Jeff Bezos

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pages: 380 words: 118,675

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, buy and hold, call centre, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?, zero-sum game

Shaw ‘as essentially a research lab that happened to invest, and not as a financial firm that happened to have a few people playing with equations.’ ” 6 Leibovich, The New Imperialists, 85. 7 Peter de Jonge, “Riding the Perilous Waters of Amazon.com,” New York Times Magazine, March 14, 1999. 8 John Quarterman, Matrix News. 9 Jeff Bezos interview, Academy of Achievement, May 4, 2001. 10 Jeff Bezos, speech at Lake Forest College, February 26, 1998. 11 Jeff Bezos, speech to Commonwealth Club of California, July 27, 1998. 12 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. Chapter 2: The Book of Bezos 1 Robert Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast (New York: HarperCollins, 2000). Spector’s book offers a comprehensive account of Amazon’s early years. 2 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. 3 David Sheff, “The Playboy Interview: Jeff Bezos,” Playboy, February 1, 2000. 4 Ibid. 5 Adi Ignatius, “Jeff Bezos on Leading for the Long-Term at Amazon,” HBR IdeaCast (blog), Harvard Business Review, January 3, 2013, http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2013/01/jeff-bezos-on-leading-for-the.html. 6 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. 7 Jeff Bezos, speech at Lake Forest College, February 26, 1998. 8 Ibid. 9 Amazon.com Inc.

Spector’s book offers a comprehensive account of Amazon’s early years. 2 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. 3 David Sheff, “The Playboy Interview: Jeff Bezos,” Playboy, February 1, 2000. 4 Ibid. 5 Adi Ignatius, “Jeff Bezos on Leading for the Long-Term at Amazon,” HBR IdeaCast (blog), Harvard Business Review, January 3, 2013, http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2013/01/jeff-bezos-on-leading-for-the.html. 6 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. 7 Jeff Bezos, speech at Lake Forest College, February 26, 1998. 8 Ibid. 9 Amazon.com Inc. S-1, filed March 24, 1997. 10 Mukul Pandya and Robbie Shell, eds., “Lasting Leadership: Lessons from the 25 Most Influential Business People of Our Times,” Knowledge@Wharton, October 20, 2004, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1054. 11 Ibid. 12 James Marcus, Amazonia (New York: New Press, 2004). 13 Jeff Bezos, speech to Commonwealth Club of California, July 27, 1998. 14 Cynthia Mayer, “Investing It; Does Amazon = 2 Barnes & Nobles?,” New York Times, July 19, 1998. 15 Jeff Bezos, interview by Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose, PBS, July 28, 2010. 16 Justin Hibbard, “Wal-Mart v.

Part II Chapter 5: Rocket Boy 1 Chip Bayers, “The Inner Bezos,” Wired, March 1999. 2 Mark Leibovich, The New Imperialists (New York: Prentice Hall, 2002), 79. 3 “Local Team Wins Unicycle Polo Match,” Albuquerque Tribune, November 23, 1961. 4 Albuquerque Tribune, April 24, 1965. 5 Leibovich, The New Imperialists, 73–74. 6 Ibid., 71. 7 Ibid., 74. 8 Jeff Bezos interview, Academy of Achievement, May 4, 2001. 9 “The World’s Billionaires,” Forbes, July 9, 2001. 10 Bayers, “The Inner Bezos.” 11 Brad Stone, “Bezos in Space,” Newsweek, May 5, 2003. 12 Mylene Mangalindan, “Buzz in West Texas Is about Bezos and His Launch Site,” Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2006. 13 Jeff Bezos, “Successful Short Hop, Setback, and Next Vehicle,” Blue Origin website, September 2, 2011. 14 Adam Lashinsky, “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The Ultimate Disrupter,” Fortune, November 16, 2012. Chapter 6: Chaos Theory 1 Saul Hansell, “Listen Up! It’s Time for a Profit; a Front-Row Seat as Amazon Gets Serious,” New York Times, May 20, 2011. 2 Jeff Bezos, speech to the American Association of Publishers, March 18, 1999. 3 In 2012, my research assistant Nick Sanchez filed a comprehensive FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request with the U.S.


pages: 222 words: 54,506

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt

Amazon Web Services, automated trading system, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, Dynabook, Elon Musk, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, new economy, science of happiness, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, software patent, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Chapter 2: Portrait of the Entrepreneur as a Young Man 19. Jeff’s family’s Texas roots: Joshua Quittner, “Jeff Bezos: An Eye on the Future,” Time, December 27, 1999. 20. “what I considered: “Interview with Jeff Bezos,” Time, May 4, 2001. 20. “One of the things: Rob Walker, “America’s 25 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs,” Inc., April 1, 2004. 20. “You become really self-sufficient: Helen Jung, “Amazon’s Bezos: Internet’s Ultimate Cult Figure,” Seattle Times, September 19, 1999. 21. “I’ve never been curious: Quittner, “Jeff Bezos: An Eye on the Future.” 23. “I think single-handedly: Robert Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast, HarperCollins, 2000. 23. A kid who valued: “Jeff Bezos,” CEOBios.com, Kirby Directory, June 12, 2010, http://ceobios.com/2010/06/jeff-bezos-amazon-com/. 23. “I would like to: Jeffrey P. Bezos interview, Academy of Achievement [no author], May 4, 2001, www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/bezoint-1. 23.

The thing about inventing: Alan Deutschman, “Inside the mind of Jeff Bezos,” Fast Company, August 1, 2004. 159. “Amazon’s position is indefensible: Ian Stobie and Wendy Barratt, “Web Forecaster: Forrester Interview,” VNUNet, July 16, 1997, www.v3.co.uk/vnunet/analysis/2130440/Web-forecaster-forrester-interview. 160. At their wedding reception: Deutschman, “Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos.” 161. In June 1999, in order to: Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast. 163. noted that he: Howard, “How I ‘Escaped’ from Amazon.cult.” 164. “It’s like Communist China: Mark Leibovich, “Not All Smiles Inside Amazon,” Washington Post, November 25, 1999. 164. “Bezos never serves up: de Jonge, “Riding the Wild, Perilous Waters of Amazon.com.” 164. Even in the December 1999: Quittner, “Jeff Bezos: An Eye on the Future.” Chapter 15: But What Kind of Manager Is He?

One former executive recalled: Deutschman, “Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos.” 168. “My grandfather looked: Krystal Knapp, “Amazon CEO Urges Princeton Grads to Take a ‘Less Safe Path,’ New Jersey Times, May 31, 2010. 169. One customer service manager: Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast. 169. Rather than a raise: Greg Linden, “Early Amazon: Similarities,” Geeking with Greg (blog), http://glinden.blogspot.com/2006/03/early-amazon-similarities.html. 172. “We have a strong focus: Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast. 173. “Sometimes, that meant spending: Ibid. 174. “One of the biggest problems: Tim O’Reilly, “Jeff Bezos at Wired Disruptive by Design Conference,” O’Reilly Radar (blog), June 15, 2009, http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/06/jeff-bezos-at-wired-disruptive.html. Chapter 16: Head in the Clouds 178.


pages: 411 words: 98,128

Bezonomics: How Amazon Is Changing Our Lives and What the World's Best Companies Are Learning From It by Brian Dumaine

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, call centre, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, corporate raider, creative destruction, Danny Hillis, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, natural language processing, pets.com, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, wealth creators, web application, Whole Earth Catalog

“I’ve made billions of dollars”: Blodget, “I Asked Jeff Bezos the Tough Questions.” He has given money to candidates: Sean Sullivan, “The Politics of Jeff Bezos,” Washington Post, August 7, 2013. In 2018, he donated $10 million: Rachel Siegel, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and John Wagner, “Jeff Bezos Donates $10 Million to Veteran-Focused Super PAC in First Major Political Venture,” Washington Post, September 5, 2018. As he told Charlie Rose: Charlie Rose, “A Conversation with Amazon’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Bezos,” video, CharlieRose.com, October 27, 2016. When his friend and former: Rubenstein, conversation with Jeff Bezos, September 13, 2018. Since the acquisition: Ibid. To the relief of the Post’s staff: Dade Hayes, “Jeff Bezos Has Never Meddled with Washington Post Coverage, Editor Marty Baron Affirms,” Deadline, June 6, 2019.

“Jeff Bezos” wasn’t always: “Jeff Bezos Talks Amazon, Blue Origin, Family, and Wealth,” video interview by Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer, with Jeff Bezos (4:51), posted on YouTube, May 5, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCpgKvZB_VQ. His father, Ted: Stone, The Everything Store, 140–42. Ted’s unicycling job: Ibid., 142. Bezos never saw his biological father again: Ibid., 321–24. After Stone unearthed Jorgensen: Laura Collins, “Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’s Ailing Biological Father Pleads to See Him,” Daily Mail, November 17, 2018. Jorgensen died: Kim Janssen, “Who Was Jeff Bezos’ Tenuous Personal Tie to Chicago?,” Chicago Tribune, February 20, 2018. After Jackie got divorced from Jorgensen: Stone, The Everything Store, 143–46. It seems that Jeff Bezos inherited: “Jeff Bezos Talks Amazon, Blue Origin, Family, and Wealth,” video (5:00). As Bezos later recalled his first summer: Ibid. (6:00).

In 1974, when he was ten years old: Jeff Bezos, “We Are What We Choose,” Princeton commencement speech, May 30, 2010. On the ranch, Pop Gise: Interview with Jeff and Mark Bezos, Summit LA17, November 14, 2017. Bezos even helped his grandfather: David M. Rubenstein, conversation with Jeff Bezos, the Economic Club, Washington, D.C., September 13, 2018, https://www.economicclub.org/events/jeff-bezos. Part of being a resourceful person: Summit LA17 interview, November 14, 2017. When Bezos was in Montessori school: Rubenstein, conversation with Jeff Bezos, September 13, 2018. When he was in sixth grade: Julie Ray, Turning On Bright Minds: A Parent Looks at Gifted Education in Texas (Houston: Prologues, 1977). After graduating from high school: Alan Deutchman, “Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos,” Fast Company, August 1, 2004, https://www.fastcompany.com/50541/inside-mind-jeff-bezos-4.


pages: 390 words: 108,171

The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos by Christian Davenport

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Burning Man, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, high net worth, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, life extension, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, multiplanetary species, obamacare, old-boy network, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, private space industry, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, X Prize, zero-sum game

“THE GREAT INVERSION” He’d joked that Blue Origin’s business model: Christian Davenport, “Jeff Bezos Shows Off the Crew Capsule That Could Soon Take Tourists to Space,” Washington Post, April 5, 2017. By contrast, he spent $2.5 billion: Caleb Henry, “Blue Origin Enlarges New Glenn’s Payload Fairing, Preparing to Debut Upgraded New Shepard,” SpaceNews, September 17, 2017. “We all have passions”: Alan Boyle, “Video: Watch Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Talk with Kids About Apollo’s Space Legacy—and Share Life Lessons,” Geekwire, May 20, 2017, https://www.geekwire.com/2017/jeff-bezos-kids-apollo/. Two days before the launch: https://www.blueorigin.com/astronaut-experience. “We’ll talk about Blue Origin”: Davenport, “Why Jeff Bezos Is Finally Ready to Talk About Taking People to Space,” Washington Post, March 8, 2016.

“We’ll talk about Blue Origin”: Davenport, “Why Jeff Bezos Is Finally Ready to Talk About Taking People to Space,” Washington Post, March 8, 2016. Without mentioning Musk: Ibid. “Think about it,” he said: Christian Davenport, “Jeff Bezos on Nuclear Reactors in Space, the Lack of Bacon on Mars, and Humanity’s Destiny in the Solar System,” Washington Post, September 15, 2016. While he had been inspired: Calla Cofield, “Spaceflight Is Entering a New Golden Age, Says Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos,” Space.com, November 25, 2015, https://www.space.com/31214-spaceflight-golden-age-jeff-bezos.html. “If I’m 80 years old”: Ibid. Although suborbital space tourism: John Thornhill, “Mars Visionaries Herald a New Space Age,” Financial Times, August 21, 2017. “We humans don’t get great”: Alan Boyle, “Interview: Jeff Bezos Lays Out Blue Origin’s Space Vision, from Tourism to Off-planet Heavy Industry,” Geekwire, April 13, 2016. Eleven days before John Glenn: Brian Wolly, “Read the Letter Written by John Glenn to Honor Jeff Bezos for Blue Origin,” Smithsonian Magazine, December 8, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/read-letter-written-sen-john-glenn-honor-jeff-bezos-blue-origin-180961366/.

Gise would continue to serve: Mark Leibovich, The New Imperialists: How Five Restless Kids Grew Up to Virtually Rule Your World (Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), 70. He paid his son-in-law’s tuition: Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Boston: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown, 2013), 142. Jackie got a job: Ibid. “I’ve never been curious”: Joshua Quittner, “An Eye on the Future: Jeff Bezos Merely Wants Amazon.com to Be the Earth’s Biggest Seller of Everything,” Time, December 27, 1999. “It really was a seminal moment”: Bezos Expeditions, http://www.bezosexpeditions.com/updates.html. On the ranch: Joshua Quittner and Chip Bayers, “The Inner Bezos,” Wired Magazine, March 1, 1999. “We’d hitch up the Airstream”: Jeff Bezos, “We Are What We Choose,” baccalaureate address, Princeton University, May 30, 2010, https://www.princeton.edu/news/2010/05/30/2010-baccalaureate-remarks.


pages: 281 words: 71,242

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism

“a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships”: Michael Rundle, “Zuckerberg: telepathy is the future of Facebook,” Wired, July 1, 2015. Some news wires use algorithms to write stories: Joanna Plucinska, “How an Algorithm Helped the LAT Scoop Monday’s Quake,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 18, 2014. CHAPTER FOUR: JEFF BEZOS DISRUPTS KNOWLEDGE “I’m grumpy when I’m forced to read a physical book”: “Jeff Bezos in Conversation with Steven Levy,” Wired Business Conference, June 15, 2009. creating an “everything store”: Brad Stone, The Everything Store (Little, Brown and Company, 2013), 24. Adam Smith, it’s fair to say, didn’t anticipate Jeff Bezos: My discussion of the economics of knowledge relies on David Warsh’s excellent Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (W.W. Norton, 2006). called “rivalry”—if I own a shovel, you can’t own that shovel: Paul M. Romer, “Endogenous Technological Change,” Journal of Political Economy 98, no. 5 (October 1990): S71–102.

“hated for the Post or its writers to look as though they were”: David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Knopf, 1975), 188. “Even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation”: Jeff Bezos, Letter to Amazon shareholders, 2011. “I see the elimination of gatekeepers everywhere”: Thomas L. Friedman, “Do You Want the Good News First?,” New York Times, May 19, 2012. “The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower”: Bezos, Letter, 2011. “Take a look at the Kindle bestseller list, and compare it”: Bezos, Letter to shareholders, 2011. “Our touchstone will be readers”: Jeff Bezos, “Jeff Bezos on Post Purchase,” Washington Post, August 5, 2013. Amazon, on the other hand, considers the profession to be filled with “antediluvian losers”: George Packer, “Cheap Words,” New Yorker, February 17, 2014.

To build their empires, they targeted the weak economic underpinnings of knowledge and they knocked them right out. It was Jeff Bezos who pioneered this approach, even before the Internet had begun to truly take form—and he chose the most unlikely starting place. • • • BOOKSTORES PLAY AN INDISPENSABLE ROLE in our capitalist system. They are an employment program for failed graduate students; they show how low margins and bake-sale profits will not defeat the spirit of entrepreneurship. Anyone who has browsed the literary theory aisle or studied the analytics for Russian novels can surely see how the road to the economy’s commanding heights begins with bookselling. Perhaps it took a visionary to understand the untapped profit potential of the book. And to be sure, only Jeff Bezos could see how the ancient technology of inking words onto deceased vegetation was the ideal vehicle for winning the Internet, a gambit for dislodging and then surpassing Walmart as the king of retail.


pages: 404 words: 95,163

Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce by Natalie Berg, Miya Knights

3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business intelligence, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, computer vision, connected car, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Elon Musk, gig economy, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, market fragmentation, new economy, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, QR code, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, remote working, sensor fusion, sharing economy, Skype, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, trade route, underbanked, urban planning, white picket fence

Available from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-widens-war-with-walmart-for-low-income-shoppers-1520431203 [Last accessed 28/6/2018]. 9 Amazon UK Analyst Briefing, London, 2017. 10 McAlone, Nathan (2016) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said something about Prime Video that should scare Netflix, Business Insider, 2 June. Available from: http://uk.businessinsider.com/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-said-something-about-prime-video-that-should-scare-netflix-2016-6 [Last accessed 2.7.2018] 11 Amazon press release (2018) Amazon.com announces first quarter sales up 43% to $51.0 billion, Amazon, 26 April. Available from: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=97664&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2345075 [Last accessed 28/6/2018]. 12 Kim, Eugene (2016) Bezos to shareholders: It’s ‘irresponsible’ not to be part of Amazon Prime, Business Insider, 17 May. Available from:http://uk.businessinsider.com/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-says-its-irresponsible-not-to-be-part-of-prime-2016-5 [Last accessed 28/6/2018]. 13 Stone, Brad (2013) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon, Bantam Press, London. 14 ibid. 15 Vizard, Sarah (2016) Loyalty cards aren’t convincing British consumers to shop, Marketing Week, 7 December.

Available from: https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles [Last accessed 19/6/2018]. 2 https://www.jimcollins.com/concepts/the-flywheel.html 3 Stone, B (2013) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon, Bantam Press, London. 4 Thompson, Scott (2018) We’ll all be banking with Amazon in 10 years: agree? Tech HQ, 22 May. Available from: http://techhq.com/2018/05/well-all-be-banking-with-amazon-in-10-years-agree-or-disagree/ [Last accessed 19/6/2018]. 5 Amazon’s website (2018). Available from: https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles [Last accessed 19/6/2018]. 6 Stone, B (2013) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon, Bantam Press, London. 7 Tonner, Andrew (2016) 7 Sam Walton quotes you should read right now, The Motley Fool, 8 September. Available from: https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/09/08/7-sam-walton-quotes-you-should-read-right-now.aspx [Last accessed 19/6/2018]. 8 Amazon 2016 letter to shareholders (2017), Amazon.com.

Table 8.1 Amazon’s FMCG own label ranges Year launched Brand Category Babycare Beauty & grooming Food & beverage Health & personal care Household supplies Petcare Vitamins & supplements 2014 Amazon Elements x x 2016 Happy Belly x 2016 Mama Bear x 2016 Presto x 2016 Wickedly Prime x 2017 AmazonFresh x 2017 Whole Foods Market* x x x x 2017 365* x x x x x x 2017 Engine 2 Plant-Strong* x 2018 Basic Care** x 2018 Wag x 2018 Solimo x x x x x 2018 Mountain Falls** x x x *Acquired Whole Foods Market brands **Exclusive to Amazon, but not Amazon-owned Notes 1 Creswell, Julie (2018) How Amazon steers shoppers to its own products, New York Times, 23 June. Available from: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/business/amazon-the-brand-buster.html [Last accessed 29/6/2018]. 2 Housel, Morgan (2013) The 20 smartest things Jeff Bezos has ever said, The Motley Fool, 9 September. Available from: https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/09/09/the-25-smartest-things-jeff-bezos-has-ever-said.aspx [Last accessed 29/6/2018]. 3 Franck, Thomas (2018) Amazon’s flourishing private label business to help stock rally another 20%, analyst says, CNBC, 4 September. Available from: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/04/suntrust-amazons-private-label-business-to-help-stock-rally-20-percent.html [Last accessed 29/6/2018]. 4 Lebow, Victor (1955) Price competition in 1955, Journal of Retailing, Spring.


pages: 260 words: 67,823

Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever by Alex Kantrowitz

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer vision, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, Firefox, Google Chrome, hive mind, income inequality, Infrastructure as a Service, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Jony Ive, knowledge economy, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, new economy, Peter Thiel, QR code, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tim Cook: Apple, uber lyft, wealth creators, zero-sum game

Condé Nast, December 13, 2008. https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-gigafactory. Uber’s culture is famously troubled: Isaac, Mike. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2019. CHAPTER 1: INSIDE JEFF BEZOS’S CULTURE OF INVENTION Bezos drives Amazon’s inventive culture through fourteen leadership principles: “Leadership Principles.” Amazon.jobs. Accessed October 3, 2019. https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles. “No powerpoint presentations from now on,” he wrote: Stone, Madeline. “A 2004 Email from Jeff Bezos Explains Why PowerPoint Presentations Aren’t Allowed at Amazon.” Business Insider. Business Insider, July 28, 2015. https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-email-against-powerpoint-presentations-2015-7. The memo was exhaustive: These memos even have their own set of micro-leadership principles for each group, called tenets.

“Rushed Amazon Staff Pee into Bottles as They’re Afraid of Time-Wasting.” Sun. Sun, April 15, 2018. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6055021/rushed-amazon-warehouse-staff-time-wasting. The company’s corporate staff: Stone, Brad. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. “Because of the challenges”: Recode. “Amazon Employee Work-Life Balance | Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon | Code Conference 2016.” YouTube, June 2, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTYFEgXaRbU. “Customers are always unsatisfied,” Bezos said: TheBushCenter. “Forum on Leadership: A Conversation with Jeff Bezos.” YouTube, April 20, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu6vFIKAUxk. a brutal five-thousand-word New York Times article: Kantor, Jodi, and David Streitfeld. “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.”

In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone. Jacket design: Christopher Sergio pid_prh_5.5.0_c0_r0 CONTENTS TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION PREFACE: The Zuckerberg Encounter INTRODUCTION: Always Day One Ideas vs. Execution Miracles in Miami The Engineer’s Mindset When Things Speed Up 1. Inside Jeff Bezos’s Culture of Invention Meet Amazon’s Science Fiction Writers Jeff Bezos’s Robot Employees Hands off the Wheel Life After Yoda Insist on the Highest Standards “That Article” Outputs 2. Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Culture of Feedback Facebook the Vulnerable Building a Feedback Culture Pathways Facebook’s Day One From Broadcast to Private “The Most Chinese Company in Silicon Valley” Enter the Machines Robot Compensation New Inputs Facebook’s Next Reinvention 3.


pages: 207 words: 57,959

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries by Peter Sims

Amazon Web Services, Black Swan, Clayton Christensen, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, deliberate practice, discovery of penicillin, endowment effect, fear of failure, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, longitudinal study, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, PageRank, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ruby on Rails, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, Toyota Production System, urban planning, Wall-E

Secondary sources included: “Institutional Yes: The HBR Interview with Jeff Bezos,” by Julia Kirby and Thomas Stewart, Harvard Business Review, October 2007; “Jeff Bezos: ‘Blind-Alley’ Explorer,” by Robert Hof, Business Week, August 19, 2004; “What’s Dangerous Is Not to Evolve,” by Michael Schick, Fast Company, February 17, 2009; “The Customer Is Always Right: Jeff Bezos,” by Daniel Lyons, Newsweek, December 21, 2009; “Amid the Gloom, an E-Commerce War,” by Brad Stone, New York Times, October 11, 2008; “Amazon Auctions Losing Momentum to eBay,” by Troy Wolverton, ZD Net News, August 2001; “Amazon, Sotheby’s Closing Jointly Operated Auction Site,” by Troy Wolverton, CNET News, October 10, 2000; “Amazon.com Whiz Jeff Bezos Keeps Kindling Hot Concepts,” by Patrick Seitz, Business Week, December 31, 2009; and Amazon.com, Inc.

“Pixar’s ‘Cars’ Got Its Kicks on Route 66,” by Phil Patton, New York Times, May 21, 2006. Dyer and Gregersen research: “The Innovator’s DNA,” by Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Review, December 2009. “How Do Innovators Think?” by Bronwyn Fryer, Harvard Business Review blog, September 28, 2009, which can be found at: http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/hbreditors/2009/09/how_do_innovators_think.html. Jeff Bezos quote from: “Institutional Yes: The HBR Interview with Jeff Bezos,” by Julia Kirby and Thomas Stewart, Harvard Business Review, October 2007. Apple and Steve Jobs: Inside Steve’s Brain, by Leander Kahney, Portfolio (2008), 190–197. “Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing,” by Gary Wolf, Wired, March 2002. Steve Jobs calligraphy example taken from his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech. James Chanos reference: Interview with Chanos.

Within three weeks after Google made this change, the system had produced twice as much revenue as fixed-priced ads produced within that same period, to the great surprise of many, including CEO Eric Schmidt. Once AdWords became the company’s flagship product, Google’s revenue growth exploded. Page and Brin did not begin with an ingenious idea, but they certainly discovered one. The pioneering bookseller Amazon also embraces an experimental discovery mentality. Led by founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s culture breathes experimentation. Employees there are encouraged to constantly try things and develop new ideas. It’s such an important goal of the company to provoke this that whether or not employees are doing so is a part of their performance reviews. Bezos often compares Amazon’s strategy of developing ideas in new markets to “planting seeds” or “going down blind alleys.” They learn and uncover opportunities as they go.


pages: 305 words: 79,303

The Four: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Divided and Conquered the World by Scott Galloway

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, Brewster Kahle, business intelligence, California gold rush, cloud computing, commoditize, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, follow your passion, future of journalism, future of work, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Khan Academy, longitudinal study, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, passive income, Peter Thiel, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, undersea cable, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, working poor, young professional

You felt cool shopping at The Gap, while buying a Pottery Barn couch gave a generation of Americans the sense that they had “arrived.” Specialty retailers recognized that even shopping bags offered a self-expressive benefit—if you carried Williams-Sonoma, you were cool, enjoyed the finer things in life, and had a passion for cooking. The E-Commerce Opportunity Jeff Bezos happened more to retail than retail happened to Jeff Bezos. In each of the preceding eras of retail, there were brilliant people who tapped into a shift in demographics or taste and created billions of dollars in value. But Bezos saw a technological shift, then used it to reconstruct root and branch the entire world of retailing. E-commerce would be a shadow of itself, had Bezos not brought his vision and focus to the medium.

In 2005, Lore started diapers.com and launched several other categories for parents under the corporate umbrella Quidsi.78 When Bezos toured the firm, he must have felt at home, recognizing the warehouses close to urban centers staffed by Kiva Robots standing behind a site run by algorithms. Bezos fell hard and in 2011 paid $545 million for Quidsi.79 For half a billion dollars Amazon bought momentum in key categories, got some great human capital, and took a competitor off the market. But Lore didn’t want to work for Jeff Bezos. He wanted to be Jeff Bezos. Twenty-four months later he bolted and, with his new wealth, started Jet.com. This must have felt like a half-a-billion-dollar divorce settlement to your husband, who then moves into the house next door and starts fucking your friends. The ex is still pissed off. In April 2017 Bezos closed Quidsi and laid off many of its employees. Hey, if you leave me, your brother needs to move out of the basement.

That’s nothing new. Only we’ve never seen any retailer this good at it. Amazon, armed with infinite capital provided by eager investors, is leading a war on brands to starch the margin from brands and deliver it back to the consumer. Death, for brands, has a name . . . Alexa. Amazon the Destroyer I spoke the following morning, after Jeff Bezos, at a recent conference. Similar to the kid who sees dead people in The Sixth Sense, Jeff Bezos sees the future of business better than most CEOs. When asked about job destruction and what it would mean for our society, he suggested one more time that we should consider adopting a universal minimum income. Or, he added, a negative income tax where every citizen is granted a cash payment that will be sufficient to stay above the poverty line.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

How has a network designed to have neither a heart, a hierarchy, nor a central dot created such a top-down, winner-take-all economy run by a plutocracy of new lords and masters? Monetization In The Everything Store, his definitive 2013 biography of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Brad Stone recounts a conversation he had with Bezos about the writing of his book. “How do you plan to handle the narrative fallacy?” the Internet entrepreneur asked, leaning forward on his elbows and staring in his bug-eyed way at Stone.9 There was a nervous silence as Stone looked at Bezos blankly. The “narrative fallacy,” Bezos explained to Stone, is the tendency, particularly of authors, “to turn complex realities” into “easily understandable narratives.” As a fan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan, a book that introduced the concept, Jeff Bezos believes that the world—like that map on the wall of Ericsson’s Stockholm office—is so random and chaotic that it can’t be easily summarized (except, of course, as being randomly chaotic).

Discussing Tim Berners-Lee’s decision to give away his technology for free, Jim Clark—who disliked venture capitalists, believing them to be vultures that “make hyenas look good”22—suggests that “any entrepreneur might wonder about his (Berners-Lee’s) sanity while admiring his soul.”23 What the Internet lost in the early nineties, with the passing of its mantle from researchers like Tim Berners-Lee to businessmen like Jim Clark, can be simply summarized. As Wall Street moved west, the Internet lost a sense of common purpose, a general decency, perhaps even its soul. Money replaced all these things. It gushed from the spigots of venture capitalist firms like KPCB, which—with successful Internet companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google—came to replace the government as the main source for investment in innovation. Jeff Bezos, if he happened to be reading this, would probably accuse me of inventing a narrative fallacy, of reducing the Internet’s complex reality to an easy-to-understand morality tale. But Bezos and his Everything Store are exhibits A and B in my argument. He was a Wall Street analyst who moved out west and amassed a $30 billion personal fortune through his Internet ventures. And his own 1994 startup, Amazon, the winner-take-all store that had revenue of $74.45 billion in 2013—in spite of its convenience, great prices, and reliability—reflects much of what has gone wrong with the Internet in its monetized second act.

