Transportation as a Service, Apple vs. the EU, Delta gets smart about luggage + more


Last week there was a bit a news around Uber losing a bit of money in the first half of 2016.  This week, news came out about Google’s own efforts to undercut Uber in San Francisco in the ride-sharing game leveraging its Waze app.  That goes a ways to explain why David Drummond exited from Uber’s board, and this week Stratechery has a great article on the evolution of transportation as a service.  Mind you, Google would be wise to focus on first/last mile issues like Uber and Lyft, and at the same time might not avoid “doing evil” in that pursuit.

Speaking of cars, did you know that earlier this year for the first time the net adds of connected cars surpassed that of smartphones in the US.  This all points to how connected cars are going to become revenue machines, or so says TechCrunch, and I think they’re on to something.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a bit of a geek and I like learning about obscure or trivial things.  I like it when writers connect disparate concepts in new and insightful ways.  While these aren’t obscure, this article from Business Insider that walks through the seventeen equations that changed the world was right up my alley.

If you hadn’t heard, there’s a strike today in India which has shut down most of the country.  The strikes were driven by the belief that Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, is pursuing anti-labor policies.  Entire cities have been shut down, with transportation and banks hit hardest.  On top of that, add this article about how Tata and Infosys are starting to feel the Brexit heat and you start to see the potential storm that could hit India’s economy.

There was a great interview this week from recode with Quip CEO Bret Taylor, not just because it explores his belief that companies die when they are afraid to fail, but also for his statement that you have to aggressively recruit a diverse workforce from the start or you will fail at employee diversity.  Popular Science has a piece this week that speaks to hiring diversity in Silicon Valley as well.

I gave an overview a while back on artificial intelligence and the difference between narrow and general intelligence.  The reality is we just don’t know how far we are out from having AGI, which is likely the next internet or iPhone level innovation.  The New Yorker’s Om Malik explores the hope and hype of AI this week, and the thing that struck home for me most was this “computers do the best they can (that is being consistent, objective, precise), and humans do our best (creative, imprecise but adaptive).”  That’s the best description I’ve heard of the disconnect, and the reason why even when we achieve AGI the human race is so interesting – because we’re imprecise but adaptive.

Along with that is this article on how Facebook is trying to catch up with Google in open-sourcing AI code and then an inside look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning work at Apple.

The first software startup was founded in 1892.  Well, not really, but that kind of hyperbole catches the eye, doesn’t it?  Well, GE is that software startup, and while they just started their push to be competitive with Google and Microsoft a few years ago, they’re serious about it, to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of people.

Speaking of click bait and hyperbole, ever wondered how government agencies can hack into your smartphone?  Well, here’s a story of how hackers from the NSA got caught doing exactly that.

You may have heard the news this week that the EU has levied a 13 Billion Euro tax on Apple for back taxes.  Apple’s response?  That the EU can either have their back taxes or jobs, but not both.  Robert Reich explores why it is so difficult for governments to stand up to Apple (and others), while The New Yorker walks through how Apple created Ireland’s economies, “real and fantastical.”  If you are wondering how Apple and others avoid paying taxes, Wired has you covered, while 9to5 Mac discusses how tone deaf Tim Cook’s response to the findings are.

There’s an interesting question that keeps popping up: why is consumer tech ignoring baby boomers?  While millennials are an important market share, the people with the money are their parents, and yes, millennials may end up inheriting a gob smacking amount of wealth, it seems short sighted to keep ignoring a generation with money to spend today for the generation that will spend money tomorrow.

Mark Zuckerberg is not a happy man this week.  You’ve likely heard about the latest SpaceX rocket explosion, and that that rocket had a Facebook satellite as its payload.  Apparently, Zuck is “deeply disappointed” that the satellite was lost, although likely not because of the $195M price tag.  Nope, it’s more to do with his mission to bring internet access to Africa, and his belief in Nigeria’s tech industry.

Did you hear the one about Amazon leasing its own fleet of airplanes?  What about the drones (even pizza delivery!)?  To date Amazon has been great business for UPS and FedEx, but the times they may be changing.

Here’s an interesting fact for you this week: 90% of software developers live outside of Silicon Valley.  It only makes sense when you think about it, but often we don’t.  What about this: in five years, the Midwest will have more startups than Silicon Valley.

So, oddly, airlines are finally catching up with warehouses and supply chain management in that Delta is using RFID tags to track baggage.  The eventual hope is that RFID tags will be incorporated into luggage at manufacture so that we, the consumer, can register our bags ourselves to take that burden off the airlines, but we’re a bit away from that.  It’s nice to see that at least one airline is finally catching on.

We all have biases, conscious or sub, and when we do become aware of them, then we face the challenge of overcoming them.  In this TED talk, Vernā Myers looks closely at our attitudes towards out-groups and how we can move towards the groups that make us uncomfortable.

VLC, interscatter communication, and Wi-Fi: what’s next?, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication, How (and why) to Set Up a VPN + more


That may be one of the nerdiest post titles yet, but here we go …

As Google Fiber rethinks its approach to rolling out ubiquitous, high-speed internet access, it seems a good time to take a look at what technology options are out there aside from Wi-Fi given the current limitations of that technology.  Visible light and interscatter communications are both new technologies that are showing promise for a variety of reasons, although when I first read about VLC I have to admit I had a second of “but the lasers will melt my eyes.”  Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched all of Stranger Things this last week.

