middlemen   88

« earlier    

Money's evolving. Again. Here's why you should care about crypto.
This is part 2 of an introductory series, written to explain some of the high level concepts within the world of cryptoassets and blockchain technology. Part 1 Money hasn’t had an upgrade in a while. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket  blockchain  cryptocurrency  economics  economy  finance  middlemen  money 
february 2019 by ChristopherA
the three hot trends in Silicon Valley horseshit – Freddie deBoer – Medium
"For a long time I told the same basic joke about Silicon Valley, just updating as some new walled garden network replicated long-existing technology in a format better able to attract VC cash and, presumably, get them ad dollars.

2002, Friendster: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2003, Photobucket: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2003, Myspace: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2004, Flickr: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2004, Facebook: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2005, YouTube: At last, a way to post video on the internet!
2006, Twitter: At last, a way to post text on the internet!
2010, Instagram: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2013, Vine: At last, a way to post video on the internet!
2013, YikYak: At last, a way to post text on the internet!

You get the idea. An industry that never stops lauding itself for its creativity and innovation has built its own success mythology by endlessly repackaging the same banal functions that have existed for about as long as the Web.

It seems, though, that SnapChat will be the last big new player in “social” for awhile, at least until the kids get their dander up for something new. What’s the new hotness in an industry that exemplifies 21st American capitalism, in that it’s a cannibalistic hustle where only the most shameless hucksters survive? As someone who rides the New York subway every day and is forced to look at its ads, let me take you on a journey.

[1] Give Away the Razors, Make Your Money on DRM-Infected Blades

Juicero deserved all of the attention it got and more — it was so pure, so impossibly telling about the pre-apocalyptic American wasteland. It was also just one of a whole constellation of companies that now operate under an ingenious model: take some banal product that has been sold forever at low margins, attach the disposable part to a proprietary system that pretends to improve it but really just locks pepole into a particular vendor, add a touch screen manufactured by Chinese tweens, call it “Smart,” and sell it to schlubby dads too indebted to buy a midlife crisis car and too unattractive to have an affair. As the Juicero saga shows us, you don’t even really have to honor the whole “make the initial purchase cheap” stage. Just ensure that you market your boondoggle to the kind of person who stood in line to buy an $800 “smartwatch” that poorly duplicates a tenth of the functions already present in the phone in their pocket. (You know, those dead inside.) Then get them “locked into your ecosystem,” which means “get their credit card number and automatically charge them every month for your version of a product that can be purchased at the supermarket for a third of the price.” Profit, baby, profit.

Are you the kind of person who is so worn down by the numbing drudgery of late capitalism that you can’t summon the energy to drag a 2 ounce toothbrush across your gums for 90 seconds a day? Well, the electric toothbrush has been a thing for a long time. And that means that it’s not good enough. After years of deadening your limbic system through psychotropic medication, video games, and increasingly-extreme internet pornography, you need something new. Enter Quip, the company disrupting the toothbrush. Quip wants you to know that its product is inexpensive, despite the fact that it will charge you $40/year for for its “refill plan” and I just bought 5 perfectly functional regular toothbrushes for $1 in the most expensive city in the country. Of course, you’re also buying the convenience of automation — who wants to run down stairs to the bodega for a toothbrush when you can hand over your banking info to a toothbrush company? Bonus points to Quip for emphasizing simplicity while hawking a product that employs an engineering team to innovate the concept of a brush.

[2] I’ve got one word for you, Benjamin, just one word: rents.

It’s one thing to take a product that is already cheap and just fine and replace it with a vastly more expensive version that locks people into exploitative proprietary systems for years in exchange for giving them a 15 second hit of dopamine derived from Going Digital. I mean, Quip and Juicero and whatever Silicon Valley dildo company is selling dongs with DRM-equipped replaceable heads are actually fundamentally selling you a product. It’s a horribly, uselessly expensive product that could only be embraced by chumps, but it’s a tangible thing. The real next level is just inserting yourself into someone else’s transaction and collecting a % while offering nothing. (When this is a job, we call it “consulting.”) Why charge a lot for the blades when you can charge a lot for literally nothing?

