running out of juice. To go beyond the device that made Apple Inc. a global colossus, Tim Cook is betting on a suite of services—marking the company’s biggest shift in more than a decade......Apple will take a giant leap forward announcing video- and news-subscription services that it hopes will generate billions of dollars in new annual revenue and deepen ties between iPhone users and the company.....apps and services, from Spotify to Netflix to China’s WeChat , have often become more important to users than the devices that run them. .....The company’s ambition in video is to become an alternative to cable, combining original series with shows from other networks to create a new entertainment service that can reach more than 100 markets world-wide. ....Apple hasn’t said what it will charge for the programming. .....The original series will be delivered in a new TV app that staff have been calling a Netflix killer.....Apple has been negotiating to bring its new TV app to multiple platforms, including Roku and smart TVs.........Apple plans to showcase a revamped News app that includes a premium tier with access to more than 200 magazines—including Bon Appétit, People and Glamour—as well as newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal.....The Washington Post and New York Times aren’t participating in the new app...... in the early 2000s, co-founder Steve Jobs reinvented the company by pushing it into mobile devices. The iPod and its accompanying iTunes service revived a company that was largely dependent on Mac computer sales....Mr. Cook is attempting a similar feat in the approaching twilight of the smartphone era....Cook wanted to know which apps were selling well, how many Apple Music subscribers stuck with the service, and how many people were signing up for iCloud storage.....Apple’s biggest source of services revenue comes from distributing other companies’ software through its App Store.....Apple’s music-streaming service has about 50 million global subscribers—far behind Spotify’s 96 million.

Apple’s base of 1.4 billion iPhones, iPads and Macs in use globally gives it a distribution platform..................The push into news subscriptions could help Apple battle Facebook, whose News Feed has helped it become the No. 1 app world-wide in monthly active smartphone users.....Facebook is attempting to become a super-app like China’s WeChat, which allows users to shop, order food, buy movie tickets and make reservations on any mobile operating system......Steve Jobs foreshadowed Apple’s services future when he started iTunes in 2001, offering categories from competing major labels to make the first successful digital-music store, with songs available for 99 cents.

For Mr. Cook’s monthly services meetings, the company monitors of apps that benefit and threaten Apple. There is a "release radar" for Cook to track apps that are expected to sell well and other metrics for the apps that have challenged Apple’s business, including iTunes sales decreases compared with Apple Music subscription growth.
App_Store  Apple  Apple_IDs  Apple_Music  big_bets  CEOs  cloud_computing  Disney  iCloud  iPhone  iTunes  magazines  mobile_applications  multiplatforms  Netflix  news  NYT  original_content  pivots  platforms  services  smartphones  Spotify  storage  streaming  subscriptions  television  Tim_Cook  WaPo  WeChat 
march 2019 by jerryking
Ikea looks to launch sales platform that would include rival products
February 12, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Milne in Almhult.

Ikea is exploring the launch of an online sales platform offering furniture not just from the famous flat-pack retailer but also from rivals as part of its big transformation...........

Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea, added: “It is also about how you connect. If you take home furnishings, for instance — how you connect communities, how you connect knowledge, how you connect the home. It’s not only furniture, it’s paintings, it’s the do-it-yourself part. There are many different constellations that can and will evolve over the years to come.”
Alibaba  Amazon  brands  clothing  e-commerce  experimentation  fashion  furniture  home-assembly  Ikea  leasing  opportunities  platforms  retailers  third-party  Zalando  rivalries  digital_strategies  Torbjörn_Lööf  coopetition 
february 2019 by jerryking
Roger McNamee on how to tame Big Tech
February 7, 2019 | Financial Times | Roger McNamee.

Government intervention of this kind is a first step on the path to resolving the privacy issues that result from the architecture, business models and culture of internet platforms. But privacy is not the only problem we must confront. Internet platforms are transforming our economy and culture in unprecedented ways. We do not even have a vocabulary to describe this transformation, which complicates the challenge facing policymakers....Google, Facebook and other internet platforms use data to influence or manipulate users in ways that create economic value for the platform, but not necessarily for the users themselves. In the context of these platforms, users are not the customer. They are not even the product. They are more like fuel.....Google, Facebook and the rest now have economic power on the scale of early 20th-century monopolists such as Standard Oil. What is unprecedented is the political power that internet platforms have amassed — power that they exercise with no accountability or oversight, and seemingly without being aware of their responsibility to society......When capitalism functions properly, government sets and enforces the rules under which businesses and citizens must operate. Today, however, corpor­ations have usurped this role. Code and algorithms have replaced the legal system as the limiter on behaviour. Corporations such as Google and Facebook behave as if they are not accountable to anyone. Google’s seeming disdain for regulation by the EU and Facebook’s violations of the spirit of its agreement with the US FTC over user consent are cases in point......AI promises to be revolutionary. That said, it will not necessarily be a force for good. The problem is the people who create AI. They are human...McNamee recommends two areas of emphasis: regulation and innovation. As for the former, the most important requirement is to create and enforce standards that require new technology to serve the needs of those who use it and society as a whole. ...... The IoT requires our approval. Do not give it until vendors behave responsibly. Demand that policymakers take action to protect public health, democracy, privacy, innovation and the economy.
accountability  Alexa  antitrust  artificial_intelligence  biases  Big_Tech  consent  dark_side  Facebook  Google  Industrial_Internet  monopolies  personal_data  platforms  political_power  privacy  Roger_McNamee  sensors  surveillance  unintended_consequences 
february 2019 by jerryking
The Rise of Global, Superstar Firms, Sectors and Cities - CIO Journal.
Jan 18, 2019 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Scale increases a platform’s value. The more products or services a platform offers, the more consumers it will attract, helping it then attract more offerings, which in turn brings in more consumers, which then makes the platform even more valuable. Moreover, the larger the network, the more data available to customize offerings and better match supply and demand, further increasing the platform’s value. The result is that a small number of companies have become category kings dominating the rest of their competitors in their particular markets.

Network dynamics also apply to metropolitan areas. For the past few decades, the demands for high-skill jobs have significantly expanded, with the earnings of the college educated workers needed to fill such jobs rising steadily. Talent has become the linchpin asset of the knowledge economy, making capital highly dependent on talented experts to navigate our increasingly complex business environment.

“Just as the economy confers disproportionate rewards to superstar talent, superstar cities… similarly tower above the rest,” wrote urban studies professor and author Richard Florida. “They are not just the places where the most ambitious and most talented people want to be - they are where such people feel they need to be.”
cities  clusters  geographic_concentration  hyper-concentrations  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  knowledge_economy  network_effects  platforms  Richard_Florida  start_ups  superstars  talent  winner-take-all 
january 2019 by jerryking
Collaborative transport model aims to disrupt the disrupters
January 14, 2019 | Financial Times | by John Thornhill.

Liad Itzhak, head of mobility at Here Technologies, is certainly planning on it. His parent company, majority owned by the German carmakers BMW, Audi, and Daimler, has created a “mobility marketplace” that aims to tackle the problems of fragmented transport services, including the ride-hailing companies. “We are here to disrupt the disrupters,” he says.

More than 500 service providers, with 1.4m vehicles, have joined Here’s mobility marketplace in 350 cities — although it is not yet operational everywhere. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Mr Itzhak announced the expansion of the company’s services and the launch of its SoMo app.

Here’s model differs from traditional ride-hailing companies in two critical respects. First, it acts as a platform for all collaborative transport services, public or private, ranging from bike rentals to taxi firms to bus companies. It will recommend the optimal route for travelling from A to B, even if that means walking, rather than highlighting the one that generates the most revenue for any company. “We are the first and only one to create a neutral global mobility marketplace,” Mr Itzhak says.

Second, it is attempting to introduce a social networking element to transport services. Its SoMo, or social mobility, app will connect people who are going to the same destination at the same time for the same purpose. So, for example, parents taking their kids to football will be better able to co-ordinate travel.
disruption  platforms  ride_sharing  transportation 
january 2019 by jerryking
Ghost kitchens : the next disruption in the restaurant industry ?
8 Jan, 2018 | intotheminds | Posted By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab.

(1) https://www.restaurant-hospitality.com/operations/ubereats-nudges-operators-toward-virtual-restaurants
(2) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/28/deliveroo-dark-kitchens-pop-up-feeding-the-city-london#img-3

ghost kitchen make perfect economic sense : margins are thin in the restaurant industry, driven by high employees-related costs, rent, expensive equipment and variability in demand. Setting up a restaurant is a bet with a 5 to 20-year time horizon depending on myriad factors : your positioning, the location, and many exogenous factors out of your control. Eliminating all those risks seems like a logical move :

how to make a restaurant less location-dependent ?
how to adapt quickly to demand ?
how to reduce fixed costs (renting and equipping a place) ?
The bright sides : 3 major advantages of ghost kitchens

**The 3 major advantages of ghost kitchens are their answers to the 3 problems listed above :

the restaurant is not location-dependant anymore. If there is an event likely to generate massive flow of potential customers, you can move
ghost kitchens can adapt quickly to demand : the standardized kitchen unit just has to be multipled, which is not possible with street food vans unless you own several of them (which brings us to the 3rd advantage).
ghost kitchens, because they are rented from online platforms like Uber Eats and Deliveroo, transfom fixed costs into variable ones. This is great to test your idea and is a cheap way to do market research and test traction on a market.

** The dark sides of Uber’s and Deliveroo’s ghost kitchens
1. Why would one still rent a place to operate a restaurant ?
Good question indeed. If all hurdles and risks of operating a brick-and-mortar restaurant can be removed, why would you still want to rent a place (fixed costs), buy the equipment (fixed costs), hire employees (fixed costs) and wait on patrons to come in (variable revenues) ? If a platform like Uber or Deliveroo can provide you with customers’ orders, the need to have a brick-and-mortar place would vanish.
But if every single restaurant owner adopts that posture, how will city centers look like on the long run ?

2. Dependence towards platforms
What happened with the hospitality sector may well happen on the middle-term in the restaurant industry too. Uber eats, Deliveroo have disrupted the way we consume food. This is a new societal change that is most to be felt in Europe (urban Americans use already to get food delivered to their homes, most restaurants in US cities proposing at home delivery) : it has become easier than ever to get food delivered at home.
If enough restaurant owners make a significant percentage of their revenues through those platforms, they will eventually become dependent on them and will struggle like hotels are now struggling with Booking.com. Using platforms is a wise strategy to grow revenues but it can also become a very dangerous one if your dependence to them increases.
beyond_your_control  commercial_kitchens  disruption  fixed_costs  food_delivery  kitchens  platforms  restaurants  variable_costs  Deliveroo  Uber  asset-light  event-driven  experimentation  test_marketing  pop-ups  cold_storage  on-demand  dark_side  virtual_restaurants  bricks-and-mortar 
january 2019 by jerryking
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles | Financial Times
Kiran Stacey in Washington DECEMBER 23, 2018 Print this page6
Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.

In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power......Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.

In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. .....Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground....The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.

Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.