The Boston Globe (Go Red Sox!) had a great article this week on staying ahead of technologies curves; the article is more about who is keeping us on track when it comes to staying on the right side of technology versus the nefarious side and the Office of Technology Assessment.

Have you ever thought about how trust affects economic prosperity?  I mean, there has to be a belief in the strength of the dollar to keep us away from hyper-inflation as we moved away from the gold standard decades ago.  It makes sense that part of the reason why the developed world has been sustainable is because we trust the strength of those economies, while the failure of Brazil, Russia, India, and even China to take off to the extreme expected in that famous Goldman Sachs BRICs report might be because we, as a world, don’t trust those countries governments.  Tim Hartford explores trust in the Airbnb age and what it means with regards to prosperity.

One would expect that given Amazon’s dominance of eCommerce over the past fifteen years that the data collected from all those transactions would fuel an AI beast never before seen.  True, but their newest AI, DSSTNE, has only been in use since 2014 and holds much more promise given how successful Alexa has been and while the drones are coming, it appears they might be delivering pizza first.

Did you know that Uber lost $1.27 billion dollars globally in the first half of 2016?  And while Uber had a profitable first quarter in North America, in its quest to corner the ridesharing market, it lost $100 million domestically in the second quarter.  This is driven by steep price discounts and promotional fares for consumers that are subsidized by Uber’s investors as it tries to dominate the market (and drive Lyft out of it) while it figures out a business model.  What’s clear is that the current ride-sharing model isn’t sustainable, the question is can we get to autonomous vehicles fast enough for either company to survive.

Speaking of autonomous cars, there’s two articles this week of interest: one about how the co-opting of dedicated radio airwaves that would enable vehicle-to-vehicle communications, technology that has the potential to greatly reduce the number of accidents and deaths caused by them on an annual basis and another on how automakers are approaching a “fork in the road” when it comes to autonomous car design.   Curious about how the radio spectrum is auctioned off and how economists saved it from anarchy when it first become an open market?  Read about it here.

Curious on “what’s next” from an innovation standpoint? MIT Technology Review profiles 35 of the top innovators under 35 in this article.  It runs the gamut from robotics to sweatbands that monitor your health.  Oh, and there’s also their ranking of the 50 smartest companies for 2016.

Just as we learn more about how AI is being used at Apple, the Wall Street Journal walks us through how China is ramping up and investing in AI.

I posted a couple of articles by Alex Danco last week; here are the follow up articles on the paradigm shift machine (driver culture to car culture and in a world of energy mainframes).  Oh, and along those lines, there is no tech industry.

Ever heard of Fordlandia?  If so, you can explore other lost cities here.  If like me you hadn’t, check out the story behind it here.

I’ve posted a few articles about how individuals can use social engineering to both hack into your home system or steal your identity, but the reality is there are completely legal ways for someone to find out who you are and exploit that information that don’t involve breaking the law to that point.  There’s a series of videos on YouTube where a user does exactly that, and this interview discusses where those holes are.  One of the first things you can do is set up a virtual private network (VPN), which is a method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like WiFi Hotspots and the Internet.  PC World has a good step-by-step guide to help you set one up or you can use a site like

I feel like a broken record on blockchain, but this week’s TED talk from Don Tapscott does an excellent job of breaking down the technology and clarifying how it works.  Tapscott has authored or co-authored 15 books about various aspects of the reshaping of our society and economy.  Give it a watch.

First Principles, Tackling Cybercrime, Cortana Awakens + more


When you go about thinking through a problem, how do you typically do so?  If you’re like most people, you will tend to try to solve the problem through analogy.  By doing so, however, you end up basing “new” solutions on old ideas.  While that will work in many cases, there are times when we have to break that model of thinking in order to truly challenge how a task can be completed or a problem solved.  Hearkening back to the writings of Aristotle we’re led to the concept of first principle, searching for a basic, foundational, self-evident proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.  This kind of thinking is how we can go about breaking a problem down into its base issues without letting other solutions get in the way of finding a new, novel solution.  James Clear has a good summary of this process, and captures how both Bill Thurston and Elon Musk have used it.

You may have heard the Verizon/Yahoo news and thought back to other internet and communications mergers of the past that failed and wondered as to why the “can you hear me now” network is buying an out of touch internet company.  Well, it comes down to Facebook and Google.  The question is, will Verizon be able to make some magic happen by adding another logo to its brand.

We’re heard a lot about Amazon’s drones and plans for filling our skies with scores and scores of them, but this week there was news of another sort of drone.  If you recall, both Google and Facebook have been working on how to bring the internet to people that don’t have the infrastructure in place to access it by standard means.  Well, this week Facebook’s solar-powered internet drone Aquila took off with great promise.

Part of the reason why there is such a push to bring the internet to the estimated 1.6 billion people in the world who don’t have it today is the belief that free and open access to the internet can change those people’s world for the better.  To that point, there’s a great article this week from The Guardian on whether the internet can reboot Africa and another about the top ten tech entrepreneurs on that continent.  Then there’s this article from HBR on what Africa’s banking industry needs to do to survive.

Today we’re more likely to have our money stolen not by someone in the street but by a hacker half way around the world from us – 20 times more likely, in fact.  While there are no easy solutions to this problem today, many times we simply ignore the issue, frankly because it is so complex and not top of mind until it happens to us.  Just as we need to be vigilant about our physical safety, we have to guard our online presence as well.  While it doesn’t offer discrete solutions, this article from The Conversation does start that dialogue, and awareness of trends and then there are both personal and professional steps one can take to start. Side note: the Internet of Things isn’t helping things.