On November 5, 1999, the day of its IPO, Webvan was valued at almost $8 billion.33 A little over a year and a half later, on July 10, 2001, Webvan filed for bankruptcy protection and shut down. In spite of the Webvan disaster, the winner-take-all model had a particular resonance in the e-commerce sector, where the so-called Queen of the Net, the influential Morgan Stanley research analyst Mary Meeker (who is now a partner at KPCB), saw first-mover advantage as critical in dominating online marketplaces. And it was this winner-take-all thinking that led Jeff Bezos, in 1996, to accept an $8 million investment from John Doerr in exchange for 13% of Amazon, a deal that valued the year-old e-commerce startup at $60 million.34 “The cash from Kleiner Perkins hit the place like a dose of entrepreneurial steroids, making Jeff more determined than ever,” noted one early Amazon employee about the impact of the 1996 KPCB investment.35 “Get Big Fast” immediately became Bezos’s mantra.


pages: 352 words: 87,930

Space 2.0 by Rod Pyle

additive manufacturing, air freight, barriers to entry, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, experimental subject, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jeff Bezos, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, mouse model, risk-adjusted returns, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, telerobotics, trade route, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Y Combinator

There are a number of would-be competitors ready to take up the challenges of a new space race, but only two are anywhere close to SpaceX in terms of financial investment or technical ability: Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, or ULA. Falcon 9 carrying CASSIOPE preparing for liftoff at Vandenberg Air Force Base, December 2015. Image credit: SpaceX CHAPTER 9 A NEW SPACE RACE Image credit: James Vaughan Precious few competitors exist in the human spaceflight launch industry—the resources required to shuttle people into space are staggering. There’s SpaceX, as we have already seen, and also United Launch Alliance, which we will detail shortly. But one of the other major players, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, truly stands alone. Not because they are doing anything so novel, but because they are doing it so differently. Blue Origin is almost completely self-funded.

The Verge, November 10, 2017. 64Chaikin, Andy. “Is SpaceX Changing the Rocket Equation?” Air & Space Magazine, January 2012. www.airspacemag.com/space/is-spacex-changing-the-rocket-equation-132285884/. CHAPTER 9: A NEW SPACE RACE 65“S. Dade’s Best and Brightest.” Miami Herald, July 4, 1982. 66Foust, Jeff. “Bezos Investment in Blue Origin Exceeds $500 Million.” Space News, July 18, 2014. 67Klotz, Irene. “Bezos is selling $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to fund rocket venture.” Reuters Business News, April 5, 2017. 68Fernholtz, Tim, and Christopher Groskopf. “If Jeff Bezos is spending a billion a year on his space venture, he just started.” Quartz, April 12, 2017. 69Foust, Jeff. “Blue Origin’s New Shepard Vehicle Makes First Test Flight.” Space News, April 30, 2015. 70Clark, Stephan. “ULA chief says Blue Origin in driver’s seat for Vulcan engine deal.”

It’s a primer on rocketry and other space-related industries, national and international space programs, key facilities, planetary defense, asteroid mining, bases in space and more. Space 2.0 is a beginner’s must-read for anyone contemplating an investment in the space industry or a career in spaceflight or space policy.” —Stephen P. Maran, author of Astronomy for Dummies and recipient of the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievements “As Elon Musk celebrates more than 50 successful launches and a plethora of successful landings of his Falcon rockets and as Jeff Bezos achieves the ninth successful launch and landing of his New Shepard rocket, the space game is about to change. Rapidly. Your indispensable guide to the new space race is Rod Pyle’s Space 2.0.” —Howard Bloom, author of The Lucifer Principle, Global Brain, God Problem, The Muhammad Code, and How I Accidentally Started the Sixties Copyright © 2019 by Rod Pyle All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.


pages: 368 words: 96,825

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, gravity well, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Jono Bacon, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Oculus Rift, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, rolodex, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, superconnector, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, Turing test, urban renewal, web application, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Bezos, “1997 Letter to Shareholders,” Amazon.com, Ben’s Blog, 1997, http://benhorowitz.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/amzn_shareholder-letter-20072.pdf 27 “2012 re: Invent Day 2: Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos and Werner Vogels.” 28 Julie Bort, “Amazon Is Crushing IBM, Microsoft, And Google in Cloud Computing, Says Report,” Business Insider, November 26, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-cloud-beats-ibm-microsoft-google-2013-11#ixzz37zMH8gUr. 29 James Stewart, “Amazon Says Long Term and Means It,” New York Times, December 16, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/business/at-amazon-jeff-bezos-talks-long-term-and-means-it.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. 30 “Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame—Jeff Bezos Keynote,” Utah Technology Council, published online April 30, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-0KJF3uLP8. 31 “About Blue Origin,” Blue Origin, July 2014, http://www.blueorigin.com/about/. 32 Alistair Barr, “Amazon testing delivery by drone, CEO Bezos Says,” USA Today, December 2, 2013, referencing a 60 Minutes interview with Jeff Bezos, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/01/amazon-bezos-drone-delivery/3799021/. 33 Jay Yarow, “Jeff Bezos’ Shareholder Letter Is Out,” Business Insider, April 10, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-shareholder-letter-2014-4. 34 “Larry Page Biography,” Academy of Achievement, January 21, 2011, http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/pag0bio-1. 35 Marcus Wohlsen, “Google Without Larry Page Would Not Be Like Apple Without Steve Jobs,” Wired, October 18, 2013, http://www.wired.com/2013/10/google-without-page/. 36 Google Inc., 2012, Form 10-K 2012, retrieved from SEC Edgar website: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1288776/000119312513028362/d452134d10k.htm. 37 Larry Page, “Beyond Today—Larry Page—Zeitgeist 2012,” Google Zeitgeist, Zeitgeist Minds, May 22, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?

Which is to say, Branson’s appetite for bold is so big and his track record at scale so stellar that, for a great many, it’s difficult to not believe Branson is going to Mars. Jeff Bezos Jeff Bezos is a busy man. About five years ago, when I emailed him to set up a breakfast meeting, his response came back: “Peter, I’m so busy I’m trying to optimize my toothbrushing time.” And there’s a reason he’s so harried—the same reason Eric Schmidt listed Amazon (alongside Google, Apple, and Facebook) as one of the four horsemen of technology. Bezos isn’t interested in small shifts or polite progress. He wants to effect change on a massive scale, with customer-centric thinking and long-term thinking being the primary drivers behind this revolution. Jeff Bezos was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.22 Like Musk, he too showed an early interest in how things work.

,” Virgin, 2012, http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/ba-cant-get-it-up-best-stunt-ever. 18 Richard Branson, Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life (Virgin Books, March 2006). 19 “Galactic Announces Partnership,” Virgin Galactic, July 2009, http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/item/galactic-anounces-partnership/. 20 Nour Malas, “Abu Dhabi’s Aabar boosts Virgin Galactic stake,” Market Watch, October 19, 2011, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/abu-dhabis-aabar-boosts-virgin-galactic-stake-2011-10-19. 21 Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, “Google and Virgin Team Up to Spell ‘Virgle,’ ” Wired, April 1, 2008, http://www.wired.com/2008/04/google-and-virg/. 22 “Jeffrey Preston Bezos,” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014, http://www.biography.com/people/jeff-bezos-9542209. 23 Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2014). 24 “Jeffrey P. Bezos Biography,” Academy of Achievement, November 2013, http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/bez0bio-1. 25 Suzanne Galante and Dawn Kawamoto, “Amazon IPO skyrockets,” CNET, May 15, 1997, http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-279781.html. 26 Jeffery P. Bezos, “1997 Letter to Shareholders,” Amazon.com, Ben’s Blog, 1997, http://benhorowitz.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/amzn_shareholder-letter-20072.pdf 27 “2012 re: Invent Day 2: Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos and Werner Vogels.” 28 Julie Bort, “Amazon Is Crushing IBM, Microsoft, And Google in Cloud Computing, Says Report,” Business Insider, November 26, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-cloud-beats-ibm-microsoft-google-2013-11#ixzz37zMH8gUr. 29 James Stewart, “Amazon Says Long Term and Means It,” New York Times, December 16, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/business/at-amazon-jeff-bezos-talks-long-term-and-means-it.html?


pages: 286 words: 87,401

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism

When Uber tried to scale its management by hiring experienced executives like Jeff Jones from Target, they ended up resigning rather than changing the organization. During the first half of 2017 alone, Uber lost eight VPs or department heads. In contrast, companies like Facebook and Amazon, and leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, found ways to successfully recruit leadership from the outside, blending them with existing team members to change and strengthen the organization. Facebook promoted insiders like Chief Product Officer Chris Cox (who joined Facebook as a software engineer in 2005 after dropping out of Stanford), but also brought in compatible outsiders like Sheryl Sandberg and Mike Schroepfer. Jeff Bezos’s top lieutenants like Jeff Blackburn and Andy Jassy are Amazon lifers, but he also brought in key outsiders like Jeff Wilke from AlliedSignal and former Chief Information Officer Rick Dalzell from Walmart.

You’ll read all these stories, and many more, in the pages of this book. Whether you are a founder, a manager, a potential employee, or an investor, we believe that understanding blitzscaling will allow you to make better decisions in a world where speed is the critical competitive advantage. With the power of blitzscaling, the adopted son of a Syrian immigrant (Steve Jobs), the adopted son of a Cuban immigrant (Jeff Bezos), and a former English teacher and volunteer tour guide (Jack Ma) were all able to build businesses that changed—and are still changing—the world. The strategy and techniques we describe in this book are based on my experiences as a member of the founding team at PayPal; as the cofounder, CEO, and now executive chairman at LinkedIn; as a leading investor in Facebook and Airbnb; and as an investor at Greylock Partners, where I worked with many other billion-dollar companies, such as Workday, Pandora, Cloudera, and Pure Storage.

To mitigate the downside of the risks you take, you should try to focus them—line them up with a small number of hypotheses about how your business will develop so that you can more easily understand and monitor what drives your success or failure. You also have to be prepared to execute with more than 100 percent effort to compensate for the bets that don’t go your way. For example, anyone who knows Jeff Bezos knows that he didn’t simply mash his foot down on the gas pedal; Amazon has intentionally invested aggressively in the future, and, despite its accounting losses, generates a ton of cash. Amazon’s operating cash flow was over $16 billion in 2016, but it spent $10 billion in investments and $4 billion paying down debt. Its seemingly meager profits are a feature of its aggressive strategy, not a bug.


pages: 328 words: 96,141

Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race by Tim Fernholz

Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, business climate, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, multiplanetary species, mutually assured destruction, new economy, nuclear paranoia, paypal mafia, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pets.com, planetary scale, private space industry, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, trade route, undersea cable, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize, Y2K

—David Giger, SpaceX engineer In 2004, Tomas Svitek had a final breakfast with Jeff Bezos in Seattle. It was his last chance to plead with the billionaire entrepreneur to change course. Svitek was a Czechoslovak space engineer who had escaped the Iron Curtain by hiking over the Austrian border in the 1980s. He earned his PhD at Caltech and then worked on planetary probes like Voyager and Galileo at the Jet Propulsion Lab. The slow pace of governmental exploration of space pushed him to try the commercial side, first working on small satellites. Then he became the technical cofounder and CTO of the early, venture-financed space start-up BlastOff. After it failed in 2002, he, like so many others, became one of the space experts consulting with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as they developed their own space companies. Svitek is a self-described cynic about the revolutionary power of space business.

., October 16, 2003 (statement by Mike Griffin). “Russian kitchen appliances”: Elon Musk, remarks at Stanford University Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, October 8, 2003. “shuts the thing down”: Vance, Elon Musk, 109 year after SpaceX’s inception: Musk, remarks at Stanford University Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders. “enormous nature preserve”: Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2014), 153. “lottery winning for me”: Jeff Bezos, remarks at Satellite 2017 conference, March 8, 2017. 6. The Tyranny of the Rocket 200,000 feet above the earth: Columbia Accident Investigation Board report (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2003), 38. “dumbest thing I’d ever seen”: Rebecca Wright, “Interview with Michael Griffin,” NASA Oral History Project, September 10, 2007. 94 percent propellant by mass: Don Pettit, “The Tyranny of the Rocket Equation,” NASA, May 1, 2012, accessed August 22, 2017, https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition30/tryanny.html.

As the tide receded for the dot-coms, major investors sold out of their riskiest plays, and that meant no more easy money for people using explosives to launch five-ton orbital computers. If any of these satellite firms had hoped to raise new money, the markets made it clear that it wasn’t the time. The year 2000 was an appropriately futuristic time for a different tech entrepreneur to lay the groundwork for a bet on space: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The king of internet retail had taken his fledgling online bookstore public in 1996. In 1999, he had been Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Amazon survived the downturn and thrived, thanks to Bezos’s demanding style and focus on measurable results. He could take some time to pursue a personal project. As the world entered a new millennium, Bezos started a new LLC called Blue Origin. The company’s name referenced humanity’s starting point on earth but implied a future somewhere else.


pages: 372 words: 89,876

The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal

A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Googley, index card, industrial cluster, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, low cost airline, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Vanguard fund, web application, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

But the environment that surrounds the pods is equally critical to the success or failure of a podular system. Modular components are a critical element of a connected company. But to take advantage of pods, you also need a business that is designed to support them. Notes for Chapter Fourteen A/B TESTING “Institutional Yes: The HBR Interview with Jeff Bezos, by Jeff Bezos, Julia Kirby, and Thomas A. Stewart,” Harvard Business Review, October 2007. “WE HAVE THIS WEIRDNESS IN OUR BUSINESS” Alan Deutschman, “Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos,” Fast Company, August 1, 2004. THE STATISTICALLY-IMPROBABLE PHRASES SERVICE Jim Gray, “A Conversation with Werner Vogels: Learning from the Amazon Technology Platform,” Association for Computing Machinery, May 1, 2006. POD EFFECTIVENESS Self-Directed Work Teams, the New American Challenge, by Jack D.

, 2011). DOMINO’S Stephanie Clifford, “Video Prank at Domino’s Taints Brands,” The New York Times , April 15, 2009. BANK OF AMERICA Bank withdrawal numbers from the Credit Union National Association newsletter, November 4, 2011. CUSTOMER RECOMMENDATIONS 2009 Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey. AMAZON “Jeff Bezos recalls a publisher calling him and saying ‘I don’t think you understand your business. You make money when you sell books.’” From “A Conversation with Jeff Bezos” by François Bourboulon, Les Echos (blog), June 23, 2011. Chapter 2. The service economy In today’s world, where ideas are increasingly displacing the physical in the production of economic value, competition for reputation becomes a significant driving force, propelling our economy forward. Manufactured goods often can be evaluated before the completion of a transaction.

More Experiments Means More At-Bats Larger companies have an advantage because they have the resources to fund more experiments. The more things you try, the better your chances of discovering something valuable. Not surprisingly, GE’s Jack Welch, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have all made very similar statements regarding ongoing experimentation. Jack Welch, GE: “Size either liberates or paralyzes. We tried every day to remember that the benefit of size was that it allowed us to take more swings.” Eric Schmidt, Google: “Our goal is to have more at-bats per unit of time and effort than anyone else in the world.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon: “You need to set up and organize so that you can do as many experiments per unit of time as possible.” Be Connectable to Everything We live in a networked world. The more quickly and easily you can link in to other companies, networks, and platforms, the more options you will have.


pages: 561 words: 157,589

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us by Tim O'Reilly

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, deskilling, DevOps, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, gravity well, greed is good, Guido van Rossum, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lao Tzu, Larry Wall, Lean Startup, Leonard Kleinrock, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, microbiome, microservices, minimum viable product, mortgage tax deduction, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Oculus Rift, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Sam Altman, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, software as a service, software patent, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The Future of Employment, the map is not the territory, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, VA Linux, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, yellow journalism, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Flexible Hours,” Amazon, retrieved March 30, 2017, https://flex.amazon.com. 69 Kalanick burst out: Eric Newcomer, “In Video, Uber CEO Argues with Driver over Falling Fares,” Bloomberg Technology, February 28, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/in-video-uber-ceo-argues-with-driver-over-falling-fares. 70 “you’ll never be the same again”: PBS, One Last Thing, 2011, video clip of Steve Jobs 1994 comment republished April 24, 2013, http://mathiasmikkelsen.com/2013/04/everything-around-you-that-you-call-life-was-made-up-by-people-that-were-no-smarter-than-you/. CHAPTER 4: THERE ISN’T JUST ONE FUTURE 71 an appeal from Richard Stallman: Richard published his email to me as an open letter. https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/amazon-rms-tim.en.html. 71 an email to Jeff Bezos: Tim O’Reilly, “Ask Tim,” oreilly.com, February 28, 2000, http://archive.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2000/amazon_patent.html. 74 an open letter: Tim O’Reilly, “An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos,” oreilly.com, February 28, 2000, http://www.oreilly.com/amazon_patent/amazon_patent.comments.html. 74 I had 10,000 signatures: Tim O’Reilly, “An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos: Your Responses,” oreilly.com, February 28, 2000, http://www.oreilly.com/amazon_patent/amazon_patent_0228.html. 74 wasn’t introduced till six years later: Jeff Howe, “The Rise of Crowdsourcing,” Wired, June 1, 2006, https://www.wired.com/2006/06/crowds/. 74 We did award the bounty: Tim O’Reilly, “O’Reilly Awards $10,000 1-Click Bounty to Three ‘Runners Up,’” oreilly.com, March 14, 2001, http://archive. oreilly.com/pub/a/policy/2001/03/14/bounty.html. 75 after I published my open letter: Tim O’Reilly, “My Conversation with Jeff Bezos,” oreilly.com, March 2, 2000, http://archive.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2000/bezos_0300.html. 76 Determining an Efficient Transportation Route: Sunil Paul, System and Method for Determining an Efficient Transportation Route, US Patent 6,356,838, filed July 25, 2000, and issued March 12, 2002. 78 “with a single touch”: This was the Apple Pay page as of September 30, 2014, when I wrote “What Amazon, iTunes, and Uber Teach Us About Apple Pay,” oreilly.com, September 30, 2014.

He was concerned about Amazon’s 1-Click e-commerce patent, and the fact that Amazon had just sued rival Barnes & Noble for adding a similar feature to its site, barnesandnoble.com. Richard urged me, as one of Amazon’s top publishers, to boycott its service. “Have you tried to talk with Jeff?” I asked. He hadn’t. So I wrote an email to Jeff Bezos (whom at that time I’d never met), asking him to reconsider: SUBJECT: Amazon 1-Click patent DATE: Wed, 05 Jan 2000 10:03:59–0800 FROM: Tim O’Reilly TO: Jeff Bezos I wanted to give you guys the heads up that I’m getting a lot of pressure from my customers (via my Ask Tim column on our website and direct customer e-mail) to comment publically [sic] on the Amazon 1-Click patent. I was also approached by Richard Stallman to help him publicize his Amazon boycott, and I declined, but I do want to let you know that I agree with his message although not with his methods.

Jimmy Guterman (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, 2007), 1, available online at http://www.oreilly.com/data/free/files/release2-issue2.pdf. 102 Today it is still No. 49: Or #116, depending on whose panel you follow, Alexa or SimilarWeb. “List of Most Popular Websites,” Wikipedia, retrieved March 30, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_popular_websites. 103 now enrolled in Amazon Prime: Alison Griswold, “Jeff Bezos’ Master Plan to Make Everyone an Amazon Prime Subscriber Is Working,” Quartz, July 11, 2016, https://qz.com/728683/jeff-bezos-master-plan-to-make-everyone-an-amazon-prime-subscriber-is-working/. 103 200 million active credit card accounts: Horace Dediu, Twitter update, April 28, 2014, https://twitter.com/asymco/status/460724885120380929. 103 begin their search at Amazon: “State of Amazon 2016,” Bloomreach, retrieved March 30, 2017, http://go.bloomreach.com/rs/243-XLW-551/images/state-of-amazon-2016-report.pdf. 103 46% of all online shopping: Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell, “Amazon’s Stranglehold,” Institute for Local Self Reliance, November 2016, 10, https://ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/ILSR_AmazonReport_final. pdf. 103 remove the “Buy” button: Doreen Carvajal, “Small Publishers Feel Power of Amazon’s ‘Buy’ Button,” New York Times, June 16, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/business/media/16amazon.html.


pages: 501 words: 114,888

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, blood diamonds, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, digital twin, disruptive innovation, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, experimental economics, food miles, game design, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hive mind, housing crisis, Hyperloop, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, loss aversion, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mary Lou Jepsen, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mobile money, multiplanetary species, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, QR code, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

We’ll start with Bezos: Jeff Bezos, author interview, 2015. See also: Catherine Clifford, “Jeff Bezos: You Can’t Pick Your Passions,” CNBC Make It, February 7, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/amazon-and-blue-origins-jeff-bezos-on-identifying-your-passion.html. “a simple two-step plan”: Tony Reichhardt, “Jeff Bezos’ Simple Two-Step Plan,” Air & Space, September 16, 2016. See: https://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/jeff-bezos-simple-two-step-plan-180960498/. the Moon—which he still believes is the best launch spot: Korey Haynes, “O’Neill Colonies: A Decades-Long Dream for Settling Space,” Astronomy, May 17, 2019. See: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2019/05/oneill-colonies-a-decades-long-dream-for-settling-space. Bezos at a 2019 event in Washington, DC: Neel V. Patel, “Jeff Bezos Wants to Solve All Our Problems by Shipping Us to the Moon,” Popular Science, May 9, 2019.

Patel, “Jeff Bezos Wants to Solve All Our Problems by Shipping Us to the Moon,” Popular Science, May 9, 2019. See: https://www.popsci.com/blue-origin-moon-lander/. Blue Moon Lunar Lander: Ibid. See also: Ian Allen, “Jeff Bezos Wants Us All to Leave Earth—for Good,” Wired, October 15, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/jeff-bezos-blue-origin/. “The Earth is the gem”: Loren Grush, “Jeff Bezos: ‘I Don’t Want a Plan B for Earth,’ ” Verge, June 1, 2016. See: https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/1/11830206/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-save-earth-code-conference-interview. Elon Musk doesn’t disagree: Dave Mosher, “Here’s Elon Musk’s Complete, Sweeping Vision on Colonizing Mars to Save Humanity,” Business Insider, September 29, 2016. See: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-mars-speech-transcript-2016-9. “Mars Oasis”: Chris Anderson, “Elon Musk’s Mission to Mars,” Wired, September 21, 2012.

See also: Lisa Grace Scott, “Vertical Garden Towers Can Grow Plants Three Times Faster Than Normal: How a Business in the Bronx Is Trying to Take Urban Gardening Mainstream,” Inverse, June 1, 2018, https://www.inverse.com/article/45464-rooftop-garden-technology-vertical-garden. Bay Area–based Plenty Unlimited Inc.: Dee: https://www.plenty.ag/. With over $200 million in funding: Chelsea Ballarte, “Jeff Bezos and Other Investors Raise $200 Million for Vertical Farming Startup Plenty,” GeekWire, July 20, 2017. See: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/jeff-bezos-investors-raise-200-million-vertical-farming-startup-plenty/. seventy-thousand-square-foot factory: Olivia Solon, “Inside the World’s Largest Vertical Farm,” Wired, February 29, 2016. See: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/aerofarms-largest-vertical-farm. AeroFarms: See: https://aerofarms.com/. as Plenty CEO Matt Barnard recently told reporters: “Agtech Startup Plenty Plans To Grow Hydroponic Peaches,” Matteroftrust.org.


pages: 186 words: 49,251

The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry by John Warrillow

Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, barriers to entry, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, David Heinemeier Hansson, discounted cash flows, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, Network effects, passive income, rolodex, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, software as a service, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, subscription business, telemarketer, time value of money, zero-sum game, Zipcar

The company was offering the same Huggies Little Snugglers and Pampers Swaddlers that moms could buy from Amazon. The business grew quickly and caught the attention of Amazon, which sent Jeff Blackburn to visit with Lore and Bharara. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone, the author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Blackburn was a senior vice president of business development for Amazon, which means he was in charge of buying companies for Jeff Bezos. According to Stone, Blackburn told Lore and Bharara that Amazon was getting ready to invest in the diapers category and they should think hard about selling to Amazon.4 Soon after meeting with Blackburn, Lore and Bharara saw Amazon drop its prices on diapers by 30%. They assumed Amazon was intentionally trying to undercut them, so they manipulated the price of diapers, moving the price up and down and watched as Amazon prices changed in lockstep.

Tuttle, Brad, “Amazon Prime: Bigger, More Powerful, More Profitable than Anyone Imagined,” Time, March 8, 2013. business.time.com/2013/03/18/amazon-prime-bigger-more-powerful-more-profitable-than-anyone-imagined. 3. Stone, “What’s in Amazon’s Box? Instant Gratification.” 4. Bensinger, Greg, “Amazon Expands Grocery Business,” Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2013. online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324798904578526820771744676. 5. Bishop, Jeff. “Bezos: Amazon Closer to Solving Economics of Grocery Delivery,” GeekWire, May 24, 2013. geekwire.com/2013/jeff-bezos-amazon-fresh-closer-solving-economics-grocery-delivery. 6. Perez, Sarah, “Target Launches Its First Subscription-Based E-Commerce Service, Focus for Now Is Baby-Care Items,” Techcrunch, September 25, 2013. techcrunch.com/2013/09/25/targets-launches-its-first-subscription-based-e-commerce-service-focus-for-now-is-baby-care-items. 7. Weber, Johannes, “Strassburg, 1605: The Origins of the Newspaper in Europe,” German History, July 2006, 387–412. gh.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/3/387.abstract. 8.

Amazon Fresh didn’t start out as a subscription business; instead, it was open to anyone willing to pay the delivery fee of $8 to $10 to have milk, veggies, and meat brought to their door in a one- to three-hour delivery window. AmazonFresh stayed stuck in beta in one city for six years as the company tried to work out a profitable business model. The business proved challenging, which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos seemed to acknowledge in response to a question about AmazonFresh at Amazon’s 2013 annual shareholders meeting: “They have made progress on the economics over the last year,” said Bezos.4 “They’ve been doing a lot of experiments and trying to get the right mixture of customer experience and economics. I’m optimistic that the team is making good progress.”5 In spring 2013, AmazonFresh added Los Angeles as the second city for the program.


pages: 380 words: 109,724

Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles--And All of US by Rana Foroohar

"side hustle", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, AltaVista, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, death of newspapers, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Etonian, Filter Bubble, future of work, game design, gig economy, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Kenneth Rogoff, life extension, light touch regulation, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, PageRank, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, price discrimination, profit maximization, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, search engine result page, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Schmidt was also a key adviser in digital efforts for both the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns, using Google’s might to help the former get elected, and exerting policy influence afterward that is worrisome, to say the least.25 While this obviously isn’t problematic in the same way that allowing the Trump campaign to spread racist dog whistles and fake news during the 2016 elections was, it underscores the point that these companies hold undue influence over our political system as a whole, in ways that undermine public trust.26 Schmidt is certainly not alone in playing both sides of the political fence. Take a look at the first meeting of Silicon Valley’s tech titans with Donald Trump in 2017, and you’ll see Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Cook, and many other avowed Democrats leaning in to the president, literally. Despite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, which is often critical of the president, Amazon pushed its facial recognition technology to ICE, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division—the very one that was keeping children in cages at the Mexican border.27 Most Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans have been bought out by Big Tech’s extensive lobbying.

Most recently, Amazon has gotten into healthcare—a $3.5 trillion industry—working to disrupt how we buy prescription drugs, pick and purchase health insurance plans, and more, by drawing on its supply chain and trove of personal background data that could easily be supplemented with real-time reports from health monitors in homes, hospitals, and doctors’ offices.44 It is ambitions like this that have made Amazon possibly the deadliest of the killer apps in terms of sheer market power. No wonder that Jeff Bezos, with a net worth of $112 billion, has emerged the richest of the tech oligarchs—indeed, perhaps the richest person of all time.45 The network effect is one way the big get bigger. Another is simply by intimidating smaller players and stealing their intellectual property. I think often of a story that one Boston-based venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur told me about how when one brand-name Big Tech firm was considering hiring his firm for a data analytics venture, they asked him to create open-source code, ostensibly as an audition of sorts, and then poached his idea and took it in-house.

