Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Google Works... Like a platform





















How Google Works gives a very interesting, and actually quite inspiring, look at the philosophy of management behind Google. It’s written by former CEO Eric Schmidt and another top Google executive Jonathan Rosenberg.
It’s an easy read and contrary to a lot of other management books it doesn’t have a lot of very LOUD and flashy models of how to handle everything. But it does convey an attitude of thinking very big, hiring the best possible people, trusting them and supporting them in pursuing their ideas.

A very interesting slogan is “Default to open”, and this attitude applies in many areas – like keeping employees informed, creating partnerships, or not trying to tie costumers to your service.
It’s a bet, but they take that bet by default: “With open, you trade control for scale and innovation”.

There are also a few good observations about platforms that are worth quoting:

Airbnb, Uber, Square, Kickstarter, Netflix, Spotify… “These companies assembled existing technology components in new ways to re-imagine existing business. They set up platforms for customers and partners to interact, and use those platforms to create highly differentiated products and services. This model can apply just about anywhere: Travel, automobiles, apparel, restaurants, food, retail …”

“Whereas the twentieth century was dominated by monolithic, closed networks, the twenty-first will be driven by global, open ones”.
(p. 83)

“A corporation’s relationship with consumers is one-way. GM decides how to design, manufacture and market a new product to its consumers, and sells it through a network of dealerships. In contrast, a platform has a back-and-forth relationship with consumers and suppliers. There’s a lot more give and take”.
(p. 245)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ok Go - again! It's unbelievable...

The guys from Ok Go have made another unbelievably intricate, one-shot video. Wow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On not getting by in the sharing economy

A very good,and very long, article by Sarah Kessler in FastCompany examined the realities of doing tasks for TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber etc. She found that making a living in the “gig-economy” is not easy at all.
For 4 weeks she tried to make money by using all the sharing economy services she could – from walking dogs, tutoring kids, and delivering packages to wrapping gifts.
It’s an excellent piece of journalism.

Along the way she experienced a lot of weird and worrying situation and she got a first hand view of what life is like when you surviving from one small gig to another.
Anyone interested in the collaborative economy should be aware that there is a very harsh competetive economy alongside the warm and friendly sharing of resources among people who have something to spare.



“Because of the way TaskRabbit works, job posters can easily find the people willing to work for the least amount of money. A user with the screen-name BaubleBar (the name of an online jewelry vendor that has raised $6 million to date) creates a task for $40. "We need 10 TaskRabbits to help us pack and check the quality of merchandise, and add labels to merchandise tags," it says. "PLEASE NOTE: We cannot allow frequent cell phone use during this task, so if you need to be on your phone often, this is not the task for you. This job will take approximately 8 hours. From 8am to 4pm."


“Setting up a full day of gigs--or even a gig in a target free period--isn't easy, and it often takes as much effort as applying for a regular economy job. I get rejected from about five tasks for every one I win. Sometimes I hold spots in my calendar that I could fill with other tasks for jobs I've bid on but haven't heard from. I'm essentially competing for every hour of my employment.
Even if I land a gig with a decent hourly wage, it typically looks like nothing once I factor in the time spent looking for jobs and commuting between them. Despite the oft-repeated promise of the gig economy, in fact I have no control over when I work, because the only way to get gigs is to be available sporadically and often without much notice. For example, the only people who respond to my DogVacay profile want a dog sitter over Christmas, when I am also out of town”.


“I have come to realize that one of the cruel ironies of the gig economy is that even though it's geared almost exclusively to serve urban markets, the kind of densely packed cities where space is at a premium, one needs a car to have a shot at the cream of the work that's available. Even worse, the universe of gig economy startups is mostly relying on young people and others who are underemployed--exactly the people whom are least likely to be able to afford a car in a city. Or have an extra bedroom. Or a parking space. Or designer clothes. Or handyman skills”.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indlæg om mobile banking og nøjsomme løsninger i DR2 Dagen

DR2 Dagen havde igår en sektion om brugen af mobile banking, og jeg var en tur inde og fortælle om brugen af mobiler i U-lande, og om forskellen på almindelig vestlig innovation og nøjsomme løsninger ala MPESA.
Indslaget starter 38:35 minutter inde i udsendelsen med et interview med direktøren for centralbanken i BanglaDesh, så kommer jeg på ved 45:20.





Thursday, October 23, 2014

Datsun is too cheap for India

It seems that Nissan's attempt to create a low cost car for emerging markets under the Datsun brand name is not succeeding. According to Business week, Nissan is making the same mistake that Tata motors did with the Nano; marketing a car as cheap, without realizing that most aspiring people don't want to be seen as driving cheap. 
The point seems to be that affordability is not enough, the product needs to be attractive, too. 

Business week reports
"In India, where the Datsun Go went on sale on March 19, deliveries through August totaled 9,557, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. By comparison, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL:IN), the country’s top-selling carmaker, sells just as many of its similarly priced Alto hatchbacks every couple of weeks. Only 607 Datsuns were sold in July, falling 77 percent from their peak in April and dipping below sales of Tata’s Nano, though they rebounded and exceeded Nano sales in August, according to SIAM data."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crowdfunded public transport - line six in Toronto

Here's an interesting version of crowd funding: A group of Toronto citizens crowdfunding a bus line, which the public transportation company is unwilling to establish. 
In the collaborative economy it seems that political activism and business entrepreneurship are blurring. 

Here's more from the Canadian Broadcast company's article about the initiative: 
"In a move to alleviate the cattle-car conditions transit riders in the west-end neighbourhood endure almost daily, Scollon has co-founded a service that will attempt to operate — at least on a trial basis — a private, crowd-funded bus service with daily trips into downtown during rush hour from the fast-growing neighbourhood along King Street West.
Here's how it will work. For a minimum donation of $25, riders are guaranteed five seats on the bus. Scollon's company will charter the bus using a private company. Line 6 has a $2,500 funding goal before they will launch the pilot. So far, they have raised $1,450"

Friday, October 10, 2014

The incredibly shrinking time horizon of stock market investments

Just stumbled upon this very illustrative graph from LPL Financial research showing how the average holding period of stock has fallen from years to days. Long term thinking is over, it seems. 


Here's part of their analysis: 
"The time horizon of the average investor’s investment perspective has changed dramatically over the years, as you can see in Figure 1. According to data from the New York Stock Exchange, the average holding period for stocks in 1960 was about eight years. By 1970, it had slid to a little over five years. By 1980, it had fallen to just under three years, by 1990 to two years, by 2000 to just one year, and in 2010 it reached a mere six months. In 2012, the ETF that tracks the S&P 500 turns over its full market capitalization in trading volume about once every five days".