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How non-engineer Stewart Butterfield reached top of Silicon Valley
JUNE 21, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters in San Francisco.

Silicon Valley loves its engineer-founders. They are members of the region’s highest caste, the entrepreneurs trusted to turn bits and bytes into the next hit digital products, and the people venture capitalists most like to back.

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive of the workplace chat app Slack, is not one of them. He stands out as a philosophy major in a start-up world full of software engineers, a non-techie who has made it to the top of the tech heap......Slack’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange this week has cemented his reputation as one of the Valley’s most creative product designers — and values his own stake in the company at $1.6bn.

“He is your quintessential, product-oriented founder-leader,” ......In a nod to an unconventional streak in Mr Butterfield’s personality that separates him from the herd, Mr Levie adds: “He has just the right level of quirkiness.”.....Butterfield got a philosophy degree at the University of Victoria, followed by a master of philosophy at Cambridge, before being bitten by the internet bug at the end of the 1990s and moving to Silicon Valley........Pressed on how he can withstand the Microsoft onslaught, Mr Butterfield defaults to the quiet, analytical self-assurance. “There has been a long history of the small, focused start-up taking on the large incumbent with multiple lines of business and being successful” — starting, he added, with a small and scrappy Microsoft itself taking on the giant IBM.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  CEOs  chat  craftsmanship  engineering  Flickr  founders  mobile_applications  product_design  product-orientated  quirky  Richard_Waters  Silicon_Valley  Slack  start_ups  Stewart_Butterfield  workplaces 
12 weeks ago by jerryking
Everything still to play for with AI in its infancy
February 14, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters.

the future of AI in business up for grabs--this is a clearly a time for big bets.

Ginni Rometty,IBM CEO, describes Big Blue’s customers applications of powerful new tools, such as AI: “Random acts of digital”. They are taking a hit-and-miss approach to projects to extract business value out of their data. Customers tend to start with an isolated data set or use case — like streamlining interactions with a particular group of customers. They are not tied into a company’s deeper systems, data or workflow, limiting their impact. Andrew Moore, the new head of AI for Google’s cloud business, has a different way of describing it: “Artisanal AI”. It takes a lot of work to build AI systems that work well in particular situations. Expertise and experience to prepare a data set and “tune” the systems is vital, making the availability of specialised human brain power a key limiting factor.

The state of the art in how businesses are using artificial intelligence is just that: an art. The tools and techniques needed to build robust “production” systems for the new AI economy are still in development. To have a real effect at scale, a deeper level of standardisation and automation is needed. AI technology is at a rudimentary stage. Coming from completely different ends of the enterprise technology spectrum, the trajectories of Google and IBM highlight what is at stake — and the extent to which this field is still wide open.

Google comes from a world of “if you build it, they will come”. The rise of software as a service have brought a similar approach to business technology. However, beyond this “consumerisation” of IT, which has put easy-to-use tools into more workers’ hands, overhauling a company’s internal systems and processes takes a lot of heavy lifting. True enterprise software companies start from a different position. They try to develop a deep understanding of their customers’ problems and needs, then adapt their technology to make it useful.

IBM, by contrast, already knows a lot about its customers’ businesses, and has a huge services operation to handle complex IT implementations. It has also been working on this for a while. Its most notable attempt to push AI into the business mainstream is IBM Watson. Watson, however, turned out to be a great demonstration of a set of AI capabilities, rather than a coherent strategy for making AI usable.

IBM has been working hard recently to make up for lost time. Its latest adaptation of the technology, announced this week, is Watson Anywhere — a way to run its AI on the computing clouds of different companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, meaning customers can apply it to their data wherever they are stored. 
IBM’s campaign to make itself more relevant to its customers in the cloud-first world that is emerging. Rather than compete head-on with the new super-clouds, IBM is hoping to become the digital Switzerland. 

This is a message that should resonate deeply. Big users of IT have always been wary of being locked into buying from dominant suppliers. Also, for many companies, Amazon and Google have come to look like potential competitors as they push out from the worlds of online shopping and advertising.....IBM faces searching questions about its ability to execute — as the hit-and-miss implementation of Watson demonstrates. Operating seamlessly in the new world of multi-clouds presents a deep engineering challenge.
artificial_intelligence  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  automation  big_bets  cloud_computing  contra-Amazon  cultural_change  data  digital_strategies  early-stage  economies_of_scale  Google  hit-and-miss  IBM  IBM_Watson  internal_systems  randomness  SaaS  standardization  Richard_Waters 
february 2019 by jerryking
Luxury Brands Buy Supply Chains to Ensure Meeting Demand
Nov. 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By Mark Ellwood.

The luxury markets are booming to such an extent that brands look to ensure they can meet demand by buying companies that supply their raw materials.

In the last six years, David Duncan has been on a buying spree. This Napa Valley-based winemaker and owner of Silver Oak Cellars hasn’t been splurging on fast cars or vacation homes, though. He’s been buying up vines — close to 500 acres in Northern California and Oregon.

It’s been a tough process, at times: He almost lost one site to a wealthy Chinese bidder. It was only when he raised his offer by $1 million that he clinched the sale at the last moment. At the same time, Mr. Duncan also took full control of A&K Cooperage, now the Oak Cooperage, the barrel maker in Higbee, Mo., in which his family had long held a stake. These hefty acquisitions are central to his 50-year plan to future-proof the family business against a changing luxury marketplace.

As Mr. Duncan realized, this market faces what might seem an enviable problem: a surfeit of demand for its limited supply. The challenge the winery will face over the next decade is not marketing, or finding customers, but finding enough high-quality raw materials to sate the looming boom in demand. Though there might be economic uncertainty among the middle classes, wealthier consumers are feeling confident and richer because of changes like looser business regulations and lower taxes.
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  brands  competitive_advantage  core_competencies  future-proofing  high_net_worth  high-quality  luxury  raw_materials  scarcity  supply_chains  sustainability  vertical_integration  vineyards 
november 2018 by jerryking
Craft-Beer Company Taps Streaming Service for Growth - WSJ
By Benjamin Mullin
Aug. 27, 2018

BrewDog, a Scottish beer company, is offering a streaming service featuring more than 100 hours of video centered on drinking culture, the latest effort by a brand to launch its own media venture.

“The BrewDog Network,” available on smartphone apps and online, costs $4.99 a month. Breaking through in a crowded subscription-video market won’t be easy.......The BrewDog Network will carry a mix of licensed and original content where drinking is an element, from food shows to travel series such as “Four Sheets,” hosted by bon vivant Zane Lamprey. “The BrewDog Show,” featuring the company’s founders, will also be available at launch.
liquor  trends  breweries  beers  craftsmanship  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  product_launches  streaming  digital_media  subscriptions 
august 2018 by jerryking
How business is capitalising on the millennial Instagram obsession
July 13, 2018 | Financial Times | Leo Lewis in Tokyo and Emma Jacobs in London 12 HOURS AGO.

Japan's 21st century’s burgeoning experience economy, which is being driven by millennial consumers and transforming the landscape for businesses everywhere. Japan is not only an innovator in this economy but is also seen as a bellwether for​​ the likely tastes of ​China and south-east Asia’s swelling middle-class consumers......it is not just the quality of the food that attracts crowds to these cafés, but also the quality of the encounter. “That is why the tables are made to wobble,” she explains. “It’s designed so that when you have your pancake in front of you, you can see how fuwa-fuwa it is by how much it jiggles on the plate when the table moves. It is extremely, extremely satisfying to watch,” she adds. “It is what makes it an experience.”.....In Mori’s opinion — a view evidently shared by the customers currently queueing in the stairwell — it is not just the quality of the food that attracts crowds to these cafés, but also the quality of the encounter. “That is why the tables are made to wobble,” she explains. “It’s designed so that when you have your pancake in front of you, you can see how fuwa-fuwa it is by how much it jiggles on the plate when the table moves. It is extremely, extremely satisfying to watch,” she adds. “It is what makes it an experience.”.......In their influential 1998 article “Welcome to the Experience Economy”, American consultants Joseph Pine and James Gilmore argued that a marketable experience occurs “when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event . . . ” These experiences were, they went on, “inherently personal, existing only in the mind of an individual who has been engaged on an emotional, physical, intellectual or even spiritual level”.

This was seen as the logical next step from the service economy, itself an evolution from the industrial economy and, prior to that, the agrarian economy....In Japan, notoriously long working hours have made time-poverty one of the defining features of the country’s leisure sector. The market has responded, over many decades, by refining and packaging experience in the most efficient, deliverable way......The millennial generation — and the growth of social media — has taken this economy in some unexpected directions. Instagram is to thank for the birth of “Oshapiku” — a compound of “oshare” (fancy) and “picnic”, where the emphasis is on meeting up, dressing up and engaging in the most photogenic picnic imaginable......“Experiences are king,” the consultancy McKinsey stated last year in a report arguing that, “in recent years, faced with the choice of buying a trendy designer jacket or a shiny new appliance or of attending a show, consumers increasingly opt for the show and, more broadly, for experiences with their friends and families.”.......Japan’s experience economy has evolved along two distinct avenues. On one side an already fully fledged leisure, dining and hospitality sector has sought ever more inventive ways of packaging experience — from hotels staffed by robots and limited-edition Shinkansen bullet trains fitted out with Hello Kitty decor to many of the country’s aquariums offering the opportunity to camp overnight surrounded by the relaxing pulsations of bioluminescent jellyfish.