Thiel is a Trump supporter and libertarian who is critical of government and even education: Each year, he famously offers hundreds of thousands of dollars to encourage students to drop out of college and start companies instead. One of his strange obsessions is the desire to cheat death. Thiel says he finds the general population’s acceptance of the prospect of death “pathological,” and, along with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Google’s Sergey Brin, has spent millions supporting “life extension” research dedicated to “ending aging forever.”9 This, I suppose, is only slightly more ambitious a goal than those of his PayPal partner Elon Musk, also the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, who envisions supersonic commuter travel and colonizing Mars in the not too distant future (though how he’ll fund it is anyone’s guess, since he keeps tanking the price of Tesla’s stock with his security-law-violating tweets, whiskey-and-cannabis-induced rants, and false claims about the company’s financial profile).


pages: 349 words: 95,972

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford

affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, assortative mating, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, industrial cluster, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay, William Langewiesche

“Amazon Japan ‘Co-Operating’ with Tokyo Police After Raid,” BBC News, January 27, 2015, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31000904; “Islamic State Magazine Dabiq Withdrawn from Sale by Amazon,” BBC News, June 6, 2015, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33035453. 38. Tim Maly, “Algorithmic Rape Jokes in the Library of Babel,” Quiet Babylon (blog), http://quietbabylon.com/2013/algorithmic-rape-jokes-in-the-library-of-babel/. 39. Henry Blodget, “I Asked Jeff Bezos the Tough Questions,” Business Insider, December 13, 2014, http://uk.businessinsider.com/amazons-jeff-bezos-on-profits-failure-succession-big-bets-2014-12. 40. Marcus Wohlsen, “Amazon Could Finally Grow Its Profits—By Selling Other People’s Stuff,” Wired, January 5, 2015, http://www.wired.com/2015/01/secret-amazon-finally-making-profit-selling-peoples-stuff/. 41. “The Best Performing CEOs in the World,” Harvard Business Review, November 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/11/the-best-performing-ceos-in-the-world. 42.

Gavin Mortimer, The SAS in World War II (Oxford: Osprey, 2011), p. 10. 43. Virginia Cowles, The Phantom Major: The Story of David Stirling and the SAS Regiment (1958; Barnsley, England: Pen and Sword Books, 2010), pp. 12–15; Gavin Mortimer, Stirling’s Men: The Inside History of the SAS in World War II (London: Cassell, 2005), pp. 10–11. 44. Alan Deutschman, “Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos,” Fast Company, August 1, 2004, http://www.fastcompany.com/50541/inside-mind-jeff-bezos. 45. Coram, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, p. 371. 46. Mortimer, Stirling’s Men, p. 28; Mortimer, The SAS in World War II, pp. 25–31. 47. Cowles, The Phantom Major, pp. 60–66. 48. Ibid., pp. 71–72. 49. Quoted ibid., p. 97. 50. Cowles, The Phantom Major, pp. 98–103. 51. Mortimer, Stirling’s Men, pp. 56–57; Cowles, The Phantom Major, pp. 178–180. 52.

Microsoft, the most powerful software company in history, didn’t have a website, let alone provide a Web browser. But Web traffic was over two thousand times busier than it had been a year earlier. That explosive growth meant a brief window of opportunity, the kind of opportunity that Erwin Rommel would have lunged for had he been a businessman rather than a general. Instead, it fell to a young computer scientist working on Wall Street to seize the moment. His name was Jeff Bezos. “When a company comes up with an idea, it’s a messy process,” Bezos told Brad Stone, the author of the definitive biography both of Bezos and of the company he created: Amazon.7 From the outside, that is a puzzling claim. To the consumer, Amazon is a byword for tidy efficiency: you want a product, you search Amazon, you find the product, you buy the product, the product arrives. To competitors, fighting Amazon is like fighting a machine: every move is calculated, every strategy quantified.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

“Steve Jobs’ Memorial Service: 6 Highlights,” The Week, October 25, 2011. 14. “What Happened to the Future?” Founders Fund, http://foundersfund.com/the-future/, archived at https://perma.cc/82XW-VA2A. 15. Adam Lashinsky, “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The Ultimate Disrupter,” Fortune (December 2012); Jeff Bezos, “1997 Letter to Shareholders,” Investor Relations, Amazon.com. 16. Jeff Bezos, “2005 Letter to Shareholders,” Investor Relations, Amazon.com; Julia Kirby and Thomas A. Stewart, “The Institutional Yes,” Harvard Business Review, October 2007, 8, https://hbr.org/2007/10/the-institutional-yes, archived at https://perma.cc/XV5H-GULN. 17. Jeff Bezos, “2011 Letter to Shareholders,” Investor Relations, Amazon.com. 18. Ingrid Burrington, “Why Amazon’s Data Centers are Hidden in Spy Country,” The Atlantic, January 8, 2016. 19. Frank Konkel, “Daring Deal,” Government Executive, July 9, 2014.

Elizabeth Perez, “Store on Internet is Open Book,” The Seattle Times, September 19, 1995, E1; Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2013); Randall E. Stross, The eBoys: The True Story of the Six Tall Men who Backed eBay and Other Billion-Dollar Startups (New York: Ballantine Books, 2000), 48–57. 16. Craig Torres, “Computer Powerhouse of D. E. Shaw & Co. May be Showing Wall Street’s Direction,” The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 1992, C1. 17. Robert Spector, Amazon.com: Get Big Fast (New York: HarperBusiness, 2000), 2–5. 18. Bezos, job posting for Cadabra.Inc, Usenet, c. 1994, reproduced in Kif Leswing, “Check out the first job listing Jeff Bezos ever posted for Amazon,” Business Insider, August 22, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-first-job-listing-posted-by-jeff-bezos-24-years-ago-2018-8, archived at https://perma.cc/B3WS-PXS5. 19.

Bezos, job posting for Cadabra.Inc, Usenet, c. 1994, reproduced in Kif Leswing, “Check out the first job listing Jeff Bezos ever posted for Amazon,” Business Insider, August 22, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-first-job-listing-posted-by-jeff-bezos-24-years-ago-2018-8, archived at https://perma.cc/B3WS-PXS5. 19. “I did locate Amazon in Seattle because of Microsoft,” Bezos told an interviewer in 2018. “I thought that that big pool of technical talent would provide a good place to recruit talented people from.” Jeff Bezos, interview with David M. Rubenstein, The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., September 13, 2018. 20. “Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com.” Charlie Rose (interview #12656), November 16, 2012. 21. Julia Kirby and Thomas A. Stewart, “The Institutional Yes,” Harvard Business Review, October 2007, https://hbr.org/2007/10/the-institutional-yes, archived at https://perma.cc/XV5H-GULN. 22. United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Form 10-Q, Amazon.com, Inc., June 30, 1997; 60 Minutes, “Amazon.com,” January 1999. 23. Michael McCarthy, “Brand Innovators: Virtual Reality,” Adweek, June 14, 1999, https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/brand-innovators-virtual-reality-31935/, archived at https://perma.cc/JC4A-6Z2W. 24.


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The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon! by Joseph N. Pelton

3D printing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, global pandemic, Google Earth, gravity well, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, life extension, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, megastructure, new economy, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post-industrial society, private space industry, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, Tim Cook: Apple, Tunguska event, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, wikimedia commons, X Prize

In short, there are changing opportunities, new corporate activities in space, new sources of wealth, and even new sources of disputes that could lead to conflict over the future of space. The New Space industry leaders may not be who you think they are. The new operatives in the commercial space game are organizations such as Google, Facebook, and the Tesla-SpaceX complex (within the empire of Elon Musk). Indeed this New Space push is fueled by who we call the space billionaires. At the head of the space billionaire pack are Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com; Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft; Elon Musk (founder of Space X, Paypal, and Tesla); Robert Bigelow, owner of Budget Suites; Sir Richard Branson, head of Virgin Galactic; Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook; and electronic game inventor John Carmack, who created “Doom” and “Quake.” It is these people that are upending the world of technology and global enterprise at planetary levels who will be prominent in the space business during the twenty-first century.

Legislators, bankers, and aspiring space entrepreneurs are far more interested in the views of the super-rich capitalists called the space billionaires. A number of these billionaires and space executives have already put some very serious money into enterprises intent on creating a new pathway to the stars. No less than five billionaires with established space ventures—Elon Musk, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, and Robert Bigelow—have invested millions if not billions of dollars into commercializing space. They are developing new technologies and establishing space enterprises that can bring the wealth of outer space down to Earth. This is not a pipe dream, but will increasingly be the economic reality of the 2020s. These wealthy space entrepreneurs see major new economic opportunities.

New breakthroughs in technology and New Space enterprises may be able to create an “astral life raft” for humanity. Just as Columbus and the Vikings had the imaginative drive that led them to discover the riches of a new world, we now have a cadre of space billionaires that are now leading us into this New Space era of tomorrow. These bold leaders, such as Paul Allen and Sir Richard Branson, plus other space entrepreneurs including Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Blue Origin, and Robert Bigelow, Chairman of Budget Suites and Bigelow Aerospace, not only dream of their future in the space industry but also have billions of dollars in assets. These are the bright stars of an entirely new industry that are leading us into the age of New Space commerce . These space billionaires, each in their own way, are proponents of a new age of astral abundance.


pages: 788 words: 223,004

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

23andMe, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alexander Shulgin, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Charles Lindbergh, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, digital twin, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, haute couture, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Khyber Pass, late capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, performance metric, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pre–internet, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social intelligence, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, WikiLeaks

lang=en. Bezos chose to respond: Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos), “Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket. #sendDonaldtospace,” Twitter, 3:30 pm, December 7, 2015, https://twitter.com/jeffbezos/status/674008204838199297?lang=en. In a Fox News interview: Reuters, “Amazon ‘Getting Away with Murder on Tax,’ Says Donald Trump,” Guardian, May 13, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/13/amazon-getting-away-with-on-tax-says-donald-trump. When Bezos was asked: Olivia Solon, “Jeff Bezos Says Donald Trump’s Behavior ‘Erodes Democracy,’ ” Guardian, October 20, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/20/jeff-bezos-donald-trump-criticism-amazon-blue-origin. Two days after the election: Deirdre Bosa, “Jeff Bezos Congratulates President-Elect Trump, after Offering to Shoot Him into Space,” CNBC.com, November 10, 2016, https://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/10/jeff-bezos-congratulates-president-elect-trump-after-offering-to-shoot-him-into-space.html.

The next day, as Clinton: Gabrielle Bluestone, “The Washington Post Served Napkins Off a Woman’s Body at Its Election Party,” Jezebel, November 14, 2016, https://jezebel.com/the-washington-post-served-napkins-off-a-womans-body-at-1788966492. In 2016 Ryan celebrated: Nat Levy, “The Jeff Bezos Effect? Washington Post Is Profitable and Set to Hire Dozens of Journalists in 2017,” GeekWire, December 27, 2016, https://www.geekwire.com/2016/jeff-bezos-effect-washington-post-profitable-set-hire-dozens-journalists-2017/. It wasn’t the machine: Jennifer Steinhauer, “A Tailor-Made Publisher Taking Over Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post,” New York Times, September 22, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/business/media/beltway-insider-takes-helm-at-the-post.html. While many investigative reporters: David A. Fahrenthold, “Trump Recorded Having Extremely Lewd Conversation about Women in 2005,” Washington Post, October 8, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html?

The next missed opportunity: Daniel Okrent, “How Arthur Sulzberger Outwitted Don Graham,” Politico, December 15, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/15/how-arthur-sulzberger-outwitted-don-graham-216105. Steve Coll, a Pulitzer-winning: Sarah Ellison, “Ghosts in the Newsroom,” Vanity Fair, March 7, 2012, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2012/04/washington-post-watergate. The Post would have to look: Steven Mufson, “As Jeff Bezos Prepares to Take Over, a Look at Forces That Shaped the Washington Post Sale,” Washington Post, September 27, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/as-jeff-bezos-prepares-to-take-over-a-look-at-forces-that-shaped-the-washington-post-sale/2013/09/27/11c7d01a-2622-11e3-ad0d-b7c8d2a594b9_story.html. Coll was ready to present: Sarah Ellison, “Ghosts in the Newsroom,” Vanity Fair, March 7, 2012, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2012/04/washington-post-watergate. Hoping to mend the relationship: Steve Coll, interviewed by Jill Abramson, New York, August 18, 2015.


pages: 346 words: 97,330

Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley From Building a New Global Underclass by Mary L. Gray, Siddharth Suri

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, big-box store, bitcoin, blue-collar work, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, computer vision, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, deindustrialization, deskilling, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial independence, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, gig economy, glass ceiling, global supply chain, hiring and firing, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, informal economy, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, market friction, Mars Rover, natural language processing, new economy, passive income, pattern recognition, post-materialism, post-work, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, two-sided market, union organizing, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

He asked the requester if he would be willing to contact Amazon on his behalf, to explain that he did good work, that he was a reliable worker, and that he deserved to keep his account. Riyaz never heard back from the man. When he told us the story, it was clear he felt betrayed by someone he considered a professional colleague. Riyaz even went so far as to write a letter to Jeff Bezos. That was a huge risk for Riyaz. The subtext of this work is that workers remain invisible. Standing up and calling attention to yourself is a fast track to getting a “bad reputation.” Jeff Bezos never wrote back. Unfortunately, Riyaz’s case is not unusual. According to a national survey we conducted in partnership with Pew Research, 30 percent of on-demand gig workers reported not getting paid for work they performed. Workers can lose their job and wages, with no explanation and no opportunity to appeal the cancellation of their account.

University students and professors have long been a source of frustration for MTurk workers, because so many of them try to recruit those workers for experiments, as though they were the equivalent of undergraduate students happy to participate in research for free pizza. One feature of Dynamo was that workers could “upvote” suggestions, meaning a radical idea could quickly be pushed to the top. And that’s exactly what happened. In short order, the suggestion of using the site to write to Jeff Bezos started trending. The emails could be fan mail or missives detailing how MTurk workers wanted to improve their work environment. The idea was fueled by Jeff Bezos’s repeated and public claims that he wasn’t happy if his customers weren’t satisfied with their Amazon experience. He’d even offered up his email address in a Business Insider interview. So why not use customer service logic to advocate for the often less visible “customer” on MTurk—the worker picking up tasks for hire?

Winter Mason and Siddharth Suri, “Conducting Behavioral Research on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk,” Behavior Research Methods 44, no. 1 (March 2012): 1–23, https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0124-6. [back] 1. Humans in the Loop 1. M. Six Silberman, “Human-Centered Computing and the Future of Work: Lessons from Mechanical Turk and Turkopticon, 2008–2015” (PhD diss., University of California, Irvine, 2015). [back] 2. Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2013). [back] 3. Ibid. [back] 4. Ibid. [back] 5. It’s rumored that MTurk was a pet project of Jeff Bezos himself, who saw it as a tool that could not only serve MTurk internally but generate income as a new marketplace serving its sellers who also needed help cleaning up their listings. See Stone, The Everything Store. [back] 6. Daniel W. Barowy et al., “VoxPL: Programming with the Wisdom of the Crowd,” in CHI ’17: Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (New York: ACM, 2017), 2347–58, https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453; Suri, “Computing with the Crowd,” 101.


pages: 231 words: 71,248

Shipping Greatness by Chris Vander Mey

corporate raider, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, fudge factor, Google Chrome, Google Hangouts, Gordon Gekko, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, minimum viable product, performance metric, recommendation engine, Skype, slashdot, sorting algorithm, source of truth, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, web application

Abashed, I went to Dartmouth, and studied at the Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business, earning a master’s of engineering management degree. I left Dartmouth and joined Amazon, where I was a technical product program manager and an engineering manager (a.k.a. two-pizza team leader). On projects like customer reviews, identity, and fraud-fighting infrastructure, I saw how Jeff Bezos and his lieutenants worked and learned to mimic how some of the best in the business did the job. I eventually went to Google, and as a senior product manager I spent over five years focusing on scalability, business strategy, and the interpersonal dynamics inherent in software teams. I grew Google Pack, shipped the Google Update service used in dozens of products, and helped build the Google Apps program through mobile sync services, connectors for Microsoft Outlook, and data import tools.

How to Find the Right Need to Meet The “wow, this is really cool; let’s make it!” road to product definition does not even come close to the wealth, fame, and success road signs. Your business likely caters to a segment of customers who have many different problems; how do you identify the critical problem you are going to solve first? Let’s try driving the road backward, starting with those who are actually successful, famous, and yes, ridiculously wealthy. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has made a small fortune for his company and shareholders by constantly emphasizing that teams “focus on customers, not competition.” The great clarity that this distinction provides is that your team remains problem focused, rather than reactive. Similarly, Larry Page, CEO of Google, frequently says, “Start with the customer and work outward.” His notion is similar, albeit less focused on strategy.

If you complete the steps one at a time and celebrate each milestone you pass, you can actually have a pretty good time. Most of these steps, except for steps 6 and 7, are fast and fun (if you’re a geek like me). So let’s start at step 1 and build a product. Step 1. Write a Press Release An unorthodox but otherwise great way to start defining your product is by writing a press release. Jeff Bezos and company pioneered the “write the press release first” approach at Amazon. The concept is that you have one page in which to make the marketing announcement. A great press release or blog post communicates critical information that succinctly describes the product. The benefit of starting with a press release instead of the FAQ or one-pager is that it is inherently brief, readable, and focused on what the real product will mean to real users.


pages: 389 words: 112,319

Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Wiles, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, delayed gratification, different worldview, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, functional fixedness, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Inbox Zero, index fund, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, late fees, lateral thinking, lone genius, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, obamacare, Occam's razor, out of africa, Peter Thiel, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra

Jennifer Reingold, “Hondas in Space,” Fast Company, February 1, 2005, www.fastcompany.com/52065/hondas-space. 10. Chuck Salter, “Failure Doesn’t Suck,” Fast Company, May 1, 2007, www.fastcompany.com/59549/failure-doesnt-suck. 11. Hans C. Ohanian, Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009). 12. Jillian D’Onfro, “Jeff Bezos: Why It Won’t Matter If the Fire Phone Flops,” Business Insider, December 2, 2014, www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-on-big-bets-risks-fire-phone-2014-12. 13. D’Onfro, “If the Fire Phone Flops.” 14. Derek Thompson, “Google X and the Science of Radical Creativity,” Atlantic, November 2017, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/11/x-google-moonshot-factory/540648. 15. Astro Teller, “The Head of ‘X’ Explains How to Make Audacity the Path of Least Resistance,” Wired, April 15, 2016, www.wired.com/2016/04/the-head-of-x-explains-how-to-make-audacity-the-path-of-least-resistance. 16.

A 2011 survey of more than a hundred American and European companies shows that “over the past 15 years, the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed in each of those firms has increased by anywhere from 50% to 350%.”6 Here’s the problem. Process, by definition, is backward looking. It was developed in response to yesterday’s troubles. If we treat it like a sacred pact—if we don’t question it—process can impede forward movement. Over time, our organizational arteries get clogged with outdated procedures. Complying with these procedures then becomes the benchmark for success. “It’s not that rare,” Jeff Bezos says, “to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, ‘Well, we followed the process.’” “If you’re not watchful,” Bezos warns, “the process can become the thing.” But you don’t need to throw your standard operating procedures into the shredder and create a corporate free-for-all. Rather, you need to make a habit of asking, as Bezos does, “Do we own the process or does the process own us?”

If these scientists lived by the “failure is not an option” mantra, the self-loathing, the shame, and the embarrassment would all cripple them. A moratorium on failure is a moratorium on progress. If you’re in the business of taking moonshots—if you’re going to experiment with bold ideas—you’re going to miss more often than you connect. “Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure,” Jeff Bezos explained. “But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”12 Remember the Amazon Fire phone? The company lost $170 million over that misfire.13 Or Google Glass, designed by X, Google’s moonshot factory?14 The Glass was supposed to be the next best thing after the smartphone, but it flopped. It’s one thing to carry a smartphone in your pocket, consumers thought, and something else to attach one to your cornea.


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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

The foundations of an Internet economy that operates with little regulation have been the basis of their fortunes. 5. But perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the no-taxes, no-regulation regime of the Internet has been Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. Bezos was schooled in the libertarian ethos by his family. His stepfather, Miguel Bezos, had emigrated from Cuba after the rise of Castro and was an engineer for Exxon in Houston, Texas. Mike Bezos (as he is now known) contributed to Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party presidential campaign in 2012. Jeff Bezos outlined his core libertarian philosophy in an interview for the Academy of Achievement: I think people should carefully reread the first part of the Declaration of Independence. Because I think sometimes we as a society start to get confused and think that we have a right to happiness, but if you read the Declaration of Independence, it talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

As Ben Tarnoff, writing in the Guardian noted, one of the reasons Peter Thiel was drawn to Donald Trump’s authoritarian candidacy was that “he would discipline what Thiel calls ‘the unthinking demos’: the democratic public that constrains capitalism.” But for now there are few constraints on Tech capitalism. The monopoly profits of this new era have been very, very good to a few men. The Forbes 400 list, which ranks American wealth, places Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg in the top ten. The Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham (CEO of Y Combinator), in a 2016 blog post, was quite open about celebrating income inequality. He wrote, “I’ve become an expert on how to increase economic inequality, and I’ve spent the past decade working hard to do it. Not just by helping the 2500 founders YC has funded. I’ve also written essays encouraging people to increase economic inequality and giving them detailed instructions showing how.”

More people than ever are listening to music, reading books, and watching movies, but the revenue flowing to the creators of that content is decreasing while the revenue flowing to the big four platforms is increasing. Each of these platforms presents a different challenge for creators. Google and YouTube are ad-supported “free riders” driven by a permissionless philosophy. Facebook, with its libertarian financier’s roots, takes much of the same stance toward content and advertising, but there are signs that its CEO has real ethical questions about where the company is going. Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, embraces the libertarian creed but has not taken the “don’t ask permission” route, has instead opened a new front: a relentless push to lower prices and commoditize content (especially books), which presents a different danger. And then there is Apple, the dissenter from the libertarian creed. Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have been real allies to the content community, and their stance against the surveillance-marketing model that is at the core of Google’s and Facebook’s businesses—i.e., their support of ad blockers—puts them in direct opposition to the dominant search and social platforms.


pages: 237 words: 64,411

Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Jerry Kaplan

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, bank run, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Brian Krebs, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, Flash crash, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, haute couture, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, information asymmetry, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Loebner Prize, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, Satoshi Nakamoto, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

For example, see “Family Health, May 2011: Local Assistance Estimate for Fiscal Years 2010–11 and 2011–12; Management Summary,” Fiscal Forecasting and Data Management Branch State Department of Health Care Services, last modified May 10, 2011, http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/dataandstats/reports/Documents/Fam_Health_Est/M11_Mgmt_Summ_Tab.pdf. 5. Kristina Strain, “Is Jeff Bezos Turning a Corner with His Giving?” Inside Philanthropy, April 9, 2014, http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/tech-philanthropy/2014/4/9/is-jeff-bezos-turning-a-corner-with-his-giving.html. 6. William J. Broad, “Billionaires with Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science,” New York Times, March 15, 2014, science section, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/science/billionaires-with-big-ideas-are-privatizing-american-science.html. 7. Walt Crowley, “Experience Music Project (EMP) Opens at Seattle Center on June 23, 2000,” Historylink.org, March 15, 2003, http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?

As you might expect, this scenario has already started. Superhuman omniscient systems observe our individual and group behavior, then guide us to what we purchase, listen to, watch, and read—while the profits quietly pile up elsewhere. You don’t have to look very far to find an example of how this affects you—there’s no waiting on checkout 1 in the Amazon cloud! 6. America, Land of the Free Shipping I first met Jeff Bezos at a 1996 retreat for CEOs of the venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. This may sound like a Davos- or Bohemian Club–style conclave of movers and shakers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Most of the thirty or so attendees were relative newcomers to the Silicon Valley scene. Jeff was one of the first to realize that the opening of the Internet to commercial use might create significant business opportunities.

Want to take over the market for electric toothbrushes? No problem, charge your competitors more to stock and ship their inventory than it costs you to handle the same products. The common thread behind these business tactics is to acquire an enduring information advantage over customers and competitors, deftly wrapped in a narrative of low prices, outstanding service, and fair play. I think Amazon is an amazing company and Jeff Bezos is a great guy, but there’s another reason the financial markets value the company at more than six hundred times earnings (2013), when the average is around twenty times earnings: they look forward to the inevitable time when the company extracts monopoly prices after locking in its customers and scorching the earth of competitors. And this is as it should be. Shoppers aren’t stupid; they will go where they get the best all-around deal, including convenience, service, and other factors.


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The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, disruptive innovation, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Marc Andreessen, new economy, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, software as a service, Steve Jobs

dept=product-management&req=a0IA000000CwBjlMAF. 3 Rachel Emma Silverman and Lauren Weber, “An Inside Job: More Firms Opt to Recruit from Within,” Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303395604577434563715828218. 4 Reid Hoffman, “If, Why, and How Founders Should Hire a ‘Professional,’” CEO, January 21, 2013, http://reidhoffman.org/if-why-and-how-founders-should-hire-a-professional-ceo/. 5 “Rich Corporate Culture at McDonald’s Is Built on Collaboration,” Financial Post, February 4, 2013, http://business.financialpost.com/2013/02/04/rich-corporate-culture-at-mcdonalds-is-built-on-collaboration/. 6 Kim Bhasin, “Jeff Bezos Talks About His Old Job at McDonald’s, Where He Had to Clean Gallons of Ketchup off the Floor,” Business Insider, July 23, 2012, http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-reflects-on-his-old-job-at-mcdonalds-2012-7. 7 Anne Fulton, “Career Agility: The New Employer-Employee Bargain,” blog post, March 21, 2013, http://www.careerengagementgroup.com/blog/2013/03/21/career-agility-the-new-employer-employee-bargain/. 8 Jeffrey Pfeffer, “Business and the Spirit: Management Practices That Sustain Values,” Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper Series, no. 1713, October 2001, https://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/1713.pdf.

Amazon has become a leader in the field of cloud computing, thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS), which allows companies to rent online storage and computing power, rather than buying and operating their own servers. Companies ranging from Fortune 500 giants to one-person start-ups run their businesses on AWS. What most people don’t realize is that the idea for AWS didn’t come from Amazon’s famed entrepreneurial founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, or even from a member of his executive team, but rather from an “ordinary” employee. In 2003, website engineering manager Benjamin Black wrote a short paper describing a vision for Amazon’s infrastructure and suggested selling virtual servers as a service.10 He realized that the same operational expertise that made Amazon an efficient retailer could be repurposed to serve the general market for computing power.

We will invest in you and your growth. You can take many of the competencies we will help you develop in whatever it is you choose to do—whether it’s with McDonald’s or whether it’s outside of McDonald’s.”5 Some people, like Jillard himself, stay at the company a very long time. Most leave the company after a tour or two—but they can draw useful lessons from their experience. Before he was a famous CEO, a young Jeff Bezos flipped burgers for McDonald’s. Years later, he said that his manager at McDonald’s was “excellent” and taught him the importance of responsibility!6 An organization doesn’t have to be a for-profit business to use tours of duty to build adaptive teams. Endeavor is a global nonprofit that serves entrepreneurs; this makes adaptability essential. According to cofounder Linda Rottenberg, this need for agility informed her adoption of the tour of duty model as a talent strategy.


pages: 190 words: 62,941

Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination by Adam Lashinsky

"side hustle", Airbnb, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, business process, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, gig economy, Golden Gate Park, Google X / Alphabet X, information retrieval, Jeff Bezos, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, pattern recognition, price mechanism, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, turn-by-turn navigation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, young professional

While running a video-game-related company several years earlier, Pishevar had developed a personal network of actors and power brokers in Hollywood. Once involved with Uber, he recruited a bevy of these celebrities to invest. The boldface names he lined up included actors Edward Norton, Sophia Bush, Olivia Munn, and Ashton Kutcher. Pishevar also was responsible for bringing in the likes of agent Ari Emanuel, director Lawrence Bender, and music impresario Jay Z. He introduced Kalanick to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose private investment arm, Bezos Expeditions, took a piece of the action. Another critical new investor was Goldman Sachs, which would go on to act as Uber’s unofficial financial adviser as well as a source of much of its nonengineering talent for the next several years. As Uber grew in popularity, it began to court controversy wherever it went. Washington, D.C., for example, was Uber’s sixth U.S. city and the first where it encountered significant official blowback.

In a growing segment of the public’s mind, Kalanick was someone for whom economic theory trumped compassion. Still, Uber was growing rapidly, and surely the criticism was a reflection that people cared about Kalanick’s product enough to complain about it. What’s more, if he was beginning to feel the heat from the public, he also was gaining fans among like-minded entrepreneurs. Bill Gurley recounts a dinner with Jeff Bezos, an Uber investor, where Bezos praised Kalanick for his entrepreneurial chops. It was the very controversy around Kalanick that had won him praise from Bezos. “He is so correct on surge pricing,” Bezos told Gurley. “He is fundamentally, absolutely correct. And a large contingent of the press and others want to talk him out of it. And he stays behind it.” Over the course of 2012 Uber would spread throughout the United States as well as multiple non-U.S. locations, ending the year in twenty-seven markets.

