crankyuser + business   1129

The iPhone Franchise – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
There really is no other way to put it: the XR is a fantastic phone, one that would be more than sufficient to maintain Apple’s position atop the industry were it the flagship. And yet, in the context of Apple’s strategy, it is best thought of as being quite literally ahead of its time.
business  apple  iphone 
12 weeks ago by crankyuser
How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism - The Atlantic
Baker was writing in the 1980s, when straws of all kinds had begun to proliferate, and the American economic system entered a period of intense consolidation and financialization. A key component of this new form of capitalism was the “leveraged buyout,” in which private-equity firms descended on old companies, sliced them up, took out huge amounts of debt, and sold off the various components, “unlocking value” for their investors. You might remember this was how Mitt Romney made his fortune. Matt Taibbi described the model in acerbic but not inaccurate terms: “A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place.”
Meanwhile, the country has shed manufacturing jobs for decades, straws contribute their share to a dire global environmental disaster, the economy continues to concentrate wealth among the very richest, and the sodas that pass through the nation’s straws are contributing to an obesity epidemic that threatens to erase many of the public health gains that were won in the 20th century. Local governments may legislate the use of the plastic straw, but they can’t do a thing about the vast system that’s attached to the straw, which created first disposable products, then companies, and finally people.
history  business 
july 2018 by crankyuser
The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik
Engagement gets attention, and attention is a zero-sum game. Time spent on Facebook (or Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp) means that’s attention not spent on Twitter, Snapchat, or anyone else who dares to compete with them.
Facebook’s stated mission is to connect the world. They have already done that in the US, but their subsequent actions show that their real agenda is to extract user data — not strengthen connections. Just read their 10k filing and you’ll see it in black and white.
culture  data  business  politics 
february 2018 by crankyuser
Didi Chuxing took on Uber and won. Now it's taking on the world | WIRED UK
Liu’s first task was to orchestrate a complex merger with Didi’s main domestic rival Kuaidi Dache, rebranding the new entity as Didi Kuaidi in 2015, and later as Didi Chuxing.
An AI-powered arbitration system now also judges whether a driver or passenger is at fault when rides get cancelled, cutting complaints by more than a third.
Ultimately, Liu faces a final, larger challenge. Where Uber and its US peers talk of upending established economic models, she wants Didi to be seen as a calming force. “You talk about why we’re different from Silicon Valley firms, why we don’t just talk about disruption,” she says, suggesting some tech companies are insulated from the real-world risks her drivers and passengers face. “When you order something from an e-commerce company you don’t expect to be killed or robbed, right? In this business, you do.”

“You cannot afford to be disruptive, if you haven’t thought about everything,” Liu says finally, summing up the anti-Uber philosophy that will guide her during the battles ahead. “I think the key is: be humble. And be open minded. And not to think you know everything.”
business  mobility 
february 2018 by crankyuser
Sonos may have just saved itself — Mike Hudack
Radical interface changes of the type Echo introduced typically kill companies. The iPhone killed Nokia and BlackBerry and seriously harmed Microsoft. Sonos has proved itself, so far, to be more nimble and intelligent than any of those companies. It's flipped its model on its head and emerged stronger than ever.

Few things in business are more impressive than this.
business  music  IoT 
october 2017 by crankyuser
S3X Appeal | Asymco
This measure of performance is so important that it drives the depreciation and capitalization schedule for tooling and the very lifeblood of the company: capital expenditures. An underutilized factory is a giant hole in a financial statement and destroys value as much as inventory does. Every manufacturer strives for maximum utilization and is sunk if it does not achieve a minimum threshold.

So why, after a few years of Model S production, is Tesla running at one fifth the speed of a BMW or Toyota plant? One obvious answer is that the company is not running 3 shifts but perhaps 2 or even 1.
business  mobility 
october 2017 by crankyuser
Facebook execs opposed Mark Zuckerberg wanting employees to work on his philanthropy - Business Insider Deutschland
Another revelation from the discovery process was that Zuckerberg has seriously considered holding some form of public office. Facebook's stock reclassification proposal included a clause that would have let Zuckerberg serve indefinitely in government while still maintaining control of the company.
politics  business 
october 2017 by crankyuser
In World’s Hottest Oil Patch, Jitters Mount That a Bust Is Near - Bloomberg
What’s unusual, and unnerving, is that the Permian is still thrumming with activity after prices cratered for the stuff it pumps out. Crude is trading for around $50 a barrel, but this is the hottest oil patch anywhere on Earth, a swing producer influencing the trajectory of global markets and threatening OPEC.