Did you know that only 3% of venture backed companies have female CEOs?  Sarah Lacy recently spoke to one of them, Julia Hatrz of Eventbrite, in a wide-ranging conversation including her own journey to CEO and the confidence gap that is holding many women back.  Why do I bring this up?  Other than it the critical need to bring all voices to the table when it comes to innovation, there’s this recent article on how Facebook is still failing at hiring a diverse workforce (spoiler: Facebook then blamed those results on a lack of available talent).  Contrast that with this article on the growing number of women in technology.

It is a Facebook heavy week, but here’s an interesting look at what their plans are for Virtual Reality as a follow on to the VR post a few weeks back.

3D printing had been slow to live up to all that was promised when it debuted at SXSW a few years ago.  It was the darling, and there were so many theoretical applications that just haven’t seemed to materialize.  Well, now the head of the French fashion industry has called it “the new industrial revolution,” so perhaps change is finally coming.

If you have an hour to spare, there’s an excellent Google Talk available on the past, present, and future of Blockchains.

“If you want to guarantee your kids have a job when they grow up, teach them to code!”  How many times have we heard those words or uttered them ourselves?  Well, this week there’s a great article from Venture Beat that posits that learning to code isn’t what employers need, but instead we need people who can analyze data.  While it’s a similar set of skills, it doesn’t go as deep on the coding side and adds a focus of data analysis.

HBR has a great article this issue on how to create an exponential mindset for digital business models.  It focuses on what you need to launch, build, and grow to create the opportunity for innovation.

The last article I want to share this week is more for the title than the content.  It’s good to get an update on Microsoft’s virtual assistant, but really, who can resist a title like “Cortana Awakens?”  That can only be the title to a bad 90s tech blended horror film, however it’s still a good read to get insight into how the company that wanted to put a computer in every home in the world thinks about humanizing a digital assistant.

We often find ourselves with labels, labels that we accept as who we are, including the labels of introvert and extrovert.  In this TED talk, Brian Little explores the moment when we transcend those labels and the traits that go with them, the differences between introverts and extroverts, and the malleability of personality.

$1B for a box of razors, Where Machines Could Replace Humans, Why Toxic Leaders Get Promoted + more

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When I first heard of Dollar Shave Club, it was through the same medium as most everyone else – some pretty funny Super Bowl commercials and the media following that.  I thought it looked like a fun and irreverent company, but didn’t subscribe myself until we analyzed it in B school and several guys in my class said they were subscribers and raved about it.  Now it seems that shipping a box of razors every months or so (plus some other items) turns out to be worth $1 billion, or so the offer from Unilever would have us believe.  Pando lays out what entrepreneurs should learn from this acquisition (hit or miss on the article – they’ve started locking their content) while Streatechery speaks to how the $1B price is low compared to the price of Gillette and how it is negatively disrupting the vertical.

Business Insider has once again brought us their “THE SILICON VALLEY 100: The most amazing and inspiring people in tech right now.”  While there are many names you’ll recognize on this list, there are quite a few that you may not, and for me it’s a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s driving innovation in Silicon Valley.

Ever wonder that the best TED talks ever were?  Well, according to Chris Anderson, the curator of TED, these are it.

strategy+business has a trio of good articles this week: What Consumers Most Want from Health Insurers’ Technology, an interview with Greg Beck (Silicon Valley’s Farsighted Banker), and Five Behaviors That Can Create an Innovation Culture.  In that last one, they include , building collaboration across your ecosystem, measuring and motivating your intrapreneurs, emphasize speed and agility, think like a venture capitalist, and balance operational excellence with innovation.

If you found the first strategy+business article interesting, go over and check out what STAT has to say about how ‘digitizing you and me’ could revolutionize medicine.

Bloomberg lays out for us this week something that many may not have noticed: oil isn’t looking to be the future for Big Oil.  They took a look at Royal Dutch Shell to explain why.

If we take a look at the global stage right now, it’s incredible to see how “truth” is being undermined by opinion and fact is falling by the wayside.  The Guardian has supposed that technology is the culprit.  TO me, technology has certainly made it more difficult for public and private leaders to lead and focus on the broader problems facing us.

McKinsey has a great article on how and where machines will replace humans in the near term, and it’s not where you might think.  Automation isn’t set to eliminate any job completely in the next decade, according to McKinsey, however automation will affect portions of all jobs.  In my mind, that’s a good thing, as greater efficiency through automation leads to other advances that will redefine the jobs of the “robot economy.”  While the full results of their study won’t be out until early 2017, McKinsey gives us a glimpse of what they’ve discovered and breaks it out into three main categories: those that are highly susceptible, less susceptible, and least susceptible to automation.  It’s a really fascinating read, and a hat tip goes to Mike for sharing it with me.

Along with the McKinsey piece is this one from Xerox on 19 jobs for ‘bots (and why that’s not such a bad thing).

O’Reilly has a thought provoking piece this week on how decentralization might just give us the reboot we need to reopen the web and accelerate innovation.

It’s been an interesting few weeks for Microsoft with the announcement of the LinkedIn acquisition.  With that acquisition, you may be wondering what the email, data, and privacy implications may be.  Techcrunch has taken a swing at answering those for us.  Also interesting is how Satya may have just fixed Microsoft’s biggest problem.