As an example, Baker says his group wanted to test a sign-up button for drivers on Uber’s Web site, a move the brand design team opposed because they thought it was ugly. Kalanick’s “today” order trumped the brand group’s concerns. “The button quickly became the single largest source of organic sign-ups for us,” says Baker, organic meaning free, or not generated by paid marketing. “So it was a very good ‘today’ decision.” In early 2014, Kalanick hired a former Amazon executive named Jeff Holden to oversee Uber’s products. Holden had worked with Jeff Bezos during his pre-Amazon career on Wall Street at a firm called D. E. Shaw and then at Amazon. When he connected with Kalanick he was at Groupon, an e-commerce site in Chicago that had grown at a torrid pace and then stalled. His assignment was to professionalize Uber’s product development. “When I got here very little new product development was going on,” says Holden. “We were mostly fixing bugs, the things that you could do but not the things that you should do.


pages: 254 words: 61,387

This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler

basic income, big-box store, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial independence, gender pay gap, global supply chain, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Nash: game theory, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, medical bankruptcy, new economy, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, white flight

After that, however, researchers found that their emotional well-being grew at a much slower rate. one for every 104,000 people: Here’s the math on Jeff Bezos’s personal police force if security were distributed like income. All data is current as of February 2019. Total net worth of United States: $123.8 trillion Total wealth of top 1%: $33.4 trillion Total wealth of Jeff Bezos: $135 billion Total wealth of bottom 50%: $250 billion Applying these ratios to law enforcement numbers in America: Total number of law enforcement officers in United States: 775,000 (as found in online estimates) Total law enforcement officers for top 1%: 209,087 Total law enforcement officers for Jeff Bezos: 845 cops Total law enforcement for bottom 50%: 1,565 cops for 163 million people (1 cop for every 104,000 people) study at Carnegie Mellon in 1969: The experiment was conducted by Edward Deci, the same researcher behind the college student life goal study that surveyed students after graduation.

They provide for physical safety through laws and police, and for the health of their citizens through nationalized health care (in all developed countries except the United States). Unlike money, both are made equally available to all. But if physical safety were distributed like wealth is today at our current levels of inequality, Jeff Bezos would have a personal police force of 845 cops while 163 million Americans would share 1,565 police officers between them. That’s one for every 104,000 people. At that ratio, all of New York City would have a total police force of just 82 cops wearing NYPD blue. This is obviously absurd. Jeff Bezos’s 837th cop wouldn’t be making him any safer. They’d just be getting Bezos’s 836th cop his or her coffee. Those officers would mean much more in a neighborhood that needs them. Just like Bezos’s 135 billionth dollar means less to him than it would to someone who lacks financial security.

This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. PART TWO CHAPTER SIX WHAT’S REALLY VALUABLE? If you had the opportunity to redesign your life, chances are you’d give yourself a raise. That doesn’t make you greedy or selfish. It makes you practical. Financial security is correlated with a quality life. These are the ten wealthiest people in the world in 2019: Jeff Bezos (Amazon) Bill Gates (Microsoft) Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) Bernard Arnault (LVMH) Carlos Slim Helu (America Movil) Amancio Ortega (Zara) Larry Ellison (Oracle) Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP) Larry Page (Alphabet/Google) Are these the ten happiest people in the world?


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The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, delayed gratification, DevOps, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, endowment effect, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, subscription business, TaskRabbit, the medium is the message, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, young professional

“For decades, books”: Gerd Gigerenzer, Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (New York: Viking, 2007), 5. IN ALMOST ALL CASES, BEST TO IGNORE SUNK COSTS. “If I didn’t have this”: Tom Stafford, “Why We Love to Hoard . . . and How You Can Overcome It,” BBC, July 17, 2012, www.bbc.com/future/story/20120717-why-we-love-to-hoard. Jeff Bezos once remarked: Jason Fried, “Some Advice from Jeff Bezos,” Signal v. Noise, October 19, 2012, https://signalvnoise.com/posts/3289-some-advice-from-jeff-bezos. CRAFTING BUSINESS INSTINCTS MINE CONTRADICTORY ADVICE AND DOUBT TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN INTUITION. “Look for investors”: Joe Fernandez (@JoeFernandez), “Look for investors that respect the fact you’re not always going to follow their advice,” Twitter, May 20, 2016, 7:03 A.M., https://twitter.com/JoeFernandez/status/733659372535091200.

“Invention requires a long-term”: Derek Thompson, “The Amazon Mystery: What America’s Strangest Tech Company Is Really Up To,” The Atlantic, November 2013, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-riddle-of-amazon/309523. STRATEGY IS NOURISHED BY PATIENCE. “Because of our emphasis”: Jeffrey P. Bezos, “1997 Letter to Shareholders,” Amazon, accessed March 22, 2018, www.amazon.com/p/feature/z6o9g6sysxur57t. “If we have a good quarter”: Arjun Kharpal, “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Has a Pretty Good Idea of Quarterly Earnings 3 Years in Advance,” CNBC, May 8, 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/05/08/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-long-term-thinking.html. “Startups win by”: Aaron Levie (@levie), “Startups win by being impatient over a long period of time,” Twitter, January 12, 2013, 5:17 P.M., https://twitter.com/levie/status/290266267682758656. 83–84 Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: Marc Graser, “Epic Fail: How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix,” Variety, November 12, 2013, http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/epic-fail-how-blockbuster-could-have-owned-netflix-1200823443.

The long game gets even harder when others get involved. If you’re really playing the long game and turning down immediate opportunities, people will probably start scratching their heads. The seeds you’re planting—long-term relationships, curiosity-driven explorations, thought experiments—are less likely to be supported by others both socially and financially. In a talk he gave at the Aspen Institute in 2009, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, legendary for his long-term vision, reiterated this point. “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood,” he said. “When you do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort.” To sustain yourself over this time, you can’t look for accolades, and you can’t rely on being understood.


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The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job by John Tamny

Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, commoditize, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Downton Abbey, future of work, George Gilder, haute cuisine, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

., 157. 4.David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 34. 5.Ibid., 108. 6.Konstantin Kakaes, “New Directions,” Wall Street Journal, June 25–26, 2016. 7.Isaacson, Steve Jobs, 339. 8.Dawn Kawamoto, Ben Heskett, and Mike Ricciuti, “Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple,” CNET, August 6, 1997. 9.Alexis Tsotsis, “Uber Gets $32 Million From Menlo Ventures, Jeff Bezos, and Goldman Sachs,” Tech Crunch, December 7, 2011. 10.Source: Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/profile/jeff-bezos/. 11.Peter Thiel with Blake Masters, Zero to One (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 84. 12.Noam Cohen, “Technology’s Trumpian Visions,” New York Times, July 27, 2016. 13.Enrico Moretti, The New Geography of Jobs (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2012), 37. 14.Ibid., 13. 15.Ibid., 168. 16.Ibid., 52. 17.Ibid., 60. 18.Ibid., 62. 19.Michael Freeman, ESPN: The Uncensored History (Lanham, Md.: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2000), 58. 20.Ibid., 59. 21.Ibid. 22.Ibid., 7. 23.Ibid., 77. 24.Thomas Kessner, Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind Its Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860–1900 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003). 25.T.

It’s hard to believe, now that Apple is the most valuable company on Earth, but when Steve Jobs returned from exile in 1997 to run the company he had co-founded, it was “less than ninety days from being insolvent.”7 Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men, invested $150 million in Jobs’s return to Apple.8 How many more investments might Gates have made, how many more world-changing companies might he have saved, how many more global problems might his foundation have solved with the billions that he and Microsoft have handed over in taxes over the years? Amazon’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, was part of an investor group that placed $32 million with the start-up Uber back in 2011.9 Uber, itself a direct result of previous investment-driven advances in smartphones and GPS, now employs tens of thousands around the world. Bezos, the world’s richest man,10 is an aggressive investor. Imagine how much more capital he could put to work if the tax man weren’t constantly lying in wait. Some people are ideologically committed to the principle that the rich should part with some portion of their wealth through taxes.

According to Forbes, LeBron James, Cam Newton, Kevin Durant, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and Kobe Bryant are among the ten highest paid athletes in the world, with annual incomes ranging from $77 million to $50 million.4 The highest paid celebrity is Taylor Swift, with $170 million in annual earnings; Howard Stern takes in $85 million, and Adele earns $80 million.5 As for the richest people in the world, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, sits at the top of the heap with a net worth of $112 billion, followed by Microsoft’s co-founder, Bill Gates ($90 billion), and Warren Buffett ($84 billion).6 Whether it’s James, Swift, or Gates, the simple truth is that none of them can spend all that he or she has. And that’s the point. Precisely because they can’t spend all that they’ve earned and saved, we all benefit. The savings that are good for all of us are also good for the rich.


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Growth Hacking Techniques, Disruptive Technology - How 40 Companies Made It BIG – Online Growth Hacker Marketing Strategy by Robert Peters

Airbnb, bounce rate, business climate, citizen journalism, crowdsourcing, digital map, Google Glasses, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, pull request, revision control, ride hailing / ride sharing, search engine result page, sharing economy, Skype, TaskRabbit, turn-by-turn navigation, ubercab

Amazon Amazon.com, founded in 1994, is the largest online retailer in the world. Originally, the site sold only books, but as its offerings have diversified, virtually anything can now be purchased through its online stores. Additionally, the company produces a popular line of Kindle ebook readers that is largely credited with helping the digital book format to explode in popularity in recent years. Before the site was ever launched, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, attracted by the then projected web commerce growth of 2300%, analyzed the potential for various items to be sold online. He settled on books due to historic demand, low inventory price points, and the large number of titles in print. Within two months, Amazon’s sales reached $20,000 a week, a degree of success no doubt aided by Bezos’ friendship with John Ingram of the Ingram Content Group, the largest distributor of books in the world.

Through the company’s companion Createspace and KDP sites, authors can self-publish their works in both paper and electronic formats. For ebooks published for the Kindle priced from $2.99-$9.99, authors earn 70% royalties. Is the lack of profitability in the face of such variety evidence that Amazon is trying to do too much? That it cannot be all things to all people? Or is it simply an obstacle to be overcome on the way to building what has now become in Jeff Bezos’ mind an online content ecosphere? Critics are sharply divided in their answers, but one thing is clear. If you do your market research as Bezos did, and if you offer a quality users experience with a high value proposition and low friction, you can grow your site. In the days leading up to Christmas 2013, Amazon sold 426 items per second! The Amazon Prime program has a membership of approximately 20 million and the site attracts more than 65 million customers in the United States alone each month.

What language do my customers / users speak? It’s a wise course of action to do NOTHING until you know your market. Just look at Goodreads and Amazon. Goodreads was founded by a voracious reader who also happened to be a coder. Amazon was founded by an entrepreneur who looked at what could be sold online and settled on books due to historic demand and the passionate attachment of readers to literature. It’s worth noting that Jeff Bezos ruled out video, audio, and computers as the basis for the Amazon store, but then came back when he had the capital and incorporated those items and many more into the now giant retail site. His reason for the gradual expansion was incredibly sound. People who buy books also tend to buy music and videos. He then merged those interests into a neat consumer electronics package with the Kindle Fire tablet, an all-in-one device for consuming Amazon content — ebooks, music, and video with built-in on-the-device ordering.


pages: 393 words: 91,257

The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin

Admiral Zheng, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, creative destruction, deindustrialization, demographic transition, don't be evil, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, European colonialism, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google bus, guest worker program, Hans Rosling, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, liberal capitalism, life extension, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, megacity, Nate Silver, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Parag Khanna, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, post-work, postindustrial economy, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Satyajit Das, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator

mc_cid=ea17b615f3&mc_eid=d569232f9d; Andy Pasztor and Doug Cameron, “Jeff Bezos’ Space Startup to Supply Engines for Boeing-Lockheed Rocket Venture,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeff-bezoss-space-startup-to-supply-engines-for-boeing-lockheed-rocket-venture-1538035079?mod=hp_lead_pos3; Erin Griffith, “Google Is On the Prowl for Cloud and AI Deals in 2017,” Fortune, January 30, 2017, http://fortune.com/2017/01/30/google-acquisitions-2017/; Cathy O’Neil, “Silicon Valley’s unchecked influence in the classroom,” Metro West Daily News, June 16, 2017, http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/opinion/20170616/oneil-silicon-valleys-unchecked-influence-in-classroom; Jon Fingas, “Jeff Bezos outlines Blue Origin’s space colony ambitions,” Engadget, May 27, 2018, https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/27/jeff-bezos-outlines-blue-origin-space-colony-ambitions/; Gregory Zuckerman and Bradley Hope, “The Quants Run Wall Street Now,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quants-run-wall-street-now-1495389108. 25 Evgeny Morozov, “Tech titans are busy privatizing our data,” Guardian, April 24, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/24/the-new-feudalism-silicon-valley-overlords-advertising-necessary-evil. 26 Matthew B.

utm_term=.jf1qexXmj#.iajjZb6x8; Julie Carrie Wong, “Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us,’” Guardian, May 18, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/18/tesla-workers-factory-conditions-elon-musk; https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-says-its-factory-is-safer-but-it-left-injuries-off-the-books/. 4 Macrotrends, “Amazon: Number of Employees 2006–2019,” https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/AMZN/amazon/number-of-employees. 5 Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia, “Report: Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip on the Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities,” Institute for Local Self-Reliance, November 29, 2016, https://ilsr.org/amazon-stranglehold/; “What Amazon does to wages,” Economist, January 20, 2018, https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/01/20/what-amazon-does-to-wages; Luke Barnes, “A large number of Amazon workers rely on food stamps for assistance,” Think Progress, April 20, 2018, https://thinkprogress.org/amazon-workers-rely-on-food-stamps-24ab86dd6495/; Joseph Pisani, “Amazon’s $15 an hour a win? Not so, some workers say,” AP News, October 4, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/8e60d4d9e1b74171a34d3196081910d1. 6 Julia Glum, “The Median Amazon Employee’s Salary Is $28,000. Jeff Bezos Makes More Than That in 10 Seconds,” Money, May 2, 2018, http://time.com/money/5262923/amazon-employee-median-salary-jeff-bezos/. 7 Chris Pollard, “Rushed Amazon warehouse staff pee into bottles as they’re afraid of ‘time-wasting,’” Sun, April 15, 2018, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6055021/rushed-amazon-warehouse-staf-time-wasting/; Ceylan Yeginsu, “If Workers Slack Off, the Wristband Will Know. (And Amazon Has a Patent for It),” New York Times, February 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/technology/amazon-wristband-tracking-privacy.html?

., “China Tightens Restrictions on Messaging Apps,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-issues-new-restrictions-on-messaging-apps-1407405666; Maya Wang, “China’s Chilling ‘Social Credit’ Blacklist,” Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-chilling-social-credit-blacklist-1513036054. 7 Arjun Kharpal, “A.I. is in a ‘golden age’ and solving problems that were once in the realm of sci-fi, Jeff Bezos says,” CNBC, May 8, 2017, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/08/amazon-jeff-bezos-artificial-intelligence-ai-golden-age.html; Michael Knox Beran, “The Narrowing of the Elite: Part One,” National Review, September 19, 2018, https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/09/educated-elites-faith-in-salvation-through-technology/. 8 Jill Priluck, “America’s corporate activism: the rise of the CEO as social justice warrior,” Guardian, July 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/01/americas-corporate-activism-the-rise-of-the-ceo-as-social-justice-warrior. 9 Irving Kristol, “Is Technology a Threat to Liberal Society?”


pages: 222 words: 75,778

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

call centre, crowdsourcing, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lao Tzu, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Silicon Valley, Tony Hsieh, Y2K

The idea was to raise money from them for a stake in the company so that we could then buy out Sequoia and some of our other shareholders and board members. As we were going through the process of talking with these different potential investors, Amazon contacted us. We had been in touch with them for the past several years. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, first contacted me back in 2005 and paid us a visit in Las Vegas. Even before he flew down, we let him know that we weren’t looking to sell the company. Date: August 16, 2005 From: Tony Hsieh To: Jeff Bezos Subject: Thursday’s Amazon/Zappos meeting Hi Jeff— I’m looking forward to meeting you in person on Thursday. I just wanted to set proper expectations before the meeting and reiterate that we are looking to grow Zappos as an independent company at this point in time, but are always open to exploring partnership opportunities.

The whole point of this combination is to accelerate our growth, so if anything, we are actually anticipating more growth opportunities for everyone. Q: Will we continue to do the special things we do for our customers? Are our customer service policies going to change? Just like before, that’s completely up to us to decide. Q: Can you tell me a bit more about Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO)? What is he like? We’d like to show an 8-minute video of Jeff Bezos that will give you some insight into his personality and way of thinking. He shares some of what he’s learned as an entrepreneur, as well as some of the mistakes he’s made. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hxX_Q5CnaA Q: I’m a business/financial reporter. Can you talk like a banker and use fancy-sounding language that we can print in a business publication?

It just goes to show that you never know when something you perceive as a negative will ultimately turn out to be a good thing. The hardest part about the whole process was having to keep everything secret from our employees for the several months leading up to the signing of the paperwork. We didn’t want to do it, but were legally required to by the SEC because Amazon was a public company. Jeff Bezos flew to Vegas and came to my house to meet Alfred, Fred, and myself right before the actual signing of the legal paperwork. I barbecued burgers for him in my backyard and we all talked for a few hours. Later that night, Fred and I randomly ended up spending two hours in a recording studio talking and hanging out with Snoop Dogg. At the end of the night, Fred and I looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh.


pages: 267 words: 72,552

Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Thomas Ramge

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, banking crisis, basic income, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, blockchain, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Glasses, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, land reform, lone genius, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Parag Khanna, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, universal basic income, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

Whenever there is a clearly delimited set of parameters, it’s easier to discover the products most appropriate for any given consumer. Because publishers have more than a century of experience classifying books into discrete categories, following the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress systems, if you’d like to buy a book on the history of women during the Civil War, you can probably find it. Indeed, one reason Jeff Bezos started Amazon as an online bookstore in 1994 was because publishers’ seasonal catalogs had recently been digitized, and he planned to build his company from the foundation of that data. The same foundation allows Amazon shoppers to select, filter for, and compare consumer goods not only according to brand, price, and buyer reviews but also according to many other less obvious characteristics.

If there ever was a poster child for a successful digital organization that behaves more like a market than a firm, it seems the Everything Store would have to be it. Yet this is far from the full story. In a number of important ways, Amazon embodies the hierarchically organized, command-and-control structure of the firm that has coordinated much of the world’s phenomenal economic growth over the past few hundred years. Amazon is structured as a traditional firm, and Jeff Bezos is a traditional CEO, looking for ever more efficient and effective ways to control every aspect of his organization, and comprehensive information is his tool of choice. Bezos’s attention to every pixel is legendary. In 2011, a former Amazon engineer named Steve Yegge garnered international attention when he shared his thoughts on his ex-boss in a rant on Google Plus that he had not meant to post publicly.

Far from being an outlier, it would seem that Amazon is the embodiment of a new trend”—what the magazine branded “digital Taylorism,” after the scientific management principles of Frederick Winslow Taylor. It seemed that new technologies were ushering in a supercharged version of command-and-control, fueled by data about employees, processes, products, services, and customers. But why would a celebrated marketplace innovator like Jeff Bezos embrace the centralized structures, rules, and behaviors of the firm to manage the vast majority of his business empire rather than developing technology to capture the decentralized magic of the market? Are Amazon and other digital unicorns (as well as many of their smaller brethren) not realizing that the data-rich marketplaces they are helping to evolve also have consequences for them as firms and may force them to rethink their own raison d’être, or at the very least their organizational setup?


pages: 269 words: 70,543

Tech Titans of China: How China's Tech Sector Is Challenging the World by Innovating Faster, Working Harder, and Going Global by Rebecca Fannin

Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, call centre, cashless society, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, fear of failure, glass ceiling, global supply chain, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, QR code, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart transportation, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, young professional

But in the span of little more than a decade since I wrote Silicon Dragon,1 which was the first chronicle of China’s emerging Silicon Valley, the world’s second-largest economy and its expanding tech empire can no longer be underestimated. Today, young people in China looking for role models think of Robin Li, Jack Ma, and Pony Ma (founders of Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, respectively) more than they do Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs of Apple. High-tech China is inventing the next new thing at a rapid clip in frontier technologies: artificial intelligence, biotech, green energy, robotics, and superfast mobile communications. China also is angling to get ahead in fifth-generation wireless standards, which is being compared in impact to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press.2 Large sweeps of the Chinese economy—transportation, commerce, finance, health care, entertainment, and communications—are being reimagined and reshaped by China’s assertive effort to forge ahead by leveraging technology.

Tencent’s CEO, a press-shy engineer born and educated in southern China, has been described as a scorpion who will lie in wait before attacking, has a $44 billion fortune.2 His QQ instant messaging service was based on the Israeli invention ICQ, initially acquired by AOL and then bought by Russia’s largest internet company, Mail.Ru. Today, China’s titans have left copying behind and are managing broad and deep power bases in tech. With that power comes lots of headaches. Like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Larry Page, who confront a tech backlash and constant challenges to their clout, China’s leaders face daunting issues that could weaken them: privacy concerns, counterfeit charges, restrictions on their most addictive products, and competitive threats. Baidu faces a possible reentry of Google to the Middle Kingdom some 10 years after googling didn’t knock out China’s search leader. Baidu’s bid to own the future for AI with self-driving cars and facial recognition for payments is uncertain after Li lost two experts in a row who were leading Baidu’s AI charge while rivals chip into the sector: Alibaba in smart-city traffic management, Tencent in medical imaging and diagnostic tools, and startups SenseTime and Face++ with AI-enhanced face-matching technologies for IDs and public security.

In 2018, Chen pulled off the masterful feat of selling Renren’s failing social networking business and spinning off 44 of Renren’s portfolio company investments, including well-known social finance business SoFi in a controversial deal to his privately held Oak Pacific Interactive, controlled by Chen and his Renren cofounders. Renren is now left with a used car sales platform in China, a trucking app in the United States, a (software-as-a-service) business for the US real estate market—and a sagging stock price on the NYSE. Similarly, China’s once promising Amazon-like book retailer, Dangdang, and its cofounding wife-and-husband team, Peggy YuYu and Li Guoqing, faltered. Looking to one-up Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in China, YuYu used her Wall Street smarts to expand Dangdang (sounds like a cash register) into selling apparel, toys, and linens and list the company on NYSE in 2010. But she ended up taking her e-commerce offspring private in 2016 following a wave of Chinese companies heading home for higher valuations. Back in China, Dangdang shed money-losing online merchandise categories to focus on books, and opened brick-and-mortar stores, returning to its roots after a planned $1.2 billion acquisition by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group fell through.


pages: 491 words: 77,650

Humans as a Service: The Promise and Perils of Work in the Gig Economy by Jeremias Prassl

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, call centre, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, global supply chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market friction, means of production, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, pattern recognition, platform as a service, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, remote working, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Singh, software as a service, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, transaction costs, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, two tier labour market, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, working-age population

Well, as so often in life, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is: crouching in a hidden compartment inside the Turk’s chessboard was a human player, moving pieces around the board above. During pre-game presentations, the operator was quite literally hidden behind modern technology, moving around between whirring wheels, shiny dials, and complicated machinery as each side panel was opened in turn.1 * * * Over two centuries later, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to the stage at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to set out his vision for Amazon’s future. He hadn’t come to talk about selling books, groceries, or even drones; rather, the plan was to rent out ‘Amazon’s guts’ and become the world’s leading provider of ‘web services’. Software developers requiring processing Humans as a Service: The Promise and Perils of Work in the Gig Economy.

First Edition. Jeremias Prassl. © Jeremias Prassl 2018. Published 2018 by Oxford University Press. * * * 2 Introduction power and data storage would no longer need to buy expensive hardware to meet their needs; they could tap into Amazon’s servers instead and pay a fractional price for the services required. Amazon’s mighty servers, however, weren’t the only new product on offer that morning. Jeff Bezos revealed that the company’s algorithms were still struggling with some fairly basic tasks—from working out how to categor- ize photographs to determining which products on its website had double listings. Amazon’s solution? To develop an internal platform that outsourced these tasks to humans. Users around the world would log on, review the images, and help Amazon’s algorithms to do their job.

On the one hand, there are those who enthusiastically promote the gig economy as nothing less than a fundamental reinvention of labour markets, weaving ‘a fascinating tapestry of innovation, one that provides an early glimpse of what capitalist societies might evolve into over the coming decades’5—a story of platforms facilitating ‘the exchange of goods, services, or social currency, thereby enabling value creation for all participants’.6 Vociferous critics, on the other hand, castigate gig platforms for extend- ing ‘a harsh and deregulated free market into previously protected areas of our lives’,7 thus: forging an economic system in which those with money will be able to use faceless, anonymous interactions via brokerage websites and mobile apps to hire those without money by forcing an online bidding war to see who will charge the least for their labor.8 Humans as a Service Back in 2006, Jeff Bezos had no such qualms. The CEO of one of the world’s largest tech companies was excited by MTurk’s business promise. In addition to books, groceries, and gadgets, Amazon would henceforth sell work: You’ve heard of software as a service— —Well, this is basically humans as a service.9 Humans have always provided services to their employers and customers, of course. As workers, however, they enjoy significant legal and economic pro- tection in return, from minimum wage and unfair dismissal laws, to social security and pensions.


pages: 285 words: 58,517

The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models by Barry Libert, Megan Beck

active measures, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, business intelligence, call centre, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversification, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Infrastructure as a Service, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of writing, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Oculus Rift, pirate software, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, software as a service, software patent, Steve Jobs, subscription business, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, Wall-E, women in the workforce, Zipcar

Although it started with a simple physical product—books—you can now buy anything you might need from Amazon.com, from web hosting services to streaming videos, to cutting-edge tablets, and a lot more. Amazon also partners with sellers all over the world and allows its customers to sell on the website, too. Now you may raise the point that some of Amazon’s other practices don’t seem very open. In The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, CEO Bezos is described as “a micromanager with rigorous standards who is often uninterested in other people’s opinions.”4 To this, we reemphasize that each of the principles must be applied carefully, with consideration for your firm and the networks you are serving. You don’t need to shift to the far right edge of the business model spectrum on every principle discussed in this book, but you should consider each one deliberately and conscientiously to determine which will produce the greatest difference, and thereby the most value, for your organization.

They reflected on how digital technologies could greatly increase their impact on the market, including public policy in Washington, DC, where they had great sway, having financed more than 340,000 housing units with $18 billion in capital. With the starting place identified, they felt ready to start identifying all the assets (tangible and intangible) they had at their disposal. They knew it wouldn’t be an easy task, but they all agreed it was worth the effort. Next, we turn to the step of inventorying your assets. INVENTORY Take Stock of All Your Assets What’s dangerous is not to evolve. —Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com RETAIL IS CHANGING. In many us cities, Amazon now delivers Double Stuf Oreos (or whatever else you currently need) to your door in less than two hours, while allowing you to track the product from shelf to door. This is an amazing feat for a company that didn’t exist twenty years ago, in an industry—internet retailing—that barely existed before its arrival. Amazon is even beginning to experiment with a crowd-sourced delivery service.

He built out his team with three product managers—one to manage the internal network, one for the external business and partners network, and the third for the resident network. With funding pending approval, and an inspiring vision, the team got to work. TRACK Measure What Matters for a Network Business Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine. —Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president, Gartner Research AMAZON.COM HAS WHAT JEFF BEZOS CALLS A “CULTURE OF METRICS.” Amazon tracks its performance against about five hundred measurable goals, nearly 80 percent of them related to customer objectives. It gathers so much data about customers that it eschews classic customer segments—“millennial outdoorsman,” “preteen fashionista”—in favor of segments of one: you. When a visitor comes to Amazon.com, she’s greeted with a home page covered in personal recommendations tailored to her and based on her browsing history, purchase history, and Amazon’s best guesses of what will interest her based on comparison to the thousands of other shopper profiles.


pages: 207 words: 59,298

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction by Jamie Woodcock, Mark Graham

Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, disintermediation, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, global value chain, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, Lyft, mass immigration, means of production, Network effects, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, planetary scale, precariat, rent-seeking, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

18. Quoted in Semuels (2018). 19. Limer, E. (2014) My brief and curious life as a Mechanical Turk. Gizmodo, 28 October. Available at: https://gizmodo.com/my-brief-and-curious-life-as-a-mechanical-turk-1587864671 20. Shontell, A. (2013) When Amazon employees receive these onecharacter emails from Jeff Bezos, they go into a frenzy. Business Insider, 10 October. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-customer-service-and-jeff-bezos-emails-2013-10?IR=T 21. Dynamo (2014) Dear Jeff Bezos. Available at: http://www.wearedynamo.org/dearjeffbezos 22. See http://www.wearedynamo.org/dearjeffbezos 23. https://www.freelancer.com/about 24. Despite having one of the smallest GDPs in the world (129th in 2017), Palestine is the world’s 50th largest destination for online freelancing work. 4 How are workers reshaping the gig economy?

