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City Parks Piggyback on Infrastructure
Oct. 8, 2019 | The New York Times | By Jane Margolies.

With land scarce, green space is being built into needs like transit hubs and power stations. But the projects come with challenges.....Salesforce Park is a lush landscape that stretches four city blocks atop a transit center in San Francisco. With lawns, hillocks, lavender beds, leafy trees and a walking path, it gives commuters a relaxing place to wait for their bus and attracts people who live and work nearby looking for respite in the middle of a busy city.

Despite its presence as a calming oasis, Salesforce Park faced stressful start-up challenges....Building a park 70 feet in the air atop a transit center showed how complex it can be to piggyback green space on active infrastructure. Such projects require coordination among many consultants and, often, multiple levels of government, with possible construction delays, cost overruns and pushback from residents....still, with land for urban parks scarce and prohibitively expensive, the practice is becoming increasingly common......“It’s a way of making infrastructure do double or even triple duty,” ....Parks add value not only for relaxation, recreation and human health,....but also for combating heat, absorbing storm water and providing habitat for wildlife....an infrastructure project with a park can cost less than two projects undertaken independently, ......“There’s an economy of scale and an efficiency,”....The idea of building parks on infrastructure can be traced to the rails-to-trails movement, which for four decades has transformed abandoned rail corridors into walking and biking paths.......The wildly popular High Line in Manhattan, which opened in 2009, gave impetus to the idea of adding greenery to infrastructure that is raised off the ground.....The High Line is considered a design and tourism triumph, but it has also drawn criticism for accelerating gentrification along its route and not better serving residents of nearby public housing.... adding green space to functioning infrastructure has gained traction.....The vast majority of projects are built on transportation infrastructure, however, including so-called deck parks over highways — adding green space while stitching back together sections of cities that the roadways ripped apart long ago...
economies_of_scale  green_spaces  High_Line  infrastructure  parks  public_spaces  repurposing  Salesforce  San_Francisco  overlay_networks 
8 weeks ago by jerryking
How to funnel capital to the American heartland
April 15, 2019 | Financial Times | by Bruce Katz.
* The Innovation Blind Spot, by Ross Baird.
* Ways must be found to rewire money flows in order to reverse the export of wealth
* A federal tax incentive intended to entice coastal capital into the heartland may end up helping to keep local capital local.

Over the past year, economically distressed communities across the US have been engaged in an intense discussion about mobilising private capital. Why? As mayors, governors, real estate developers, entrepreneurs and investors have learnt, buried in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a provision that created a significant tax incentive to invest in low-income “opportunity zones” across the country......the law’s greatest effect, ironically, has been to unveil a treasure trove of wealth in communities throughout the nation. Some of the country’s largest investors are high-net-worth families in Kansas City, Missouri, and Philadelphia; insurance companies in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee; universities in Birmingham, Alabama, and South Bend, Indiana; philanthropists in Cleveland and Detroit; and community foundations and pension funds in every state.

These pillars of wealth mostly invest their market-oriented equity capital outside their own communities, even though their own locales often possess globally significant research institutions, advanced industry companies, grand historic city centres and distinctive ecosystems of entrepreneurs. The wealth-export industry is not a natural phenomenon; it has been led and facilitated by a sophisticated network of wealth management companies, private equity firms, family offices and financial institutions that have narrow definitions of where and in what to invest.

The US, in other words, doesn’t have a capital problem; it has an organisational problem. So how can capital flows be rewired to reverse the export of wealth?

Three things stand out:

(1) Information matters. The opportunity zones incentive has encouraged US cities to create investment prospectuses to promote the competitive assets of their low-income communities and highlight projects that are investor-ready and promise competitive returns.

(2) norms and networks matter. The opportunity zone market will be enhanced by the creation of “capital stacks” that enable the financing of community products such as workforce housing, commercial real estate, small businesses (and minority-owned businesses in particular) and clean energy, to name just a few. Initial opportunity zone projects are already showing creative blends of public, private and civic capital that mix debt, subsidy and equity.