While I don’t have anything on Google or Apple to share this week, there were a couple of share-worthy items on Facebook, including its inability to increase diversity, again (and how they blame schools for it) and what Facebook will look like in 2026.

In my hours behind a windshield this week I got a chance to catch up on some of Tim Ferriss’s recent podcast and one of them was his interview with Chris Young, the brain behind ChefSteps.  He is obsessively focused on how to bring science into the kitchen and has had a pretty amazing journey. happened to interview him this week as well, it’s worth a read, and the Ferriss podcast is long but a good one.

As a good friend of mine always tells me, great leaders listen twice as much as they speak.  Here’s an article from HBR that speaks to what great listeners actually do.   Oh, and if you want to pick up a book on the subject, check out The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

Last this week from The Military Leader is an article on why toxic leaders keep getting promoted.  While not meant for a civilian audience, it reinforces what we already know – toxic leaders advance because we focus too much on what they accomplish, not how they accomplish it.  They may get the mission done, but the trail of destruction they leave in their wake is rarely noticed by their superiors but deeply felt by their peers and subordinates.  The parallels to our lives as leaders is clear – many of us get mired in reacting to the world around us, where the truly successful leaders initiate change in their organizations.  Our task-saturated culture keeps us from finding the cognitive space we need to create long- or even mid-range plans.  That’s the challenge for all of us: finding the space we need to grow into better leaders, and defending that space once we find it.

And on that note, I’d like to leave you this week with this talk by Drew Dudley on everyday leadership.  In it, Dudley asks us to celebrate leadership as the daily act of improving each other’s lives.


Brexit …


I don’t think there’s a lot to add when it comes to the news this morning that Great Britain voted (by a 4% margin) to exit the EU.  Markets are being hit (although not as hard as might be expected), banks are roiling, xenophobia in the US has picked up a new pace, and David Cameron has resigned.  There are some balanced views on this out there, some of which include UK’s ‘Brexit’ results rattle the world, Britain Votes to Leave E.U.; Cameron Plans to Step Down, World wakes up to ‘Brexit’: 5 things to know,  The Brexit contagion: How France, Italy and the Netherlands now want their referendum too , Sterling Crash Just the Start of Brexit Market Fallout, Why Britain Left, and you can watch the live Sky News feed through the day to learn more.  I will note that US markets seem to be doing relatively well all things considered, rebounding quite a bit after a drop at the opening bell.

Living in small town America now and many cities in the past, I, like you, have observed the steady and sure decline of the shopping mall.  There are numerous drivers for that, from online shopping to population migration to consumer tastes.  Bandier is trying to change that with an approach that focuses on selling their product last and creating an experience first.

If you’ve not heard about the latest IPO this week, it boons well for the Startup world in Silicon Valley.  After a lackluster IPO for SecureWorks, the cybersecurity arm of Dell, Twilio’s IPO was a breath of fresh air with a 96% rise in value at the IPO.

Maybe you were scratching your head with some of the Facebook acquisitions over the past few years, from Snapchat to WhatsApp.  If you took the time to walk through Mary Meeker’s talk/slides that I shared a few weeks ago, you might have noticed a big disconnect in the growth in mobile computing and the spend on mobile advertising.  As we rely more on mobile, that gap will close and Facebook has positioned itself well to reap the rewards from it with its focus on Mobile.

I know there’s been a whole lot of press on chatbots, VR, AR, and machine learning this year, and I don’t want to keep adding to that pile, but I think the Wall Street Journal did a good job this week of exploring what current thinkers in the AI space think is next for machine learning.

If you’ve not read Eli Goldratt’s The Goal, you may be unfamiliar with his Theory of Constraints and how it applies to change management.  This week, strategy+business revisits our need to find the “Herbie” in our processes and focus on that – the part of the process that created the logjam similarly to how Herbie, a member of Goldratt’s scout troop, impacted the entire troop because of his pace.  It wasn’t until he led the group that the most efficient pace could be found.  From a change management standpoint, that means that companies can only operationalize real improvement at a certain pace.   strategy+business outlines five steps to accomplish this: identify the current constraints on your progress, set a pace that supports your “constraint resource,” sequence priorities over time, elevate the pace, and pay attention as your constraints shift.

Paired with that is an article this week from Harvard Business Review on how to navigate a digital transformation.  To not get left behind in the evolving consumer landscape, companies need to pivot to a digital strategy.  With that, they need to reallocate their asset portfolio to support new, digitally enabled business models. Speaking of pivot, HBR recommends a process they call PIVOT for those looking to make this transformation: pinpoint your starting place, make a complete inventory of all your organization’s assets, visualize a new future as a digital network where your firm partners and co-creates with one of your external networks, begin to operate a pilot of your network business by shifting small amounts of capital (including time, talent, and money) to the new initiative, and begin to track the progress of your network initiative.

I’ve had a number of friends tell me that I should watch Mr. Robot.  Well, given that I gave up cable more than eight years ago and don’t think much of Hulu, I was out of luck until Amazon started streaming season one through Prime.  Amazon’s GUI may be awful, but this content was worth getting into.  I’m only a few episodes in, but so far the hacks being used in the series are scarily accurate, and they are for a reason.  Part of that is because of Michael Bazzell, the technical advisor of the show.  After growing up building his own computers and having a deep interest in hacking.  He worked for a Midwestern police department and then the FBI before heading to Hollywood.  Now Tech Insider is claiming that Mr. Robot is the only show that has gotten hacking right, and you can get a quick overview of the top hacks used in Season One of the show from engadget, the backstory on Bazzell from Vulture, and some of the flaws with the show from Wired.

