If you don't like the game, change the game

There is always this question about competition as a form of validation, where we go for things that lots of other people are going for.

It's not that there is wisdom of crowds, it's not that lots of people trying to do something is the best proof of that being valuable. I think it's when lots of people are trying to do something, that is often proof of insanity.

There are twenty thousand people a year who move to Los Angeles to become movie stars, about twenty of them make it. I think the Olympics are a little bit better because you have, you can sort of figure out pretty quickly whether you’re good or not, so there's little less of a deadweight loss to society.

You know the sort of educational experience that at a place, the pre-Stanford educational experience, there is always sort of a non-competitive characterization. I think most of the people in this room had machine guns and they were competing with people with bows and arrows, so it wasn’t exactly a parallel competition when you were in junior high school, in high school.

There is always the question: does the tournament make sense as you keep going?

There is always this question if people going on to grad school or post doctoral educations, does the intensity of the competition really make sense.

There is the classic Henry Kissinger line describing his fellow faculty at Harvard, “The battles were so ferocious because the stakes were so small,” describing academia and you sort of think on one level this is a description of insanity.

Why would people fight like crazy when the stakes are so small, but it's also, I think, simply a function of the logic of a situation.

When it's been really hard to differentiate yourself from other people, when the differences are, when the objectives differences really are small, you have to compete ferociously to maintain a difference of one sort or another. That's often more imaginary than real.

Peter Thiel from the below presentation (Competition is for losers)


Mobile ate the world, the 2016 edition


the whole stack here

The mobile concierge market

1. it's rather in an inception phase, there's no clear winners or established companies, although I like the way Operator executes

2. it's not a winner takes all market, as it's a fragmented one and it will be even so in the next few years at least

3. I don't believe in general solutions to a rather complex problem, as provided by the class of companies that contribute in this space today. They are pioneers rather discovering than solving problems in an early stage environment.

4. I also do not believe in generalist AI solutions, such as Google Now, Facebook M or Cortana, which are different beasts than Magic, Operator or GoButler. AI is also hot these days, just like the conversational commerce, but there's no clear sustainable business model yet. 

5. the transactional model seems to be limited to a certain user profile since there's always a premium on top of the retail markup plus the delivery costs, which makes it rather an expensive value proposition attractive to a certain demographic

6. on a broader level the transactional model makes it difficult to develop competitive advantages, it's just another sales channel, a channel that can be very easily replicated, cheaper, by solid players like Amazon and such. So it's a channel with a trajectory towards a model competing on brand and marketing budget sizes.

How is Foursquare making money

Attribution Powered by Foursquare leans on a voluntary, nonincentivized panel of 1.3 million Foursquare users who have agreed to leave their location-sharing feature on at all times, meaning Foursquare knows every store they visit—even if they don't open the app or the company's sister app, Swarm. The panel also takes U.S. Census demographics into consideration.

Brand marketers can select specific demographics in certain markets to home in on a campaign's performance across Web channels like Yahoo and AOL and various mobile app ad networks. Then, a test group and a control group from the Foursquare panel are set up.

The smartphone-carrying consumers' offline activities are recorded for an amount of time the marketer necessitates—for instance, a travel company would be interested in seeing visits data 30 days or more after a campaign runs, while a fast-food brand may want to know if an ad drove people into stores within a few days of seeing it.

Marketers will be charged at a 50-cent CPM rate for the attribution program, which will also be sold on a licensing model.

more context

it's the end of the world as we know it

The prognostication game has hitherto been about the speed at which newspapers will go out of print. Now it shifts up a gear to the more pressing question of which companies will start to jettison websites and other digital infrastructure accumulated in the past two decades.

Having a legacy business configured around a website is now almost as much of a headache as the rumbling printing press, fuelled by paper and money.

It is likely we will start to see studio or agency models emerge where publishing models once were, trying to create value around relationships and services rather than packages and products.

As publishers lose control, are newspaper websites a dead parrot?

So basically the online publishing industry is in a transition state, an ever going perpetuum for a few years already and not a surprise since its bosses are paralyzed by change.

Survival in the content business will depend on building the business not around the website as an asset but around the brand as a connection center. Combined with iminent death of counting pageviews and unique visitors, which is a broken business model.

Or, simply put, if you've got a sustainable economic model for the value created in the ecosystem, you've got a viable business.

history of japan

Optimal environment for entrepreneurs to start and finance a company

Yeap, the current status in Europe is that there's more money available than ideas in the market. So if you're in for the game, there's plenty of fish to feed

Hello good times! For Berlin-based entrepreneurs this means ‘now’ is the best time to start a company.

Given the capital flowing into the city it has probably never been easier to raise Venture funding in central Europe’s new boom-town of Tech. This is especially true for early stage rounds, while growth capital remains scarce and dominated by large international investors.

For most entrepreneurs this will of course mean they will have to grow more cautiously than their Valley counterparts (and competitors).


orders of magnitude

Apple has 1 billion active devices.

Facebook has TWO 1 billion user businesses: FB + Whatsapp

Google has SEVEN 1 billion monthly active users: Search, Android, Maps, Chrome, YouTube, Google Play, Gmail

the paradox of the day


very uncertain times for publishers

Quality media

in the history of the world, if you are talking about quality journalism, where you have to pay people to do real reporting, and go travel to do interviews, in the history of the world, it would be hard to name the quality journalism organization that existed solely on advertising revenue. The closest is the broadcast networks in the '60s, '70s and '80s when they had 90 percent of the eyeballs in the country. And even then their news operations mostly didn't make money and were really considered a public service.

Meanwhile, people say CNN is down. But it is still making hundreds of millions of dollars. Why? Because viewers are paying for it through their cable fees. Thus there's a dual revenue stream. It's the same at MSNBC, which is highly profitable. And Fox is the most profitable cable channel. They might not all be the operations I would personally run. But, in the case of Fox News, they do something distinctive, pay good money to produce their product and then depend on people wanting to have the channel on their cable system, paying for it and watching

Newspaper bosses ‘paralyzed’ by change, clueless about paid content, says Steve Brill

It's the same song all over again, ever since the traditional media ever discovered the internet - if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Alas, content on the web is in an infinite supply mode so one has to know what its competitive advantage is to somebody who consumes content on facebook for free.