RentBerry is useful here because the word “rent” is literally in the name. Here’s the value proposition that RentBerry offers. For landlords who are already raking in record profits, RentBerry provides a chance at making even more, as potential tenants must set upon each other in a dystopian nightmare auction system that compels them to ask, how much am I willing to pay to avoid sleeping in the park, really? For tenants, RentBerry offers… well, the opportunity to pay more in a pre-existing housing crisis, the chance to make the process of finding an apartment an even more horrific exercise in stress and disappointment, a reason to hate faceless strangers with even more intensity, and more reason to view city life as a ceaseless Nietzschean struggle from which they will never escape. What RentBerry gets in return is, eventually, a % of your already hideously overpriced rent, for the duration of the lease. I bet you can’t wait to know a portion of your rent check is going not just to the landlord you hate but also to a company that did nothing beyond giving him the ability to take more of your money! Of course, if you live in New York, your “landlord” might very well be a hedge fund that also funded RentBerry! Sweet, right?

RentBerry will tell you that tenants might get a deal thanks to the auction system. Of course, it’s landlords who chose to use RentBerry, not tenants, and if landlords thought they were losing money on the deal they’d never use it, meaning the service’s very reason for being necessarily entails grabbing more and more tenant money. Details!

Why is everything so expensive? Because Silicon Valley and Wall Street are taking huge percentages out of transactions they once didn’t. That’s why. The Juiceros make inexpensive and functional products far more expensive and often less functional; the RentBerrys cut out the middleman by just becoming middlemen. Dare to dream.

[3] We Love Doers So Much We Want to Give Them a Hellish Existence of Endless Precarity

This is the type of company that has become inescapable in NYC subway advertising. Not coincidentally the time I spend contemplating stepping in front of the train to enjoy the sweet oblivion of death is also up dramatically. There’s legit dozens of these companies out there.

The basic idea here is that 40 years of stagnant wages, the decline of unions, the death of middle class blue collar jobs, the demise of pensions, and a general slide of the American working world into a PTSD-inducing horror show of limitless vulnerability has been too easy on workers. I’m sorry, Doers, or whatever the fuck. The true beauty of these ads is that they are all predicated on mythologizing the very workers who their service is intended to immisserate. Sorry about your medical debt; here’s a photo of a model who we paid in “exposure” over ad copy written by an intern who we paid in college credit that cost $3,000 a credit hour. Enjoy.

The purpose of these companies is to take whatever tiny sense of social responsibility businesses might still feel to give people stable jobs and destroy it, replacing whatever remains of the permanent, salaried, benefit-enjoying workforce with an army of desperate freelancers who will never go to bed feeling secure in their financial future for their entire lives. These companies are for people who think temp agencies are too coddling and well remunerative. The only service they sell is making it easier to kill minimally stable, well-compensated jobs. That’s it. They have no other function. They valorize Doers while killing workers. They siphon money from the desperate throngs back to the employers who will use them up and throw them aside like a discarded Juicero bag and, of course, to themselves and their shareholders. That’s it. That’s all they are. That’s all they do. They are the final logic of late capitalism, the engine of human creativity applied to the essential work of making life worse for regular people.

Our society is a hellish wasteland and I am dying inside.
freddiedeboer  siliconvalley  business  internet  society  technology  capitalism  middlemen  technosolutionism  precarity  finance  2017  juicero  subscriptions  drm  rent  rentseeking  latecapitalism  inequality  realestate  housing  socialresponsibility  stability  instability  economics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: Rewarding failure by design?
"For the investor class, it is a tragedy of the commons when they don't get a cut from it. That's why, for example, they are so hot to see a middle man in every middle school."