That either means the industry has become so incredibly efficient that production can continue to rise even if prices don’t, or that it’s throwing money after a mirage. Pruett, chief executive officer of Midland, Texas-based Elevation Resources LLC, is more and more concerned about the latter.
business  energy 
september 2017 by crankyuser
Uber’s New CEO – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
To that end, Uber’s strength — and its sky-high valuation — comes from the company’s ability to acquire customers cheaply thanks to a combination of the service’s usefulness and the effects of aggregation theory: as the company acquires users (and as users increases their usage) Uber attracts more drivers, which makes the service better, which makes it easier to acquire marginal users (not by lowering the price but rather by offering a better service for the same price). The single biggest factor that differentiates multi-billion dollar companies is a scalable advantage in customer acquisition costs; Uber has that.
september 2017 by crankyuser
The Super-Aggregators and the Russians – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Super-aggregators not only have zero transaction costs when it comes to users and content, but also when it comes to making money. This is at the very core of why Google and Facebook are so much more powerful than any of the other purely information-centric networks. The vast majority of advertisers on both networks never deal with a human (and if they do, it’s in customer support functionality, not sales and account management): they simply use the self-serve ad products like the one pictured above (or a more comprehensive tool built on the companies’ self-serve API).
business  advertising  google 
september 2017 by crankyuser
Bodega Isn’t Just Bad Branding, It’s Bad Business - Eater
In Silicon Valley, Bodega’s success will not be measured by how well it truly replaces the stores it wants to eliminate — by how many lives it makes better, how many jobs it creates, how many communities it strengthens, or how many families it serves. Like most startups, its success will depend on whether its founders and investors make money, either by cashing in with an IPO or selling to a bigger company for a tidy profit. The target is probably the latter, and probably Amazon, with the sales pitch not Bodega’s market positioning or logistics system (ha!), but the actual hardware of its vending devices — a low-footprint storefront that bridges the gap between Amazon’s pickup lockers (non-instantaneous, but zero human interface) and its instant pickup stores (instantaneous, but you have to briefly interact with someone).
business  vc 
september 2017 by crankyuser
Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on Shonda Rhimes and Launching Original Movies | Variety
He also doesn’t get the comparison, often made in the press, that Netflix and Amazon Studios are rival digital players. “I don’t think we compete with Amazon in the movie space at all,” he says, pointing to how Amazon releases all of its movies in theaters first. “I frankly don’t understand their strategy. I don’t understand why perpetuating a model that feels more and more disconnected with the population is good.” Netflix debuts its movies on its streaming service, with some titles released on a few theater screens the same day. (Amazon declined to comment.)
film  business  tv 
august 2017 by crankyuser
Why People Can’t Stop Talking About Zuckerberg 2020 | WIRED
Taken together, Zuckerberg’s posts could be a b-school class in corporate equivocation. It takes hard work to write that much, yet reveal so little.
His posts aren't rallying his followers around a partisan platform; rather, they rely on stilted language and forced visual poignancy that offers insight so bland it’s virtually useless. Zuckerberg is, however, accumulating valuable social currency. For tech CEOs in the post-Trump world, the ability to speak knowingly about life outside their “ bubble” is an asset, one that silences critics and opens doors.
business  politics 
august 2017 by crankyuser
The Magic Behind Many Unicorn Startups: Complex Stock Contracts - Bloomberg
One provision frequently afforded to investors is called a liquidation preference. It guarantees a minimum payout in the event of an acquisition or other exit. The study found that it can exaggerate a company’s valuation by as much as 94 percent.
business  startup 
august 2017 by crankyuser
Daring Fireball: Apple Kills Off iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle
It took exactly one decade for the iPhone to completely cannibalize Apple’s entire iPod business.