A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.....Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.
Amazon  antitrust  AT&T  Big_Tech  competition_policy  corporate_concentration  Department_of_Justice  FAANG  Facebook  FTC  hiring  Lina_Khan  lawyers  lobbying  market_power  market_concentration  monopolies  platforms  regulation  regulators  revolving_door  under_the_radar 
december 2018 by jerryking
How to Survive the Next Era of Tech (Slow Down and Be Mindful)
Nov. 28, 2018 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.
We live in unpredictable times. The unlikely happens. Be careful. Go slow. Three new maxims for surviving the next era of tech. I hope you heed them; the world rides on your choices.

(1) Don’t just look at the product. Look at the business model.
(2) Avoid feeding the giants. Manjoo's point that the lack of competition is curbing innovation.
(3) Adopt late. Slow down. Slow your roll--be a late adopter (slow to adopt shiny, new things).
Farhad_Manjoo  howto  mindfulness  Slow_Movement  technology  turbulence  late_adopters  rules_of_the_game  business_models  corporate_concentration  FAANG  platforms 
november 2018 by jerryking
Technogym steps up pace to win world fitness race
November 18, 2018 | Financial Times | Rachel Sanderson in Milan

Technogym, the Italian maker of top end gym equipment, is launching a new platform to broadcast live and on-demand workouts from top gyms worldwide as the race for fitness tech heats up.

The Milan-listed company, founded by owner and chief executive Nerio Alessandri in 1983, will launch Technogym Live in January starting first in the UK and Italy. It will allow owners of Technogym equipment fitted with broadcast consoles to watch cycling, running, rowing, boxing and boot camp classes from its partner fitness studios around the world.

The move comes as fitness has become a new frontier for the tech industry. Fitness streaming apps, such as audio app Aaptiv, connected to home equipment such as start-up Peloton Interactive stationary bicycles have become a big growth area.
fitness  gyms  Peloton  platforms  Technogym  connected_devices  wellness 
november 2018 by jerryking
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea - The New York Times
By David Streitfeld
Sept. 7, 2018

....... Ms. Khan wrote, that once-robust monopoly laws have been marginalized, Amazon is consequently able to amass so much structural power that let it exert increasing control over many parts of the economy. Amazon has so much data on so many customers, it is so willing to forgo profits, it is so aggressive and has so many advantages from its shipping and warehouse infrastructure that it exerts an influence much broader than its market share. It resembles the all-powerful railroads of the Progressive Era, .......The F.T.C. is holding a series of hearings this fall, the first of their type since 1995, on whether a changing economy requires changing enforcement attitudes.

The hearings will begin on Sept. 13 at Georgetown University Law Center. Two panels will debate whether antitrust should keep its narrow focus or, as Ms. Khan urges, expand its range.

“Ideas and assumptions that it was heretical to question are now openly being contested,” she said. “We’re finally beginning to examine how antitrust laws, which were rooted in deep suspicion of concentrated private power, now often promote it.”........Her Yale Law Journal paper argued that monopoly regulators who focus on consumer prices are thinking too short-term. In Ms. Khan’s view, a company like Amazon — one that sells things, competes against others selling things, and owns the platform where the deals are done — has an inherent advantage that undermines fair competition. “The long-term interests of consumers include product quality, variety and innovation — factors best promoted through both a robust competitive process and open markets,” she wrote.

The issue Ms. Khan’s article really brought to the fore is this: Do we trust Amazon, or any large company, to create our future?........ “It’s so much easier to teach public policy to people who already know how to write than teach writing to public policy experts,” said Mr. Lynn, a former journalist.

Ms. Khan wrote about industry consolidation and monopolistic practices for Washington publications that specialize in policy, went to Yale Law School, published her Amazon paper and then came back to Washington last year, just as interest was starting to swell in her work.... the F.T.C. needs to bring back a tool buried in its toolbox: its ability to make rules......“Amazon is not the problem — the state of the law is the problem, and Amazon depicts that in an elegant way,” she said......“could make sense” to treat Amazon’s e-commerce operation like a bridge, highway, port, power grid or telephone network — all of which are required to allow access to their infrastructure on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Amazon  antitrust  breakthroughs  FTC  heretical  ideas  lawyers  Lina_Khan  monopolies  platforms  retailers  regulators  reframing  Yale 
september 2018 by jerryking
Platform companies have to learn to share
August 19, 2018 | Financial Times | Rana Foroohar.

Algorithmic management places dramatically more power in the hands of platform companies. Not only can they monitor workers 24/7, they benefit from enormous information asymmetries that allow them to suddenly deactivate drivers with low user ratings, or take a higher profit margin from riders willing to pay more for speedier service, without giving drivers a cut. This is not a properly functioning market. It is a data-driven oligopoly that will further shift power from labour to capital at a scale we have never seen before......Rather than wait for more regulatory pushback, platform tech companies should take responsibility now for the changes they have wreaked — and not just the positive ones. That requires an attitude adjustment. Many tech titans have a libertarian bent that makes them dismissive of the public sector as a whole.......Yet the potential benefits of ride-hailing and sharing — from less traffic to less pollution — cannot actually be realised unless the tech companies work with the public sector. One can imagine companies like Uber co-operating with city officials to phase in vehicles slowly, rolling out in underserved areas first, rather than flooding the most congested markets and creating a race to the bottom......Airbnb...often touts its ability to open up new neighbourhoods to tourism, but research shows that in cities like New York, most of its business is done in a handful of high end areas — and the largest chunk by commercial operators with multiple listings, with the effect of raising rents and increasing the strains caused by gentrification. On the labour side, too, the platform companies must take responsibility for the human cost of disruption. NYU professor Arun Sundararajan, has proposed allowing companies to create a “safe harbour” training fund that provides benefits and insurance for drivers and other on-demand workers without triggering labour laws that would categorise such workers as full-time employees (which is what companies want to avoid).
Airbnb  algorithms  dark_side  data_driven  gig_economy  information_asymmetry  New_York_City  oligopolies  on-demand  platforms  public_sector  Rana_Foroohar  ride_sharing  sharing_economy  safe_harbour  training  Uber 
august 2018 by jerryking
Comic Book Publishers, Faced With Flagging Sales, Look to Streaming -
July 22, 2018 | The New York Times | By Gregory Schmidt

Comic book publishers are facing a growing crisis: Flagging interest from readers and competition from digital entertainment are dragging down sales.

Hoping to reverse the trend, publishers are creating their own digital platforms to directly connect with readers and encourage more engagement from fans.

The goal is to reach readers who may not live near a comic book shop but want to keep up with the Avengers and the Justice League. Experts say the direct-to-consumer model also helps compete with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video.
publishing  comic_books  streaming  platforms  direct-to-consumer 
july 2018 by jerryking
How Should Antitrust Regulators Check Silicon Valley’s Ambitions? - The New York Times
By Hernan Cristerna
July 3, 2018

The question is: At what point should regulators step in to check the ambitions of the tech giants--Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google? Those five companies hold considerable influence over the internet......the United States needs an approach to merger regulation that protects consumers by supporting transactions that create enterprises capable of standing head-to-head with the tech giants.

The decision to allow AT&T to acquire Time Warner is a step in this direction. So was the decision to approve Disney’s purchase of much of 21st Century Fox.

In a rapidly transforming marketplace, regulators should enable incumbents to stand up to the largest tech companies that are using new technologies — such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence — to upend existing industries.....
“Old economy” companies must be allowed to combine in order to increase their scale and innovation capabilities so that they are on a level playing field with the tech giants.....Regulators must now take notice of the verdict in the AT&T case so that they can calibrate their approach in the next round of transactions.
21st_Century_Fox  antitrust  regulation  regulators  platforms  Department_of_Justice  AT&T  Time_Warner  FAANG 
july 2018 by jerryking
Vertical media mergers are just so 19th century | Financial Times
June 21, 2018 | Financial Times | Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Media companies are falling over themselves to merge with one another right now. AT&T took the US to court over the right to buy TimeWarner, and Comcast and Disney are engaged in a bidding war for some of 21st Century Fox. Big looks set to get bigger. Yet according to our best thinkers on the future of capitalism, the corporate titans driving these decisions are heading firmly backward.

AT&T and Comcast are communications companies that are attempting to go vertical and control every layer of a media empire from underground cables to the creation of content....Andrew Carnegie was determined to own coal mines and railroads as well as steel mills. The goal was control from top to bottom, closed access and economies of scale.

But that is old-fashioned thinking, according to the current crop of books on the dramatic economic changes being wreaked in the next phase of the information age. They argue that vertical integration amounts to building silos in an era that will be dominated by platforms — owning in an era of renting — and looking for mass markets when customers want individualized products.

Hemant Taneja makes a strong case for “customised microproduction and finely targeted marketing” in his book Unscaled. An investor for the Boston-based firm General Catalyst, he does not question the value of having many customers rather than few. But he argues that fast-growing companies in sectors ranging from energy to healthcare and education are succeeding because they customise their goods and services to a “market of one”.

The rise of artificial intelligence and cloud computing allows these companies to “rent scale”, he writes. Small, nimble companies can now out-compete big ones in specific markets, adding scale as they need to.....Netflix’s market value exceeded that of Comcast back in May and it is now bigger than Disney. Its global headcount is 5,500, nearly one-fifth of Time Warner’s and one-50th of AT&T’s. Netflix does not have the size to build as large in-house AI capabilities. But a quick search for “media data analytics” reveals a score of companies. Why pay for that capability when you can rent it
Andrew_Carnegie  Anne-Marie_Slaughter  artificial_intelligence  books  cloud_computing  end_of_ownership  entertainment_industry  Netflix  platforms  scaling  size  vertical_integration  AT&T  Comcast  customization  Disney  gazelles  nimbleness  mass_media  personalization  mergers_&_acquisitions  21st_Century_Fox  Time_Warner  19th_century  microproducers  target_marketing  unscalability  silo_mentality 
june 2018 by jerryking
‘You’re Stupid If You Don’t Get Scared’: When Amazon Goes From Partner to Rival - WSJ
By Jay Greene and Laura Stevens
June 1, 2018

The data weapon
One Amazon weapon is data. In retail, Amazon gathered consumer data to learn what sold well, which helped it create its own branded goods while making tailored sales pitches with its familiar “you may also like” offer. Data helped Amazon know where to start its own delivery services to cut costs, an alternative to using United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.

“In many ways, Amazon is nothing except a data company,” said James Thomson, a former Amazon manager who advises brands that work with the company. “And they use that data to inform all the decisions they make.”

In web services, data across the broader platform, along with customer requests, inform the company’s decisions to move into new businesses, said former Amazon executives.

That gives Amazon a valuable window into changes in how corporations in the 21st century are using cloud computing to replace their own data centers. Today’s corporations frequently want a one-stop shop for services rather than trying to stitch them together. A food-services firm, say, might want to better track data it collects from its restaurants, so it would rent computing space from Amazon and use a data service offered by a software company on Amazon’s platform to better analyze what customers order. A small business might use an Amazon partner’s online services for password and sign-on functions, along with other business-management programs.
21st._century  Amazon  AWS  brands  cloud_computing  contra-Amazon  coopetition  data  data_centers  data_collection  data_driven  delivery_services  fear  new_businesses  one-stop_shop  partnerships  platforms  private_labels  rivalries  small_business  strengths  tools  unfair_advantages 
june 2018 by jerryking
Cry revolution if you like, Alexa is not listening
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | FT | Henry Mance.