"David Dayen wrote yesterday at Salon about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's opposition to investment banker, Antonio Weiss, President Obama's nominee for Treasury Department undersecretary for domestic finance. One of Weiss' biggest clients is Brazilian private equity fund 3G. Dayen describes deals that would make Paul Singer blush. (Okay, maybe not.) They seem almost designed to reward failure:
The deals also exhibit the modern hallmark of corporate America: financial engineering. Decisions are made to satisfy shareholder clamoring for short-term profits rather than any long-term vision about building a quality business. The manager class extracts value for their own ends, and the rotted husk of the company either sinks or swims. It doesn’t matter to those who have already completed the looting.
"
capitalism  investment  investors  middlemen  privatization  2014  failure  tomsullivan  us  policy  politics  education  schools  forprofit  infrastructure  commons  bankruptcy  finance  banking  bankers  barrysummers  looting  corporatism  financialengineering  management  roads  tollroads 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality - Quartz
"There are only two requirements for an on-demand service economy to work, and neither is an iPhone. First, the market being addressed needs to be big enough to scale—food, laundry, taxi rides. Without that, it’s just a concierge service for the rich rather than a disruptive paradigm shift, as a venture capitalist might say. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there needs to be a large enough labor class willing to work at wages that customers consider affordable and that the middlemen consider worthwhile for their profit margins.

Uber was founded in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the worst financial crisis in a generation. As the ride-sharing app has risen, so too have income disparity and wealth inequality in the United States as a whole and in San Francisco in particular. Recent research by the Brookings Institution found that of any US city, San Francisco had the largest increase in inequality between 2007 and 2012. The disparity in San Francisco as of 2012, as measured (pdf) by a city agency, was in fact more pronounced than inequality in Mumbai (pdf).

Of course, there are huge differences between the two cities. Mumbai is a significantly poorer, dirtier, more miserable place to live and work. Half of its citizens lack access to sanitation or formal housing.

Another distinction, just as telling, lies in the opportunities the local economy affords to the army of on-demand delivery people it supports. In Mumbai, the man who delivers a bottle of rum to my doorstep can learn the ins and outs of the booze business from spending his days in a liquor store. If he scrapes together enough capital, he may one day be able to open his own shop and hire his own delivery boys.

His counterpart in San Francisco has no such access. The person who cleans your home in SoMa has little interaction with the mysterious forces behind the app that sends him or her to your door. The Uber driver who wants an audience with management can’t go to Uber headquarters; he or she must visit a separate “driver center.”

There is no denying the seductive nature of convenience—or the cold logic of businesses that create new jobs, whatever quality they may be. But the notion that brilliant young programmers are forging a newfangled “instant gratification” economy is a falsehood. Instead, it is a rerun of the oldest sort of business: middlemen insinuating themselves between buyers and sellers.
All that modern technology has done is make it easier, through omnipresent smartphones, to amass a fleet of increasingly desperate jobseekers eager to take whatever work they can get."
economics  poverty  inequality  uber  middlemen  2014  leomirani  thomaspiketty  mumbai  sanfrancisco  sharingeconomy 
december 2014 by robertogreco
When Uber and Airbnb Meet the Real World - NYTimes.com
"They subscribe to three core business principles that have become a religion in Silicon Valley: Serve as a middleman, employ as few people as possible and automate everything. Those tenets have worked wonders on the web at companies like Google and Twitter. But as the new, on-demand companies are learning, they are not necessarily compatible with the real world.

The first principle is to be a middleman — or in tech lingo, a platform — connecting the people who post on YouTube with those who watch their videos, or the people who need a ride with people who will drive them. As platforms, the thinking goes, they are just connectors, with no responsibility for what happens there.

For websites, this is codified in law — they are not legally responsible for what their users publish, according to the Communications Decency Act, perhaps the most influential law in the development of the web. That is why Yelp avoids liability when people post inaccurate or abusive restaurant reviews, and why YouTube does not have to remove videos that some find offensive.

The law protects online speech, not actions people take in the offline world. Yet its ethos has permeated Silicon Valley so deeply that people invoke it even for things that happen offline.