The result was finding the article published under someone else’s name, and Adam explained, ‘if that wasn’t creepy enough, there was a video made for the “Alternative News Network” (ew…) which is just a narrated version of my article as read by a robot from the dystopian future’ (Badger, 2018). Another glimpse into the experiences of microworkers can be found with the ‘Dear Mr. Bezos’ letters organized by Mechanical Turk workers to the founder and CEO of Amazon. This followed an article in Business Insider, which noted that ‘Jeff Bezos may run Amazon and he may be a billionaire, but he is very accessible to his customers with an easy-to-find email address, jeff@amazon.com.’20 Through Dynamo,21 a workers campaign was organized to send emails to Bezos with three aims: first, to point out that ‘Turkers [workers on Mechanical Turk] are human beings, not algorithms, and should be marketed accordingly’; second, that ‘Turkers should not be sold as cheap labour, but instead skilled, flexible labour which needs to be respected’; and third, that ‘Turkers need to have a method of representing themselves to Requesters and the world via Amazon’.

Available at: http://regulatingforglobalization.com/2018/11/28/a-more-comprensive-approach-to-platform-work-litigation/ Doogan, K. (2009) New Capitalism: The Transformation of Work. London: Polity. du Toit, D. (2018) Uber the Border and Far Away? IR Network, LexisNexis. Duffy, A.E.P. (1961) New unionism in Britain, 1889–1890: A reappraisal. Economic History Review, 14(2): 306–19. Duménil, G. and Lévy, D. (2005) The neoliberal (counter-)revolution. In A. Saad-Filho and D. Johnston (eds.), Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press. Dynamo (2014) Dear Jeff Bezos. Available at: http://www.wearedynamo.org/dearjeffbezos Eubanks, V. (2019) Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. New York: St. Martin’s Press. European Commission (2008) Communication from the Commission to the European Council: A European Economic Recovery Plan. Brussels: Commission of the European Communities. Farr, C. (2015) Why Homejoy failed.


pages: 340 words: 97,723

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Sanders, bioinformatics, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Flynn Effect, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Inbox Zero, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, New Urbanism, one-China policy, optical character recognition, packet switching, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, uber lyft, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

Louise Lucas, “The Chinese Communist Party Entangles Big Tech,” Financial Times, July 18, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/5d0af3c4-846c-11e8-a29d-73e3d454535d. 31. Javier C. Hernandez, “A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power,” New York Times, March 31, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/world/asia/south-china-morning-post-hong-kong-alibaba.html. 32. Paul Farhi, “Washington Post Closes Sale to Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos,” Washington Post, October 1, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/washington-post-closes-sale-to-amazon-founder-jeff-bezos/2013/10/01/fca3b16a-2acf-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3d04830eab75. 33. Jason Lim, “WeChat Is Being Trialled To Make Hospitals More Efficient In China,” Forbes, June 16, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jlim/2014/06/16/wechat-is-being-trialed-to-make-hospitals-more-efficient-in-china/#63a2dd3155e2. 34.

Phil Stewart, “China Racing for AI Military Edge over US: Report,” Reuters, November 27, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-ai/china-racing-for-ai-military-edge-over-u-s-report-idUSKBN1DS0G5. 54. Kate Conger, “Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract,” Gizmodo, May 14, 2018, https://gizmodo.com/google-employees-resign-in-protest-against-pentagon-con-1825729300. 55. Nitasha Tiku, “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Says Tech Companies Should Work with the Pentagon,” Wired, October 15, 2018. https://www.wired.com/story/amazons-jeff-bezos-says-tech-companies-should-work-with-the-pentagon/. 56. Stewart, “China Racing for AI Military Edge.” 57. State Council, People’s Republic of China, “China Issues Guideline on Artificial Intelligence Development,” English.gov.cn, last modified July 20, 2017, http://english.gov.cn/policies/latest_releases/2017/07/20/content_281475742458322.htm. 58.

In 2016, Ma purchased the South China Morning Post, which was Hong Kong’s biggest and most influential independent newspaper. The sale was significant because in China most media are state-sponsored, and the English-language SCMP was known for hard-hitting stories that could be critical of the Chinese government.31 When I lived in Hong Kong, I used to have drinks with a group of SCMP reporters who were best-in-class muckrakers. Ma’s purchase was a show of loyalty to the Communist Party. Three years earlier, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, a move that eventually made him an enemy of the Trump White House for the paper’s dogged investigative reporting, its critical analysis of administration policies, and its relentless pursuit of unraveling propaganda.32 Finally, the biggest and in many ways most influential member of the BAT is Tencent. The T in China’s BAT was founded in 1998 by two men, Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong.


pages: 197 words: 59,946

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, business process, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, hiring and firing, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, new economy, pre–internet, Skype, social software, Tony Hsieh

—Lee De Forest, radio pioneer, 1926 “Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney.” —Cliff Stoll, author, astronomer, professor, 1995 “If I had a nickel for every time an investor told me this wouldn’t work…” —Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon Contents Epigraph Preface Part I. Welcome to the Thank You Economy 1 How Everything Has Changed, Except Human Nature 2 Erasing Lines in the Sand 3 Why Smart People Dismiss Social Media, and Why They Shouldn’t Part II. How to Win 4 From the Top: Instill the Right Culture 5 The Perfect Date: Traditional Media Meets Social 6 I’m on a Horse: How Old Spice Played Ping-Pong, Then Dropped the Ball 7 Intent: Quality versus Quantity 8 Shock and Awe Part III.

It wasn’t practical, and it would never take off because, as the data on his PowerPoint slides revealed, nobody in Middle America was buying, nor would they ever buy, on the Internet. Mr. PowerPoint asked the audience, “How many of you have heard of Amazon?” A solid number of people raised their hands. He went on to ask if they really thought people would abandon the relationships they’d built over the years with their local bookstores, or even bypass super-stocked Barnes & Noble. They didn’t. It would be another two years before CEO Jeff Bezos would be named Time’s Person of the Year, his name underscored on the cover by the subhead “E-commerce is changing the way the world shops.” It would be another four years before Amazon reached its first quarterly net profit. Mr. PowerPoint compared the company’s rising market share to its nonexistent profits and said that one day we would all look back and say, “Remember Amazon?” My short-term dream at the time was to become the Amazon for wine, and the audience I was about to explain that dream to was staring at this PowerPointing clown’s charts and graphs as if they were carved stone tablets brought down by Moses.

It’s unfortunate that so many companies had to fall by the wayside while the Thank You Economy took shape, but now that it’s here, the playing field is becoming shockingly equal. PART II How to Win CHAPTER FOUR From the Top: Instill the Right Culture I can point to the date when the Thank You Economy’s existence became a matter of public record. It was July 22, 2009, a Wednesday. That’s the day it was announced that Amazon had bought Zappos for $1.2 billion. Jeff Bezos is a hell of a smart guy, yet I heard more than one venture capitalist insider mutter that Zappos pulled a coup. There’s just no way the online retail company was worth that much money, they said. But Zappos wasn’t overpriced, and Bezos knew exactly what he was doing. It seems to me that anyone who knows Bezos’s track record and still criticizes this acquisition is someone for whom numbers tell the entire story.


pages: 239 words: 80,319

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, Chris Wanstrath, citation needed, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, feminist movement, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, l'esprit de l'escalier, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, packet switching, PageRank, pre–internet, profit motive, QAnon, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing complete, We are the 99%, web application, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

For more information on racism and public parks, I recommend the scholarship of Kangjae Jerry Lee and David Scott (“Bourdieu and African Americans’ Park Visitation: The Case of Cedar Hill State Park in Texas,” Leisure Sciences, 2016). Blue Origin and Amazon are structured as independent companies, but Jeff Bezos uses his Amazon stock to fund his aerospace company. He is constantly making comments like “Every time you buy shoes, you’re helping fund Blue Origin,” as he did at the Yale Club in New York in 2019; the transcript of this conversation is available at Business Insider (“Jeff Bezos Just Gave a Private Talk in New York. From Utopian Space Colonies to Dissing Elon Musk’s Martian Dream, Here Are the Most Notable Things He Said,” February 23, 2019). Tim Cook’s announcement about the Apple Carnegie Library comes from a post to his Twitter account on May 1, 2019.

Right now neither plays third wheel in online relationships and neither has much stake in venues of self-presentation. Although it is amusing to read things like Stewart Brand’s review of From Counterculture to Cyberculture (“As the guy in the subtitle, I might be expected to have all kinds of eye-rolling cavils with [Fred] Turner’s book, but I don’t”) or MacKenzie Bezos’s one-star review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (“Jeff didn’t read Remains of the Day until a year after he started Amazon”), as of now, Amazon is primarily a retailer and not a social site. Its issues of labor exploitation, monopolistic practices, surveillance, and control relate to the domain of private infrastructure and merchandising. Apple, similarly, is a business with customers. The role of consumer or worker has a modern edge, but usership is even less defined—what is traded, and the cost of it, is hard to see.

Instant messages he sent when he was nineteen and just founding Facebook were leaked to Business Insider: ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard ZUCK: just ask ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns FRIEND: what!? how’d you manage that one? ZUCK: people just submitted it ZUCK: i don’t know why ZUCK: they “trust me” ZUCK: dumb fucks Mark Zuckerberg is tied with Bill Gates as Harvard’s most famous dropout, and as with Gates—as well as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and plenty of other tech industry titans—family wealth spurred on his success. The dorm room eureka moment might be what the company touts as its own origin story, but the “initial working capital” Dr. Edward Zuckerberg offered his son in 2004 and 2005 meant the company could make a play for the virtual souls of students at other Ivies, all while the younger Zuckerberg was leaving analog Harvard.


pages: 472 words: 117,093

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Airbnb, airline deregulation, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backtesting, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, complexity theory, computer age, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, family office, fiat currency, financial innovation, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, law of one price, longitudinal study, Lyft, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mitch Kapor, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precision agriculture, prediction markets, pre–internet, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Davenport, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, yield management, zero day

Belgium “Link War” Ends after Years of Conflict,” Ars Technica, July 19, 2011, https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/07/google-versus-belgium-who-is-winning-nobody. 139 German: Harro Ten Wolde and Eric Auchard, “Germany’s Top Publisher Bows to Google in News Licensing Row,” Reuters, November 5, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-axel-sprngr-idUSKBN0IP1YT20141105. 139 Spanish newspaper publishers: Eric Auchard, “Google to Shut Down News Site in Spain over Copyright Fees,” Reuters, December 11, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-google-spain-news-idUSKBN0JP0QM20141211. 140 by 2016 it had over a billion active users: WhatsApp, “One Billion,” WhatsApp (blog), February 1, 2016, https://blog.whatsapp.com/616/One-billion. 140 more than 40 billion messages per day: “WhatsApp Reaches a Billion Monthly Users,” BBC News, February 1, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35459812. 141 600 million monthly active users: Alexei Oreskovic, “Facebook’s WhatsApp Acquisition Now Has Price Tag of $22 Billion,” Reuters, October 6, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-whatsapp-idUSKCN0HV1Q820141006. 141 just 70 employees: Ibid. 141 50% more messages: Benedict Evans, “WhatsApp Sails Past SMS, but Where Does Messaging Go Next?” Benedict Evans (blog), January 11, 2015, http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2015/1/11/whatsapp-sails-past-sms-but-where-does-messaging-go-next. 142 CEO Jeff Bezos assigned Rick Dalzell the task: Staci D. Kramer, “The Biggest Thing Amazon Got Right: The Platform,” Gigaom, October 12, 2011, https://gigaom.com/2011/10/12/419-the-biggest-thing-amazon-got-right-the-platform. 142 Dalzell was described as a bulldog: Matt Rosoff, “Jeff Bezos ‘Makes Ordinary Control Freaks Look like Stoned Hippies,’ Says Former Engineer,” Business Insider, October 12, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-makes-ordinary-control-freaks-look-like-stoned-hippies-says-former-engineer-2011-10. 143 launched Amazon Web Services in 2006: Amazon Web Services, “About AWS,” accessed February 4, 2017, https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws. 143 Amazon S3: Amazon Web Services, “Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)—Continuing Successes,” July 11, 2006, https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2006/07/11/amazon-simple-storage-service-amazon-s3---continuing-successes. 143 Amazon EC2: Amazon Web Services, “Announcing Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)—Beta,” August 24, 2006, https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2006/08/24/announcing-amazon-elastic-compute-cloud-amazon-ec2---beta. 143 more than 290,000 developers using the platform: Amazon, “Ooyala Wins Amazon Web Services Start-up Challenge, Receives $100,000 in Cash and Services Credits Plus Investment Offer from Amazon.com,” December 7, 2007, http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?

Perry, “Creative Destruction: Newspaper Ad Revenue Continued Its Precipitous Free Fall in 2013, and It’s Probably Not Over Yet,” AEIdeas, April 25, 2014, https://www.aei.org/publication/creative-destruction-newspaper-ad-revenue-continued-its-precipitous-free-fall-in-2013-and-its-probably-not-over-yet. 132 $3.4 billion: Pew Research Center, “State of the News Media 2015,” April 29, 2015, http://www.journalism.org/files/2015/04/FINAL-STATE-OF-THE-NEWS-MEDIA1.pdf. 132 “print dollars were being replaced by digital dimes”: Waldman, “Information Needs of Communities.” 132 13,400 newspaper newsroom jobs: Ibid. 132 Tucson Citizen: Tucson Citizen, accessed January 31, 2017, http://tucsoncitizen.com. 132 Rocky Mountain News: Lynn DeBruin, “Rocky Mountain News to Close, Publish Final Edition Friday,” Rocky Mountain News, February 26, 2009, http://web.archive.org/web/20090228023426/http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2009/feb/26/rocky-mountain-news-closes-friday-final-edition. 132 lost more than 90% of their value: Yahoo! Finance, “The McClatchy Company (MNI),” accessed January 31, 2017, http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/MNI. 132 On August 5, 2013, the Washington Post: Paul Farhi, “Washington Post to Be Sold to Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon,” Washington Post, August 5, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/washington-post-to-be-sold-to-jeff-bezos/2013/08/05/ca537c9e-fe0c-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html. 132 Penthouse (General Media): Bloomberg News, “Company News; General Media’s Plan to Leave Bankruptcy Is Approved,” New York Times, August 13, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/13/business/company-news-general-media-s-plan-to-leave-bankruptcy-is-approved.html. 132 National Enquirer and Men’s Fitness (American Media): Eric Morath, “American Media Files for Bankruptcy,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2010, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704648604575621053554011206. 133 Newsweek: Rob Verger, “Newsweek’s First Issue Debuted Today in 1933,” Newsweek, February 17, 2014, http://www.newsweek.com/newsweeks-first-issue-debuted-today-1933-229355. 133 a circulation of 3.3 million: Ryan Nakashima, “Newsweek Had Unique Troubles as Industry Recovers,” U.S.

Help-wanted classified ad revenue dropped by more than 90% in the decade after 2000, from $8.7 billion to $723 million. Newspaper companies including the Tucson Citizen (Arizona’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper) and the Rocky Mountain News went bankrupt. Others, like the McClatchy Company, lost more than 90% of their value. On August 5, 2013, the Washington Post made a surprise announcement that it had been acquired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million. Similar patterns held in magazine publishing, with total circulation and advertising revenue in precipitous decline. The parent companies of magazines as diverse as Penthouse (General Media) and the National Enquirer and Men’s Fitness (American Media) declared bankruptcy. Newsweek, which had been in print since 1933 and at one point had a circulation of 3.3 million, saw its total circulation dropped by more than 50% between 2007 and 2011 and ceased publishing a print edition altogether in 2012.


pages: 232 words: 70,361

The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay by Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial deregulation, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, labor-force participation, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, patent troll, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, uber lyft, very high income, We are the 99%

As we saw in Chapter 5, even from the strict vantage point of economic efficiency, there is no cogent reason why the uber-wealthy should be permitted to grow their billions without contributing to their community’s needs. Without a wealth tax, it will be hard to reach average rates of 60% at the highest reaches of the wealth scale. Raising the top marginal income tax rate wouldn’t affect the tax bill of Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett notably, since neither of them has much taxable income in the first place. Raising other taxes, such as the estate tax, would not do either. We might take comfort in the idea that the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, will one day pay estate taxes on his immense wealth. But since the founder of Amazon turned fifty-five in 2019, that won’t (hopefully) happen before 2050. And let’s not mention Mark Zuckerberg, born in 1984—is it wise to wait until 2075 for him to contribute to the public coffers?

Together, they are the power to tilt the distribution of income to one’s advantage—in the marketplace, in governments, in the media. This is, and has always been, the core reason why extreme wealth owned by some can reduce what remains for the rest of us. Why the income of today’s super-rich can be gained at the expense of the rest of society. That’s what earned John Astor, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, and other Gilded Age industrialists their epithet of “robber barons.” What do Apple, Jeff Bezos, and the Walton heirs do today? They protect their wealth. They defend their established positions. They buy new entrants before they become a threat to their business. They fight competitors, regulators, and the IRS. They buy newspapers. That’s what those who’ve accumulated billions, always and everywhere, do. The founders of Apple, Amazon, and Walmart all innovated a great deal and created new products and services.

Consider now a radical wealth tax with a marginal tax rate of 10% above $1 billion. A person with $1 billion in wealth would pay the same $19 million as under a moderate wealth tax.* A radical wealth tax would not make it harder to become a billionaire; it would make it harder to remain a multibillionaire. A person with $2 billion would pay almost 5% a year, a decabillionaire like George Soros 9%, and a centibillionaire like Jeff Bezos 10%. Just as Roosevelt’s 90% top marginal income tax sharply reduced the number of families earning more than $10 million of today’s dollars, a radical wealth tax would lead to a reduction in the number of multibillionaires. More than collecting revenue, it would de-concentrate wealth. There would still be multibillionaires, no doubt. If a wealth tax of this higher sort had been in place over the last decades, Mark Zuckerberg would still be worth $21 billion in 2018—instead of the $61 billion recorded by Forbes.


pages: 373 words: 112,822

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Boris Johnson, Burning Man, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, collaborative consumption, East Village, fixed income, Google X / Alphabet X, housing crisis, inflight wifi, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Necker cube, obamacare, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zipcar

By spending time at Justin.tv, the Airbnb founders got to see what a real tech startup looked like, one with real offices, real employees, and actual venture capital in the bank. (Justin.tv later spun off a video-game service, Twitch.tv, which was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million.) Continuing this education, they attended a one-day event called Startup School, organized by the startup incubator Y Combinator and hosted by Stanford University. The speakers that year included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the investor Marc Andreessen, an inventor of the web browser. But the speech the founders remembered best was by Greg McAdoo, a venture capitalist at the top-tier VC firm Sequoia Capital, a man whom they would soon get to know well. McAdoo spoke about why being a great entrepreneur required the precision of a great surfer. If you want to build a truly great company you have got to ride a really big wave.

He had started looking for new capital that spring and found a receptive audience. With Airbnb bookings growing 40 to 50 percent every month, TechCrunch had called it “the sleeper hit of the startup world.”6 Andreessen Horowitz, which passed on the Series A, beat out a crop of other top-tier venture firms in a hotly competitive fund-raising round. It led the Series B and a group that included Yuri Milner’s DST, the personal investment funds of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and the actor Ashton Kutcher for a total $112 million investment that valued the company at $1.3 billion. The financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Jeff Jordan, a former eBay president. Jordan had gone from thinking “this is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard” to practically jumping out of his seat at the Allen and Company conference when he recognized the similarities between Airbnb and his old company.

Observers would connect the tactic with Kalanick’s Twitter avatar—at that point, the cover of one of Ayn Rand’s manifestos, The Fountainhead. “It’s less of a political statement,” Kalanick told the Washington Post reporter who asked about it in 2012. “It’s just personally one of my favorite books. I’m a fan of architecture.” But Kalanick’s stubborn defense of surge pricing impressed at least one observer. “Travis is a real entrepreneur,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told board member Bill Gurley after a surge fracas, according to Gurley. “Most CEOs would have caved.” In the fall of 2011, Travis Kalanick once again set out to raise capital. The rancor surrounding surge pricing would be nothing compared to the animosity that was about to be unleashed behind the scenes. Though still small, Uber was showing flashes of promise. In September, it generated $9 million in fares and kept $1.8 million in commissions, according to data shared with investors at the time.


pages: 338 words: 74,302

Only Americans Burn in Hell by Jarett Kobek

AltaVista, coherent worldview, corporate governance, crony capitalism, Donald Trump, East Village, ghettoisation, Google Chrome, haute couture, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, mandelbrot fractal, MITM: man-in-the-middle, pre–internet, sexual politics, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996

https://www.twitch.tv was the URL of Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, which was a website dedicated to the destruction of the publishing industry. Amazon.com was owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owned Goodreads.com, the Internet Movie Database, Blue Origin, and the Washington Post, which was a newspaper with a slogan that said: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” This motto implied that without a free press casting illumination upon the powerful, American democracy would devolve into a hollow shell. This motto had been handpicked by Jeff Bezos. Depending on fluctuations in the stock market, on some days Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world. Which meant that the motto was slightly disingenuous. You don’t get as rich as Jeff Bezos without knowing exactly how people beyond the Cash Horizon wreaked havoc upon democracy: they said what they were going to do, in public, and then they did it.

I couldn’t escape the comparisons with I Hate the Internet! At least one question from the audience at every book event! And I won’t escape them with this book! Total theft from Breakfast of Champions! Even down to Fairy Land! Most of the comparisons between this book and the writings of the late Kurt Vonnegut will occur in cheap little reviews on Goodreads.com and Amazon.com, which are Internet websites owned by a guy named Jeff Bezos. These websites are where the American readership makes sure that American authors know their fucking place, and further ensures American authors know that their place is the equivalent to that of a moon-faced kid being shoved into some mud by a bully. “How do you like that mud, you little shit?” asks the American readership. “This is what happens when you try to do anything! Fucking eat it, you pig!”


pages: 410 words: 101,260

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Firefox, George Santayana, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, women in the workforce

Scott Adams At the turn of the century, an invention took Silicon Valley by storm. Steve Jobs called it the most amazing piece of technology since the personal computer. Enamored with the prototype, Jobs offered the inventor $63 million for 10 percent of the company. When the inventor turned it down, Jobs did something out of character: he offered to advise the inventor for the next six months—for free. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took one look at the product and immediately got involved, telling the inventor, “You have a product so revolutionary, you’ll have no problem selling it.” John Doerr, the legendary investor who bet successfully on Google and many other blue-chip startups, pumped $80 million into the business, predicting that it would be the fastest company ever to reach $1 billion and “would become more important than the internet.”

The device went through three or four iterations before a customer ever saw it.* Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false positives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential. But Kamen and his team weren’t the only ones who were too bullish on the Segway. Where did virtuosos like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and John Doerr misstep in their judgments about the device? To find out, let’s first take a look at why many executives and test audiences failed to see the potential in Seinfeld. Prisoners of Prototypes and Parochial Preferences When the first Seinfeld script was submitted, executives didn’t know what to do with it. It was “totally unconventional,” NBC executive Warren Littlefield said.

Three major forces left him overconfident about the Segway’s potential: domain inexperience, hubris, and enthusiasm. Let’s start with experience. Whereas many NBC executives were too experienced in traditional sitcoms to appreciate the unorthodox genius of Seinfeld, the Segway’s early investors had the opposite problem: they didn’t know enough about transportation. Jobs specialized in the digital world, Jeff Bezos was the king of internet retail, and John Doerr had made his fortune investing in software and internet companies like Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Amazon, and Google. They had all been originals in their respective arenas, but being a creator in one particular area doesn’t make you a great forecaster in others. To accurately predict the success of a novel idea, it’s best to be a creator in the domain you’re judging.


pages: 452 words: 126,310

The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Robert Zubrin

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, battle of ideas, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gravity well, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, more computing power than Apollo, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, off grid, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, private space industry, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment

Adam Mann, “Private Plan to Send Humans to Mars in 2018 Might Not Be So Crazy,” Wired, February 27, 2013, https://www.wired.com/2013/02/inspiration-mars-foundation/ (accessed October 14, 2014). 7. Gerard K. O'Neill, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space (New York: William Morrow, 1976). 8. Nicholas St. Fleur, “Jeff Bezos Says He Is Selling $1 Billion a Year in Amazon Stock to Finance Race to Space,” New York Times, April 5, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/science/blue-origin-rocket-jeff-bezos-amazon-stock.html (accessed October 14, 2018). 9. It is interesting to note that an innovative American-founded space launch start-up called Firefly has chosen to locate its research and development branch in Ukraine rather than in Russia. While both nations have inherited significant parts of the Soviet Union's space technology, relatively free Ukraine's smaller portion is far more investible than that of kleptocratic Russia.

Such a market would drive a radical cheapening of space technology, finally making possible all the dreams of space tourism, industrialization, and colonization that have been within view but out of reach since the dawn of the space age. So the dam has been broken, and the four-decade-long post-Apollo age of stagnation in space launch and human spaceflight technology has come to an end. An entrepreneurial space race has erupted with players including Firefly, Vector Launch, Virgin Galactic, Stratolaunch, and, most important, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin—which will soon launch its own reusable New Glenn booster with similar capabilities to the Falcon Heavy—competing to take their share of a market that will soon explode in size. They will soon have plenty of company. SpaceX has shown that it is possible for lean, hard-driving entrepreneurial ventures to do—better—what it previously was thought only the governments of major powers could attempt.

But if the only competition he faced were that offered by the wildly expensive cost-plus aerospace majors, the temptation to just take their business and make off like a bandit by simply pricing his launches at a modest discount against theirs—rather than cheaper by a factor of ten or more—would be very strong indeed. This would be particularly true if Musk were to go public and had to explain his business decisions to dividend-driven investors. Fortunately, he's not going to have that option for long. Where Musk has gone, others are already following. The most important of the SpaceX emulators is the Blue Origin company, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Once again, we see the power of the space idea. I had no direct involvement with the chain of events that led to this rather secretive start-up, so I don't know all the details, but it appears that the key formative influence was Princeton professor Gerard K. O'Neill, whose visionary concepts, published in the 1970s, of building orbiting space cities financed by solar power satellites beaming power down to Earth inspired a large following.7 Among these followers was the young Bezos, who included many O'Neillian ideas in his high school graduation address and then went to Princeton, where he studied with O'Neill directly.


pages: 176 words: 55,819

The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha

Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Black Swan, business intelligence, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, David Brooks, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, follow your passion, future of work, game design, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, late fees, lateral thinking, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, out of africa, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, Richard Bolles, risk tolerance, rolodex, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs

Pamela Walker Laird, Pull: Networking and Success Since Benjamin Franklin (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007), 88. 8. AnnaLee Saxenian, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994), 34. 9. Michael Eisner and Aaron D. Cohen, Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed (New York: Harper Business, 2010), 202. 10. Nicholas Carlson, “Jeff Bezos: Here’s Why He Won,” Business Insider, May 16, 2011, http://​www.​businessinsider.​com/​jeff-​bezos-​visionary-​2011​–​4#ixzz1​NsYA4QfS 11. Claire Cain Miller, “How Pandora Slipped Past the Junkyard,” New York Times, March 7, 2010, http://​dealbook.​nytimes.​com/​2010/​03/​08/​how-​pandora-​slipped-​past-​the-​junkyard Chapter 6 1. Reannon Muth, “Are Risk-Takers a Dying Breed?” Matador, June 13, 2010, http://​matadornetwork.​com/​bnt/​are-​risk-​takers-​a-​dying-​breed/ 2.

We call this mind-set “permanent beta.” The Start-up of You Mind-set: Permanent Beta Technology companies sometimes keep the beta test phase label on software for a time after the official launch to stress that the product is not finished so much as ready for the next batch of improvements. Gmail, for example, launched in 2004 but only left official beta in 2009, after millions of people were already using it. Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon, concludes every annual letter to shareholders by reminding readers, as he did in his first annual letter in 1997, that “it’s still Day 1” of the Internet and of Amazon.com: “Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency.”19 In other words, Amazon is never finished: it’s always Day 1. For entrepreneurs, finished is an F-word. They know that great companies are always evolving.