We know that a revolt against Big Tech is coming. All the ingredients are there: unaccountable elites, wealth disparities, popular discontent......We should be drawing the opposite lesson. We should be grateful for these moments when technology fails: they remind us that we are relying too much on algorithms.

Silicon Valley has created such gloriously useful products that we mostly overlook their limitations. We don’t notice that Google inevitably has a bias towards certain sources of information, or that Amazon directs us towards certain products. We forget that messaging apps draw us away from other forms of interaction. Already Snapchat has over 100m users who use it for more than 30 minutes a day on average. Already you can have Alexa listen attentively to everything you say at home, which is more than any member of your family will. 

Occasionally, however, we are confronted with the imperfections of technology. We are shown online ads for products we have already bought or for which we are biologically ineligible. We are invited to connect on LinkedIn with people we’ve never met, but who have the same name as our first line manager.....It is these moments which allow us to see that the emperor has no clothes. They demonstrate that the software is only as clever as the humans who have designed it. They remind us that the real revolutionary act is to switch off.
backlash  platforms  Snapchat  imperfections  algorithms  biases  limitations  Big_Tech 
february 2018 by jerryking
Meg Whitman joins Katzenberg’s ‘bite-sized’ video start-up
February 24, 2018 | FT | Tim Bradshaw in Los Angeles and Shannon Bond in New York.

Ms Whitman, the outgoing boss of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and former head of eBay, will become chief executive of a new media venture started by DreamWorks Animation co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. 

The company — provisionally named “NewTV” — has not yet created any content or developed an app. 

“Right now I am the only employee,” Ms Whitman told the Financial Times, “but there is a lot of work [already] done on the business plan and the strategy”.

NewTV’s central idea of creating “premium” short-form video with Hollywood production values was developed at WndrCo, the tech-meets-media holding company co-founded by Mr Katzenberg alongside Ann Daly, former president of DreamWorks Animation, and Sujay Jaswa, Dropbox’s former chief financial officer.

Videos will be up to 10 minutes long and distributed directly to consumers, in a style similar to Netflix.......NewTV plans to ride a wave of change in consumer viewing habits, as eyeballs shift from the big screen to the smartphone. 

Mobile viewing is growing explosively in total minutes and viewing time. And I don’t think the industry is comprehensively serving that up right now....Despite the huge investment in professionally produced online video from the likes of Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet’s YouTube and Snapchat, Mr Katzenberg and Ms Whitman are betting that none is focusing on “snackable” content for watching on the go. 

“One has to envision this short-form content as a completely new format,” she said. “You can’t take existing content and chop it up, you have to create for this format. That is going to inspire a lot of creativity and a chance to tell stories in a different way.” 

NewTV will develop its content and its technology in concert, to ensure fast loading times and personalised recommendations. “In some ways this will be a data company,”
Meg_Whitman  CEOs  HP  Jeffrey_Katzenberg  NewTV  content  short-form  start_ups  entertainment_industry  digital_media  storytelling  platforms  SaaS  video  bite-sized  snackable  Quibi 
january 2018 by jerryking
The case for ending Amazon’s dominance
January 18, 2018 FT | Tim Harford.

Amazon offers:
* consumers, choice and convenience and a shopping search engine that is Google’s only serious rival,
* start-ups cheap, flexible cloud computing services to start and scale up.
competitors, e.g. Walmart tough competition,
* television networks, a tough competitor,
* Apple loyalists, a competing tablet computers at a price to make stop and think.

economists argue that corporate America is underinvesting.....rather than take a long-term view.......Amazon should be the shining counterexample....The online retailer’s strategy is driven not by short-term profit but by investment, innovation and growth. If only there were a few more companies like Amazon, capitalism would be in a happier spot. But there’s the rub: there aren’t more companies like it. It’s unique, and an increasingly terrifying force in online commerce. Should regulators act? If so, how?....

Begin by disposing of a poor argument: that Amazon must be challenged because it makes life miserable for its competitors, some of which are plucky mom-and-pop operations. However emotionally appealing this might seem, it should not be the business of regulators to prop up such businesses......Antitrust authorities should not be in the business of making life easy for incumbents. What, then, should they do? There are two schools of thought. One is to focus on consumers’ interest in quality, variety and price. This has been the standard approach in US antitrust policy for several decades. Since Amazon makes slim profits and charges low prices, it raises few antitrust questions.

The alternative view — which harks back to an earlier era of antitrust during which Standard Oil and later AT&T were broken up — argues that competition is inherently good even if it is hard to quantify a benefit to consumers and that society should be wary of large or dominant companies even if their behaviour seems benign. ....The narrowing in antitrust thinking is described by Lina Khan in a much-read article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”. Ms Khan berates modern antitrust thinking for its “hostility to false positives”.....Tim Harford disagrees, he shares modern antitrust’s hostility to false positives; there is a real cost to cumbersome and unnecessary meddling in a dynamic and rapidly evolving marketplace. US president Donald Trump’s history of publicly attacking Mr Bezos is worth pondering too: Harford asks, "do we really want the US government to have more discretion as to who is targeted, and why?"....Yet for all this,Tim Harford remains deeply uneasy about Amazon’s apparently unassailable position in online retail. Yes, customers are being well served at the moment. Yet the company has acquired formidable entrenched advantages, from the information about customers and the suppliers who sell through it, to the bargaining power it has over delivery companies, to the vast network of warehouses. Those advantages were earned, but they can also be abused.

Antitrust authorities face a difficult balancing act. Regulate Amazon and you may snuff out the innovation that we all say we want more of. Punish it for success and you send a strange message to entrepreneurs and investors. Ignore it and you risk leaving vital services in the hands of an invincible monopolist.

There are no easy options, but it is time to look for a way to split Amazon into two independent companies, each with the strength to grow and invest. If Amazon is such a wonderful company, wouldn’t two Amazons be even better?
Amazon  antitrust  AWS  contra-Amazon  competition  regulators  informational_advantages  Lina_Khan  mom-and-pop  platforms  predatory_practices  Tim_Harford 
january 2018 by jerryking
This is the age of the Microsoft and Amazon economy
Tim Harford

the big digital players: Google dominates search; Facebook is the Goliath of social media; Amazon rules online retail. But, as documented in a new working paper by five economists, American business is in general becoming more concentrated.

David Autor and his colleagues looked at 676 industries in the US — from cigarettes to greeting cards, musical instruments to payday lenders. They found that for the typical industry in each of six sectors — manufacturing, retail, finance, services, wholesale and utilities/transportation — the biggest companies are producing a larger share of output..... “superstar firms” tend to be more efficient. They sell more at a lower cost, so they enjoy a larger profit margin. ....Superstar firms are highly productive and achieve more with less. Because of this profitability, more of the value added by the company flows to shareholders and less to workers. And what happens in these groups will tend to be reflected in the economy as a whole, because superstar firms have an increasingly important role.
Amazon  Big_Tech  corporate_concentration  David_Autor  economics  economies_of_scale  Facebook  Microsoft  monopolies  monopsony  network_effects  platforms  retailers  superstars  Tim_Harford 
january 2018 by jerryking
BlackRock bets on Aladdin as genie of growth
MAY 18, 2017 | FT | Attracta Mooney.

Aladdin, a technology system developed by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is also clever. It analyses the risks of investing in particular stocks, figures out where to sell bonds to get the best prices, and tracks those trades. And it is wily too, combing through huge data sets to find vital pieces of information for investors.....Launched in in 1988, when it was developed as an internal risk tool for BlackRock employees, Aladdin has become bigger, better and far more influential. It is now one of the best-known pieces of technology in the fund industry and is widely used by BlackRock’s rivals, including Deutsche Asset Management, the $733bn investment house, and Schroders, the UK’s largest listed fund manager.

But as Aladdin — which stands for Asset Liability and Debt and Derivatives Investment Network — has grown, concerns have mounted about its influence on markets. There are also questions about whether Aladdin can maintain or increase its hold on the asset management industry as rival technologies emerge.....with more and more investors using Aladdin, there are concerns about its impact on markets. The argument is that if trillions of dollars are being managed by people using the same risk system, those individuals may be more likely to make the same mistakes. i.e. Aladdin may increase systemic risk!!...Aladdin has a 9 per cent share of the 250 largest asset managers and a 15 per cent share of the insurance market, according to Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank. .......Many asset managers have recently begun the slow process of overhauling their technology systems after years of neglect. Previously, fund houses often had hundreds of different systems, but Aladdin and similar enterprise platforms allow businesses to cut out huge chunks of IT, reducing costs and jobs in the process.

At the same time, running money has become more complex and there is more regulatory scrutiny of investment decisions. This has meant that fund houses have been forced to assess how technology can help their investment processes.

“Money management is very tricky these days. Any tool that can help you with decisions is going to be highly in demand,”
........Under plans by Larry Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive, Aladdin will become an even more important source of cash for the fund giant. Mr Fink recently said that his goal is for Aladdin and the wider BlackRock solutions business to account for about 30 per cent of revenues in five years, compared with 7 per cent currently.......Even if there is a stumble in demand, BlackRock is already eyeing up other avenues for Aladdin.

In the past two years, it began promoting Aladdin, which comprises 25m lines of code, in the retail investment space, targeting wealth managers and brokers.

Last week, UBS Wealth Management Americas became the first wealth manager to say it will use Aladdin for risk management and portfolio construction......“Technology has always been a key differentiator for BlackRock. It is more essential to our business than ever before. We believe technology can transform our industry,” he said.

.......
Aladdin  asset_management  BlackRock  institutional_investors  Laurence_Fink  wealth_management  systemic_risks  order_management_system  algorithms  platforms 
january 2018 by jerryking
The Limits of Amazon
Jan. 1, 2018 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

Amazon’s core mission as a data-driven instant-gratification company. Its fanaticism for customer experience is enabled by every technology the company can get its hands on, from data centers to drones. Imagine the data-collecting power of Facebook wedded to the supply-chain empire of Wal-Mart—that’s Amazon.

There is one major problem with the idea that Amazon-will-eat-the-entire-universe, however. Amazon is good at identifying commodity products and making those as cheap and available as possible. “Your margin is my opportunity” is one of Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’s best-known bon mots. But this system isn’t very compatible with big-ticket, higher-margin items.....

How Amazon Does It
Amazon now increasingly makes its money by extracting a percentage from the sales of other sellers on its site. It has become a platform company like Facebook Inc. or Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which serve as marketplaces for businesses with less reach of their own.....Eventually, Amazon could become the ultimate platform for retail, the “retail cloud” upon which countless other online retail businesses are built....Think of Amazon as an umbrella company composed of disconnected and sometimes competing businesses, though critically they can access common infrastructure, including the retail platform and cloud services.