“These folks grew up in a world where platforms are not responsible, and then when they go do stuff in the real world, they expect that to be the case,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington law school who studies cyber law.

Take Airbnb’s terms of service. “Airbnb provides an online platform that connects hosts who have accommodations to rent with guests seeking to rent such accommodations,” it says. “Airbnb has no control over the conduct” of hosts or guests, the terms continue, and “disclaims all liability in this regard.”

Yet it is one thing to say a company has no control over the conduct of online commenters, and another when its users are in people’s homes or cars. Airbnb, like others, has been forced to learn the limits of its status as a platform. In response to reports of renters’ damaging and ransacking homes, it added a round-the-clock hotline for people in unsafe situations and a policy covering $1 million in loss or damages.

The second web business principle is to minimize the number of paid on-staff employees. Tech companies have long shunned the idea of hiring lots of sales staffers or call-center workers. Instead they automate ad sales with auction algorithms or offer help forums where other customers offer advice on their sites. When Instagram was acquired by Facebook, it employed 13 people; Kodak, in its heyday, employed more than 140,000.

That mentality may be why new on-demand companies are running into trouble with workers. Most of these companies avoid having employees by using contract workers. But some are wondering whether the companies are pushing the definition of contract worker too far. Uber drivers have filed class-action lawsuits in Massachusetts and California, and advocates are pushing for things like benefits and disability compensation for workers at many start-ups."
siliconvalley  labor  uber  airbnb  regulation  law  legal  2014  homejoy  middlemen  work  clairecainmiller  responsibility  sharingeconomy 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Look to Hong Kong data for a glimpse into global retail troubles - The Globe and Mail
CARL MORTISHED
Look to Hong Kong data for a glimpse into global retail troubles Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Aug. 21 2014,

The feng shui from Hong Kong is distinctly bearish. Li & Fung Ltd. is a logistics and supply management firm, in simple terms a middle-man that bridges the gap between big fashion and apparel retailers, such as Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Marks & Spencer Group PLC and their largely Asian suppliers. Owning no sewing machines and employing no seamstresses, it nonetheless is at the cutting edge of global retailing, making $8.7-billion (U.S.) in revenues over six months. It is no more nor less than the back office for some very big brands, organizing the supply of raw materials, the manufacturing, the distribution and warehousing of the frocks you see in the shops.
Carl_Mortished  Hong_Kong  Li_&_Fung  fashion  Marks_&_Spencer  asset-light  logistics  supply_chains  data  apparel  Target  Wal-Mart  retailers  middlemen 
august 2014 by jerryking
China in Africa: how Sam Pa became the middleman - FT.com
August 8, 2014 7:01 am
China in Africa: how Sam Pa became the middleman
By Tom Burgis with additional reporting by Demetri Sevastopulo in Hong Kong and Cynthia O’Murchu in London
China  Africa  middlemen  Angola 
august 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