It’s interesting to think about a Nano-sized iPod running iOS. In theory that’d be useful. But if it didn’t have cellular networking, it could only stream when you were on Wi-Fi. So people would just keep using what they’re using today for audio — their phones. Even though the phone is a worse form factor purely as an audio player because it’s so big, comparatively, it’s better overall because it has a network connection almost everywhere.
apple  business 
july 2017 by crankyuser
Facebook and Snapchat: metrics versus creation — Benedict Evans
It's hard to design products like this with metrics - you don't already know what those products would be and your users have no idea. You can iterate with data (that is, 'surf your users'), and you can discover that something you have isn't working, but you can't always create with data - you can't use algorithms to work out what to invent. This is the (much over-used) Steve Jobs argument - it's not the consumer's job to invent new things. Yes, you analyse your users to see if it works, and Snap's S1 talks a lot about listening to users, but that's not how you create.  
business  culture 
july 2017 by crankyuser
Apple’s risky balancing act with the next iPhone | Macworld
This is one of those areas where Apple may be the victim of its own success. The iPhone is so popular a product that Apple can’t include any technology or source any part if it can’t be made more than 200 million times a year. If the supplier of a cutting-edge part Apple wants can only provide the company with 50 million per year, it simply can’t be used in the iPhone. Apple sells too many, too fast.
apple  business 
july 2017 by crankyuser
Daring Fireball: Ends, Means, and Antitrust
U.S. antitrust policy is blinded by the assumption that a monopolist’s only goal is to raise prices.
june 2017 by crankyuser
Why Amazon is eating the world | TechCrunch
When Amazon is the service provider, they’re permanently dogfooding. There is nowhere for poor performance to hide. Amazon has built a feedback loop as a moat, and it is incredible to watch the flywheel start to pick up speed.
business  amazon 
june 2017 by crankyuser
As Uber Stumbles, Lyft Sees an Opening, and Bites Its Tongue - The New York Times
Mr. Zimmer clearly hasn’t forgotten the slights. Asked whether he was surprised to see Mr. Kalanick fall from grace, he fell silent. The pause lasted a long time — longer, it seemed, than most Lyft rides take to arrive — before he finally answered.

“The fact that values matter and ethics matter does not surprise me,” he said. “To me, that’s obvious.”
mobility  business 
june 2017 by crankyuser
Amazon’s New Customer – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
This is the key to understanding the purchase of Whole Foods: to the outside it may seem that Amazon is buying a retailer. The truth, though, is that Amazon is buying a customer — the first-and-best customer that will instantly bring its grocery efforts to scale.
I said at the beginning that Mackey mis-understood Amazon’s goals, strategies, and tactics, and while that is true, the bigger error was in misunderstanding Amazon itself: unlike Whole Foods Amazon has no desire to be a grocer, and contrary to conventional wisdom the company is not even a retailer. At its core Amazon is a services provider enabled — and protected — by scale.
business  economics  strategy  amazon 
june 2017 by crankyuser
With her blog post about toxic bro-culture at Uber, Susan Fowler proved that one person can make a difference - Recode
But because that story was more complex — and also because Kleiner had more and pricier lawyers — the case became too confusing for many to resonate with it. Pao got caught up in the story, and was put through the wringer in a way that was depressing to watch. Small mistakes she made were writ large, and she, too, went on trial.

To anyone watching it closely, it was not fair. But it was also the way things too often are in Silicon Valley, a place that regards itself as a lot better than it really is. You know the drill: Its denizens say they are changing the world, but the world is actually changing them, and not often for the better.