Ultimately, these smaller businesses must feed the core mission. Amazon’s video business isn’t just its own potential profit center; it’s also a way to keep people in Amazon’s world longer, where they spend more money,

What Amazon Can’t Do
Ultimately, the strategies that allow Amazon to continue growing will also be its limitation. “If the platform needs to be one-size-fits-all across many, many different product categories, it becomes difficult to create specific experiences for different kinds of products,”
contra-Amazon  Amazon  strengths  data_driven  instant_gratification  customer_experience  platforms  one-size-fits-all  limitations  Jeff_Bezos  weaknesses  commoditization  third-party  Christopher_Mims 
january 2018 by jerryking
Start Spreading the News: Digital Fuels Superstar Cities - CIO Journal. WSJ
Dec 29, 2017 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Superstar companies are primarily driven by economies of scale, generally achieved through platforms and network effects. Whenever a product, service or process is captured in software and digitized, it becomes digital capital and the economics of abundance take over. The more products or services a platform offers, the more users it will attract, helping it then attract more offerings from ecosystem partners, which in turn brings in more users.....The result is that a small number of companies become category kings dominating the rest of their competitors in their particular market – the Facebooks, Googles, Twitters, Ubers and AirBnbs. Category kings generally take over 70 percent of the total market value in their category, leaving everyone else to split the remaining 30 percent.

“Cities have been caught up in this winner-take-all phenomenon, too,” noted Mr. Florida. “Just as the economy confers disproportionate rewards to superstar talent, superstar cities… similarly tower above the rest. They generate the greatest levels of innovation, control and attract the largest shares of global capital and investment.”

Network dynamics apply to cities just as they do for companies and talent. “They have unique kinds of economies that are based around the most innovative and highest value-added industries, particularly finance, media, entertainment and tech; businesses in superstar cities are formed and scaled up more quickly. All of this attracts still more industries and more talent. It’s a powerful, ongoing feedback loop that compounds the advantages of these cities over time.”

But, such a concentration of talent, wealth and economic activity in fewer and fewer places has led to what a recent Economist issue called the changing economies of geography, the rising inequalities between a relatively small number of superstar cities and the many towns and regions that have been left behind by technology and globalization.
Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  cities  winner-take-all  platforms  superstars  network_effects  disproportionality  geographic_concentration  geographic_inequality  feedback_loops  compounded  increasing_returns_to_scale  digitalization 
january 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
Katzenberg’s Big Ask: $2 Billion for Short-Form Video Project
OCT. 2, 2017 | The New York Times | By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN.

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s idea of fund-raising is on a very different scale.

Mr. Katzenberg....is trying to raise $2 billion for his new television start-up. That is likely to be the largest first round of financing in history for a digital media company that, at least at the moment, is only a concept swirling around in his head......Mr. Katzenberg, 66, is convinced that his new product, called New TV, can upend the format of television for mobile devices. He wants to create the next-generation version of HBO or Netflix, purpose-built for viewing on phones and tablets with short-form content of premium quality — think of “Game of Thrones” as if each episode had a narrative arc of 10 minutes.

He wants to create big, expensive productions at a cost of $100,000 a minute. (For the sake of comparison, a highly produced minute of programming on YouTube might cost $10,000.)......Mr. Katzenberg’s hunch about the way a huge swath of consumers will watch television in the future is, in all likelihood, right. The number of teenagers and young adults who have their nose pressed to their mobile devices watching video content is startling. Globally, 72 % of all video is viewed on a mobile device, according to Ooyala, a video platform provider.

The question is whether his idea is ahead of its time. And whether he can find the right business model to support such expensive programing.

Mr. Katzenberg is a realist. “We need $2 billion. That’s a high bar,” he said. And he acknowledges that the financial details still need to be worked out. It’s daunting. He needs to build an instant library of content — and a big one.....Mr. Katzenberg’s gamble is being taken seriously because of his long history of success and his provocative thesis about the current television model. “The design and the architecture of the storytelling fit the business paradigm, not the other way around,” he explained, suggesting that shows were made in the format of a half-hour or an hour for business reasons and do not make sense in the world of mobile devices and streaming.....Mr. Katzenberg does not merely want to simply create a studio that specializes in short-form storytelling; he wants to create a platform for it. He is hoping that many of the big television networks both invest and produce content for the service.
Quibi  start_ups  funding  investors  Jeffrey_Katzenberg  entertainment_industry  content  digital_media  storytelling  platforms  SaaS  video  Andrew_Sorkin  DreamWorks  short-form  mobile  streaming  bite-sized 
october 2017 by jerryking
Self-Driving People, Enabled by Airbnb
JULY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

Airbnb has a different goal: enabling what I call self-driving people.

And that’s why I won’t be surprised if in five years Airbnb is not only still the world’s biggest home rental service, but also one of the world’s biggest jobs platforms. You read that right. Very quietly Airbnb has been expanding its trust platform beyond enabling people to rent their spare rooms to allowing them to translate their passions into professions, and thereby empower more self-driving people.....To see what’s growing, go to Airbnb’s site and click not on “homes” but on “experiences.” You’ll find an endless smorgasbord of people turning their passion into profit and their inner artisan into second careers....Airbnb’s “experiences” site has grown tenfold this year.

Tourists visiting a foreign country try to understand the culture by going to a museum and viewing “art by dead people,” noted Chesky. “Why not learn how to make art yourself, taught by a living artist in that culture and immerse yourself in the artist’s world? These are experiences you can bring back with you!”

Chesky believes that the potential for Airbnb experiences could be bigger than home-sharing. ....“The biggest asset in people’s lives is not their home, but their time and potential — and we can unlock that,” he explained. “We have these homes that are not used, and we have these talents that are not used. Instead of asking what new infrastructure we need to build, why don’t we look at what passions we can unlock? We can unlock so much economic activity, and this will unlock millions of entrepreneurs.”...In America, though, there is a surplus of fear and a poverty of imagination in the national jobs discussion today — because “all we are focusing on are the things that are going away,” said Chesky. “We need to focus on what’s coming. Do we really think we’re living in the first era in history where nothing will ever again be created by humans for humans, only by machines? Of course not. It’s that we’re not talking about all of these human stories.”....Indeed, the beauty of this era is that you don’t need to wait for Ford to come to your town with a 25,000-person auto factory. Anyway, that factory is now 2,500 robots and 1,000 people. The future belongs to communities that learn to leverage their unique attributes, artisans and human talent.

There is no Eiffel Tower in Louisville, Ky., but there are amazing bourbon distilleries popping up all over, creating myriad tourist opportunities; there are no pyramids in Detroit, but there is a bountiful history of Motown music and all kinds of artists now creating boutique concerts and tours for visitors to experience it.....We have to do 50 things right to recreate that broad middle class of the ’50s and ’60s, and platforms like Airbnb’s are just one of them. (Having universal health care to create a safety net under all of these budding entrepreneurs would be another.) But you have to be inspired by how many people are now finding joy and income by mining their passions.

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COMMENTS
“A tourist is someone who does things that locals who live there never do,” said Chesky. Airbnb’s experiences platform is now enabling visitors to live like locals — even though they’re guests and, in the process, enrich the local community and create new employment. Any town can play.

So much of what companies did in the past, concluded Chesky, “was unlocking natural resources to build the stuff we wanted.” Today’s new platforms are unlocking human potential to “be the people we wanted.”

....
Airbnb  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  capitalization  entrepreneurship  experiential_marketing  gig_economy  human_potential  intrinsically_motivated  job_creation  middle_class  passions  platforms  self-actualization  self-starters  Tom_Friedman  tourism  unimaginative 
july 2017 by jerryking
Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? -
July 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Jonathan Taplin.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy....."we are rushing ahead into the AI universe with almost no political or policy debate about its implications. Digital technology has become critical to the personal and economic well-being of everyone on the planet, but decisions about how it is designed, operated and developed have never been voted on by anyone. Those decisions are largely made by executives and engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon and other leading tech companies, and imposed on the rest of us with very little regulatory scrutiny. It is time for that to change.

Who will win the AI race? The companies that are already in the forefront: Google, Facebook and Amazon. As AI venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee recently wrote in the New York Times , “A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product.”".....How did we get here? I would date the rise of the digital monopolies to August 2004, when Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering......This shift has brought about a massive reallocation of revenue, with economic value moving from the creators of content to the owners of monopoly platforms. Since 2000, revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have fallen from almost $20 billion a year to less than $8 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. U.S. newspaper ad revenue fell from $65.8 billion in 2000 to $23.6 billion in 2013 (the last year for which data are available). Though book publishing revenues have remained flat, this is mostly because increased children’s book sales have made up for the declining return on adult titles.....The precipitous decline in revenue for content creators has nothing to do with changing consumer preferences for their content. People are not reading less news, listening to less music, reading fewer books or watching fewer movies and TV shows. The massive growth in revenue for the digital monopolies has resulted in the massive loss of revenue for the creators of content. The two are inextricably linked......In the third quarter of 2016, companies owned by Facebook or Google took 90% of all new digital ad revenue. ....The history of Silicon Valley itself offers some guidance here. The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. ....The clear historical lesson, which is waiting to be rediscovered in our own day, is that antitrust action has often served not to constrain innovation but to promote it.
Apple  Alphabet  Big_Tech  Google  Amazon  Microsoft  Facebook  artificial_intelligence  privacy  antitrust  Silicon_Valley  content  platforms  virtuous_cycles  content_creators  public_discourse  oligopolies  oversight  value_migration  regulation  innovation  seminal  no_oversight  imperceptible_threats  FAANG  backlash  Kai-Fu_Lee 
july 2017 by jerryking
Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK JUNE 19, 2017

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods re-opens the debate about conglomerates which supposed to be dead, a relic of a bygone era of corporate America as investors supposedly want smaller, nimbler, more focused companies......Amazon is just one of several digital-economy conglomerates. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another. Facebook is quickly becoming a conglomerate, too...... today’s tech-enabled conglomerates, are spending, and often losing, tens of billions of dollars annually on all sorts of projects and acquisitions that may or may not turn out to be successful. But investors are seemingly willing to give these new behemoths a free pass in the name of growth and innovation — until they aren’t.

If there is any lesson from the last breed of industrial conglomerates, it is that there is a natural life cycle to most of them....When it comes to Amazon (or Alphabet, or any of the new conglomerates), the question is whether there is something fundamentally different about these businesses given their grounding in digital information — especially as they expand into complex brick-and-mortar operations like upscale supermarkets.

In an age of big data and artificial intelligence, are businesses that look disparate really similar? And can one company’s leadership really oversee so many different businesses? When does it become too big to manage?...a recent article in the Yale Law Journal made a compelling case that Amazon has built perhaps the ultimate economic mousetrap — one impervious to the natural life cycle of a conglomerate, but one that might ultimately prove to be anticompetitive.

The author, Lina M. Khan, a Yale Law student who has written about antitrust law and competition policy, argued that Amazon had created a “platform market” and can use its size and scale to subsidize its entrance into new businesses through predatory pricing.....The economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits,.....Amazon’s role as both a distributor and cloud provider for many of its competitors gives it an unfair advantage. “This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors,”.....Jeff Bezos, is clear. The man who is assembling the 21st century’s most fearsome new conglomerate once explained his view of competition this way: “Your margin is my opportunity.”
conglomerates  Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  GE  Jeff_Immelt  unfair_advantages  Whole_Foods  Silicon_Valley  digital_economy  Alphabet  Facebook  lessons_learned  Yale  Charles_Munger  antitrust  competition  Berkshire_Hathaway  platforms  predatory_practices  diversification  FTC  margins  staying_hungry  life_cycle  Lina_Khan  competition_policy 
june 2017 by jerryking
As Goldman Embraces Automation, Even the Masters of the Universe Are Threatened
February 7, 2017 | MIT Technology Review | by Nanette Byrnes.