I start there this week as I continue to highlight some of the issues facing us today as hacking proliferates revealing more and more sensitive data.  A few weeks ago I spoke of Palantir, a data analysis company that has a reputation that drives legend in Silicon Valley.  Well, last year Palantir hired a set of hackers to try and take control of their network and information, which they were easily able to do.  The results of the hacking exercise — known as a “red team” test — show how a company widely thought to have superlative ability to safeguard data has struggled with its own data security.  Then there’s this in depth look by MIT Technology Review on an $80 million hack and the dangers of programmable money, another on the U.S. Cyber Command Chief on what threats to fear the most, and then interviews with Tessa88 and Guccifer 2.0, the former who was responsible for hacks that led to major password captures from MySpace and LinkedIn (note: change your passwords if haven’t already) and the latter for the dump of information from the DNC.  I need to do a deeper dive into this topic versus just throwing articles out there at you as I did with Artificial Intelligence, and I plan to in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned …

The logical place to leave off this week is this talk by Rodrigo Bijou on how governments don’t understand cyberwars – we need hackers.

The New Economics of Cybercrime, Entertainment & Media: A World of Differences, Why Is Chick-fil-A’s App Number One in the App Store? + more


As we’ve seen ransomware in the headlines and gaining prevalence when it comes to cybercrime, it’s good to take a look at what progress has been made and as well some of the new dangers that are out there.  This week The Atlantic looks at how we’ve progressed over the past decade and the rise of ransomware and then there is a companion piece from Euronews in February about how the Internet of Things is being impacted by cybercrime.

“Code wins arguments,” “Move fast and break things,” or “Done is better than perfect.”  Those are some of the mantras that ring in the halls at Facebook and it has led to their ability to get to market faster and build dominance through their open environment.  Zuck has done everything he can to pummel Google Plus into the ground, and now that open culture may lead to Facebook’s dominance in AI.  As well, there’s this piece on how AI is changing SEO.  Speaking (orthogonally) of machine intelligence, Steven Sinofsky has a good read out on the rise of it at this year’s code conference.

If you’ve not really taken the time to consider the Maker Movement and its impact and influence, take a moment to check out this article to get a start.

You may recall Marc Andreessen’s famous “Why Software is Eating the World” essay from the Wall Street Journal, (and if you have a chance, catch the recent Tim Ferriss Show podcast featuring Andreessen), and this week TechCrunch follows on with how software is STILL eating the world five years later.

For many, print media, especially newspapers, have become a thing of the past.  This week, The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy explores how that’s not true for the Washington Post, how Jeff Bezos is reinventing that beleaguered news institution, and what others in the newspaper business may learn from it.

One thing I missed last week when talking about Uber was the news that they’ve joined a partnership with Saudi Arabia to provide transport for Saudi women, which many view as a major setback in the twenty year campaign to allow Saudi women to drive themselves instead of having to hire male chauffeurs or rely on male family members.

If you’ve not heard, Apple made some major changes to how the App Store functions recently.  For a summary, take a look at this blog, and for analysis into it, we can turn to The Verge.  There’s also this piece on how Apple has lost its simplicity, and whether or not that is a good thing.

strategy+business has an in depth look at the Entertainment & Media companies and how they are striving to pivot to serve digital consumers around the world.  This breaks into five shifts that are roiling the industry: demographic shift towards serving younger users, content is still king with regards to competition, the relevance of bundling even in light of everything we hear/read, growth markets, and the ability to build trust.  To that last one, historic shifts are now under way forging the creation of new business models, and perhaps even new industries. Those that are able to integrate the capabilities and approaches that create value for customers will continue to thrive and continue to build loyalty and trust in their customers.  While we think that long range planning for E&M firms may seem nonsensical with as much as the industry has been disrupted and continues to be, there’s also a truth to the staying power of many of the E&M companies due to their ability to pivot while focusing on the power of youth, the primacy of localized content, the resilience of a new kind of bundle, the deepening of developing markets, the potential for new business models.

Wondered how much money Hamilton is making on Broadway and where it’s all coming from/going to?  This piece from the New York Times goes deep into that.  Needless to say, the show is well on its way to becoming a billion dollar phenomenon.

Not that this is news we want to hear, but George Soros is back at it trading again.  Why, you ask, do we not want to hear that?  Because he is incredibly bearish on global markets, betting heavily against China and stating that China’s financial system right now “eerily resembles what happened during the financial crisis in the US in 2007-08.  Looking for more behind the why of China’s fall?  Read here.

Mike Curtis has led engineering teams at Facebook and Yahoo and is now a VP of Engineering at Airbnb.  He started out, however, knowing zero code and in this article looks back on the most important lessons he learned on his journey, including treating engineers like business owners and when to adopt a new technology stack.

When we think of Microsoft, we don’t think open source given the history of the company and how closed the platform has been.  Well, the times they are a changing, a good example of which is this article that starts by delving into Microsoft’s purchase of Xamarin, which makes tools that allow developers to use a shared code base to create “native” applications for mobile operating systems made by Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

It’s a bit out in left field for what I usually dig into, but this week we saw Chick-fil-A’s app become #1 at the app store.  How did a fast food chain climb to the top of the charts so quickly?  Well, in part because they told anyone who downloaded the app that they’d get a free chicken sandwich, and in part because of how they’ve targeted their demographic.  Chick-fil-A has gone above and beyond to secure the loyalty of families and even when there have been the occasional media black eyes, the company has survived and even thrived because of the audience it targets.  How do they do that?  Well, I think it all ties back to how they stay true to their ideals, and while you may not agree with those ideals, you can see the power of that and the loyalty it stokes.  It’s a good lesson for us all.