Extra cash in the bank bought them enough time to figure out how to increase and sustain enough customers to turn a consistent profit. And their resourcefulness impressed enough investors that they were able to raise outside financing, including a Series A investment that I led with Greylock. Hundreds of thousands of travelers have since happily stayed on the bed or air mattress of a host. It’s hard to capture the essence of resourcefulness, but most of us know it when we see it. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was looking for a wife, he told friends who were setting him up on dates that he wanted a woman who was resourceful. But they didn’t get it. So he told them, “I want a woman who could help me get out of a Third World prison!” That did the trick.10 The Airbnb guys, if they had to, could probably break out of a Third World prison. Be Resilient: When the Naysayers Are Loud, Turn Up the Music Tim Westergren might be the most resilient man in Silicon Valley.


pages: 199 words: 56,243

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle

Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Ben Horowitz, cloud computing, El Camino Real, Erik Brynjolfsson, fear of failure, Jeff Bezos, longitudinal study, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple

Bill had been a transcendent figure in the technology business since moving west in 1983, playing a critical role in the success of Apple, Google, Intuit, and numerous other companies. To say he was tremendously respected would be a gross understatement—loved is more like it. Among the audience that day were dozens of technology leaders—Larry Page. Sergey Brin. Mark Zuckerberg. Sheryl Sandberg. Tim Cook. Jeff Bezos. Mary Meeker. John Doerr. Ruth Porat. Scott Cook. Brad Smith. Ben Horowitz. Marc Andreessen. Such a concentration of industry pioneers and power is rarely seen, at least not in Silicon Valley. We—Jonathan Rosenberg and Eric Schmidt—sat among the audience, making subdued small talk, soft sunshine contrasting with the somber mood. We had both worked closely with Bill in the previous fifteen years, since we had joined Google as the CEO (Eric, in 2001) and the head of products (Jonathan, in 2002).

* * * LOVE THE FOUNDERS One of the outcomes of Microsoft’s failed attempt to buy Intuit was that Bill got to know a woman who at the time was the product manager on Microsoft Money, a product that competed with Intuit. Although the deal failed, she and Bill stayed in touch. She later left Microsoft and joined a Seattle startup called Amazon, and soon thereafter called up Bill and asked for an introduction to John Doerr. Bill made the introductions, and Kleiner Perkins ended up investing in Amazon. A few years later, in 2000, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, took some time off to spend time with his family. He had hired a COO, Joe Galli, but when he returned from his leave, the company was struggling. The board, which included Doerr and Scott Cook, was wondering if perhaps Jeff should step aside as CEO and elevate Joe to that role. Jeff would stay on as chairman and maybe have some other function. This had worked for Intuit when Bill replaced Scott as the CEO.

This had worked for Intuit when Bill replaced Scott as the CEO. But John and the others weren’t sure. They asked Bill to spend some time in Seattle and report back. Bill started traveling back and forth to the Pacific Northwest, going to the Amazon offices a couple of days per week, sitting in on management meetings and observing the company’s operations and culture. After a few weeks, he reported back to the board that Jeff Bezos needed to stay as CEO. In his book about Amazon, The Everything Store, Brad Stone writes that “Campbell concluded Galli was unnaturally focused on issues of compensation and on perks like private planes, and he saw that employees were loyal to Bezos.”9 Bill’s recommendation came as a surprise to some board members, but his assessment carried the day and Jeff stayed as CEO, obviously with great success.


pages: 394 words: 57,287

Unleashed by Anne Morriss, Frances Frei

"side hustle", Airbnb, Donald Trump, future of work, gig economy, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Jeff Bezos, Netflix Prize, Network effects, performance metric, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, women in the workforce

Steven J. Spear and H. Kent Bowen, “Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System,” Harvard Business Review, September 1, 1999. 23. Shawn Achor et al., “9 Out of 10 People Are Willing to Earn Less Money to Do More-Meaningful Work,” Harvard Business Review, November 6, 2018. 24. Brittain Ladd, “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Believes This Is the Best Way to Run Meetings,” Observer, June 10, 2019, https://observer.com/2019/06/amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-meetings-success-strategy/. 25. “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: It Is Always Day One,” YouTube, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPbKeNghRYE. 26. We are paraphrasing one of Anne’s writing teachers, the wonderful Rhoda Flaxman. Flaxman taught British and American Literature at Brown University, where she also directed Brown’s writing-across-the curriculum program and published on Victorian literature. 27.

If you understand your strategy only superficially, then it will not survive out in the wild, in dynamic conditions where the pressure to abandon the plan is relentless. Your people will be continuously tempted to deviate from the strategy—usually for excellent reasons, like responding to a customer service request. A strategic North Star, simply described, gives us all a fighting chance at staying the course. Pick any mode(s) of communication you want and certainly play to your strengths. Every year Jeff Bezos writes a long letter to his shareholders in which he reinforces the pillars of Amazon’s strategy. It’s addressed to investors who own a piece of the company but clearly written for every stakeholder in his orbit. Bezos is a clear, persuasive writer, and these annual letters are a great example of “deeply/simply” communication. In his 2017 shareholder letter, Bezos reminded everyone of his internal ban on slide presentations in favor of long-form, six-page, double-sided memos that Amazon executives draft to pitch new ideas to each other.


pages: 252 words: 78,780

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional

The second Internet boom has created a new caste of American oligarchs, a bunch of socially awkward, empathy-impaired Sun Kings whose influence extends beyond business into politics and the culture at large. Techies now dominate Vanity Fair’s annual “New Establishment” list, a barometer of the zeitgeist, grabbing 40 of the 100 spots on the 2017 roster. Unfortunately many of these new oligarchs seem to possess a decidedly anti-worker, and even anti-human worldview. At the top of the list was Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who is worth $140 billion, the largest fortune (in absolute terms, not adjusted for inflation) ever accumulated. Some see Bezos as a hero, but his fortune has been built on the backs of warehouse workers who toil away in abominable conditions under huge amounts of stress, sometimes earning so little that they qualify for food stamps. In 2018, when Bezos went to Berlin to receive an award, hundreds of his own German workers showed up to protest.

The $2 Trillion Swindle Nick Hanauer was born rich, thanks to a family-owned business in Seattle, and then he made an even greater fortune in tech. In 1997 he founded a company called aQuantive which he sold a decade later to Microsoft for $6 billion. But an even greater part of his wealth comes from a single investment that might turn out to have been the single smartest bet of the last hundred years. In the early 1990s, Hanauer met a nerdy young guy named Jeff Bezos and became the first person to put money into Amazon. Instead of normal billionaire hobbies—starting a space exploration company, purchasing a private island—Hanauer became an unlikely advocate for the working class. He says he had a kind of epiphany one day in 2008 when he was poring over Internal Revenue Service data (how’s that for a hobby?) showing how the share of gross income had been shifting over time.

Amazon generates about half as much revenue as Walmart, but does it with only a quarter as many people—which means Amazon generates roughly twice as much revenue per employee as Walmart does. Even if newly unemployed retail workers could get jobs in Amazon shipping centers, they might not want them. You might imagine that since Amazon makes so much money with (relatively) few employees, the company probably pays those workers exceedingly well. Especially since Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, is the world’s richest man, worth $140 billion. Can you imagine the kind of holiday bonus you must get when you work for the world’s richest man? Bah, humbug. Bezos is a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge. Amazon, the Silicon Sociopath Amazon’s warehouse workers earn on average about 15 percent less than other warehouse workers, according to a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington, DC, advocacy group.


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The Startup Way: Making Entrepreneurship a Fundamental Discipline of Every Enterprise by Eric Ries

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Ben Horowitz, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, connected car, corporate governance, DevOps, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, index card, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, minimum viable product, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, obamacare, peer-to-peer, place-making, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, time value of money, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, universal basic income, web of trust, Y Combinator

Byrne, Jack: Straight from the Gut (New York: Warner Business Books, 2001), p. 330. 7. forbes.com/​sites/​miguelhelft/​2015/​09/​21/​dropboxs-houston-were-building-the-worlds-largest-platform-for-collaboration/#58f0ccd9125e; fortune.com/​2016/​03/​07/​dropbox-half-a-billion-users. 8. techcrunch.com/​2013/​11/​02/​welcome-to-the-unicorn-club/. 9. forbes.com/​sites/​howardhyu/​2016/​11/​25/​this-black-friday-jeff-bezos-makes-amazon-echo-sound-better-than-google-home/​#11dc97a66cc4; wired.com/​2014/​12/​jeff-bezos-ignition-conference/; fastcompany.com/​3040383/​following-fire-phone-flop-big-changes-at-amazons-lab126. 10. bloomberg.com/​features/​2016-amazon-echo. 11. fastcompany.com/​3039887/​under-fire. 12. sec.gov/​Archives/​edgar/​data/​1018724/​000119312505070440/​dex991.htm. CHAPTER 2 1. See AnnaLee Saxenian’s Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996); Reid Hoffman’s blitzscaling thesis (Part Three Introduction, note 1); and the TechStars Manifesto (Chapter 7, note 5). 2.

Over the course of four years, the project went from an idea detailed in an aspirational mocked-up press release to almost universal disappointment after its launch in the summer of 2014. Initially priced at $199, the Fire soon cost only $0.99, and by the following winter, the company took a $170 million write-down based mostly on unsold phones.9 Where a more traditional company might have fired people and destroyed morale, Amazon used this opportunity to learn and reorganize. As Jeff Bezos said at the time: I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally. None of these things are fun, but they also don’t matter. What matters is that companies that don’t continue to experiment or embrace failure eventually get in the position where the only thing they can do is make a Hail Mary bet at the end of their corporate existence. I don’t believe in bet-the-company bets.

AN OLD-FASHIONED COMPANY prioritizes even highly uncertain projects based on ROI, traditional accounting, and market share. To measure success, project teams track and share numbers designed to look as good as possible (“vanity metrics”)—but not necessarily to reveal the truth. A MODERN COMPANY attempts to maximize the probability and scale of future impact. Project teams report and measure leading indicators using innovation accounting. In a for-profit context, this goal often follows Jeff Bezos’s advice to “focus on long-term growth in free cash-flow per share” rather than traditional accounting measures.12 AN OLD-FASHIONED COMPANY is full of multitasking: meetings and deliberations where participants are only partly focused on the task at hand. There are lots of middle managers and experts in the room to give their input, even if they don’t have direct responsibility for implementation.


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Trees on Mars: Our Obsession With the Future by Hal Niedzviecki

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, business intelligence, Colonization of Mars, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Zinn, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas L Friedman, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, working poor

“The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm,” Amazon.com, accessed April 28, 2015, http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Innovation-Creativity-Americas/dp/0385499841. 21. Quentin Hardy, “How Tech Remakes Space, Food and Urgency,” The New York Times, September 4, 2013, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/how-tech-remakes-space-food-and-urgency/. 22. Eric Jackson, “6 Things Jeff Bezos Knew Back in 1997 That Made Amazon a Gorilla,” Forbes, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2011/11/16/6-things-jeff-bezos-knew-back-in-1997-that-made-amazon-a-go-rilla/. 23. Moretti, The New Geography of Jobs, 11. 24. “Americans Predict a Future Like Science Fiction,” Bits Blog, accessed April 22, 2014, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/22/americans-predict-a-future-like-science-fiction/. 25. You can see the full conference schedule at “WorldFuture 2012 Conference Highlights,” accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.wfs.org/worldfuture-2012. 26.

At Facebook, recently hired engineers are “encouraged to change something small on the site as early as the first day, so they can feel as if no product is ever really done.”21 At Google, programmers and technologists are expected to spend as much as 20 percent of their time pursuing their own pet projects for changing the future of the company and the world. “It’s all about the long term,” went the title of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s first letter to shareholders way back in 1997.22 Everything is about shaping the future. Everything is about “visionary product insight.” If the new media monoliths of the twenty-first century can be said to have put forth one cohesive vision, it’s this: own the future, or the future will own you. Or to put it another way: own the people who will shape the future, or they might end up owning you.

“Tech boosters don’t have to bray that the industry is changing the world. Everyone knows, because it really is.”43 “Hard to believe,” notes a tech columnist, “but there was once a time when the visionaries worked for the government.” The writer goes on to list the men (interestingly, only men) and companies at the forefront of change, noting, “The wild dreamers these days work for technology companies.”44 Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a hero. The late Steve Jobs, whose autobiography was a best seller throughout 2011 and who was all but canonized after his death, is a hero. A six-year-old given the “Most Likely to Be the Next Zuckerberg” award at the Seattle Startup Weekend for his ideas about a water-dissolving sticker business is a potential hero. (“He was definitely the youngest and most articulate entrepreneur in training that I know of at a Startup Weekend,” Marc Nager, the executive director of Startup Weekend, tells a tech commentator.)45 A promo e-mail I receive goes: “Want to be a marketing leader?


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Googled: The End of the World as We Know It by Ken Auletta

23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, Burning Man, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, death of newspapers, disintermediation, don't be evil, facts on the ground, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social graph, spectrum auction, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Upton Sinclair, X Prize, yield management, zero-sum game

., April 29, 2009. 311 “The official answer”: author interviews with Eric Schmidt, March 26, 2008 and April 1, 2009. 312 “Our industry faces”: author e-mail exchange with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., April 29, 2009. 313 10 percent of these were downloaded: author interview with Jeff Bezos, July 9, 2008. When I sought to update this number, Bezos’s deputy Craig Berman, reported in a May 2009 e-mail that it had grown to 35 percent. 313 What gives publishers pause: Motoko Rich, “Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon,” New York Times, June 1, 2009. 313 “Physical books”: Jeff Bezos interviewed at the D Conference attended by author, May 28, 2008, and interview with author, July 9, 2008. 314 nightly audience has plunged: nightly news audience decline from Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times, May 11, 2009. 314 Jack Myers projects: Myers Advertising and Marketing Investment Insights, March 10, 2009. 315 Neilson reported in early 2009: Nielsen report on fourth quarter 2008 television and Internet video cited in the Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2009. 315 If four million: Bobbie Kotick interviewed at D Conference attended by author, May 28, 2008. 315 “To survive”: author interviews with Quincy Smith, January 23, 2008, and April 9, 2008, May 19 and 25, 2009, and with Les Moonves, July 8, 2009. 316 The biggest box office : Brian Stelter and Brad Stone, “Digital Pirates Winning Battle with Major Hollywood Studios,” New York Times, February 5, 2009. 316 Sergey Brin described going on a boat in Europe: author interview with Sergey Brin, March 26, 2008. 317 So they initiated efforts: Sam Schechner and Vishesh Kumar, “Cable Firms Look to Offer TV Programs Online,” Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2009, and interviews with senior television executives. 317 Eric Schmidt saw a demonstration: author interview with Eric Schmidt, April 1, 2009, and Sezmi.com. 318 “We can go directly”: author interview with Ivan Seidenberg, October 30, 2008. 319 Irwin Gotlieb also dismisses: author interview with Irwin Gotlieb, February 9, 2009. 321 “Do you feel bad”: author interview with Eric Schmidt, March 26, 2008.

And second, Google was not relying on a promise of advertising revenues to reach an agreement; rather, it agreed to an up-front compensation formula of a sort it had refused to make with other traditional media companies, with the exception of the Associated Press and some wire services. “It’s a new model for us,” admitted Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond. This new model was lavishly praised by authors and publishers, but it raised new questions. Was Google going to enter the online book-selling business, competing against an early investor, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos? With Microsoft dropping its book search project and no other deep-pocketed competitor jumping in, did the agreement concentrate too much informational power in the hands of a single company? Did Google have the right, as it claimed, to sell digital copies of books whose copyright had expired? If it is true—as the Internet Archive, a competitive book digitizer, claims—that the settlement grants Google immunity from copyright infringement, will the courts permit this?

In turn, writers have to adjust to new pay formulas that involve less money upfront and more profit participation if their books sell. More books will be self-published. And an entirely new class of books-user-generated serial novels written online—now appear on cell phones in Japan, and will elsewhere. For readers, a digital book, like a digital newspaper or magazine, offers a multimedia dimension: video, music, games, interactivity between author and audience. Early in 2009, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that of the books that were available both in print and electronically at Amazon, 10 percent of these were downloaded and sold on its portable Kindle device. By May, Amazon said the number of electronic books it sold had soared to 35 percent. This figure had nearly quadrupled in a year. Although electronic books comprised but 1 percent to 2 percent of all books sold, it is clear that paper will continue to be replaced by bits.


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The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions...and Created Plenty of Controversy by Leigh Gallagher

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, housing crisis, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Justin.tv, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Network effects, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, RFID, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tony Hsieh, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, Y Combinator, yield management

Cracks Down on Airbnb,” Crain’s New York Business, October 2, 2014, http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20141002/BLOGS04/141009955/landlord-related-cos-cracks-down-on-airbnb. 120 “he’s trying to punk me”: Mike Vilensky, “Airbnb Wins Big-Name Allies in Albany Battle,” Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/airbnb-wins-big-name-allies-in-albany-battle-1470788320. 120 “ignore state law”: Rich Bockmann, “Airbnb Is Not Taking It Lying Down,” The Real Deal, March 1, 2016, http://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/as-opponents-line-up-airbnb-fights-to-win-legitimacy-in-nyc/. 120 (snarky voice-over): “New Ad Highlights Airbnb’s Problem with the Law, from Los Angeles to New York, San Francisco to Chicago and Everywhere in Between,” Share Better, accessed October 9, 2016, http://www.sharebetter.org/story/share-better-releases-new-ad-airbnb-problems-everywhere/. 120 the authors wrote: Rosa Goldensohn, “Council Members Threaten Ashton Kutcher, Jeff Bezos with Airbnb Crackdown,” Crain’s New York Business, March 11, 2016, http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160311/BLOGS04/160319990/new-york-city-council-threaten-ashton-kutcher-jeff-bezos-with-airbnb-crackdown. 120 as “theatrics”: Ibid 120 (“#RunFromAirbnb”): Lisa Fickenscher, “Activists Call on Brooklyn Half Organizers to Dump Airbnb as Sponsor,” New York Post, May 20, 2016, http://nypost.com/2016/05/20/activists-call-on-brooklyn-half-organizers-to-dump-airbnb-as-sponsor/. 122 “to see an organization lose”: Erin Durkin, “Airbnb Foes Celebrate Win after Gov.

Halfway through our conversation about this, Chesky stopped, looked at me, and told me I could be a source. “By the way, I’m learning from this,” he said, pointing to my notes. “If I wanted to learn how to interview a candidate, the obvious place to go would be another executive. But the better place to go would be a reporter.” Of course, Chesky is operating at a level of highly privileged access; not everyone can call up Jony Ive or Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos. But Chesky insists there are always good mentors, regardless of someone’s level. “When I was unemployed and a designer, I also met with people, and I was [just as] shameless,” he says. In fact, if he had been meeting with some of these heavy hitters when he was an unemployed designer, he points out, it wouldn’t have been useful. “There wouldn’t have been anything to give back in the conversation.

He met with Disney CEO Bob Iger but also brought in Jay Rasulo, the former Disney CFO who later ran all its theme parks; and the company’s former chairman for theme parks and resorts, Paul Pressler (who later served as CEO of Gap Inc.). “This product was designed around the principles of Disneyland,” Chesky says. He also met with his sources at other companies that had branched out: Jony Ive at Apple, and in probably the best, if aspirational, model for what Chesky is trying to do, Jeff Bezos, who had turned Amazon from an online bookseller into a mega-retailer. Chesky also says he took some advice from Elon Musk of Tesla. Musk cautioned him against becoming a company that gets so big that it enters what he calls the “administration era”: a phase of 10 or 20 percent growth that a company settles into after the “creation era” and then the “building era” and signals a mature business.


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More From Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next by Andrew McAfee

back-to-the-land, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, Corn Laws, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, humanitarian revolution, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Landlord’s Game, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, precision agriculture, profit maximization, profit motive, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, World Values Survey

six of the eight highest public-market valuations ever recorded: Jeff Sommer and Karl Russell, “Apple Is the Most Valuable Public Company Ever. But How Much of a Record Is That?,” New York Times, December 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/05/your-money/apple-market-share.html. Jeff Bezos, for example, became known as the “richest man in modern history”: Robert Frank, “Jeff Bezos Is Now the Richest Man in Modern History,” CNBC, July 16, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/16/jeff-bezos-is-now-the-richest-man-in-modern-history.html. in 2016, 50.7 percent of US households owned no stocks at all: Christopher Ingraham, “For Roughly Half of Americans, the Stock Market’s Record Highs Don’t Help at All,” Washington Post, December 18, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/18/for-roughly-half-of-americans-the-stock-markets-record-highs-dont-help-at-all/?

Since 1925 (when systematic data collection began), six of the eight highest public-market valuations ever recorded for American companies have belonged to modern high-tech superstars such as Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Intel, and Microsoft. The people who were smart or lucky enough to acquire large amounts of stock in these companies have become fantastically affluent. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for example, became known as the “richest man in modern history” in July of 2018, when his wealth passed $150 billion. Most Americans, however, don’t own stock in Amazon. Or in any other company. Economist Edward Wolff found that, in 2016, 50.7 percent of US households owned no stocks at all, either directly or in retirement accounts. So all stock market wealth is concentrated in less than half of America’s households.

A 2016 report from the Chernobyl Forum, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization concluded that radiation from Chernobyl would be responsible for an estimated total four thousand additional deaths from cancer, but noted, “As about a quarter of people die from spontaneous cancer not caused by Chernobyl radiation, the radiation-induced increase of only about 3% will be difficult to observe.” V. In Douglas Adams’s iconic science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” CONCLUSION Our Next Planet We’ve sent robotic probes to every planet in this solar system. Earth is BY FAR the best one. —Jeff Bezos, Twitter, 2018 Imagine that a genius invents time travel and uses the capability to offer nature lovers tours around the world of two hundred thousand years ago, before we Homo sapiens burst out from our African homeland and began to swarm all over the earth.I What would these travelers see? The oceans would contain animals that don’t exist anymore. Of these, the largest was probably Steller’s sea cow.


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The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe

Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

I cried rage tears, and I hadn’t even known those were a thing. Finally, I noticed the driver of the car briefly look back and noted that he was small of build and bald. This distracted me long enough to ask myself if that was, in fact, Jeff Bezos himself that I had been road raging all over. Had I stalked and bullied the founder and CEO of Amazon.com? Later that day, I sat at my desk and waited for an email or a phone call to tell me that I could go home for the day and never return. Tried to review a toy or two. Failed at that. Hard to appreciate the nuances of an Elmo bath toy when you’re having a mental breakdown after road raging Jeff Bezos. Maybe it was too much sugar? All I’d eaten that day was a bagel. Too much caffeine? I’d had my usual one cup of coffee. This is something that people do when they don’t realize they have a mental health problem: they blame every possible external factor they can think of but never bother to consider the internal ones.

The idea was that when recipients went to “get” their cards by clicking on a link in an email, they would see ads on the web page where they arrived. Web banner ads were thought to be extremely effective marketing devices back in the ’90s; thus the exorbitant sale price Excite! had paid. (As Americans, we were also way into Hootie & the Blowfish back then. It was a different time.) Apparently Jeff Bezos thought this business model was a great idea, so much so that he acquired an e-card company of his own. My job was to take what I could from that acquired site and build a new Amazon e-cards site—and I was expected to have it all up and running in a few months. It was like being told to build an airplane but with no blueprints and also you’re a cocker spaniel. I was given an address in a different downtown Seattle office building as my new workplace.

Depressed people see this gap, look for someone to blame, and immediately blame themselves because the illness tells them to. Impostor syndrome has some root comedic value. You have achieved something only to have depression yank it away. That’s kind of funny. Even when there was ample evidence against the impostor notion, it persisted. At one point, I was asked to emcee the annual all-company meeting held at the big convention center in Seattle, and it went great. When Jeff Bezos was named Time’s Person of the Year, I was interviewed and photographed for the issue. However, honors like those only increased the impostor feeling because my ineptitude was being put on ever-bigger stages. I even went to an Amazon party where Bezos put a hula skirt on me, for reasons I did not and still do not understand. I was a made man, part of the gang, a beloved fixture. Reality and retrospection tell me these things happened because the company was proud of me and wanted to show me off; depression told me I was a sucker being set up.


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Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning by Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris

always be closing, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, business intelligence, business process, call centre, commoditize, data acquisition, digital map, en.wikipedia.org, global supply chain, high net worth, if you build it, they will come, intangible asset, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, knapsack problem, late fees, linear programming, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Netflix Prize, new economy, performance metric, personalized medicine, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, recommendation engine, RFID, search inside the book, shareholder value, six sigma, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method, traveling salesman, yield management

It’s also clear that decision makers have to use intuition when they have no data and must make a very rapid decision—as in Gladwell’s example of police officers deciding whether to shoot a suspect. Gary Klein, a consultant on decision making, makes similar arguments about fire-fighters making decisions about burning buildings.11 Even firms that are generally quite analytical must sometimes resort to intuition when they have no data. For example, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, greatly prefers to perform limited tests of new features on Amazon.com, rigorously quantifying user reaction before rolling them out. But the company’s “search inside the book” offering was impossible to test without applying it to a critical mass of books (Amazon.com started with 120,000). It was also expensive to develop, increasing the risk. In that case, Bezos trusted his instincts and took a flier.

Senior Management Commitment The adoption of a broad analytical approach to business requires changes in culture, process, behavior, and skills for multiple employees. Such changes don’t happen by accident; they must be led by senior executives with a passion for analytics and fact-based decision making. Ideally, the primary advocate should be the CEO, and indeed we found several chief executives who were driving the shift to analytics at their firms. These included Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah’s; Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com; Rich Fairbank, the founder and CEO of Capital One; Reed Hastings of Netflix; and Barry Beracha, formerly CEO of Sara Lee Bakery Group. Each of these executives has stated both internally and publicly that their companies are engaged in some form of analytical competition. For example, Fairbank commented, “It’s all about collecting information on 200 million people you’d never meet, and on the basis of that information, making a series of very critical long-term decisions about lending them money and hoping they would pay you back.”6 Fairbank summarizes this approach as “information-based strategy.”

Of course, the leaders of such meritocratic firms have to live and die by this same analytical sword. It would be quite demoralizing for a CEO to preach the analytical gospel for everyone else but then to make excuses for his or her own performance as an executive. How Does Analytical Leadership Emerge? Some organizations’ leaders had the desire to compete analytically from their beginning. Amazon.com was viewed by founder Jeff Bezos as competing on analytics from its start. Its concept of personalization was based on statistical algorithms and Web transaction data, and it quickly moved into analytics on supply chain and marketing issues as well. Amazon.com has recently used analytics to explore whether it should advertise on television, and has concluded that it would not be a successful use of its resources. Capital One, Netflix, and Google were also analytical from the beginning because their leaders wanted them so.


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The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See That Others Miss by Ron Adner

barriers to entry, call centre, Clayton Christensen, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, M-Pesa, minimum viable product, mobile money, new economy, RAND corporation, RFID, smart grid, smart meter, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs

Well, Maybe You Can,” New York Times, November 24, 2006. 94 difference between the cost: Peter Wayner, “An Entire Bookshelf, in Your Hands,” New York Times, August 9, 2007. 96 “downright industrially ugly”: Tom Regan, “Costly ‘Kindle’ Reader Gets a Lot of It Right,” Christian Science Monitor, November28, 2007, http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1127/p25s01-stct.xhtml. 96 weighed more, and had an inferior screen: Product specs (4-shade gray scale vs. 8), Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Amazons-Original-Wireless-generation/dp/B000FI73MA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top. 96 “This isn’t a device, it’s a service”: Levy, “The Future of Reading.” 96 330,000 within two years: Motoko Rich, “Barnes & Noble Jumps into E-Book Sales with Both Feet,” International Herald Tribune, July 22, 2009. 97 $9.99 or less: David Pogue, “Books Pop Up, Wirelessly,” New York Times, November 22, 2007. 97 “works as a stand-alone device”: “A Conversation with Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos,” Charlie Rose, November 19, 2007. 97 “King of the Retail Jungle”: Farhad Manjoo, “Amazon, King of the Retail Jungle,” Washington Post, February 8, 2009. 97 30 percent of books sold in the United States: “40: Jeff Bezos—CEO, Amazon.com [The Global Elite],” Newsweek, December 19, 2008, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/12/19/40-jeff-bezos.xhtml. 97 Kindle was both closed and proprietary: Rob Pegoraro, “Kindled, but Not Enlightened,” Washington Post, December 6, 2007. 98 Amazon sacrificed some e-book profits up-front: David Gelles and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, “A Page Is Turned,” Financial Times, February 9, 2010. 98 able to make up much of the difference: Mark Muro, “The New Republic: The Kindle, America’s Decline,” NPR.org, February 26, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?

How could Amazon engineer a triumph with a weaker product? The company did it by engineering a solution. Take a look at Amazon’s value blueprint above. What is the primary difference between the approaches taken by Sony and Amazon? For readers, the Kindle provided a one-stop shop, a simple, inexpensive way to purchase and enjoy anything from Jane Eyre to the latest New York Times best seller. Presenting the Kindle, CEO Jeff Bezos announced, “This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” Unlike Sony’s Reader, the Kindle offered a complete experience for the customer: an expansive library of books, initially including more than 90,000 titles and growing to approximately 330,000 within two years; the right price (while a new hardcover usually costs around $25, most Kindle books, including new titles and best sellers, were $9.99 or less); and the ability to download the book instantly using Amazon’s wireless network.