Automated trading programs have taken over cash equities trading function at Goldman Sachs. A job that once employed 600 people in 2000, is now in 2017 being done by 2 people, with the rest of the work, supported by 200 computer engineers. Marty Chavez, the company’s deputy chief financial officer and former chief information officer, explained all this to attendees at a symposium on computing’s impact on economic activity held by Harvard’s Institute for Applied Computational Science last month.....Chavez, who will become chief financial officer in April, says areas of trading like currencies and even parts of business lines like investment banking are moving in the same automated direction that equities have already traveled.....Complex trading algorithms, some with machine-learning capabilities, first replaced trades where the price of what’s being sold was easy to determine on the market, including the stocks traded by Goldman’s old 600.

Now areas of trading like currencies and futures, which are not traded on a stock exchange like the New York Stock Exchange but rather have prices that fluctuate, are coming in for more automation as well. To execute these trades, algorithms are being designed to emulate as closely as possible what a human trader would do,.....Goldman’s new consumer lending platform, Marcus, aimed at consolidation of credit card balances, is entirely run by software, with no human intervention, Chavez said. It was nurtured like a small startup within the firm and launched in just 12 months,
automation  Goldman_Sachs  Martin_Chavez  CFOs  CIOs  risk-assessment  platforms  human_intervention  Marcus  software  algorithms  machine_learning  job_displacement 
february 2017 by jerryking
Why McDonald's Shouldn't Rush Its Digital Platform -- The Motley Fool
Asit Sharma (TMFfinosus) Mar 23, 2016

McDonald's has been late to join quick-service operators in offering a mobile app. Consumers in the U.S. are developing an expectation that they can order, receive affinity (loyalty) points, and interact socially with a brand simultaneously on a mobile device, and McDonald's risks losing millennial customers if it doesn't gradually build its own system.... some risk in relation to a mobile-based affinity program. McDonald's already uses extensive national and regional promotions, through its evolving value menu and limited-time offers. Affinity programs, if not properly implemented, can become simply another discounting mechanism, and McDonald's doesn't need yet another window for passing on discounts. The point of a well-run affinity program is to mine data collected on customers to improve sales or profits, or both. ...an interesting problem that's delaying the introduction of an "order ahead and pay" component to the McDonald's app. Roughly two-thirds of McDonald's U.S. business is transacted at the drive-through. Theoretically, if a customer orders ahead on McDonald's mobile app to pick up food at the drive-through, it's self-defeating for that customer to wait behind other cars in the line.

The company is experimenting with solutions such as designated parking for drive-through customers who order ahead. In this scenario, a customer would wait in his or her car while an employee hand-delivers the order. This is functional, but you can see the implications for McDonald's throughput at peak hours, as employees leave their posts to wade out and make parking-lot deliveries.

McDonald's executives would be loath to admit it, but I'll wager that quandaries like this make them wonder if they really need to inject a digital platform into an operation that's been optimally refined over the course of decades.
McDonald's  digital_strategies  platforms  fast-food  operations  mobile_applications  QSR  drive-throughs  restaurants  millennials  self-defeating 
january 2017 by jerryking
The Economist launches on Snapchat Discover
Oct 7, 2016 | Medium | Lucy Rohr.

The Economist is a weekly, [and] we’d like to think that our weekend editions on Snapchat Discover will offer people an antidote to the information overload of today’s noisy news environment. I really want our readers to finish an edition feeling that they’ve learned something—and have been entertained at the same time.
Snapchat  information_overload  magazines  digital_media  platforms  visualization 
october 2016 by jerryking
The value shift: Why CFOs should lead the charge in the digital age | Deloitte US | CFO Program
William (Bill)J. Ribaudo, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP

Given CFOs’ fiduciary responsibility to deliver shareholder value, it makes sense that they should be leaders in digital business model innovation. When the evidence shows that each marginal dollar can be spent to generate value at a multiplier of 1, 2, 4, or 8 times revenue.

Four business models driving value

The rise of intangibles as a part of total market and corporate value has occurred in conjunction with the proliferation of new business models. Our research, in fact, shows that almost every company fits into one of four types business models, regardless of industry or function—and each one corresponds to a shift in technology and asset structure. Specifically, companies predominantly fall into one of the following categories, based on the way they create value:

Asset Builders. These companies build, develop, and lease physical assets to make, market, distribute, and sell physical things. Examples include everything from automakers to chemical manufacturers, big box retailers, and distribution and delivery businesses.
Service Providers. These companies hire employees who provide services to customers or produce billable hours for which they charge. Examples include consulting firms and financial institutions.
Technology Creators. These companies develop and sell intellectual property such as software, analytics, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Examples include software, big-data tools, and medical-device companies.
Network Orchestrators. These companies create a network of peers in which the participants interact and share in the value creation. They may sell products or services, build relationships, share advice, give reviews, collaborate, co-create, and more. Examples include online financial exchanges, social media businesses, and credit card companies.
business_models  CFOs  Deloitte  digital_economy  ecosystems  information_flows  intangibles  multiplier_effect  multiples  networks  orchestration  platforms  physical_assets  shareholder_value  taxonomy  valuations  value_creation  value_migration 
september 2016 by jerryking
At BlackRock, a Wall Street Rock Star’s $5 Trillion Comeback - The New York Times
SEPT. 15, 2016 | NYT | By LANDON THOMAS Jr.

(1) Laurence Fink: “If you think you know everything about our business, you are kidding yourself,” he said. “The biggest question we have to answer is: ‘Are we developing the right leaders?’” “Are you,” he asked, “prepared to be one of those leaders?”

(2) BlackRock was thriving because of its focus on low-risk, low-cost funds and the all-seeing wonders of Aladdin. BlackRock sees the future of finance as being rules-based, data-driven, systematic investment styles such as exchange-traded funds, which track a variety of stock and bond indexes or adhere to a set of financial rules. Fink believes that his algorithmic driven style will, over time, grow faster than the costlier “active investing” model in which individuals, not algorithms, make stock, bond and asset allocation decisions.

Most money management firms highlight their investment returns first, and risk controls second. BlackRock has taken a reverse approach: It believes that risk analysis, such as gauging how a security will trade if interest rates go up or down, improves investment results.

(3) BlackRock, along with central banks, sovereign wealth funds — have become the new arbiters of "flow.“ It is not about the flow of securities anymore, it is about the flow of information and indications of interest.”

(4) Asset Liability and Debt and Derivatives Investment Network (Aladdin), is BlackRock's big data-mining, risk-mitigation platform/framework. Aladdin is a network of code, trades, chat, algorithms and predictive models that on any given day can highlight vulnerabilities and opportunities connected to the trillions that BlackRock firm tracks — including the portion which belongs to outside firms that pay BlackRock a fee to have access to the platform. Aladdin stress-tests how securities will respond to certain situations (e.g. a sudden rise in interest rates or what happens in the event of a political surprise, like Donald J. Trump being elected president.)

In San Francisco, a team of equity analysts deploys data analysis to study the language that CEOs use during an earnings call. Unusually bearish this quarter, compared with last? If so, maybe the stock is a sell. “We have more information than anyone,” Mr. Fink said.
systematic_approaches  ETFs  Wall_Street  BlackRock  Laurence_Fink  asset_management  traders  complacency  future  finance  Aladdin  risk-management  financiers  financial_services  central_banks  money_management  information_flows  volatility  economic_downturn  liquidity  bonds  platforms  frameworks  stress-tests  monitoring  CEOs  succession  risk-analysis  leadership  order_management_system  sovereign_wealth_funds  market_intelligence  intentionality  data_mining  collective_intelligence  risk-mitigation  rules-based  risks  asset_values  scaling  scenario-planning  databases 
september 2016 by jerryking
Goldman Sachs Has Started Giving Away Its Most Valuable Software - WSJ
By JUSTIN BAER
Sept. 7, 2016

Securities DataBase, or SecDB, the system remains Goldman’s prime tool for measuring risk and analyzing the prices of securities, and it calculates 23 billion prices across 2.8 million positions daily. It has played a crucial role in many of the seminal moments of the firm’s recent history, including its controversial trading just ahead of the financial crisis.....There is perhaps no better sign of the changes that have engulfed Wall Street than this: Goldman has recently started giving clients the tools that made it a trading powerhouse, for free.

The firm’s motives aren’t altruistic; rather, many of the edges that once made Goldman’s traders feared and admired have been blunted. New rules have limited banks’ trading risks, and made it costly to hold large inventories of stocks and bonds on their books. And electronic trading has squeezed margins, dimming the clamor of trading floors across Wall Street....Traders and executives tap into SecDB to inform how to price securities, and how the value of those assets may change with a twist on the dial on any one of thousands of potential variables. That information can be used to analyze potential trades—and then to monitor the risks posed by those positions.

What made it the envy of Wall Street, though, was its ability to scale up to include new classes of securities, new trading desks, even whole businesses. And the data it harnessed was all in one place.
Wall_Street  Goldman_Sachs  tools  traders  risk-management  informational_advantages  software  free  databases  platforms  CIOs  proprietary  slight_edge  Aladdin  Martin_Chavez  scaling  SecDB  seminal_moments  asset_values  scenario-planning  stress-tests 
september 2016 by jerryking
Contextual Runtimes – AVC
Benedict Evans is such a great analyst and his insight into the web>mobile transition has been consistently prescient and helpful to investors, including USV and me personally.

A couple days ago, he penned “16 mobile thesis” which is a must read for anyone building a mobile/internet company or investing in that sector. These 16 theses are organized roughly chronologically, starting with what has largely happened, followed by what is happening, and ending with what may happen.
Fred_Wilson  mobile  mobile_applications  runtimes  platforms  insights  mobile_first 
august 2016 by jerryking
16 mobile theses — Benedict Evans
Benedict Evans is such a great analyst and his insight into the web>mobile transition has been consistently prescient and helpful to investors, including USV and me personally.

A couple days ago, he penned “16 mobile thesis” which is a must read for anyone building a mobile/internet company or investing in that sector. These 16 theses are organized roughly chronologically, starting with what has largely happened, followed by what is happening, and ending with what may happen.
mobile  mobile_applications  chat  future  Google  Apple  platforms  ecosystems  mobile_first 
august 2016 by jerryking
With Competition in Tatters, the Rip of Inequality Widens - The New York Times
Eduardo Porter
ECONOMIC SCENE JULY 12, 2016

The new merger amounts to another step in the long decline of competition in many American industries.

It is a decline that stunts entrepreneurship, hinders workers’ mobility and slows productivity growth. Slowing this trend has emerged as a tempting new avenue to address the plight of a beleaguered working class. Reviving flagging American competition might even help stop America’s ever-widening inequality.