Along with speaking about culture and values, my brother shot me an article this week about giving away your legos.  This is, in essence, a metaphor for how you have to be willing to let go as you scale your start up.  Another great one from First Round is about the principles of quantum team management.

Fintech continues to be dominating the news cycle, and with good reason.  Most people inside the traditional Financial bulwarks of today despise fintech without even understanding it, and more and more excitement is being generated in the startup world by any number of companies out there.  This article from TechCrunch explores how fintech is playing the long game.

It you’ve got some time to kill this weekend, head over to watch the full Elon Musk interview from the code conference.

My youngest has a tendency to declare that every moment, every thing, every experience in her life is awesome, and while I pretty often agree that that is the case, a few conversations with her this week reminded me of this TED talk.  We’ve seemed to lose sight of what awesome truly means, and by using it in excess, we lessen the impact of that word.  Mind you, I’ll still argue that through my five year old’s eyes, everything does seem pretty awesome.

You’re Never Done Finding Purpose at Work, Yahoo’s False Prophet, Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report + more


There are two great recent articles from HBR that you should take some time to read this week.  The first, about finding purpose at work, dives into how we always have purpose, or our personal WHY, drive our work, not our jobs or careers.  They recommend taking the time to journal for a few weeks and really keeping track of how much time you spend in the job, career, and purpose mindsets.  That’s a great exercise, but you know what?  First you have to understand your purpose, your why.  That’s a topic I’m pretty passionate about, as anyone who knows me would tell you.  Whether you know it or need to discover it, plaster that thing in front of you every day and spend time in your purpose with intent. Oh, it seems science also tells us that complaining is bad for you.  Go figure.

The second HBR article looks into whether lean manufacturing can put an end to sweatshops.  The author of the article, Greg Distelhorst, spent time tracking the manufacturing practices of Nike’s apparel supply chain.  Nike’s initiative sought to improve manufacturing operations — to deliver high-quality products in relatively small batches and on shorter production deadlines.  Sounds a bit like the model Zara uses.  While this is a start to this research, Distelhorse and his collaborators did find that violations of labor standards did fall by manufacturers incorporating lean principles, pursuing new managerial practices, and educating their workforce.

If you’ve not really been tracking what’s happening in South America, there’s Brazil to worry about and now Venezuela.

Snapchat may seem like a great deal of hype to many, but Fortune this week looks into why their impressive growth curve may justify that $20 billion valuation.

Disruption as a strategy has been touted out there a bit, with disruptive innovation being pivoted off of by many. There’s an interesting blog this week from Jerry Neumann on why disruption is not a strategy.

Microsoft is turning the tables this time on the Federal Government in the U.S. by suing over privacy issues and security in light of ongoing activity by the Justice Department.  As this article from the Wall Street Journal notes, over the past three years, Microsoft has sued the federal government four times, challenging law-enforcement efforts to secretly search customer data on servers at Microsoft’s data centers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Forbes recently sat down with Google CEO Sundar Pichai for a conversation around AI, hardware, monetization, and the future of search.  Go check it out here.

There’s a great article over at Bloomberg this week about the prosecution of insider trading by the Federal Government.  It’s an interesting story, and better still is how the infographics change as you scroll through the story.

Variety, of all sources, had a really great article summarizing the many ways in which Marissa Meyer has failed Yahoo and its shareholders since her reign began just three years ago.  From the sense-lacking purchase of Tumblr for over $1B to squandering the digital properties Yahoo did have, Meyer has a lot to answer for as Yahoo puts itself up for sale to the highest bidder.

I used to have a Blackberry, and so did everyone with whom I worked.  Heck, I know some folks that are still adamant users today.  Lately, though Blackberry has been used as a term of disparagement, especially in comparison with Apple.  Thing is, though, that Apple’s position may be much worse than Blackberry’s ever have been if they refuse to move away from their closed systems.  Speaking of Apple, let’s take a moment and reflect that we don’t all need to aspire to their design practices.

Two news articles of interest this week about Uber: the first, Wall Street taking an interest in Uber’s car leasing plans with Goldman Sachs leading the charge with a $1 billion line of credit.  This credit facility will allow Uber to continue ramping up its subprime auto leasing business.  The second details how Uber knows too much information about you.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this, and sure, it’s from a somewhat liberal media source, but still something we may see added to the security concerns that continue to grow.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs, though, Goldman has a great piece (including video) on how 5G is going to enable the surge from 12 to 30 billion devices connecting to the Internet of Things

In the news this week is the report that doctors have found the first case of a person in the U.S. carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort.  That could signal the end of the road for antibiotics.

recode has put up all of Mary Meeker’s slides around internet trends from the code conference as well as some analysis .  For those of you unfamiliar with Meeker, she is a venture capitalist and Wall Street securities analyst, with deep knowledge on the Internet and new technologies.  The three takeaways from the talk include internet growth slowing down (excluding India), the way we search continues to evolve from typed words to image and speech-driven search, and apps might rival the home screen on mobile devices for user engagement.