(3) institutions matter. Opportunity zones require cities to create and capitalise new institutions that can deploy capital at scale in sustained ways. Some models already exist. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, backed by patient capital from Procter & Gamble, has driven the regeneration of the Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood during the past 15 years.

More institutional innovation, however, is needed. As Ross Baird, author of The Innovation Blind Spot, has argued, the US must create a new generation of community quarterbacks to provide budding entrepreneurs with business planning and mentoring, matching them with risk-tolerant equity. These efforts will succeed if they unleash the synergies that flow naturally from urban density. New institutions will not have to work alone, but hand-in-glove with the trusted financial firms that manage this locally-generated wealth.
books  capital_flows  cities  coastal_elites  community  economic_development  economically_disadvantaged  economies_of_scale  high_net_worth  howto  industrial_policies  industrial_midwest  industrial_zones  institutions  investors  match-making  midwest  municipalities  networks  network_density  P&G  PPP  packaging  place-based  private_equity  property_development  prospectuses  Red_States  rescue_investing  rust_belt  tax_codes  venture_capital 
april 2019 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
Why Jeff Bezos Should Push for Nobody to Get as Rich as Jeff Bezos
Sept. 19, 2018 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.

Why does Jeff Bezos have so much money in the first place? What does his fortune tell us about the economic structure and impact of the tech industry, the engine behind his billions? And, most important, what responsibility comes with his wealth — and is it any business of ours what he does with it?.........Bezos’ extreme wealth is not only a product of his own ingenuity. It is also a function of several grand forces shaping the global economy...the unequal impact of digital technology..... direct economic benefits have accrued to a small number of superstar companies and their largest shareholders.....the most important thing Bezos can do with his money is to become a traitor to his class,” said Anand Giridharadas, author of a new book, “Winners Take All.”.....Giridharadas argues that the efforts of the super-wealthy to change the world through philanthropy are often a distraction from the planet’s actual problems. To truly fix the world, Mr. Bezos ought to push for policy changes that would create a more equal distribution of the winnings ......there are fans of Amazon who will dispute the notion that Bezos’ wealth represents a problem or a responsibility....He acquired his wealth legally and in the most quintessentially American way: He had a wacky idea, took a stab at it, stuck with it through thick and thin, and, through patient, deliberate, farsighted risk-taking,.......Tech-powered businesses are often driven by an economic concept known as network effects, in which the very popularity of a service sparks even greater popularity. Amazon, for instance, keeps attracting more third-party businesses to sell goods in its store — which in turn makes it a better store for customers, which attracts more suppliers, improving the customer experience, and so on in an endless virtuous cycle........Mr. Bezos’ most attractive quality, as a businessman, is his capacity for patience and surprise. “This is guy who was willing to buck what everyone else thought for so long,” Mr. Giridharadas said. “If he brings that same irreverence to the question of how to give, he has the potential to interrogate himself about why it is that we need so many billionaires to save us in the first place
Amazon  Anand_Giridharadas  books  economic_policy  economies_of_scale  Erik_Brynjolfsson  Farhad_Manjoo  Jeff_Bezos  third-party  high_net_worth  human_ingenuity  ingenuity  moguls  network_effects  philanthropy  superstars  virtuous_cycles  winner-take-all 
september 2018 by jerryking
Canada in the crosshairs as Trump weaponizes uncertainty as part of bullying approach to trade - The Globe and Mail
BARRIE MCKENNA
OTTAWA

Tariffs are not the end game. Economist Meredith Crowley, she and Mr. Ciuriak make the case that the United States is knowingly and strategically “weaponizing uncertainty” by seeking out confrontation with other countries on trade.

“The Trump administration is deploying at scale a new weapon in trade protection – uncertainty,” they argue.

The objective is not just to reduce the massive U.S. trade deficit with the world − as Mr. Trump and his top officials repeatedly insist. Fomenting trade uncertainty is also being used to bully companies into moving jobs, production and investment back to the United States and to discourage U.S. companies from investing outside the country.