The other side, says Mori, has to an extent developed as a branch of Japan’s “otaku” culture. This originally referred to the obsessive focus on particular areas of popular culture such as animation, video games or comics but is now more generally applied to a tendency to single-minded connoisseurship......“There are actually three sides to the experience economy in cosplay,” says Eri Nakashima, the manager of the Polka Polka second-hand cosplay costume store in central Tokyo. “There is the basic passion for becoming a different character from the one you are in everyday life; there is the participation in a community that shares that; and there is the creativity of making the costume perfect.”

This notion of community has become a pattern of growth for the experience economy. .......Shopping remains a huge draw for these tourists: the country’s retailers continue to thrive on the high average spending (£1,000) of middle-class visitors from China, Taiwan, Vietnam and elsewhere. But, by the end of 2017, when the government’s target was obliterated and 28 million tourists arrived during one year, it was clear that Japan’s long history of perfecting short, sharp experiential offerings — from onsen springs to pancakes — had won a new generation of admirers from overseas....Japan’s tendency towards connoisseurship — part of the reason that queueing for an experience is often regarded as a necessary ingredient to enjoyment — continues to be a powerful part of its appeal. The country’s manufacturers have long made a fetish of monozukuri — the quality of “thing-making” artisanship — to actively encourage people to own more stuff. But today the instinct to collect and accumulate things has, she says, been replaced by a desire to collect and accumulate experiences — and, in time-honoured Japanese fashion, to building ever larger libraries of images......Japanese companies Canon, Olympus, Konica, Minolta and Nikon were some of the most successful camera makers on the planet: the passion behind them was not just about the physical machinery but about a recognition that picture-taking dramatically enhances the consumption of experience....Insta-bae became not just a description of something you had seen but an explicit target to seek out. The experience economy, says Harada, is increasingly built around people going in search of experiences that are insta-bae.
bellwethers  cosplay  experiential_marketing  experience_economy  image-driven  Instagram  Japan  Japanese  millennials  obsessions  novelty  self-absorbed  visual_culture  connoisseurship  end_of_ownership  Joseph_Pine  James_Gilmore  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts 
july 2018 by jerryking
Nestlé aims to bottle appeal of artisan coffee
SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 | FT| Arash Massoudi, Tim Bradshaw, Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Ralph Atkins
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  Nestlé  coffee  millennials  cafés  Big_Food  niches 
november 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.

100
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
Must-visit: A Downton Abbey fantasy for the 21st-century epicurean - The Globe and Mail
SHAUN PETT
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND — Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 28 2015
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  cooking  food  baked_goods  epicureans  gourmands 
january 2015 by jerryking
Why Small Businesses Are Starting to Win Again - The New Yorker
JANUARY 24, 2015
Small Is Bountiful
BY TIM WU

Farmers who sell, say, organic or free-range foods, cannot hope to compete based on price. Instead, they try to create consumers who won’t eat chicken produced by big companies for moral, health, or aesthetic reasons...The true-differentiation strategy seems to work best when scale, despite its efficiencies, also introduces blind spots in areas such as customer service, flavor, curation, or other intangibles not entirely consistent with mass production and standardization. Where getting big begins to hurt the product, small can be bountiful.

=====================================
it is a two-part problem. No. 1, the consumer and competitive marketplace is definitely shifting. For example, quality has evolved beyond just good ingredients, preparation and packaging. Basic quality is a given now; many consumers are looking for something extra: less mass-produced, natural, local.

No. 2, iconic food companies and their mature brands are not responding effectively. Large, established food companies and their brands are being managed as portfolios of revenue and profit streams with a short-term financial orientation, and not as companies that produce food products. Small companies, on the other hand, are being created and managed by people with a food orientation and passion.
small_business  size  scaling  Tim_Wu  Peter_Drucker  differentiation  trends  breweries  beers  craftsmanship  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  revenge_effects  blind_spots  personal_values  market_segmentation  mass_production  decreasing_returns_to_scale  aesthetics  eco-friendly  creating_demand 
january 2015 by jerryking
Online retailer Etsy gives artisans a marketing boost - The Globe and Mail
SUSAN KRASHINSKY - MARKETING REPORTER
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 29 2014,
artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  Etsy  Susan_Krashinsky  Indigo  marketing 
september 2014 by jerryking

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