I think we all see ourselves as having some creative bent within us, either in our professional or personal lives.  So how do those we identify as “creative geniuses” come up with great ideas?  This TED talk by Adam Grant delves into that, studying “originals” who dream up new ideas and then make them reality.  Grant talks about the three unexpected habits of those originals, including how they embrace failure.

The Curse of Culture, Trends Shaping the Future of Mobile Connectivity, Innovation for Hire + more


As I sit here in the pre-dawn hour writing this week, it brought back to mind a conversation I had with a colleague where they made the comment that they were “burning the candle at both ends.”  It’s an idiom we often use, similar to “burning the midnight oil,” denoting living at a hectic pace.  But this idiom is interesting in that, while today we almost take a sense of pride at it, reality is that its origins implied a reckless waste.  So as we head into a holiday weekend here in the U.S. and embark on summer for the northern hemisphere, take a moment to reflect on the pace you’ve found yourself drawn into the past few months.

Ben Thompson has an excellent read this week about the curse of culture, drawing parallels between Apple and Microsoft and in particular Jobs and Ballmer, but more so because he delves into the multiple levels of culture, from surface artifacts all the way to assumptions that blind us and hobble our organizations.  Check it out over at Stratechery.  While we’re on the subject of culture, let’s skip over to strategic leadership, and take a moment to read strategy+business’s thoughts on the ten principles of strategic leadership.

While I’m on the subject of Microsoft, our friends over there laid off another 1850 people this week, all tied to Windows Phone.  That seems to indicate further retreat when it comes to the smartphone world; however there is a glimmer of hope in the news around a possible Surface Phone.  All in all, the failed Nokia acquisition that Ballmer pushed through cost the company over $16 billion.  At the same time, Walt Mossberg is posing the question of whether Apple can win the next tech war with a shift to AI.

Deloitte has an in depth report about the five trends shaping mobile connectivity.  You can access the report here, and it is definitely worth the read as a whole, but Deloitte has provided a handy infographic for us as well.  The five key trends shaping the future of mobile connectivity include (per Deloitte): mobility comes in all shapes and sizes, consumers can’t get enough mobile screen time, text and instant message are consumer favorites, mPayment usage is picking up speed, and network versus Wi-Fi is a regional preference.  Deloitte also just trashed a whole lot of hype around the “$180 billion” fintech market.

Just a quick thing to note: researchers now say that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in America.

We’ve heard a lot of doomsayers talk about how tech is going to destroy any number of jobs, with much denial from various government entities and others.  Let’s face it, technology and advances in artificial intelligence will kill some jobs.  That’s a given.  But that doesn’t mean we should slow down tech advances to save jobs that are ending their life cycle naturally. One of those jobs?  Over-the-road hauling – which brings up the subject of the amorality of self-driving cars.

Dealing with a pessimist on your team or elsewhere?  Inc. has a few suggestions this week on how to interact with a pessimist, including such advice as not making too much eye contact.  It sounds funny, but it’s a good article that wraps some very practical methods around dealing with people who are low on the EQ spectrum or generally unpleasant.  Inc. also delves into seven habits you need to be an effective leader, and there will be no surprises there.   A companion piece to the pessimism one is this one from The Atlantic on why so many smart people are unhappy.  All I can say is that I must be an idiot.

There are a whole lot of incubators out there, from 500Startups to Stanford’s primarily alum-focused StartX and many more, so yet another wouldn’t seem like much news, except when this one is coming from Google.  The work 500Startups has accomplished is pretty amazing, and incubators are now even focused on specific verticals like solar.  Many incubators these days require their participants to have revenue and funding in place before they can join and are much less willing to take a shot over to the moon, all driven by competition.  It’ll be interesting to see how Google plays in this space with Area 120. At the same time, there is the looming question of why are so many startups failing.  At the same time, Snapchat just raised another $1.81 billion of funding.

Virgin, or all places, has a great article this week on innovation for hire, or how corporate giants are now injecting themselves with innovation.  It speaks of the need for companies to foster intrapreneurship through an incubator model, and we’ve seen some amazing things come out of such programs at places like Microsoft’s Research arm or Google and others.  To quote, “The notion that innovative working must become a staple of any 21st century organization is no longer in question. The question is whether or not more companies will embrace the change sooner rather than later.”

With Virtual Reality no longer being a part of a distant future, it’s time to start looking at how we can apply it beyond gaming and entertainment.  Michael Bodekaer explores what is possible for science education through virtual reality in this new TED talk.

Google beyond Search, Build Networks, Not Bots, Facebook’s Vision for the Year 2026 + more

To start off, take a look at this article from CNET that hints at the different areas that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is investing in to find new Blue Ocean for the company.  While search continues to be a cash cow, Alphabet is wary enough to realize that at any time disruption could occur and that diversification is required.  The question is, how much leeway will Alphabet’s investors give the company; profit missed expectations in Q1 and if that trend continues, we may see a shift in the appetite of Alphabet’s shareholders.

Construction may not be the first thing to come to mind when we think of big data and analytics, but this article from Forbes highlights how the industry is being transformed by Hadoop and data lakes.  The constant tension between architects, engineers, and owners may find a happy medium through the use of big data.  When working through the complexity of large construction projects, firms need access to both two and three dimensional models, financial and corporate data, schedules, pipelines, weather, and much more.  The industry is now working directly with tech firms to develop specific tools to enable hoped for efficiencies.

re/code adds its voice to the Bot conversation this week with the position that when focused on who consumes your content or product; one should first focus on building the network of users behind that product before venturing into the arena of bots.  Why?  If we look at the number of apps out there that are downloaded and used once and then never used a second time, it’s staggering – some 75% of all apps suffer from this.  Why?  Because the companies that release them don’t create the ecosystem to hook users into using them by making them feel part of a network.  If companies start building bots for other people’s platforms without learning their lesson from failures in single use apps, they will fail to engage their audience again.  With that, take a moment to look at a dive into what chatbots reveal about our own shortcoming.