Is it the wealth? The acclaim? The way the critical need to push past the doubt that mutates into a delusional intractableness that only reinforces itself and almost always turns ugly?
sexism  culture  business 
june 2017 by crankyuser
Mark Zuckerberg’s Makeover Is a Political Campaign Without the Politics
"And it’s not incidental that many of the people contacted by BuzzFeed News seemed allergic to acknowledging that Zuckerberg’s transformation may have required help (or in some cases even that it took place). They will tell you, unprompted, that Mark is an incredible learner and an unparalleled listener. But ask what he learned from or who he listened to and they’ll tell you you’re missing the point. The point, you see, is that he learns and listens. People close to Zuckerberg are so deeply invested in Zuckerberg’s appearance of authenticity that you can practically hear them erasing themselves from the picture."
business  culture  politics 
april 2017 by crankyuser
Mark Zuckerberg’s Makeover Is a Political Campaign Without the Politics
And it’s not incidental that many of the people contacted by BuzzFeed News seemed allergic to acknowledging that Zuckerberg’s transformation may have required help (or in some cases even that it took place). They will tell you, unprompted, that Mark is an incredible learner and an unparalleled listener. But ask what he learned from or who he listened to and they’ll tell you you’re missing the point. The point, you see, is that he learns and listens. People close to Zuckerberg are so deeply invested in Zuckerberg’s appearance of authenticity that you can practically hear them erasing themselves from the picture.
culture  business 
april 2017 by crankyuser
New York City Moves to Require Uber to Provide a Tipping Option in Its App - The New York Times
Mr. Kalanick believes the feature — which has already been built, but has yet to be deployed — could add “friction” to the in-app experience, and could potentially make Uber less appealing. It could also bring a sense of guilt to those who do not tip drivers. Some inside the company have lobbied Mr. Kalanick to change his stance, but he has long resisted.

New York’s proposal will be formally introduced by July and requires approval by the taxi commission’s board. Before that vote, drivers and passengers will have a chance to speak on the measure at a public hearing.
mobility  business 
april 2017 by crankyuser
SwatchOS: Not A Smart Decision
Nick Hayek’s father triumphed against Japanese quartz watch makers by playing on his own turf. Trying to defeat the established smartwatch players by playing their game won’t work. Is there something in Swatch Group’s culture that predisposes it to be competitive with Google and Apple software engineers?
Just as Nokia should have embraced Android in 2010, riding on its proven combination of Design, Supply Chain, and Carrier Distribution prowess to keep a leading role in the smartphone revolution, Swatch could use its native — but circumscribed — cultural and technical skills to create beautiful, fun smartwatches…that run on Google’s software. But just like Nokia's culture and success prevented it from seizing the Android moment, similar factors will keep Swatch from being a powerful player in the smartwatch world.
april 2017 by crankyuser
Anthony Bourdain Does Not Want to Owe Anybody Even a Single Dollar | Wealthsimple
When my father drove me to school, it was often in an old station wagon with the side door bashed in, which we didn’t ever seem to have the money to repair. Most of the kids at my school got a sports car as soon as they got their permit. Most came from broken homes, but lived in fabulous houses. They had lives unbothered by loving parents, where they were free to watch pornography and do drugs and misbehave. I envied them that.
march 2017 by crankyuser
Uber Partners With Daimler to Make Self-Driving Mercedes | WIRED
By using Uber’s system, Daimler skips the trouble of creating a customer base. More importantly, it saves itself the hassle—and expense—of building the dispatch and routing system needed to connect those people with its cars and get them where they’re going. “That is pretty complex, and would take five to ten years,” says Jonathan Matus, CEO of mobile data analytics company Zendrive. Not to mention millions of dollars.

Silicon Valley natives like Google, Apple, or Tesla might be willing and able to do that work, but it’s beyond the skill set of traditional automakers, Matus says.
mobility  business 
february 2017 by crankyuser
Inevitable Sherlocking - David Smith
I approach development now with a slightly different perspective. My goal is to

(a) in the meantime be the best Apple Watch sleep tracker on the market and take advantage of this opportunity as best I can, and
(b) prepare for when they eventually arrive by making the real value of the app not tied solely to data collection.
apple  business 
january 2017 by crankyuser
Why Europe is ordering Apple to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in taxes Ireland doesn’t want - Vox
The reality is that big, highly profitable American firms are deferring taxation on over $1.4 trillion of dollars of profits that they clearly have no intention of ever using to finance investment. What they’re doing is hoping that Congress will change the law and allow that money to be repatriated at a lower rate. When that happens, the money will be paid out as dividends and share buybacks.

But until then, Apple and other global companies taking advantage of the loopholes are tapping the bond market and going into debt to finance their buybacks even while accumulating cash in foreign accounts.
apple  business 
september 2016 by crankyuser
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