Threatened tariffs may be as effective as actual tariffs. That may explain why the Trump administration has been so insistent on putting a five-year sunset clause in the North American free-trade agreement. Canada considers that a deal breaker because it discourages companies from making long-term investments.

Uncertainty is being deliberately used as a non-tariff barrier and, unlike tariffs, it can’t be reined in by the rules of the World Trade Organization, NAFTA or other trade deals. “Unlike tariffs, uncertainty cannot easily be withdrawn – like a good reputation ruined, its pernicious effects on confidence can take years to unwind,” .

Canada is already suffering as companies delay investments, or divert them to the United States to escape the uncertainty of being on the wrong side of any protectionist barriers.
bullying  crossborder  Donald_Trump  economies_of_scale  NAFTA  non-tariff_barriers  tariffs  tools  uncertainty 
june 2018 by jerryking
How to tame the tech titans - Competition in the digital age
"If this trend runs its course, consumers will suffer as the tech industry becomes less vibrant. Less money will go into startups, most good ideas will be bought up by the titans and, one way or another, the profits will be captured by the giants."
economics  monopoly  competition  competitiveness  market_power  economies_of_scale 
january 2018 by cmingyar
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
It’s Time for Apple to Go Hollywood - WSJ
By Steve Vassallo
June 20, 2017

Apple’s hires, however, appear to be another in a series of plodding steps. It’s been a wildly successful slough, but there’s a palpable sense that the company is losing momentum with its testudine gait—that it’s been taken over by bean counters and no longer has the nerve or verve to “think different.”

Apple could change that impression and supercharge its video play by doing something that would make the Whole Foods deal look like small potatoes: buy Netflix .

It would cost several times the Whole Foods deal to buy Netflix, but with almost $260 billion in cash reserves, Apple can afford it. (Full disclosure: my firm was an early investor in Netflix but no longer holds any shares in the company.)

Purchasing Netflix would give Apple three critical things it needs to succeed.

• Content creation. As Apple learned from “Planet of the Apps,” its failed reality TV series about iPhone app developers (really), producing original programming is difficult. With all due respect to Messrs. Erlicht and Van Amburg, simply adding a couple of studio execs probably won’t be enough. In acquiring Netflix—which has produced an endless string of award-winning hits, from “House of Cards” to “Stranger Things”—the iPhone company would gain instant credibility and proven expertise in creating premium content at scale.

• Vertical integration. Apple is the most successful walled garden in history. Taking video creation and distribution in-house would satisfy that longstanding business model.

• International expansion. Content providers now have to think and act globally.... Netflix is available in more than 190 countries. Buy it, and Apple owns the world’s first truly global TV network.

One more thing, to quote the man in the black turtleneck. In addition to content, another enormous asset Apple would get from buying Netflix is its CEO, Reed Hastings. Without a clear successor to Tim Cook on the horizon, it would be malpractice if Apple’s board didn’t have some names in mind.
Apple  Netflix  economies_of_scale  M&A  Hollywood  content_creators  vertical_integration  in-house  Reed_Hastings  international_expansion  think_differently  original_programming 
june 2017 by jerryking
How Nature Scales Up
June 23, 2017 | WSJ | By Charles C. Mann

Review of SCALE By Geoffrey West; Penguin Press, 479 pages, $30
books  book_reviews  physicists  scaling  growth  innovation  sustainability  cities  economics  business  linearity  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  sublinearity  massive_data_sets  natural_selection 
june 2017 by jerryking
Review: How Laws of Physics Govern Growth in Business and in Cities
MAY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By JONATHAN A. KNEE