« earlier    

related tags

10x  2011  2012  2014  2017  5bo  adoption  africa  african-americans  after  agent  agent:  agents  aggregation  agriculture  aid  airbnb  algorithms  amazon  america  analysis  and  andrew_young  angola  apparel  apple  appstore  arbitrage  architecture  are  art  asia  asset-light  asset_management  auteurs  authentication  authors  bangladesh  bankers  banking  bankruptcy  barrysummers  benefit  benpieratt  bespoke  bestpractices  blockchain  blogging  bookmarking  books  branding  brands  britain  broadcasting  bubble  business  business_models  caching  capital_markets  capitalism  carl_mortished  change  china  chinese  chrisanderson  clairecainmiller  clayton_dubilier_rice  clientservices  clippings  colleges_&_universities  comedians  comedy  commercial_real_estate  commodities  commons  communication  communities  competingonanalytics  competition  competitive_advantage  competitiveness_of_nations  conflicts_of_interest  consolidation  constraints  consultants  consumer  consumer_activism  consumers  content  control  convenience_stores  coodination  coordination  copyright  corporatism  corruption  costs  course_packs  craft  creativedeflation  creativefields  creativity  credit  crime  criticism  cryptocurrency  csa  culture  curating  data  databases  davewiner  davidweinberger  decentralization  decomposition  delivery  delivery_networks  depression  design  development  diaspora  digital_economy  direct  disintermediation  disruption  distribution  distribution_channels  distributors  division-of-labor  dns  don't  drm  drug  drupal  dubai  dynamics  dysfunction  désintermédiation  ebay  ebooks  economic_clout  economics  economists  economy  ecowas  education  efficiencies  efficiency  england  entrepreneur  entrepreneurship  ethnography  experience_economy  expertise  externalities  extortion  facebook  failure  farmers'_markets  farming  fashion  fic  filetype:pdf  finance  financialengineering  first_movers  food  food_safety  food_trucks  foodservice  forms  forprofit  freddiedeboer  free-trade  free  freshbooks  g+p+sawant  gamechanging  gapingvoid  gatekeepers  ghana  globalization  glue  going  google  graphicdesign  growth  hack  hbr  healthcare  history  homejoy  hong_kong  housing  how  http  humanfactors  identity  ifttt  immigrants  immigration  in  in:daringfireball  incentives  india  indonesia  industrial-strength  inequality  inequality_of_information  inexpensive  informal  information_overload  infrastructure  innovation  insight  instability  insurance  integration  intermediaries  intermediary  intermediation  internet  intuit  investment  investment_custodians  investors  ip  james_gilmore  jenna_wortham  joseph_pine  journalism  juicero  justice  kindle  kkr  knowledge_intensive  labor  latecapitalism  law  law_firms  legal  leomirani  letter+writers  letter+writing  letters  li_&_fung  literary  local  logistics  looting  low-cost  low_value  lowendtheory  m&a  making  malcolmgladwell  management  managers  manufacturers  marketing  markets  marks_&_spencer  massive_data_sets  match-making  meaning  media  media:document  mergers_&_acquisitions  mexican  mexico  microfinance  middle  middleman  minnesota  model  modeling  mom-and-pop  money  money_management  monitoring  monopoly  mortgage  mumbai  music  music_video  mydata  nafta  need  negotiation  neighbourhoods  network  network_effects  networking  networks  new_businesses  newmedia  news  nigeria  noise  notary  observation  online  opacity  orchestration  packaging  parasites  participation  partners  patterns  pattonoswalt  payment  peering  performance  personal_data  pharmacy  phillipines  piracy  plateformes  platform  platforms  pocket  policy  politics  poverty  precarity  price  pricediscrimination  prices:  pricing  principal  privacy  privatization  problem  processes  product_recalls  production  productivity  profits  programming  proquest  protocol  publishing  purpose  racism  realestate  reboot  recordlabels  regulation  relevance  reliability  remittances  rent  rentseeking  reporting  research  responsibility  rest  restaurants  retail  retailers  ride-sharing  rights  risk  roads  rogues  roll_ups  routing  rule_of_law  sales  san_francisco  sanfrancisco  sawant  schools  security  seniorpreneurs  services  sharing  sharing_economy  sharingeconomy  shellgame  sidebar  siliconvalley  slides  slow  small_business  smallpieceslooselyjoined  social  socialmedia  socialnetworking  socialresponsibility  society  sociology  software  somalia  specialization  spotify  ssh  stability  standards  starred  states  stories  strategies  strategy  subscriptions  supply_chains  susu  svpply  syndication  sysco  system  systems  target  tcp  techdirt.  technology  technosolutionism  telecom  thailand  the  they  thinking  thomaspiketty  toll  tollroads  tolls  tomsullivan  trade  tradeoffs  transaction  transactions  transparency  transportation  travel_agents  trust  tunnel  tunneling  two-sided_markets  uae  uber  urban  us  usa  value  value_creation  video  vod  voice  wal-mart  warbyparker  waste  web  webdesign  webdev  work  wsj  xerox  xforms  yuletide12  éditeurs 

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: