This week, the Wall Street Journal had this piece about the sale of ping pong tables as a predictor of the woes of the tech industry as a whole and companies specifically. Now whether ping pong sales are truly a leading indicator as to an industry bubble popping, or whether companies run out of space and don’t need more tables you’ll need to read the article to see for yourself, however there is an interesting correlation between the number of tables sold to the number of venture capital deals funded in any given quarter. Along with that is this article about how disruptive tech is forcing investors to rethink their strategies. There’s also an interesting opportunity out there for second-hand ping pong tables from struggling companies – perhaps someone will create an e-commerce startup for precisely that.
Autonomous cars are all in the news these days, but there’s an interesting point that hasn’t been addressed: most drivers don’t even want self-driving cars. Bloomberg this week has an article about the billions that are being invested in a robot that no one even wants. That’s not to say that there waon’t be a use for autonomous vehicles from a logistics standpoint, but with less than a quarter of boomers stating that they have any interest in a self-driving car and so many millennials opting out of car ownership as a whole, it does spark the question of why. Then again, true innovation never answers the question around a need that is known, true innovation finds the unknown and provides a solution before we’re even aware of the need, like the internet or touch screen phones.
In part on the point of autonomous logistics, Medium has an interesting piece this week about the internet economy, how to view that economic loop, and about the era of bundling and how tech giants fit in and navigate those bundles.
I have some friends who ended up over at Uber through acquisition and I’ve yet to ask them about this one, but Tech Crunch has an article this week of how early employees over there feel handcuffed to the company. It’s hard to cry about the why, but it still brings up some interesting points when a company won’t allow employees to trade or sell their pre-IPO shares, thus locking them in with not golden but rhodium handcuffs.
Digital processes can be overwhelmingly complex and create bottlenecks for companies that are difficult to overcome. Harvard Business Review recently completed a study that shows how companies are using machine-reengineering to establish new forms of human-machine collaboration. Some of the areas where this is having an impact include scanning images, voice, and text to sort through a huge volume of unstructured and varying format data and unburying buried insights for market monitoring, predictive modeling, root cause analysis, and predictive maintenance to start. HBR also had a good piece this week about how the internet of things needs not just technology but design as well.
If you liked the machine-reengineering study, be sure to check out this from re/code on teaching machines to avoid our mistakes.
I had a laugh-out-loud moment this week reading about innovation in the South this week (my adopted home) when the author related the story of the first time he met Moses Ma. Read the article yourself and see if you can hold back your own laughter, but read the article also for this: there’s an untapped spirit of innovation in the South that is slowly being released and while it may be a slow boil, there’s a litany of innovative geniuses that hail from the South to keep an eye on.
60 Minutes had an in depth look at Fintech and how it is shaking up the financial industry. It points out that many of the innovations in financial services over the past ten years have not come from banks and includes Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup and how while we’re in early days, it’s possible to see a future when banking is disrupted on par with how the travel industry has been and others.
Theranos has been in the headlines for a few years, at first for beyond-normal swooning for one of the many up and coming and since last fall many negative stories following this article in the Journal. Vanity Fair followed up on that trying to find the secret culprit in the Theranos mess and it’s not what or who you may think.
Speaking of secrets, I had recommended to me this week to watch The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms. I’m sure my almost nine and five-year-olds will be thrilled this week when we sit down for movie night to watch that. Hint: if you don’t want to stream it on YouTube, it is also on Netflix.
Rovi bought Tivo for $1.1 billion this last week, which may surprise many, not from an acquisition standpoint, but from a valuation standpoint. When it first premiered, Tivo provided a solution to something that was the bane to so many – a horrible set top unit with a cloodgy UI and no ability to easily record content that was the cable set top box. The problem is, while Tivo may have been on the leading edge of innovation a decade ago, competitors were able to easily and quickly duplicate their model. Tech Crunch dives into what happened to Tivo and how the innovation the company drove for in essence drove Tivo to a state of irrelevance.
We all face challenges in our lives, those that seem like a hiccup and then those that devastate us. Andrew Solomon talks about how those worst moments make us into the people we are in his TED Talk and the need to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.