How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight by Julian Guthrie

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Charles Lindbergh, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Frank Gehry, gravity well, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Oculus Rift, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, packet switching, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, pets.com, private space industry, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, urban planning

The goal of the Montrose gathering was to see whether a dozen men and women meeting over a weekend could hatch a new breed of rocket, finding inspiration in the improbable beginnings of many great companies: Harley-Davidson, Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and Microsoft were conceived in garages or sheds. Likewise, engineers and pilots, not governments, had started the aviation industry. A space lover named Jeff Bezos—who had served as president of the SEDS chapter at Princeton while a student there—was reportedly starting a book company from his house to capitalize on the next big thing—the Internet. David and Myra Wine, who owned the outsized shack in the woods in Montrose, hoped that whatever prototype was dreamed up could be built in their backyard. David and Myra had met in Daytona Beach in 1969 during the Apollo days, when Myra was working for a NASA program.

He looked at Peter and thought, Everything tells me I should say yes. Days later, when Peter was back in the States, he got word from Branson’s people. Dr. Yes, as he was known, had said no. Peter sat in shock. He wondered: “If Richard Branson says no, who will say yes?” — In early 1999, Peter landed another major meeting, with another major billionaire, who also seemed the perfect fit for the XPRIZE. This time, he was heading to Seattle to meet with Jeff Bezos, head of the impossibly fast-growing Amazon.com. The e-commerce company, not yet five years old, had a stock market value of more than $30 billion. The stock had risen 1,000 percent in a year, making the Seattle-based company more valuable than blue-chip giants like Texaco. Bezos, thirty-five years old, was worth at least $9 billion—and he was a space lover. Peter and Bezos had an e-mail exchange in which Bezos agreed to the meeting but cautioned, “I’m so busy I’m trying to optimize my tooth brushing time.”

He listened to them with interest, but made sure not to get his hopes up. Still, at the very least, even if Elon and Adeo did nothing, Peter had met some smart guys who would be friends. Elon was a major Trekkie. He had watched all of the episodes as a kid in South Africa, dreamed of spaceships, and read Heinlein, Asimov, and Douglas Adams. He said his successes in Silicon Valley had paved the way for his future in space—not unlike what Jeff Bezos had told him. Adeo, Elon, and Peter shared an interest in using small teams to accomplish what only the government had done before, though Elon remarked that he saw the government as “a corporation—the biggest corporation.” And like Peter, Adeo and Elon didn’t see NASA as the bad guy, but instead saw the public’s expectation of perfection as an unnecessary speed limit on innovation. The expectation that everything needed to go right caused NASA to be overly cautious.


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The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

"Robert Solow", 8-hour work day, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Anton Chekhov, asset-backed security, assortative mating, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Emanuel Derman, equity premium, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, high net worth, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, medical residency, minimum wage unemployment, Myron Scholes, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, stakhanovite, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, traveling salesman, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, zero-sum game

And advertising’s share of GDP, which had fallen throughout the Great Compression, began a steady climb in 1975. Douglas A. Galbi, “Some Economics of Personal Activity and Implications for the Digital Economy,” August 6, 2001, 7, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=275346. richest person in modern history: See Robert Frank, “Jeff Bezos Is Now the Richest Man in Modern History,” CNBC, July 18, 2018, accessed November 18, 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/07/16/jeff-bezos-is-now-the-richest-man-in-modern-history.html. Rhodes Scholars studying at Oxford: Tom Robinson, Jeff Bezos: Amazon.com Architect (Minneapolis: ABDO Publishing, 2010), 26. Jillian D’Onfro, “What Happened to 7 of the Earliest Employees Who Launched Amazon,” Business Insider, April 18, 2014, accessed November 18, 2018, www.businessinsider.com/amazons-earliest-employees-2014-4. data entry workers: The Department of Labor reports that over the first decade of the new millennium, the United States lost more than 1.1 million specifically secretarial jobs.

workers of its subcontractors: Cappelli, The New Deal at Work, 104. put them into boxes: Amazon does this using highly skilled production process engineers, including some hired as consultants from industrial firms such as Toyota. See Simon Head, Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 29–46, hereafter cited as Head, Mindless; Niv Dror, “A Fireside Chat with Jeff Bezos: Innovation & All Things Amazon,” Data Fox, accessed October 22, 2018, https://blog.datafox.com/jeff-bezos-fireside-chat/; Marc Onetto, “When Toyota Met E-commerce: Lean at Amazon,” McKinsey Quarterly (February 2014), www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/when-toyota-met-e-commerce-lean-at-amazon [inactive]. buys each part individually: See Head, Mindless, 29–46; Simon Head, “Worse Than Walmart: Amazon’s Sick Brutality and Secret History of Ruthlessly Intimidating Workers,” Salon, February 23, 2014, accessed November 18, 2018, www.salon.com/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/.

Automated industrial robots, for example, replace mid-skilled manufacturing workers with super-skilled workers who design and program the robots. Innovations in distribution, warehousing, and e-commerce displace middle-class independent merchants with subordinate Walmart greeters and Amazon warehouse workers at the bottom, and super-rich owners of megastores—including the world’s richest family (the Waltons of Walmart) and the world’s richest person (Jeff Bezos of Amazon)—at the very top. Derivatives and other new financial technologies allow elite workers on Wall Street to dispense with middle-class community bankers, loan officers, and stockbrokers. And new management techniques allow top executives and CEOs to discard middle and line managers and to exert immense powers directly to organize and control production workers. These and countless other parallel innovations simultaneously exclude middle-class workers, whose skills they render superfluous, and elevate elite workers, whose skills they make economically essential.


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Snowden's Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance by Jessica Bruder, Dale Maharidge

anti-communist, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, blockchain, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, cashless society, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, medical malpractice, Occupy movement, off grid, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Robert Bork, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, web of trust, WikiLeaks

Law enforcement already has a formidable array of surveillance technologies, ranging from license plate readers to the cell site simulators nicknamed “stingrays” that mimic mobile phone towers to facial recognition and access to credit card transactions — an area of data that is mushrooming as some areas of the country move towards a cashless economy. Meanwhile, Amazon has quietly been licensing its own facial recognition software, called Rekognition, to law enforcement agencies. In November 2018, alarmed members of Congress wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos, demanding to know more about how Rekognition was being used. Weeks later, a new Amazon patent application went public. It described a neighborhood surveillance system, made up of networked doorbell cameras that recognize “suspicious” people and call the police. Alexa has already had a few brushes with the law. While investigating a 2015 murder in a hot tub, the police department of Bentonville, Arkansas, served Amazon with a search warrant for recordings from a nearby Echo.

At Champlain University in Vermont, graduate students dedicated a semester to “Internet of Things Forensics,” studying the Nest thermostat and other devices to see how they could help criminal investigations. A program description praised the “diversity and usefulness” of networked objects — ranging from “routers that connect a laptop to the internet” to “a crockpot (from WEMO) and slippers (from 24eight).” Back when Alexa’s random laughter was creeping out unsuspecting Echo users, the Today show ran a segment on the device. “Maybe it’s just Jeff Bezos, the richest man on planet earth, having a good laugh at all of us behind the scenes,” Carson Daly joked. Then he turned to his fellow hosts. “Do you guys have an Alexa? Where is it in your house?” “In the kitchen!” replied Savannah Guthrie. “And all I really do is ask what time it is, ’cause I’m too lazy to, like, get up and look at the microwave.” Another host, Craig Melvin, interjected: “Are you not worried that she’s listening on your conversations?”

p. 103 Grindr disclosed users’ HIV status: Azeen Ghorayshi and Sri Ray, “Grindr Is Letting Other Companies See User HIV Status and Location Data,” BuzzFeed, April 2, 2018. p. 103 police used an Ohio man’s pacemaker data: Ms. Smith, “Cops Use Pacemaker Data to Charge Homeowner with Arson, Insurance Fraud,” CSO, Jan 30, 2017, csoonline.com. p. 103 “stingrays” that mimic mobile phone towers: “Stingray Tracking Devices: Who’s Got Them?,” America Civil Liberties Union, November 2018, Aclu.org. p. 104 alarmed members of Congress wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos about Recognition: Edward Markey et al., “Dear Mr. Bezos,” https://t.co/k9OGVIEQ05. p. 104 surveillance system made up of networked doorbell cameras: Jacob Snow, “Amazon’s Disturbing Plan to Add Face Surveillance to Your Front Door,” American Civil Liberties Union, December 12, 2018, Aclu.org; Matt McFarland, “Amazon May Want to Identify Burglars with Facial Recognition Tech,” CNN Business, November 30, 2018, Cnn. com; Mark Frauenfelder, “Amazon Patents Doorbell Camera that Calls Police When It Recognizes a ‘Suspicious’ Person,” BoingBoing, December 14, 2018, boingboing.net.


Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life by Alan B. Krueger

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, bank run, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Bob Geldof, butterfly effect, buy and hold, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, George Akerlof, gig economy, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, Live Aid, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, moral hazard, Network effects, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, personalized medicine, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, random walk, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Saturday Night Live, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

By this measure, incomes in the U.S. economy today are almost as skewed as they were in the rock and roll industry when Bruce Springsteen cut “Born in the U.S.A.” One reason the entire economy has veered toward a superstar, winner-take-all affair is the rise of digital technology. Successful entrepreneurs can turn apps and digital technology into fortunes worth billions of dollars. Five of the six wealthiest Americans (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, and Jeff Bezos)—whose combined wealth equals nearly that of half of the world’s population—made their fortunes because of digital technology.16 Digital technology is scalable. One day soon the top surgeons may be able to operate on a great many more patients due to improvements in digital technology. This technological revolution has brought many other profound economic and social changes, all of which are readily apparent in the music industry.

Commenting on the 1870s, Marshall wrote, “A business man of average ability and average good fortune gets now a lower rate of profits…than at any previous time, while the operations, in which a man exceptionally favoured by genius and good luck can take part, are so extensive as to enable him to amass a large fortune with a rapidity hitherto unknown.”3 Sound familiar? The same might be said of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg today. Marshall’s explanation for the growing income gap between superstar businessmen and everyone else rested on new developments in communications technology—namely, the telegraph. The telegraph connected Great Britain with America, India, and even places as far away as Australia. As a result, Marshall recognized, top entrepreneurs were able “to apply their constructive or speculative genius to undertakings vaster, and extending over a wider area, than ever before.”

Revenue from ad subscriptions grew as well, but at a slower pace and from a lower level, rising from $0.22 billion in 2013 to $0.66 billion in 2017. Several large streaming platforms are engaged in fierce competition for listeners and subscribers. Spotify and Apple Music both had more than 20 million paid subscribers in the United States as of mid-2018, and Amazon is not far behind.7 Amazon’s unlimited service doubled its subscribers in the last six months of 2017, according to CEO Jeff Bezos, and is available in forty countries. Worldwide, Spotify has 157 million active users and 71 million paying subscribers. Apple has an estimated 45 million paying subscribers worldwide; it does not offer a free ad-supported service. Pandora has 75 million active monthly users but only 5.5 million paying subscribers. Sirius XM Radio has upward of 33 million paying subscribers in North America. Chinese Internet giant Tencent’s streaming platforms reach the most ears worldwide, with more than 800 million monthly listeners who are overwhelmingly using their free ad-supported service.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

* * * The first thing to say is that current levels of inequality are almost beyond belief, deadly serious but also cartoonishly comical. The world’s eight richest men possess more wealth than the bottom half of humanity. This trend, not surprisingly, is most pronounced in the United States, where the three richest men have more wealth than the bottom 150 million people taken together.7 The richest tenth of 1 percent own about as much as the poorest 90 percent combined.8 Jeff Bezos, pre-divorce the richest human, would have to spend $28 million every day just to keep his wealth from growing—which is funny in a sick way, given that in 2017 his median employee made $28,000 a year.9 One family, the Waltons, of Walmart lineage, have more wealth than 42 percent of American families combined.10 The situation, of course, is worst for precisely whom you’d expect. The average black family in America has household wealth of $1,700, and that’s been falling steadily.11 And of course it’s getting worse for each generation that comes along, as student debt increases and wages stagnate.

7 Doubtless the actual answer is both. Google has gone beyond merely funding other people’s start-ups. In 2013 it launched its own venture, Calico, which stands for California Life Company. It’s been highly secretive—all anyone really knows about the operation is that it has squadrons of mice eating different diets—but its focus is “the challenge of aging,”8 and it’s definitely not alone. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has diverted some of his cash to the San Francisco–based start-up Unity Biotechnology, which is hard at work on “a cure for aging.” At a recent seminar on “the business of longevity,” hosted by The Economist, an “acolyte” of Peter Thiel (who has also invested in the company) rated it as one of the most likely start-ups to get a drug to market soon. The start-up was, she said, “one of the most exciting companies in a space that’s gone from fringe science to hot new field.”9 Typical headline, this one from the British papers: BEATING AGEING IS SET TO BECOME THE BIGGEST BUSINESS IN THE WORLD, SAY TYCOONS.10 One way to judge the seriousness of these men and women is to look at their ankles.

So it was.” Rand would like the current space program even more. President Trump has proposed zeroing out the budget for the International Space Station, meaning that much of America’s reach into space will need to be funded by the band of tech billionaires who have seized the opportunity. On this day, it was Musk’s company SpaceX, but the flare of rocket engines also illuminated the vast hangar of Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin project. There are others: the late Paul Allen, with his six-engine space plane; Richard Branson, already taking reservations for a Virgin Galactic spacecraft that will carry passengers and satellites into space. It beats trying to build the biggest yacht (though Allen, whose 414-foot Octopus has two helipads and a Jet Ski dock, may have held that title, too). Indeed, there’s something earnest and boyish about the whole spacefaring effort, something more likeable than busting unions back home on earth.


pages: 307 words: 96,543

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl Wudunn

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, Bernie Sanders, carried interest, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Brooks, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, epigenetics, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, impulse control, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, job automation, jobless men, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, offshore financial centre, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Shai Danziger, single-payer health, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, working poor

These deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide have been called “deaths of despair” by the Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, and that pretty much captures the mortality on the Number 6 bus. The despair arises in part from frustrations about loss of status, loss of good jobs, loss of hope for one’s kids. Inequality is currently believed to be greater than it was in the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, and just three Americans—Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—now possess as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the population. Senator Mark Warner, a moderate Democrat from Virginia who before entering politics was a successful telecommunications investor and executive, put it to us bluntly: “I don’t believe modern American capitalism is working.” Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, agrees, saying: “I’m a capitalist, and even I think capitalism is broken.”

“My boys all tried to be like their dad,” recalled Irene Green. “And they didn’t feel like they were making the grade.” The problem is not the overall economy, which has been soaring. In Kevin’s lifetime, the U.S. economy quintupled in size, and American corporate profits rose tenfold. Just since 2000, private wealth in the United States has increased by $46 trillion, or an average of $365,000 per household. But that’s like saying that when Jeff Bezos walks into a bar, the average net worth of tipplers there surges by a few billion dollars. True, but misleading. The gains in wealth and income have gone largely to a tiny share of the population, as is common knowledge by now. The people in the top 0.1 percent did fantastically well after 1980, those in the top 1 percent did very well, those below them in the top 10 percent enjoyed incomes growing at the same pace as the economy and those in the bottom 90 percent all lost ground—their incomes grew more slowly than the overall economy—during the last four decades.

In the will Kevin prepared, he left his tools to be divided among his sons, with the wish that they would get along, and allocated the tiny bit of money in his retirement account to pay for his cremation. 4 American Aristocracy Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. —PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER America’s proudest boast throughout history has been that we have no class system, and that opportunity is available to all. Yet a starting point in an exploration of our nation must be to acknowledge that today we do have a class hierarchy, and the Greens and the Knapps are on the bottom tier. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos are the new American aristocrats, while people like the Kristofs and WuDunns, and probably you if you’re reading this book, constitute a new privileged class. This twenty-first-century version of feudalism rests not only on money but also on access to education and the ability to pass down inherited benefits and values to one’s children. Children from the richest 1 percent of households are seventy-seven times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than children from the bottom 20 percent.


pages: 154 words: 47,880

The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It by Robert B. Reich

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, financial deregulation, Gordon Gekko, immigration reform, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, job automation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

But it seems dubious that JPMorgan and the other 180 big corporations whose CEOs signed this pledge are prepared to sacrifice share values (as well as all the executive pay tied to those shares) in order to raise worker pay, achieve greater diversity, remain in communities even when somewhere else on the globe becomes a cheaper place to do business, and better protect the environment. As evidenced by their relentless lobbying for the large corporate tax cut, they are not prepared to raise taxes on themselves and their corporations to pay for needed services in their communities. Twenty-one of the corporations whose CEOs signed the statement paid no federal income taxes in 2018, courtesy of those lobbying efforts. One of the signers was Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire CEO of Amazon and of its Whole Foods subsidiary. Just weeks after the statement appeared, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce—at a total annual savings of what Bezos himself made in two hours. If the Business Roundtable CEOs were serious about being committed to all their stakeholders, they’d seek legislation that would bind them and every other major corporation to those commitments—legislation, for example, requiring worker representatives on their boards, mandating that workers receive a certain percentage of shares of stock, requiring large companies to provide medical benefits even for part-time workers, forcing corporations to recognize a union when a majority of workers want one, and giving communities where they operate a say on whether corporations that have been their mainstays should be able to abandon them.

As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power, and they’ve used that political power to reduce their taxes. * * * — Even as the American middle class shrinks, America now has more billionaires than at any time in its history. There are basically only four ways to accumulate a billion dollars, and none of them is a product of so-called free market. They all depend on how the system has become organized. One way to make a billion is to exploit a monopoly. Jeff Bezos is worth $110 billion. You might say he deserves it because he founded and built Amazon. But, as I have pointed out, Amazon is a monopoly with nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce retail sales in America (and e-commerce is gaining the lion’s share of all retail sales). Consumers have few alternatives. Nor do many suppliers who sell through Amazon; for the first twenty-five years of its existence, Amazon wouldn’t let them sell at a lower price anywhere else.

We could abolish billionaires by changing the way the system is organized. This doesn’t mean confiscating the wealth and assets of the super-rich. It does mean getting rid of monopolies, stopping the use of insider information, preventing the rich from buying off politicians, and making it harder for the super-rich to avoid paying taxes—in other words, creating a system in which economic gains are shared more widely. Entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos would be just as motivated to come up with dazzling innovations if he received $100 million, or even $50 million. But the current cost to our democracy of billionaires with enough wealth and power to change the system for their own benefit is incalculable. * * * — The standard explanation for widening inequality is that globalization and technological change have made most Americans less competitive because the tasks we used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.


pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, disruptive innovation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

In a Wired magazine interview in April 2010, Bill Gates, America’s richest man, told reporter Steven Levy that if he were a teenager today, “he’d be hacking biology.”57 Gates elaborated, saying, “Creating artificial life with DNA synthesis, that’s sort of the equivalent of machine-language programming.” Whether or not his comments were meant as an endorsement of the field, the smart whiz kids who read Wired probably see it that way. And Gates isn’t the only technology mogul to express great interest in biology becoming a technology project. In a graduation speech at Princeton University, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos told students that “we humans, plodding as we are, will astonish ourselves.... Atom by atom we’ll assemble small machines that can enter cell walls and make repairs. This month comes the extraordinary, but inevitable news that we’ve synthesized life, and in the coming years we’ll not only synthesize it, but engineer it to specifications. I believe you will even see us understand the human brain.

Back in the 1970s, it was the Homebrew Club that brought together clever thinkers—such as future Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—to trade parts, circuits, and information for DIY computing devices. The point is that biology has become the latest and greatest engineering project, one that hobbyists celebrate. More importantly, eventually this passion will change the world. Those who have already made it big in the technology industry have not failed to notice. Aside from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, other tech titans who are driving interest in the longevity meme include Oracle’s Larry Ellison, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. TECH TITANS TAKING ON BIOLOGY “Death has never made any sense to me,” Larry Ellison told investigative reporter Mike Wilson, who wrote an authorized biography of the so-called bad boy of Silicon Valley.

Scientists, backed by salespeople, mavens, and connectors, have made great headway in the march toward a brighter future, but it will be realized only when others join them in this cause. Policy makers, activists, journalists, educators, investors, philanthropists, analysts, entrepreneurs, and a whole host of others need to come together to fight for their lives. We now know that aging is plastic and that humanity’s time horizons are not set in stone. Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Paul Allen have all recognized the wealth of opportunity in the bioinformatics revolution, but this is not enough. Other heroes must come forward—perhaps there is even one reading this sentence right now. The goal is more healthy time, which, as we have seen throughout this book, will lead to greater wealth and prospects for happiness. A longer health span means more time to enjoy the wonders of life, including relationships with family and friends, career building, knowledge seeking, adventure, and exploration.


pages: 270 words: 79,068

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, business intelligence, cloud computing, financial independence, Google Glasses, hiring and firing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, nuclear winter, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

At the time, Bill was in his sixties, with gray hair and a gruff voice, yet he had the energy of a twenty-year-old. He began his career as a college football coach and did not enter the business world until he was forty. Despite the late start, Bill eventually became the chairman and CEO of Intuit. Following that, he became a legend in high tech, mentoring great CEOs such as Steve Jobs of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Eric Schmidt of Google. Bill is extremely smart, super-charismatic, and elite operationally, but the key to his success goes beyond those attributes. In any situation—whether it’s the board of Apple, where he’s served for over a decade; the Columbia University Board of Trustees, where he is chairman; or the girls’ football team that he coaches—Bill is inevitably everybody’s favorite person.

If you put something into your culture that is so disturbing that it always creates a conversation, it will change behavior. As we learned in The Godfather, ask a Hollywood mogul to give someone a job and he might not respond. Put a horse’s head in his bed and unemployment will drop by one. Shock is a great mechanism for behavioral change. Here are three examples: Desks made out of doors Very early on, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, envisioned a company that made money by delivering value to rather than extracting value from its customers. In order to do that, he wanted to be both the price leader and customer service leader for the long run. You can’t do that if you waste a lot of money. Jeff could have spent years auditing every expense and raining hell on anybody who overspent, but he decided to build frugality into his culture.

If you are super-competent, they will trust you and listen to you. If you can paint a brilliant vision, people will be patient with you as you learn the CEO skills and give you more leeway with respect to their interests. PEACETIME CEO/WARTIME CEO Bill Campbell always used to say to me, “Ben, you’re the best CEO that I work with.” This always seemed crazy to me, because he was working with Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Eric Schmidt at the time while my company was going straight into the wall. One day I called him on it and said, “Bill, why would you say that? Do results not count?” He said, “There are lots of good peacetime CEOs and lots of good wartime CEOs, but almost no CEOs that can function in both peacetime and in wartime. You’re a peacetime/wartime CEO.” By my calculation, I was a peacetime CEO for three days and wartime CEO for eight years.


pages: 268 words: 74,724

Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny

Airbnb, bank run, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve

Whatever the perks of being in Congress, or for that matter being an ex-politician, great investors can earn billions. So it’s no major insight to say that if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, or Marco Rubio had a clue about what companies and business concepts were going to prosper in the future, they would not be members of the political class. Simply put, wealth in the hands of politicians is not the same as wealth in the hands of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Peter Thiel, or Jeff Bezos. Government can’t spend or invest us to prosperity for reasons of talent alone. My sermonizing, while true, ultimately amounts to shooting fish in the most crowded of barrels. While the talent differential between politicians and successful investors is blindingly obvious, to point it out is arguably to miss the greater point. Undoubtedly, those who properly decry government in its role as venture capitalist can point to the massive government loan to now bankrupt Solyndra as one of many modern examples of how politicians don’t know how to invest.

It registered a $92 million profit on $23.18 billion in sales.1 What is notable about the announcement is that since opening its doors in 1994, Amazon has regularly reported losses. Indeed, in its early days, in the midst of the first technology boom of the late 1990s, sarcastic commentators took to calling the company Amazon.org. But, despite frequent quarterly losses, Amazon can claim a market capitalization of $296 billion.2 And even though it regularly loses money, its patient investors have in no way pulled their funding. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is engaged in constant experimentation. He employs thousands in what is called Lab126 who are charged with devising ways to improve the Amazon customer experience.3 Many experiments fail, such as the Amazon Fire mobile phone that proved undesirable to its massive customer base. Yet, investors have not lost faith in the Seattle-based company, as evidenced by its rich valuation. In Zero to One, billionaire investor Peter Thiel noted, “The value of a business today is the sum of all the money it will make in the future.”4 Amazon carries a high valuation today because investors see all the experimentation in the present, not to mention Amazon’s willingness to lose money in the present, as positioning the retail innovator for a grand future of abundant earnings.

All of which brings us to what the Fed spent the trillions it borrowed from banks on: U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. To believe the popular notion that QE stimulated the economy one would have first to believe that the Fed’s subsidization of federal spending and borrowing somehow gave the economy a boost. If so, one would have to conclude that Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are more skillful at allocating the economy’s resources than are Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, and other captains of industry. Furthermore, a believer in the allegedly stimulative nature of QE would have to think that the economy is enhanced when the federal government creates programs that last forever and continuously cost the taxpayer more money no matter their efficacy or economic benefit. In short, you’d have to believe that increased funding on an annual basis for Friendster-equivalent government programs is better for the economy than leaving the credit in the private economy so that investors can put it to work.


pages: 444 words: 127,259

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac

"side hustle", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, call centre, Chris Urmson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, creative destruction, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, family office, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, money market fund, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, off grid, peer-to-peer, pets.com, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, software as a service, software is eating the world, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Y Combinator

Onto the stage walked Kalanick, clad in a stark white lab coat and thick-rimmed black glasses. He became “Professor Kalanick” for the better part of the next three hours, explaining to his employees his vision for the company. He was introducing what he called his “philosophy of work,” the result of what he said was hundreds of hours of deliberation and discussion. The entire presentation was born directly from Kalanick’s obsession with Amazon, the online retailer led by Jeff Bezos, a founder every young entrepreneur idolized. Bezos’s path to success was the stuff of Kalanick’s dreams. The small online bookstore had become a multi-billion-dollar retail behemoth by skating on razor-thin profit margins, focusing on long-term growth over short-term gains, and relentlessly undercutting competitors on prices. Kalanick admired how Bezos reinvested profits on future opportunity, to always stay one step ahead of his competition.

He looked like he would be more at home in a laboratory fabricating silicon chips—something he once did back at Intel in the ’70s—than zooming around the Valley hosting dinners for Barack Obama. As a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the storied Menlo Park venture firm, Doerr made an early investment in Netscape, a company that eventually became the world’s first consumer internet browser. Doerr was early to spot the potential of Amazon, back when Jeff Bezos’s operation was selling books in a run-down warehouse in Seattle. And perhaps most famously, in 1999 Doerr invested $12 million in Google, then just a search engine run by a couple of engineers in a garage. Five years later, when Google sold its shares on the public stock markets, that investment was worth more than $3 billion, a return of more than 240 times Doerr’s original investment. But that morning, they were just two friends walking down the sidewalk in Northern California, on the way to their kids’ soccer game.

Friends loved to say Graves had a high “EQ,” or emotional intelligence, atypical of many engineers and analytical types who inhabit positions of power in the Valley. Friends and co-workers invariably described him the same way; Ryan Graves was “a good dude.” Graves caught the entrepreneurial bug early. He worshiped entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin, idolizing the way they built something enormously successful out of nothing but an idea and a computer. Graves’s Tumblr was filled with photos of Jeff Bezos, quotes from Albert Einstein, articles about Elon Musk. One personal favorite was an iconic quote from Shawn Carter, better known by hip-hop fans as Jay-Z: “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” In 2009, he was bored of his job as a database admin at GE’s health care unit in Chicago. He wanted a cool job, perhaps at one of the startups whose apps populated his iPhone home screen. One of those was Foursquare, a buzzy, location-based mobile check-in startup that had cache among the Valley elite.


pages: 376 words: 110,796

Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs, Emeline Paat-dahlstrom, Charles D. Walker

Berlin Wall, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, desegregation, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Mikhail Gorbachev, multiplanetary species, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, private space industry, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, X Prize, young professional

XCOR Aerospace is not the only company benefiting from a long line of SSTO RLV developments pioneered by people who had worked for Dc-x and Roton. A number of the DC-X personnel have also been hired by another, more secretive vehicle developer, called Blue Origin, based in Seattle, Washington. Blue Origin was founded by space buff and multibillionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Incorporated in 2002, Blue Origin did not go public until 2003, and the company remains tightlipped about its current development progress and schedule. Jeff Bezos took an early infatuation with space and a tech background on a circuitous career path to end up in the private space business. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964. A tinkerer from an early age, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver while still a toddler. In high school he became hooked on computers and turned his parents' garage into a science lab.