In April, President Obama issued an executive order calling on government agencies to look for ways to bolster competition in the industries they monitor.....There is plenty of evidence that corporate concentration is on the rise. Mr. Furman and Mr. Orszag report that between 1997 and 2007 the market share of the 50 largest companies increased in three-fourths of the broad industry sectors followed by the census......Studies have found increased concentration in agricultural businesses and wireless communications as well.....but is competition policy about increasing the economy’s efficiency, or is it about changing the distribution of the spoils....should antitrust be a major tool for addressing inequality?....How did the American economy get so concentrated? Technology surely helped. Tech giants like Google and Facebook benefit from economies of scale and network effects. ....Government watchdogs also messed up....How to fix corporate concentration? In industries perceived to be fairly concentrated, presume future mergers will be anticompetitive, take the burden of proof off the regulator’s shoulders and putting the onus on the merging companies to prove it is not....Regulations can also be tool: How about demanding that the FDA approve generic drugs more quickly?
competition  antitrust  monopolies  anticompetitive_behaviour  collusion  market_power  corporate_concentration  economies_of_scale  network_effects  platforms  income_inequality  regulators  regulation  competition_policy 
july 2016 by jerryking
Network orchestrators are the new path to profit - The Globe and Mail
Jul. 03, 2016 | Special to The Globe and Mail | HARVEY SCHACHTER

* "The Network Imperative" by authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck, and Jerry Wind.

Technology - Shift from physical to digital. Develop a digitally enabled platform around which people can congregate.

Assets - Shift from tangible to intangible assets. Physical assets are becoming a liability. Pay attention to your brand, a key intangible asset, and also view people as an asset, not an expense.

Strategy -move from operator to allocator. As a strategist, Mr. Libert has spent many years working with leaders to figure out what products to sell to what market. But these days, leaders should be active allocators of capital, like portfolio managers.

Leadership - The shift here is from commander – in charge of a highly structured, hierarchical, top-down organization – to co-creator, who knows how to motivate, inspire and work alongside others to develop the network.

Boards - His favourite shift, because it is the most difficult, is the switch from governance to representation.
Finally, the mindset must change to thinking less rigidly about roles, processes, products and industries.
assets  atoms_&_bits  books  business_models  capital_allocation  co-creation  eBay  Etsy  flexibility  Harvey_Schachter  intangibles  mindsets  networks  orchestration  pay_attention  platforms  portfolio_management  physical_assets  resource_allocation 
july 2016 by jerryking
America is still great — but it needs to stay strong
May 26, 2016 | The Washington Post | By Fareed Zakaria, Opinion writer.

It is increasingly clear that the U.S. has in recent years reinforced its position as the world’s leading economic, technological, military and political power. The country dominates virtually all leading industries — from social networks to mobile telephony to nano- and biotechnology — like never before......Joshua Cooper Ramo's new book, “The Seventh Sense,” argues that in an age of networks, the winner often takes all. He points out that there are nine global tech platforms (Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, Facebook, etc.) that are used by more than 1 billion people. All dominate their respective markets — and all have their epicenters in America: The dollar is more widely used for international financial transactions today than it was 20 years ago.....A better, broader measure of economic power than GDP, is “inclusive wealth.” This is the sum of a nation’s “manufactured capital (roads, buildings, machines and equipment), human capital (skills, education, health) and natural capital (sub-soil resources, ecosystems, the atmosphere).” The United States’ inclusive wealth totaled almost $144 trillion in 2010 — 4½ times China’s $32 trillion.....China is far behind the United States in its ability to add value to goods and create new products.....In the military and political realm, the dominance is even more lopsided. ....And perhaps most important, the United States has a web of allies around the world and is actually developing new important ones, such as India and Vietnam. Meanwhile, China has one military ally, North Korea....The complexity of today’s international system is that, despite this American dominance, other countries have, in fact, gained ground.......“Washington still has no true rival, and will not for a very long time, but it faces a growing number of constraints.” ....The reality is that America remains the world’s leading power, but it can achieve its objectives only by defining its interests broadly, working with others and creating a network of cooperation. That, alas, does not fit on a campaign cap.
Fareed_Zakaria  Donald_Trump  networks  epicenters  winner-take-all  superpowers  indispensable  Joshua_Cooper_Ramo  platforms  books  international_system  manufactured_capital  human_capital  natural_capital 
may 2016 by jerryking
Review: The Rise of the ‘Matchmakers’ of the Digital Economy - The New York Times
By JONATHAN A. KNEE MAY 20, 2016
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books  digital_economy  platforms  book_reviews  network_effects  match-making  Jonathan_Knee 
may 2016 by jerryking
Waterloo’s Kik launches Bot Shop, opens platform to outside developers
Kik Interactive of Waterloo, Ont., is the latest tech company to expand its effort to become a platform for third-party bot makers in recent weeks.The chat app
Kik  platforms  bots  chatbots  Kitchener-Waterloo 
april 2016 by jerryking
Microsoft banks on bots to restore company’s mobile relevance - The Globe and Mail
SHANE DINGMAN - TECHNOLOGY REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016

Mr. Nadella to describe how bots and machine learning tools are going to create a new “distributed computing fabric” that will vault Microsoft back into relevance on mobile platforms that are built and owned by rivals at Apple and Google. The theory is that if the App Store is owned by the phone makers, you go around the store with bots that live inside other popular mobile services....Everyone from Facebook and Slack to Amazon and Google are already vying to build the best hosts for these new bot services. Canadian messaging company Kik is among those making major investments in this bot-driven future that foresees commands to semi-artificially intelligent interactive chatbots expanding into everything from physical commerce (buying stuff at a shop with your phone, essentially) to controlling Internet of Things devices (texting your coffee machine to make an espresso). Microsoft showed off similar concepts on Wednesday, including a cupcake shopbot and a Domino’s Pizza bot that can deliver food to your location.
bots  Microsoft  platforms  Kik  CEOs  Satya_Nadella  distributed_computing  machine_learning  Azure  cloud_computing  software  intelligent_agents  chatbots 
march 2016 by jerryking
How to Avoid the Innovation Death Spiral | Innovation Management
By: Wouter Koetzier

Consider this all too familiar scenario: Company X’s new products developed and launched with great expectations, yield disappointing results. Yet, these products continue to languish in the market, draining management attention, advertising budgets, manufacturing capacity, warehouse space and back office systems. Wouter Koetzier explores how to avoid the innovation death spiral....
Incremental innovations play a role in defending a company’s baseline against competition, rather than offering customers superior benefits or creating additional demand for its products.
Platform innovations drive some market growth (often due to premium pricing rather than expanded volume), but their main function is to increase the innovator’s market share by giving customers a reason to switch from a competitor’s brand.
Breakthrough innovations create a new market that the innovator can dominate for some time by delivering new benefits to customers. Contrary to conventional wisdom, breakthrough innovations typically aren’t based upon major technological inventions; rather, they often harness existing technology in novel ways, such as Apple’s iPad.......A recent Accenture analysis of 10 large players in the global foods industry over a three-year period demonstrates the strategic costs of failure to innovate successfully. Notably, the study found little correlation between R&D spending and revenue growth. For instance, a company launching more products than their competitors actually saw less organic revenue growth. That’s because the company made only incremental innovations, while its competitors launched a balanced portfolio of incremental, platform and breakthrough innovations that were perceived by the market as adding value.
Accenture  attrition_rates  baselines  breakthroughs  correlations  disappointment  downward_spirals  howto  incrementalism  innovation  kill_rates  life_cycle  portfolios  portfolio_management  platforms  LBMA  marginal_improvements  Mondelez  moonshots  new_products  novel  product_development  product_launches  R&D  taxonomy 
march 2016 by jerryking
The Rise of the Platform Economy - The CIO Report - WSJ
Feb 12, 2016 | WSJ | By IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER.

A platform or complement strategy differs from a product strategy in that it requires an external ecosystem to generate complementary product or service innovations and build positive feedback between the complements and the platform. The effect is much greater potential for innovation and growth than a single product-oriented firm can generate alone.”

The importance of platforms is closely linked to the concept of network effects: The more products or services it offers, the more users it will attract. Scale increases the platform’s value, helping it attract more complementary offerings which in turn brings in more users, which then makes the platform even more valuable… and on and on and on.
Alibaba  Apple  Facebook  Google  IBM  Microsoft  scaling  economies_of_scale  Uber  Salesforce  platforms  ecosystems  network_effects  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger 
february 2016 by jerryking
G.E. Opens Its Big Data Platform - NYTimes.com
By QUENTIN HARDY OCTOBER 9, 2014

Next year, G.E. plans to connect this big data product, called Predix, to machines made by other companies. It is also establishing a means for companies to build and deploy their own customized software applications on Predix. Part of that approach involves using G.E.’s own modeling software, which helps a customer understand ahead of time whether making the software is justified by anticipated cost savings.

If successful, the GE analysis platform will likely touch tens of millions of devices around the globe. Already, Cisco has agreed to put Predix software inside its networking products, starting with a specialized computer router for harsh environments like oil fields. Intel has developed a reference architecture that integrates Intel processors with the GE software.

Softbank, Verizon and Vodaphone have agreed to provide means of wireless connectivity to devices with the software. GE already has a deal like that with AT&T, which means the system could be used across much of the globe.
GE  massive_data_sets  sensors  Industrial_Internet  platforms 
october 2014 by jerryking
What Cars Did for Today's World, Data May Do for Tomorrow's - NYTimes.com
August 10, 2014 | NYT | Quentin Hardy.

General Electric plans to announce Monday that it has created a “data lake” method of analyzing sensor information from industrial machinery in places like railroads, airlines, hospitals and utilities. G.E. has been putting sensors on everything it can for a couple of years, and now it is out to read all that information quickly.

The company, working with an outfit called Pivotal, said that in the last three months it has looked at information from 3.4 million miles of flights by 24 airlines using G.E. jet engines. G.E. said it figured out things like possible defects 2,000 times as fast as it could before.....Databricks, that uses new kinds of software for fast data analysis on a rental basis. Databricks plugs into the one million-plus computer servers inside the global system of Amazon Web Services, and will soon work inside similar-size megacomputing systems from Google and Microsoft....If this growing ecosystem of digital collection, shipment and processing is the new version of cars and highways, what are the unexpected things, the suburbs and fast-food joints that grew from cars and roads?

In these early days, businesses like Uber and Airbnb look like challengers to taxi fleets and hotels. They do it without assets like cars and rooms, instead coordinating data streams about the location of people, cars, and bedrooms. G.E. makes engines, but increasingly it coordinates data about the performance of engines and the location of ground crews. Facebook uses sensor data like location information from smartphones
Quentin_Hardy  data  data_driven  AWS  asset-light  massive_data_sets  resource_allocation  match-making  platforms  resource_management  orchestration  ecosystems  GE  sensors  unexpected  unforeseen  Databricks  Uber  Airbnb  data_coordination  instrumentation_monitoring  efficiencies 
august 2014 by jerryking
Lunch with the FT: Vikram Pandit - FT.com
July 11, 2014 | FT | By Tom Braithwaite.

“For a large group of people who grew up over the past two, three, four decades, they’ve been in a very different world – it was a world of predictable growth, it was a world of the ability to finance yourself, it was a world where you could really put one foot in front of the other. You find people grappling with what’s the new sustainable model for growth. And that is true of countries, it’s true of businesses.”
At the same time, Pandit proclaims that, largely thanks to technology, “It’s never been easier to start your own business.”
Our starters arrive. Beetroot and ricotta for Pandit while I get a plate decorated with delicious oily slivers of fish and vegetables offset by the occasional crunch from puffed rice and bite of horseradish.
“Bon appétit,” says Pandit, as he slices into a beetroot and continues to extol the virtues of something he calls the “SMAC stack”. I tell him this sounds awful but, he assures me, “it’s the vernacular for the ease for which you can get into business today,” and it stands for “Social media, Mobility, Applications and Cloud.
“Data is like . . . You’re too young, but there was a movie with the [line about] plastics.” When I assure him I’m familiar with The Graduate, he says: “Data is this generation’s plastics. I don’t see business models being truly successful until you get it.”...Pandit has a fondness for big concepts and management-speak and it can be difficult to bring him down to earth. I press him for examples. “You have large auto companies saying, ‘Where is the growth?’ and, on the other hand, you have a SMAC stack that’s created Uber. What’s interesting is that all those intangible abilities are inside the auto companies to make it happen.”
He has been investing in a steady stream of companies that he thinks embody innovative ideas that might make them the next Uber, the suddenly ubiquitous taxi-ordering app. At the same time, he is chairman of TGG Group, a consulting company set up by Steven Levitt, co-author of pop economics book Freakonomics – which aims to help corporations unlock their inner Ubers....Accordingly, while many of Pandit’s new investments are financial companies – Orchard, a platform for users to trade loans; CommonBond, a student lending platform; Fundbox, which lends money to small businesses against their invoices – only one, in India, has any aspirations to be a traditional bank.
With many of his new interests, Pandit says he is looking to remove “frictions”, which happen to be the way Citi and other banks make their money: for example, the middle men that sit between a big bond manager and retail investors and charge a fee. As he points out, the wealthiest individuals are not saddled with these costs to the same extent.
Vikram_Pandit  Citigroup  Wall_Street  career_paths  start_ups  financiers  financial_services  Sheila_Bair  fin-tech  Steven_Levitt  data  behavioural_economics  Second_Acts  reinvention  platforms  layer_mastery  data_driven  jargon  frictions  pain_points  large_companies  growth  Fortune_500  intangibles  SMAC_stack  automotive_industry 
july 2014 by jerryking
BlackRock’s Aladdin: genie not included - FT.com
July 11, 2014 | FT |By Tracy Alloway.
(Risk management technology is no substitute for investor instinct)
Aladdin is BlackRock's current, state of the art risk and order management system. Aladdin has been described as BlackRock’s “central nervous system” but what is less well-known is that the operating platform also acts as the brains at some 60 other financial firms which altogether handle a whopping $14tn worth of assets.

At banks, investment managers and trading outfits around the world, Aladdin’s genie is hard at work analysing portfolios, running stress test scenarios and generally employing BlackRock’s “collective intelligence” to perform a whole host of financial functions....the increasingly significant role that Aladdin and its 25m lines of code plays in the wider financial markets has, with notable exceptions, largely been overlooked....The role of these formulas or programs tends to go unnoticed but they often play two key roles in the build-ups to financial crises. Firstly they give investors and traders a potentially dangerous sense of control over risk. Second, as their use proliferates, they also encourage a build-up of “one-way” bets as investors increasingly come to rely on similar data and analysis.
BlackRock  Laurence_Fink  asset_management  pretense_of_knowledge  long-term  risk-management  Wall_Street  collective_intelligence  systemic_risks  order_management_system  algorithms  platforms  Aladdin  stress-tests  overconfidence  overlooked  false_confidence  scenario-planning  financial_crises 
july 2014 by jerryking
Uber’s Real Challenge: Leveraging the Network Effect - NYTimes.com
JUNE 13, 2014
Continue reading the main story
Neil Irwin

The question for Uber as a business boils down to two words: network effects. That’s the concept in which users of a service benefit from the fact that everybody else uses the service as well. It isn’t much use being the only person to own a fax machine, or the only person to show up at a stock exchange. Things like these become more valuable the more widely they are embraced. Network effects are the key to the wild profitability of a firm like Microsoft; Windows and Office are hard to displace, even if a competitor offers a better, cheaper product, because Microsoft products are entrenched as an industry standard....The billion-dollar question is whether Uber’s model for offering transportation services has some of the same network effects as those of great information industry monopolies (Microsoft, Google), or is more like, say, the travel website business, a brutally competitive industry of middlemen.

Uber is itself a middleman, of course. On one side, it recruits drivers, who typically own or lease their cars. On the other side, it markets to consumers who may want a ride. Then it matches them up; the consumer orders a car, a driver accepts the request, the service is provided, and Uber charges the consumer’s credit card. It keeps a 20 percent commission for itself and pays the rest to the driver....The task facing Uber is not just to overcome the hurdles and make ride-sharing a multibillion dollar industry. It’s to try to entrench the advantages it has from being first: continually refining its offerings to have the best possible user experience, the best data analytics to ensure that people can get a car when they need one, and not to be greedy with regard to its commission, lest it be all the more inviting a target for rivals. It’s no easy job, but nobody said building a company worth $18 billion is.
Uber  network_effects  sharing_economy  middlemen  ride-sharing  platforms  first_movers  transportation  two-sided_markets  match-making 
june 2014 by jerryking
Unlocking Secrets, if Not Its Own Value
MAY 31, 2014 | NYTimes.com |By QUENTIN HARDY.

Founded in 2004, in part with $2 million from the CIA’s venture capital arm, Palantir makes software that has illuminated terror networks and figured out safe driving routes through a war-torn Baghdad. It has also tracked car thieves, helped in disaster recovery and traced salmonella outbreaks. United States attorneys deployed its technology against the hedge fund SAC Capital, which was also an early investor in the company....Palantir’s software has been used at JPMorgan Chase to spot cyberfraud and to sell foreclosed homes; at Bridgewater Associates to help figure out investments for its $157 billion under management, and at Hershey to increase chocolate profits. The technology is complex, but the premise is simple: The software consumes huge amounts of data — from local rainfall totals to bank transactions — mashes it together and makes conclusions based on those unlikely combinations. Where is a terrorist attack likely to occur? What is a bad financial bet?...As Palantir expands into offering services to the private sector — now perhaps 70 percent of its business — Mr. Karp’s worry is losing control of what happens with its software....“The thing Alex worries about the most is they have a culture that’s hard to sustain as it grows,” said Mr. Carville, the Democratic consultant. “I take walks around Stanford with him, and he talks about it: ‘If we become something besides Palantir, what are we?’ ”...Palantir’s founders started with an idea from PayPal. At one point, PayPal was losing the equivalent of 150 percent of its revenue to stolen credit card numbers. It figured out how computers could spot activity — like a flurry of payments to a brand new account — at a global scale. ...“The idea was to pick one bank, and the rest would follow,” Mr. Ovitz said. JPMorgan was the first. Much as Palantir figured out navigating Baghdad by analyzing recent roadside attacks, satellite images and moon phases, it derived home-sale prices by looking at school enrollments, employment trends and retail sales. Data that JPMorgan thought would take two years to integrate was put into action in eight days.

JPMorgan still uses Palantir for cybersecurity, fraud detection and other work, loading half a terabyte of data onto a Palantir system each day, according to a Palantir video. ...Government clients also struggle with a data explosion. “Everything becomes more difficult, the more crime becomes global, the more state actors are involved, the more trades there are around the globe,” said Preet Bharara, United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. “It’s malpractice to have records and not search them.” He has used Palantir for several cases, including the SAC investigation....Palantir is now Palo Alto’s biggest tenant after Stanford, occupying about 250,000 square feet in downtown buildings, which hold many of Palantir’s 1,500 employees. Contracts around the world have surged as everyone’s data increases in size and diversity.
Palantir  Silicon_Valley  CIA  security_&_intelligence  software  Michael_Ovitz  organizational_culture  massive_data_sets  Peter_Thiel  data  information_overload  cyber_security  fraud_detection  platforms  actionable_information  JPMorgan_Chase 
june 2014 by jerryking
Sandra Day O'Connor and Jeff J. Curley: Founding Principles in the Digital Age - WSJ.com
April 21, 2014 | WSJ | By SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR And JEFF J. CURLEY

The College Board and Khan Academy—a nonprofit digital education platform—will partner to provide "free, world-class test prep" for the new exam.

These changes may sound unrelated, but they represent a fascinating paradox in education today: What is old in education has never been more important, but it may take what is new in education to truly prepare students for success in college, career and civic life.

Teaching the Constitution and the nation's other foundational texts is as old as public education itself. America's public schools were founded on the idea that education is vital to the success of democracy. But these texts are demanding and complex. Understanding them takes hard work and concentration. The effort is invaluable, though, not least because it instills the discipline that will equip young people with the knowledge and the habits of mind necessary to become powerful actors in civic life.

Millions of students taking the SAT will now encounter texts like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the writings of individuals from James Madison to Martin Luther King Jr. But old test-prep methods like flashcards and rote memorization will not be sufficient. Students will need more sophisticated tools to help them understand the material and engage with it. Digital technology will be essential to achieving that goal.
civics  SAT  Khan_Academy  high_schools  students  tools  digital_media  standardized_testing  engaged_citizenry  public_education  constitutions  hard_work  foundational  education  paradoxes  platforms  judges  lawyers  Sandra_Day_O'Connor 
april 2014 by jerryking
Helping developers create smarter online music-streaming services
Jul 10, 2013 by Rob Matheson

Brian Whitman PhD '05 and Tristan Jehan SM '01, PhD '05 are co-founders of Echo Nest, whose technology—based on their MIT research—mines data from millions of songs streaming online. Sometimes called "the big data of music," the company has compiled about a trillion data points from 35 million songs by 2.5 million artists.

Its music-intelligence platform—recently praised in publications such as Fast Company, Wired and Business Insider, among others—then translates this data into information for music-app developers, who use the information to build smarter, more personalized music apps
streaming  music  MIT  massive_data_sets  platforms 
april 2014 by jerryking
Tech startups: A Cambrian moment | The Economist
Jan 18th 2014

the world of startups today offers a preview of how large swathes of the economy will be organised tomorrow. The prevailing model will be platforms with small, innovative firms operating on top of them. This pattern is already emerging in such sectors as banking, telecommunications, electricity and even government. As Archimedes, the leading scientist of classical antiquity, once said: “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”....yet another dotcom bubble that is bound to pop. Indeed, the number of pure software startups may have peaked already.... warns Mr Andreessen, who as co-founder of Netscape saw the bubble from close by: “When things popped last time it took ten years to reset the psychology.” And even without another internet bust, more than 90% of startups will crash and burn.

But this time is also different, in an important way.

the basic building blocks for digital services and products—the “technologies of startup production”,...Some of these building blocks are snippets of code that can be copied free from the internet, along with easy-to-learn programming frameworks (such as Ruby on Rails). Others are services for finding developers (eLance, oDesk), sharing code (GitHub) and testing usability (UserTesting.com). Yet others are “application programming interfaces” (APIs), digital plugs that are multiplying rapidly....Startups are best thought of as experiments on top of such platforms, testing what can be automated in business and other walks of life. Some will work out, many will not. Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, calls this “combinatorial innovation”. In a way, these startups are doing what humans have always done: apply known techniques to new problems. The late Claude Lévi-Strauss, a French anthropologist, described the process as bricolage (tinkering)..... software (which is at the heart of these startups) is eating away at the structures established in the analogue age....this special report will explain how start-ups operate, how they are nurtured in accelerators and other such organisations, how they are financed and how they collaborate with others. It is a story of technological change creating a set of new institutions which governments around the world are increasingly supporting.
anthropologists  Archimedes  bubbles  Cambrian_explosion  dotcom  entrepreneurship  Greek  Hal_Varian  innovation  innovation_policies  Marc_Andreessen  millennials  platforms  software_is_eating_the_world  start_ups  taxonomy  technological_change  urban 
february 2014 by jerryking
What Machines Can’t Do - NYTimes.com
FEB. 3, 2014 | NYT | David Brooks.
here is what robots can't do -- create art, deep meaning, move our souls, help us to understand and thus operate in the world, inspire deeper thought, care for one another, help the environment where we live
========================================================================
We’re clearly heading into an age of brilliant technology.computers are increasingly going to be able to perform important parts of even mostly cognitive jobs, like picking stocks, diagnosing diseases and granting parole.

As this happens, certain mental skills will become less valuable because computers will take over (e.g. memorization)

what human skills will be more valuable? The age of brilliant machines seems to reward a few traits. First, it rewards enthusiasm, people driven to perform extended bouts of concentration, diving into and trying to make sense of these bottomless information oceans. Second, the era seems to reward people with extended time horizons and strategic discipline. Third, the age seems to reward procedural architects (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc. , people who can design an architecture/platform that allows other people to express ideas or to collaborate. Fourth, people who can organize a decentralized network around a clear question, without letting it dissipate or clump, will have enormous value. Fifth, essentialists will probably be rewarded--the ability to grasp the essence of one thing, and then the essence of some very different thing, and smash them together to create some entirely new thing. Sixth, the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
David_Brooks  time_horizons  Erik_Brynjolfsson  career_paths  MIT  problem_solving  persuasion  Andrew_McAfee  Communicating_&_Connecting  indispensable  skills  Managing_Your_Career  21st._century  new_graduates  focus  long-term  self-discipline  lateral_thinking  sense-making  platforms  emotions  empathy 
february 2014 by jerryking
Six habits of successful digital firms - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 07 2014, The Globe and Mail HARVEY SCHACHTER

Strategic Digital Marketing
By Eric Greenberg and Alexander Kates
(McGraw-Hill Education, 352 pages, $31.95).

the Amazon Price Check app on their mobile device, they can be in a store and, by scanning the bar code, see whether that item can be obtained more cheaply from Amazon, which offers lures like free shipping.......a phrase Google uses, "Zero moments of truth," to describe the critical times when consumers use the Internet to evaluate your offering. It might be the Amazon Price Check. It might be a consumer visiting your website and then plugging into social feedback from Facebook and Twitter. Prospects might scan reviews by recent purchasers. This information can be accessed quickly and could determine whether they will deal with you – now, or forever...... little attention is paid to return on investment when digital marketing strategies are developed. They believe that less than 10 per cent of large organizations base their digital initiatives on some measure of financial return on investment (ROI). Instead, the talk is of "likes" that might be generated by a Facebook campaign, or the followers and awareness a Twitter initiative might spark.

"If increasing sales is the ultimate goal, shouldn't we always evaluate digital marketing, and all marketing for that matter, through an ROI lens?"

1. Platform convergence, not product conformity. Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook are knocking heads, not operating in the separate niches where they started, but fighting to be the go-to platforms for online denizens.
2. Big data, not blind deductions.These companies rely heavily on data to drive their decisions, rather than guessing. They also run tests to see what might work, learning early from interaction with real customers.
3. Customer experiences, not conventional expectations. The best companies are fiercely focused on customers, relentlessly looking for new ways to refine and improve the customer experience.
4. Networks, not bulwarks.
These firms understand the importance of their networks, such as customers and corporate partners.
5. Top talent, not hired hands. These companies realize the importance of talent, and actively seek the best people they can find.
6. Innovation, not immediate gratification
Amazon  books  conformity  customer_experience  data_driven  delayed_gratification  digital_economy  digital_strategies  FAANG  Facebook  Google  Harvey_Schachter  habits  innovation  marketing  massive_data_sets  mobile_applications  moments_of_truth  networks  platforms  ROI  talent 
january 2014 by jerryking
Nike Courts App Developers for FuelBand, Takes a Page From Apple's Playbook - WSJ.com
June 19, 2013 | WSJ | By SHELLY BANJO.

Nike is giving select developers terabytes of data from customers wearing the digital wristband. The company hopes the aggregate data—from the average duration of a run (35 minutes) to how energetic residents of certain cities are (New Yorkers move more than Angelenos)—will lead to apps that make the FuelBand more indispensable to users....Nike's data-sharing venture is part of a larger shift at the Beaverton, Ore., sportswear giant to think more like a technology company. Nike, which reported $24 billion in revenue last year, can no longer just make sneakers and clothing...but also must develop a technology business to better connect with customers who are increasingly glued to smartphones and social media...."The iPhone was successful because people built great apps around it," said Greg Gottesman, managing director at Madrona Venture Group, LLTP -7.41% a Seattle venture capital firm, and a Nike accelerator mentor. "Nike will be more successful owning a platform, rather than just a product."...Nike created a new digital sports division in 2010 to build a more vigorous technology platform around its Nike Plus offerings, placing it in a separate building on its headquarters campus to avoid the company's bureaucracy.

The results so far include the FuelBand, an exercise training game for the Xbox, and basketball shoes with built-in pressure sensors that measure how high players jump.

"Are we a traditional technology company? No, but we're finding a place where technology plays a relevant role in bringing innovation to every athlete in the world," Mr. Olander said.
software_developers  mobile_applications  Nike  Shelly_Banjo  sports  sportswear  sensors  incubators  start_ups  data_driven  platforms  ecosystems  connected_devices  wearables  accelerators  athletes_&_athletics  playbooks 
june 2013 by jerryking
How Google intends to dominate with its Android plan
May. 21 2013 | The Globe and Mail| by OMAR EL AKKAD
- TECHNOLOGY REPORTER.

Android’s importance to Google is two-fold. First, it allowed a company that developed its search services for the desktop age to gain a foothold in the mobile world. Second, it allows Google to put the products where it does make money – primarily, its search engine – front and centre on all Android-based devices. Indeed, whatever revenue-generating software comes up in the future has a natural home on the hundreds of millions of Android devices already on the market...Google is giving away a platform, not a product. The company that dominated the Internet search market by acting as an advertising middleman in billions of user queries is taking the same approach to the mobile world. Rather than looking to profit off the sale of its software, Google is aiming for a critical mass, and attempting to put Android everywhere....Android is now one part of a much wider strategy at Google, whereby the company builds platforms and technologies on which all kinds of other services can run, and then gives them away for free. The other well-known example of this strategy is Chrome, the browser-based operating system....
Android  Google  Omar_el_Akkad  Samsung  platforms  BugSense  mobile_applications  software_bugs  upgrade_cycles 
may 2013 by jerryking
Max Levchin talks about data, sensors and the plan for his new startup(s) — Tech News and Analysis
Jan. 30, 2013 | GigaOm |By Om Malik.

“The world of real things is very inefficient: slack resources are abundant, so are the companies trying to rationalize their use. Über, AirBnB, Exec, GetAround, PostMates, ZipCar, Cherry, Housefed, Skyara, ToolSpinner, Snapgoods, Vayable, Swifto…it’s an explosion! What enabled this? Why now? It’s not like we suddenly have a larger surplus of black cars than ever before.

Examine the DNA of these businesses: resource availability and demand requests — highly analog, as this is about cars, drivers, and passengers — is captured at the edge, automatically where possible, then transmitted and stored, then processed centrally. Requests are queued at the smart center, and a marketplace/auction is used to allocate them, matches are made and feedback is given in real time.

A key revolutionary insight here is not that the market-based distribution of resources is a great idea — it is the digitalization of analog data, and its management in a centralized queue to create amazing new efficiencies.”
massive_data_sets  data  Max_Levchin  radical_ideas  sensors  start_ups  incubators  San_Francisco  sharing_economy  analog  efficiencies  meat_space  data_coordination  match-making  platforms  Om_Malik  resource_management  underutilization  resource_allocation  auctions  SMAC_stack  algorithms  digitalization 
february 2013 by jerryking
Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing | @andrewchen
The rise of the Growth Hacker
The new job title of “Growth Hacker” is integrating itself into Silicon Valley’s culture, emphasizing that coding and technical chops are now an essential part of being a great marketer. Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working.

This isn’t just a single role – the entire marketing team is being disrupted. Rather than a VP of Marketing with a bunch of non-technical marketers reporting to them, instead growth hackers are engineers leading teams of engineers. The process of integrating and optimizing your product to a big platform requires a blurring of lines between marketing, product, and engineering, so that they work together to make the product market itself. Projects like email deliverability, page-load times, and Facebook sign-in are no longer technical or design decisions – instead they are offensive weapons to win in the market.

The stakes are huge because of “superplatforms” giving access to 100M+ consumers
These skills are invaluable and can change the trajectory of a new product. For the first time ever, it’s possible for new products to go from zero to 10s of millions users in just a few years. Great examples include Pinterest, Zynga, Groupon, Instagram, Dropbox. New products with incredible traction emerge every week. These products, with millions of users, are built on top of new, open platforms that in turn have hundreds of millions of users – Facebook and Apple in particular. Whereas the web in 1995 consisted of a mere 16 million users on dialup, today over 2 billion people access the internet. On top of these unprecedented numbers, consumers use super-viral communication platforms that rapidly speed up the proliferation of new products – not only is the market bigger, but it moves faster too.

Before this era, the discipline of marketing relied on the only communication channels that could reach 10s of millions of people – newspaper, TV, conferences, and channels like retail stores. To talk to these communication channels, you used people – advertising agencies, PR, keynote speeches, and business development. Today, the traditional communication channels are fragmented and passe. The fastest way to spread your product is by distributing it on a platform using APIs, not MBAs. Business development is now API-centric, not people-centric.

Whereas PR and press used to be the drivers of customer acquisition, instead it’s now a lagging indicator that your Facebook integration is working. The role of the VP of Marketing, long thought to be a non-technical role, is rapidly fading and in its place, a new breed of marketer/coder hybrids have emerged.
growth  marketing  hacks  blogs  Silicon_Valley  executive_management  virality  experimentation  trial_&_error  coding  platforms  executive_search  CMOs  measurements  growth_hacking  APIs  new_products  lagging_indicators  offensive_tactics 
december 2012 by jerryking
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