Book review of “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin), by Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist.....Mr. West’s core argument is that the basic mathematical laws of physics governing growth in the physical world apply equally to biological, political and corporate organisms.....The central observation of “Scale” is that a wide variety of complex systems respond similarly to increases in size. Mr. West demonstrates that these similarities reflect the structural nature of the networks that undergird these systems. The book identifies three core common characteristics of the hierarchal networks that deliver energy to these organisms — whether the diverse circulatory systems that power all forms of animal life or the water and electrical networks that power cities. First, the networks are “space filling” — that is, they service the entire organism. Second, the terminal units are largely identical, whether they are the capillaries in our bodies or the faucets and electrical outlets in our homes. Third, a kind of natural selection process operates within these networks so that they are optimized......These shared network qualities explain why when an organism doubles in size, an astonishing range of characteristics, from food consumption to general metabolic rate, grow something less than twice as fast — they scale “sublinearly.” What’s more, “Scale” shows why the precise mathematical factor by which these efficiencies manifest themselves almost always relate to “the magic No. 4.”

Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

....Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”
books  book_reviews  physicists  scaling  growth  Jonathan_Knee  innovation  sustainability  cities  economics  business  linearity  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  sublinearity  massive_data_sets  natural_selection  physical_world  selection_processes 
may 2017 by jerryking
Will Trump Tee Off on Japanese Cars? - WSJ
Opinion - with some interesting perspectives, even if it is a bit biased. Beware the bias in some of the word choice.
economics  economies_of_scale  auto  incentives 
february 2017 by cmingyar
Fast Response to ‘Brexit’ News: A Pop-Up Paper Finds Success in Britain - The New York Times
By NICOLA CLARK SEPT. 13, 2016 | NYT |

“It kind of dawned on me: Here was an audience that was so clearly identifiable and passionate,” said Mr. Kelly, a longtime British newspaper executive who is now chief content officer of Archant, a large British newspaper group. “If there ever was a time for launching a new newspaper, this is it.”

Less than two weeks later, in early July, The New European, a weekly print newspaper, hit newsstands nationwide. The paper, conceived as a finite, monthlong experiment, is now going into its 11th week after proving a surprisingly profitable hit with readers.....Some midsize publishers have focused on portfolios of smaller-scale titles that can be produced using the same infrastructure of presses, distribution and marketing networks. Those economies of scale can significantly reduce the marginal costs — and the risks — of developing new print products....earlier experiments, aimed at general-interest audiences, failed to capture enough demand from readers and advertisers to justify their publishers’ relatively modest initial investments....The New European was conceived as a niche publication--the 48 % of Britons who voted on June 23 to stay in the European Union Since it was meant to be short-lived, Archant avoided spending huge sums on market research or publicity campaigns. “We never set out to actually create a long-term brand,” “The way we structured it was to make money on a four-week run.....successful pop-up titles could be linked to popular political or social movements, or major sporting events like last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
pop-ups  newspapers  digital_media  Brexit  experimentation  new_products  product_launches  United_Kingdom  economies_of_scale  epiphanies  event-driven  events  social_movements  contextual  cost-structure  print_journalism  short-term  niches  short-lived  sports 
september 2016 by jerryking
Advice for Data Scientists on Where to Work | Stitch Fix Technology – Multithreaded
It's a good time to be a data scientist. If you have the skills, experience, curiosity and passion, there is a vast and receptive market of companies to choose from. Yet there is much to consider when evaluating a prospective firm as a place to apply your talents. Even veterans may not have had the opportunity to experience different organizations, stages of maturity, cultures, technologies, or domains. We are amalgamating our combined experience here to offer some advice - three things to look for in a company that could make it a great place to work.

Work for a Company that Leverages Data Science for its Strategic Differentiation

Companies employ various means of differentiation in order to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Some differentiate themselves using price, striving to be the low-price leader. Others differentiate by product, providing an offering that is superior in some way. Still others differentiate by their processes - for example providing faster shipping.

A Data Scientist should look for a company that actually uses data science to set themselves apart from the competition. Note that data science may be supportive of lower prices, better products, and faster shipping, however, it is not typically the direct enabler of these differentiators. More commonly, the enablers are other things - economies of scale in the case of lower prices, patents or branding in the case of product, and automation technology in the case of faster shipping. Data science can directly enable a strategic differentiator if the company's core competency depends on its data and analytic capabilities. When this happens, the company becomes supportive to data science instead of the other way around. It's willing to invest in acquiring the top talent, building the necessary infrastructure, pioneering the latest algorithmic and computational techniques, and building incredible engineering products to manifest the data science.

"Good enough" is not a phrase that is uttered in the context of a strategic differentiator. Rather, the company and the data scientist have every incentive to push the envelope, to innovate further, and to take more risks. The company's aspirations are squarely in-line with that of the data scientist's. It's an amazing intersection to be at – a place that gets you excited to wake up to every morning, a place that stretches you, a place that inspires you (and supports you) to be the best in the world at what you do.

Work for a Company with Great Data

In determining what will be a great company to work for, data-science-as-a-strategic-differentiator is a necessary criteria, but it is not sufficient. The company must also have world-class data to work with.

This starts with finding a company that really has data. Spotting the difference between data and aspirations of data can be especially important in evaluating early-stage companies. Ideally you'll find a company that already has enough data to do interesting things. Almost all companies will generate more data as they grow, but if you join a company that already has data your potential for impact and fulfillment will be much higher.

Next look for data that is both interesting and that has explanatory power. One of the most important aspects of your daily life will be the extent to which you find the data you work with compelling. Interesting data should require your creativity to frame problems, test your intuition and push you to develop new algorithms and applications. Explanatory power is just as important - great data enables great applications. There should be enough signal to support data science as a differentiating strength.

Finally, don't fixate on big data. The rising prominence of the data scientist has coincided with the rise of Big Data, but they are not the same thing. Sheer scale does not necessarily make data interesting, nor is it necessarily required. Look for data with high information density rather than high volume, and that supports applications you find interesting or surprising. This enables you to spend most of your mental energy on analysis and framing rather than on efficient data processing.

Work for a Company with Greenfield Opportunities

When evaluating opportunities, find a company that doesn't have it all figured out yet. Nearly all companies that fit the criteria in the sections above will already have some applications in place where the work of data scientists is essential. Look for those companies that have a strong direction and strongly established data science teams, but have an array of problems they are solving for the first time.

Often the most exciting and impactful opportunities for data scientists at a company are not being actively pursued. They probably have not even been conceived of yet. Work somewhere that encourages you to take risks, challenge basic assumptions, and imagine new possibilities.

Observing the relationship between engineering and data science teams is a quick way to determine if an organization adopts this mindset. Is engineering enthusiastic to partner with data science teams to experiment and integrate ideas back into the business? Is there an architecture in place that supports agile integration of new ideas and technologies? In fact, in companies that embody this mindset most effectively, it is likely difficult to locate the boundary between data science and engineering teams.

A greenfield can be intimidating in its lack of structure, but the amount of creativity and freedom available to you as a data scientist is never greater than when you're starting from scratch. The impact of putting something in place where nothing existed previously can be immeasurable. Look for chances to be involved in designing not just the math and science, but also the pipeline, the API, and the tech stack. Not only is creating something new often more challenging and rewarding, but there is no better opportunity for learning and growth than designing something from the ground up.

Incremental improvements have incremental impacts, but embrace the chance to operate on a greenfield. While it is extremely important to constantly iterate and improve on systems that already exist, the Version 1 of something new can fundamentally change the business.

Summary

Of course, there are other considerations: domain, the company's brand, the specific technology in use, the culture, the people, and so forth. All of those are equally important. We call out the three above since they are less frequently talked about, yet fundamental to a data scientist's growth, impact, and happiness. They are also less obvious. We learned these things from experience. At first glance, you would not expect to find these things in a women's apparel company. However, our very different business model places a huge emphasis on data science, enables some of the richest data in the world, and creates space for a whole new suite of innovative software.
career  strategy  via:enochko  economies_of_scale  data_scientists  job_search  Managing_Your_Career  greenfields  data  differentiation  good_enough  information_density  product_pipelines  think_threes 
september 2016 by jerryking

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