Will we see algorithms replace the RFP process familiar to so many of us?   That’s the aim of Agency Geek in the marketing vertical. By having agencies fill out a survey and submit a profile, Agency Geek hopes to leverage its 100-point algorithm to skip a step in the process as a start and identify agencies that fit the customer’s needs before the search process even begins.  While it’ll be interesting to see if the company finds success with this method in the marketing vertical, I think it again points to a great use for big data and analytics in the future.

There’s a great excerpt from Algorithms to Live By: the Computer Science of Human Decisions at Wired this week – how computer science reveals exactly how to organize closets.  It’s not a short read, but it has some of the better analogies when it comes to computer science which is easily accessible for non-technical people out there.  The book itself looks promising and I’ll have to add it to the bottom of my current stack.  The top of that stack right now?  The Power of Thanks, but more on that in another week or three.

If you think that you already share more information than you should with Facebook, check out the vision Zuckerberg laid out at the F8 conference and you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.  That said, with the way we continue to opt in and vary how we connect with others, it will become the norm with relative ease.  As part of that, we can expect a world where everyone has an internet connection, where we will choose who our “personal tribe” is not by proximity but by choice, and Facebook will have an ecosystem where their platform in the backbone of the business to consumer space in our new semi-virtual world.  Speaking of our coming virtual world, Motherboard has a good look at how photogrammetric virtual reality is where it’s at.  Then there’s this article about Magic Leap, the world’s most secretive start up.

That’s enough for this week, although if you’ve got some extra time, there are two good articles from HBR this week on the secret history of agile innovation and why unicorns are struggling, as well as Fortune’s article on why Richard Branson thinks you should hire from within and let employees work from home, and last James Baldwin on the creative process and the artist’s responsibility society.

Since this has been an algorithm heavy week, it seems only fitting to end with an excellent talk from Kevin Slavin on how algorithms shape our world.

The Coming $1.5 Trillion Shift in Healthcare, How AI Is Feeding China’s Internet Dragon, Why You Should Try That Crazy Virtual Reality Headset + more

For those of us who spend time in the world of Healthcare, with the consolidation of payers, the promulgation of wearables consumers long to have interface with systems, and ongoing government reforms (with potentially massive ones in the pipes), it is hard for anyone in the vertical to sort out a strategy for the next few months, much less the next few years.  strategy+business digs deep into this arena this week, and their work is definitely worth the read.

Things are looking rocky at at least one of the many companies that roll up under Alphabet (nee Google) as this article details the conflict between Tony Fadell, the executive in charge of (and founder who sold) Nest.  Strife has broken out between Fadell and Dropcam’s Greg Duffy and Fadell might not jus tbe a bad boss – Nest is looking like a one hit wonder with software glitches that are plaguing their hardware.  While Fadell may have designed good products at Apple, he seems to have lost sight of Steve Jobs’ drive beauty not only on the outside of a product, but within and in the software that drives it.

I’ve been bringing up the effects and change being stoked by Artificial Intelligence of late and with good reason – it’s been heavy in the news cycles and it’s important for us all to be abreast of what’s coming next both for business and as consumers.  To that point, AI is being strongly leveraged in China to drive not only fun app uses but is also making existing products smarter and driving developers in their ideation.  Deep learning is being used in a variety of apps and platforms to identify and give meaning to abstract patterns that exist in the vast quantities of data being inputted.  It’s one of the ways we can expect to see data analytics evolve over the next few years, and a lot of that evolution is being driven in China.

Our friends at Goldman Sachs this week in their “What We’re Thinking” series share a few thoughts on the state of Tech financing and Innovation – check out the video if you have a chance.

Many of us spend a good portion of our time in airports and we can expect our experiences there streamlined through wayfinding and other tools soon.

There is a great article from late February about what’s next in computing by Chris Dixon that I just stumbled upon.  Dixon does a great job of talking about the product cycle of progress in the computing industry, and lays out what’s impacting the future today: small, cheap, and ubiquitous hardware, software and the golden age of AI, and the new generation of computers being created by that combination.

If I’m going to spend this much time on Artificial Intelligence, I guess I should give Virtual Reality its due.  The Wall Street Journal has a nice look at VR and how it can be leveraged in a slew of applications, not just for gaming.  Along with that, The Medium digs into how Oculus Rift cracked the impossible design of VR.  Along with that is the current state of Augmented Reality as seen at Build this week.

As a follow up to last week, I had shared a few articles about Tay, Microsoft’s venture into an AI bot that went a bit … awry.  Business Week has a great article on what drove Microsoft to create Tay, how bots, Satya Nadella’s first unique idea since taking over as CEO, can change how we interact with technology, and what those experiences might look and feel (conversations as a platform), built in deep learning.  Nadella event went on to demo bots at this week’s Build 2016 conference with solid results.

Last is a futuristic vision of the age of holograms brought to us by TED.  It involves holographic teleportation at around the eleven minute mark, which is a practical application of all that VR/AR tech discussed above that is here today.