This event was demonstrating that space had definitely developed a cache among the wealthy, offering them everything from a $30 million visit to the International Space Station to five-figure deposits to place their names on the waiting list for a suborbital flight. And then there were the hightech "thrillionaires." Rick Tumlinson had already remarked that the promotion of public access to space had become something of a geeky status symbol. "It's not good enough to have a Gulfstream V, now you've got to have a rocket." "Space geeks" who had made their fortune in such technology-related ventures as PayPal (Elon Musk), Amazon.com (Jeff Bezos), Google (Larry Page), and computer games (John Carmack) were now directing their wealth into creating vehicles to carry people to space. Peter Diamandis, in acknowledging the rise of space money men as a unique moment in history, declared that "there is sufficient wealth controlled by individuals to start serious space efforts." On this day, Microsoft multibillionaire Paul Allen's $25 million investment in Burt Rutan's X PRIZE quest was about to face its first full test.

They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus: An Incurable Dreamer Builds the First Civilian Spaceship. New York: Bantam Books, 2002. Wilbur, Ted. Space and the United States Navy. Washington Dc: Chief of Naval Operations, 1970. Periodicals and Online Articles Aaron, Kenneth. "Space Tourists: XCOR's Suborbital Rocket Could be the Ultimate Thrill in Adventure Travel." Cornell Engineering Magazine, May 2003. Academy of Achievement. "Biography: Jeff Bezos." http://www.achievement .org/autodoc/printmember/bezobio-i. Adams, Eric. "The New Right Stuff." Popular Science, November 2004. Artemis Project. "Where the Nss Local Chapters Came From." http://www .asi.org/adb/o6/o1/nss-chapters-origins.html. Asimov, Isaac. "The Cruise and I." The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1973. The Next Frontier?" National Geographic, July 1976. Belfiore, Michael.


pages: 335 words: 104,850

Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia, Bill George

Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, business process, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, Flynn Effect, income per capita, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, microcredit, Nelson Mandela, Occupy movement, profit maximization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, shareholder value, six sigma, social intelligence, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, union organizing, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

When all stakeholders are aligned around a common higher purpose, they are less likely to care only about their immediate, narrowly defined self-interest. Having a higher purpose is the starting point of what it means to be a conscious business: being self-aware, recognizing what makes the company truly unique, and discovering how the company can best serve. Having a compelling purpose can also galvanize a company to strive for greatness. As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, says, “Choose a mission that is bigger than the company. The founder of Sony sets the mission for the company that they were going to make Japan known for quality.”1 Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, speaks eloquently of our company’s purpose: “We are not so much retailers with a mission as missionaries who retail. The stores are our canvas upon which we can paint our deeper purpose of bringing whole foods and greater health to the world.”

When your customers are happier and they enjoy shopping, it also makes your employees’ lives happier, so it’s a virtuous cycle.”2 At Whole Foods Market, we think of customers as our most important stakeholders because we know that without enough satisfied and happy customers, we have no business at all. After all, customers trade with the business voluntarily. In a competitive market, unhappy customers always have the option of trading someplace else. Customers are clearly critical to every business, but surprisingly they are often forgotten. It is easy to get caught up in the internal processes of a company and lose sight of the primary reason for the company to exist. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com points out, “In a typical company, if you have a meeting, no matter how important it is there is always one party who is not represented: the customer. So it’s very easy inside the company to forget about the customer.”3 He started putting an empty chair in every meeting to remind participants of this. As with all stakeholders, the well-being of customers must be treated as an end and not just as a means to profits for the business.

But if you communicate consistently who you are, what your values are, and what your business philosophy, purpose, and strategy are, you will attract and build a following of shareholders and other investors who most align with your philosophy and vision of the business. You want investors who align with your purpose and understand your philosophy about stakeholders, so that when times become tough, they don’t pressure you to abandon your philosophy. In other words, you want investors who treat you the way T. Rowe Price treated Whole Foods Market during the Great Recession, as we describe below. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com describes his perspective on investors: “With respect to investors, there is a great Warren Buffett–ism. You can hold a rock concert and that can be successful, and you can hold a ballet and that can be successful, but don’t hold a rock concert and advertise it as a ballet. If you’re very clear to the outside world that you’re taking a long-term approach, then people can self-select in.”3 As Buffet has said, you get the investors you deserve.


pages: 392 words: 108,745

Talk to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think by James Vlahos

Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, computer age, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, lateral thinking, Loebner Prize, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

: Q&A with Adam Cheyer by Danielle Newnham, “The Story Behind Siri,” Medium, August 21, 2015, https://goo.gl/5euSS3. 21 “Robots were roaming the halls”: Newnham, “The Story Behind Siri.” 21 “It basically did”: Adam Cheyer, “Siri, Back to the Future,” talk at the LISTEN conference, San Francisco, November 6, 2014, https://goo.gl/NsXPnp. 21 And it even had a voice interface: Cheyer, “Siri, Back to the Future.” 22 The agency dubbed the project CALO: Details about CALO, unless otherwise indicated, from author interviews with Adam Cheyer, Norman Winarsky, and Bill Mark. 22 “learning in the wild”: this and subsequent quotes from Norman Winarsky, unless otherwise noted, come from interview with author, October 26, 2017. 24 “Users must be able to easily ask”: Norman Winarsky, “The Quiet Boom,” Red Herring, January 2004. 25 “a magical place”: this and subsequent quotes from Dag Kittlaus, unless otherwise noted, come from Founders’ Stories: Siri’s Dag Kittlaus, posted to YouTube on March 17, 2017, https://goo.gl/2z77nd and Founders Stories Second Acts—Dag Kittlaus, posted to YouTube on December 11, 2017, https://goo.gl/wMShKS. 26 “What you’ve got here is the clouds parting”: this and subsequent quotes from Tom Gruber, unless otherwise noted, come from interview with author, December 7, 2017. 27 Shawn Carolan, a partner: this and subsequent information attributed to Shawn Carolan comes from Behind-the-scenes scoop on Siri’s funding and sale to Apple, Part 1, posted to YouTube on July 30, 2010, https://goo.gl/XoBNb5. 28 “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”: Yoni Heisler, “Steve Jobs wasn’t a fan of the Siri name,” Network World, March 28, 2012, https://goo.gl/M51gvA. 29 “vaguely aware of popular culture”: Bianca Bosker, “Siri Rising: The Inside Story Of Siri’s Origins—And Why She Could Overshadow the iPhone,” Huffington Post, January 22, 2013, https://goo.gl/WHrqQY. 32 “AI is a fifty-year-old discipline”: Behind-the-scenes scoop on Siri’s funding and sale to Apple, Part 1, posted to YouTube on July 30, 2010. 33 At least one prominent Silicon Valley investor: Norman Winarsky, interview with author, October 26, 2017. 34 “I have only one question”: Henry Kressel and Norman Winarsky, If You Really Want to Change the World: A Guide to Creating, Building, and Sustaining Breakthrough Ventures (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2015), 21. 34 “Hi,” the caller said: quotes from Steve Jobs and the descriptions of what he did during the acquisition process are as remembered by and retold by Dag Kittlaus in his Chicago Founders’ Stories talks. 35 An original Ansel Adams: Tom Gruber, interview with author, December 7, 2017. 37 “I want you to make this your candy store!”: Newnham, “The Story Behind Siri.” 37 “We know that he was watching the launch”: Cheyer, “Siri, Back to the Future.” 37 “If I were to anthropomorphize Siri”: Newnham, “The Story Behind Siri.” 3. Titans 39 Decades before he founded Amazon: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on how he got a role in Star Trek Beyond, posted to YouTube on October 23, 2016, https://goo.gl/RJKBL1. 39 “build space hotels”: Luisa Yanez, “Jeff Bezos: A rocket launched from Miami’s Palmetto High,” Miami Herald, August 5, 2013, https://goo.gl/GxFrx8. 40 After the discussion with Hart: Greg Hart, interview with author, April 27, 2018. 41 “If we could build it”: this and subsequent quotes from Greg Hart come from interview with author, April 27, 2018. 41 “We think it [the project] is critical to Amazon’s success”: this and subsequent quotes from Al Lindsay, unless otherwise identified, come from interview with author, April 4, 2018. 42 Rohit Prasad, a scientist whom Amazon hired: Rohit Prasad, interview with author, April 2, 2018. 44 Bezos was reportedly aiming for the stars: Joshua Brustein, “The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo,” Bloomberg Businessweek, April 19, 2016, https://goo.gl/4SIi8F. 44 “hero feature”: Prasad, interview with author. 44 An article in Bloomberg Businessweek : Brustein, “The Real Story of How Amazon Built the Echo.” 45 “Amazon just surprised everyone”: Chris Welch, “Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you,” The Verge, November 6, 2014, https://goo.gl/sVgsPi. 45 “Don’t laugh at or ignore”: Mike Elgan, “Why Amazon Echo is the future of every home,” Computerworld, November 8, 2014, https://goo.gl/wriJXE. 45 “the happiest person in the world”: this and other quotes from Adam Cheyer, unless otherwise indicated, come from interviews with author, April 19 and 23, 2018. 45 “Apple’s digital assistant was delivered”: Farhad Manjoo, “Siri Is a Gimmick and a Tease,” Slate, November 15, 2012, https://goo.gl/2cSoK. 46 Steve Wozniak, one of the original cofounders of Apple: Bryan Fitzgerald, “‘Woz’ gallops in to a horse’s rescue,” Albany Times Union, June 13, 2012, https://goo.gl/dPdHso. 46 Even Jack in the Box ran an ad: Yukari Iwatani Kane, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), 154. 46 Years later, some people who had worked: Aaron Tilley and Kevin McLaughlin, “The Seven-Year Itch: How Apple’s Marriage to Siri Turned Sour,” The Information, March 14, 2018, https://goo.gl/6e7BxM. 48 “artificially-intelligent orphan”: Bosker, “Siri Rising.” 48 “Siri’s various teams morphed”: Tilley and McLaughlin, “The Seven-Year Itch.” 48 John Burkey, who was part: John Burkey, interview with author, June 19, 2018. 49 “it’s really the first time in history”: Megan Garber, “Sorry, Siri: How Google Is Planning to Be Your New Personal Assistant,” The Atlantic, April 29, 2013, https://goo.gl/XFLPDP. 49 “We are not shipping”: Dan Farber, “Microsoft’s Bing seeks enlightenment with Satori,” CNET, July 30, 2013, https://goo.gl/fnLVmb. 50 CNN Tech ran an emblematic headline: Adrian Covert, “Meet Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri,” CNN Tech, April 2, 2014, https://goo.gl/pyoW4v. 50 “feels like a potent mashup of Google Now’s worldliness”: Chris Velazco, “Living with Cortana, Windows 10’s thoughtful, flaky assistant,” Engadget, July 30, 2015, https://goo.gl/mbZpon. 50 “arrogant disdain followed by panic”: Burkey, interview with author. 51 “I’ll start teaching it”: Mark Zuckerberg, “Building Jarvis,” Facebook blog, December 19, 2016, https://goo.gl/DyQSBN. 51 Zuckerberg might have to say a command: Daniel Terdiman, “At Home With Mark Zuckerberg And Jarvis, The AI Assistant He Built For His Family,” Fast Company, December 19, 2016, https://goo.gl/qJNIxW. 51 One lucky user who tested M: Alex Kantrowitz, “Facebook Reveals The Secrets Behind ‘M,’ Its Artificial Intelligence Bot,” BuzzFeed, November 19, 2015, https://goo.gl/bwmFyN. 52 “an experiment to see what people would ask”: Kemal El Moujahid, interview with author, September 29, 2017. 54 “just the tip of the iceberg”: Mark Bergen, “Jeff Bezos says more than 1,000 people are working on Amazon Echo and Alexa,” Recode, May 31, 2016, https://goo.gl/hhSQXc. 59 “When you speak”: Robert Hoffer, interview with author, April 30, 2018. 4.

As Morgenthaler would later put it in an interview, “The Siri team saw the future, defined the future, and built the first working version of the future.” But the world of technology is not one that lets people rest on their laurels. In the years following the launch, Apple in some ways became more of a prison than a candy store to Siri. And the virtual assistant, as we will see next, would not have the stage all to herself for long. 3 Titans Decades before he founded Amazon and became the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was a fourth-grader who couldn’t get enough of Star Trek. Bezos watched all of the television show’s episodes multiple times; he and two neighborhood friends fashioned phasers out of paper and explored imaginary galaxies. One day, he hoped, he would get to voyage through space for real. It was more than the typical childhood fantasy. In 1982, after being named valedictorian of his high school class, Bezos told a newspaper that his career ambition was to “build space hotels, amusement parks, yachts, and colonies for two or three million people orbiting around the earth.”

With the most innovative of them, the news becomes interactive in the spirit of one of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books. People can use spoken commands to select topics, hear news summaries, and navigate to podcasts. Users can tell Anderson Cooper to pause his report, then resume it later; they can select which stories get presented rather than being stuck with the broadcast-determined order. AI scribes are even penning content. The Washington Post, which is now owned by Jeff Bezos, uses in-house software called Heliograf that takes pure data—local election results or high school football box scores—and transforms the information into short articles that sound human written. The Associated Press uses a company called Automated Insights to automatically produce thousands of financial stories. The potential for AI journalism was entertainingly demonstrated on an episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast that pitted Automated Insights against veteran reporter Scott Horsley.


pages: 403 words: 87,035

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

assortative mating, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, business climate, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate raider, creative destruction, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, financial innovation, global village, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, medical residency, Menlo Park, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Skype, special economic zone, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, thinkpad, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Wall-E, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Microsoft effectively serves as the anchor of the local high-tech sector and a magnet for other software companies. The history of Amazon is interesting in this respect. In 1994, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, lived in New York and was vice president of a large and successful Wall Street firm. Although he had a job that paid what most people only dream of, he felt there was even more he could achieve. It was the beginning of the Internet era, and he wanted a piece of the action. Bezos eventually quit his job and started an Internet book retailer. He decided to name it after the earth’s longest river, the Amazon, and to locate it in Seattle. Why Seattle? When Bill Gates made his choice, Seattle was an unattractive place to start a high-tech company, but he had personal reasons to be there. By contrast, Jeff Bezos had no personal reason to be in Seattle. He was not born there (in fact, he was born in Albuquerque!).

The first nonfamily investor in Amazon was a Seattle-based venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer, whose $40,000 funding played a crucial role in helping the company survive its delicate early phase. Shortly after, another Seattle-based venture capitalist provided $100,000 to make the new website more user-friendly, which gave the nascent company a key competitive advantage.4 Microsoft did not directly help Jeff Bezos start his company, but its presence triggered the creation of an entire high-tech cluster in the region. This highlights a remarkable feature of the high-tech world: success generates more success. It is a feature that has enormous implications for the future of many cities, and it is the main theme of this chapter and the next one. The moment Bezos left Manhattan and headed west, a series of events began that would ultimately bring thousands of good jobs to Seattle.

A second channel through which Microsoft reshaped the local economy was by spawning a host of other companies in the Seattle area, as millionaire employees quit to launch their own firms. By one estimate, Microsoft alumni alone have started four thousand new businesses, the majority of them in the Puget Sound area. Expedia is one example of a local company that spun directly out of Microsoft. RealNetworks is another. Founded by former Microsoft employee Rob Glaser in 1995, it now has 1,500 employees and is one of the largest private employers in the city. In his spare time, Jeff Bezos founded a human space-flight company called Blue Origin. Located just twenty minutes outside Seattle, it is like something out of a movie: a private company that builds and flies spacecraft. But what if you are not a rocket scientist, software engineer, or computer scientist? What does all this mean for the average worker in Seattle? Because of the multiplier effect, Microsoft’s most notable impact on the Seattle labor market has been on workers employed outside the high-tech sector.


pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Along with the many ExO attributes Amazon has implemented, the company has also addressed the ease with which anyone in a big company can say no. One of the more intriguing organizational innovations to come out of the company is what CEO Jeff Bezos and CTO Werner Vogels call “The Institutional Yes.” Here’s how it works: If you’re a manager at Amazon and a subordinate comes to you with a great idea, your default answer must be YES. If you want to say no, you are required to write a two-page thesis explaining why it’s a bad idea. In other words, Amazon has increased the friction entailed in saying no, resulting in more ideas being tested (and hence implemented) throughout the company. Jeff Bezos is perhaps the most underrated CEO of the last couple decades. Not only has he made that rare transition from founder to large-company CEO, but he has also consistently avoided the short-term thinking that so often comes with running a public company—what Joi Ito calls “nowism.”

The contest ended early, in September 2009, when one of the 44,014 valid submissions achieved the goal and was awarded the prize. Deep Learning is a new and exciting subset of Machine Learning based on neural net technology. It allows a machine to discover new patterns without being exposed to any historical or training data. Leading startups in this space are DeepMind, bought by Google in early 2014 for $500 million, back when DeepMind had just thirteen employees, and Vicarious, funded with investment from Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. Twitter, Baidu, Microsoft and Facebook are also heavily invested in this area. Deep Learning algorithms rely on discovery and self-indexing, and operate in much the same way that a baby learns first sounds, then words, then sentences and even languages. As an example: In June 2012, a team at Google X built a neural network of 16,000 computer processors with one billion connections.

Starting with the iPod, which disrupted music players, then iTunes, which fragmented music delivery, then the iPhone, and most recently, the iPad, Apple has demonstrated what an ExO can do at the edge of an existing organization. It has also demonstrated just how big the payoff can be. In 2012, for example, an astounding 80 percent of Apple’s revenues came from products that were fewer than five years old. Those new revenues helped to make Apple the most valuable company in the world. Amazon represents another archetype of this philosophy. Jeff Bezos has repeatedly shown the courage to proactively cannibalize his own businesses (e.g., the Kindle at the expense of physical books), launch edge ExOs (Amazon Web Services), buy companies that disrupt his own (Zappos) and pursue transformative technologies (delivery drones). Such bold leadership is critical in the age of the ExO. While large organizations may struggle to adapt structurally to this new age, they still have one key advantage: intellectual capital.


pages: 304 words: 82,395

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Black Swan, book scanning, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, lifelogging, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, obamacare, optical character recognition, PageRank, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, post-materialism, random walk, recommendation engine, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

While the story of Amazon is familiar to many people, fewer remember that its content was originally crafted by human hand. The editors and critics evaluated and chose the titles featured on Amazon’s web pages. They were responsible for what was called “the Amazon voice”—considered one of the company’s crown jewels and a source of its competitive advantage. An article in the Wall Street Journal around that time feted them as the nation’s most influential book critics, since they drove so many sales. Then Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, began to experiment with a potent idea: What if the company could recommend specific books to customers based on their individual shopping preferences? From its start, Amazon had captured reams of data on all its customers: what they purchased, what books they only looked at but didn’t buy, and how long they looked at them. What books they bought in unison. The quantity of data was so huge that at first Amazon processed it the conventional way, by taking a sample and analyzing it to find similarities among customers.

Thus they never used or permitted others to use the data inherent in a book’s text. They never saw the need, or appreciated the potential. Many companies are now vying to crack the e-book market. Amazon, with its Kindle e-book readers, seems to have a big early lead. But this is an area where Amazon’s and Google’s strategies differ greatly. Amazon, too, has datafied books—but unlike Google, it has failed to exploit possible new uses of the text as data. Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and chief executive, convinced hundreds of publishers to release their books on the Kindle format. Kindle books are not made up of page images. If they were, one wouldn’t be able to change the font size or display a page on color as well as black-and-white screens. The text is datafied, not just digital. Indeed, Amazon has done for millions of new books what Google is painstakingly trying to achieve for many older ones.

It took Cross, a louche outsider with disheveled hair and a slacker’s drawl, to presume that by using data he could tell the world what it ought pay attention to better than the editors of the New York Times. The notion of the big-data mindset, and the role of a creative outsider with a brilliant idea, are not unlike what happened at the dawn of e-commerce in the mid-1990s, when the pioneers were unencumbered by the entrenched thinking or institutional restraints of older industries. Thus a hedge-fund quant, not Barnes & Noble, founded an online bookstore (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos). A software developer, not Sotheby’s, built an auction site (eBay’s Pierre Omidyar). Today the entrepreneurs with the big-data mindset often don’t have the data when they start. But because of this, they also don’t have the vested interests or financial disincentives that might prevent them from unleashing their ideas. As we’ve seen, there are cases where one firm combines many of these big-data characteristics.


pages: 554 words: 149,489

The Content Trap: A Strategist's Guide to Digital Change by Bharat Anand

Airbnb, Benjamin Mako Hill, Bernie Sanders, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Minecraft, multi-sided market, Network effects, post-work, price discrimination, publish or perish, QR code, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, selection bias, self-driving car, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, social web, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, two-sided market, ubercab, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

was the Internet giant of the era, with its home page drawing the most traffic on the Web, and that’s where it promoted the new and impressively designed site Yahoo! Auctions. Amazon was the largest e-commerce player, and its auction service would let buyers and sellers transact for free (in contrast, eBay charged commissions). Cook sat on the board of both eBay and Amazon. He told me about the events: [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos called me and [venture capitalist] John Doerr and flew in to Aspen to have dinner with us. He described how he was going to launch Amazon Auctions. He wanted me to know this because he was sure I would drop being on the eBay board—eBay was clearly going to be history. And that’s probably what would happen in any other industry where the largest competitors in the world copied your product, made it technically better, promoted it aggressively, and made it free.

You want them to connect and share. You have to create positive feedback connections rather than negative ones. It may be intoxicating to look to crowds as a new way to create content, but without ensuring the right conditions, you’ll fall into the same old trap. 8 COST-BASED CONNECTIONS KINDLING THE PUBLISHERS Few events shook the book publishing industry as much as the launch of Amazon’s Kindle, in 2007. When Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, introduced the product on November 19, he invited representatives from the publishing industry to witness the occasion. Madeline McIntosh, a senior executive at Random House—the world’s largest trade publisher (now Penguin Random House, and the publisher of this book)—was among them. She described the reaction: Bezos was up on the stage going through all the features of this new device.

A big reason for the Kindle’s success wasn’t the features that improved e-reading, but a key complement that facilitated e-purchasing: wireless connectivity. To download an e-book on prior devices, one had to first connect the e-reader to that computer with a cable, buy the e-book through the computer, and transfer the file. With Amazon’s wireless device and free access to its “Whispernet” wireless network, a reader could download an e-book directly onto the Kindle anywhere and at any time, with one click. That’s the reason Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, excitedly underscored in his remarks at the Kindle’s launch, “ This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” In 2009 Tata Motors, the car division of India’s largest business house, launched the Nano—priced at about $2,500, half as much as the world’s next-cheapest car. The Nano received enthusiastic reviews from many of the industry’s most prestigious trade magazines not just for its low cost but for its design, quality, and road-sturdiness.


pages: 347 words: 91,318

Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs by Gina Keating

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, barriers to entry, business intelligence, collaborative consumption, corporate raider, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, price stability, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Superbowl ad, telemarketer, X Prize

Craft Blockbuster Online, vice president of strategic planning Rick Ellis Blockbuster Online, operations consultant Shane Evangelist Blockbuster Online, senior vice president and general manager Gary Fernandes Board member Bill Fields Chairman/chief executive before Antioco Sarah Gustafson Blockbuster Online, senior director, customer analytics Jules Haimovitz Board member Lillian Hessel Blockbuster Online, vice president, customer marketing Jim Keyes Chairman/chief executive Karen Raskopf Corporate Communications, senior vice president, Nick Shepherd Chief operating officer Michael Siftar Blockbuster Online, director, applications development Nigel Travis President Strauss Zelnick Board member Larry Zine Chief financial officer COSTARS (ALPHABETICAL) Robert Bell AT&T Laboratory, Statistics Division, researcher Jeff Bezos Amazon.com founder/chief executive Martin Chabbert Netflix Prize winner, ­French-­Canadian programmer Tom Dooley Viacom, senior vice president Roger Enrico PepsiCo, chairman John Fleming Walmart, chief executive Brett Icahn Carl Icahn’s son Carl Icahn Blockbuster investor/board member Michael Jahrer Netflix Prize winner, Big Chaos team, machine learning researcher Mike Kaltschnee HackingNetflix, founder/blogger Gregg Kaplan Redbox, chief executive Mel Karmazin Viacom, chief operating officer Yehuda Koren Netflix Prize winner, AT&T Laboratory, scientist Warren Lieberfarb Warner Home Video, president Joe Malugen Movie Gallery, chairman/chief executive Dave Novak Yum!

They had to solve their retention problems fast and get out of DVD sales before high-volume retailers got in and crushed them. Hastings made it clear to Netflix’s executive team that they were pulling out of DVD sales even though it was providing the company’s only profit. They were on notice that they had to find a way to make rental work, or the company would go down. Randolph and Hastings flew to Seattle and met with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who had indicated that he wanted to explore a partnership with Netflix. The two CEOs were willing to trade their DVD sell-through business for a crack at pitching online DVD rental to Amazon’s customers. Hastings also wanted to discuss selling Netflix to Amazon, if the price was right. While Randolph and Bezos hit it off immediately, trading launch-day stories, Hastings was less than impressed with Amazon’s $12 million offer.

To finalize a cross-promotion deal with AOL, which owned online movie information and theater ticket purveyor Moviefone, teams from the two companies spent a week in the Paramount Building on separate floors sending the contract back and forth to keep it out of the hands of Stead’s and AOL’s legal departments. But Internet companies for the most part were wary of Blockbuster Online, because of its parent company’s poor track record in technology, and deals were hard to come by. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos clearly wanted an online DVD rental offering as a bridge to digital delivery, but his terms proved too onerous for Blockbuster Online, which already faced a steep path to profitability and worried about violating the federal Video Privacy Protection Act by sharing its subscribers’ rental history data with the online retailer. Evangelist had heard that Bezos was also talking with Netflix.


pages: 321 words: 92,828

Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed With Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bernie Madoff, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, fear of failure, financial independence, follow your passion, Frederick Winslow Taylor, hiring and firing, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Sand Hill Road, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, Toyota Production System, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor

They started Google as Stanford graduate students in 1998, and until 2014, both were known to ask Google job applicants for their SAT scores. (Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now goes to great lengths to say it no longer does this. But the reality is that Google still uses various puzzles, riddles, and other means to evaluate a job applicant’s fast-twitch cognitive giftedness.) Amazon’s founder and CEO, and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, also scored 800 on his math SAT. According to reporter Brad Stone, Bezos “felt that hiring only the best and brightest was key to Amazon’s success. Early on, he conducted job interviews himself; and he too asked candidates for their SAT scores. Bezos said: ‘Every time we hire someone, he or she should raise the bar for the next hire, so that the overall talent pool is always improving.’ ” Bezos jokingly told a reporter that his wife’s high SAT scores made the pair compatible.

Diane Greene, who cofounded and ran software giant VMware, constructed a pot that was family friendly, certainly by the workaholic standards of Silicon Valley. Until January 2019, the CEO of Google Cloud, she encouraged parents at Google to get home and have dinner with their families. Google Cloud’s fierce competitor in the market is Amazon Web Services, run by Andy Jassy, who reports to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, one of the most demanding bosses in the world. Amazon is a tough culture, especially for those reporting to Bezos. Certain kinds of people will bloom in Amazon’s pot, but many will not. No one should be surprised by the shape and soil of a company’s pot if they’ve done their research on Glassdoor and other free Web sources. So finding the right pot—whether by location or by organizational culture—is crucial to our blooming.

“Our schools still follow”: Todd Rose, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness (New York: HarperCollins, 2015). the historian Raymond Callahan: Raymond E. Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964). we all learn in different ways: Rose, End of Average; Scott Barry Kaufman, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined (New York: Basic Books, 2013). “felt that hiring only the best”: Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Random House, 2013). claims there is a mismatch: Rich Karlgaard, “Atoms Versus Bits: Where to Find Innovation,” Forbes, January 23, 2013. “bits” companies: Nicholas P. Negroponte, “Products and Services for Computer Networks,” Scientific American 265, no. 3 (1991): 106–15. “The old brick-and-mortar economy”: Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, “Back to the Center, Democrats,” New York Times, July 6, 2017.


pages: 98 words: 27,201

Are Chief Executives Overpaid? by Deborah Hargreaves

banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, business climate, corporate governance, Donald Trump, G4S, Jeff Bezos, loadsamoney, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, performance metric, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Snapchat, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, wealth creators

Time has featured five businessmen on its cover as person of the year since it began the practice in 1927 and all of them are representative of the era in which they were chosen. Walter Chrysler, who founded the eponymous car company, was profiled in 1928, and Harlow Curtice, president of General Motors, in 1955 – the year after GM became the first US company to post profits of more than $1 billion. After that was Ted Turner, who founded the TV channel CNN in 1991, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, featured in 1999, and Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook, in 2010. Mr Chrysler was paid $1 million in 1920 and 1921 – a huge amount at the time – when weekly wages at the firm were $31. Mr Chrysler’s annual income was 620 times that of his employees. By the 1950s, remuneration for top bosses had levelled off somewhat, with Mr Curtice earning $800,000 at his peak; with average pay at $3,301, he was taking home 242 times the norm.

Ted Turner, who founded CNN, the first 24-hour cable channel in 1990, took home a salary of just over $1 million in 1995 with a bonus of $680,000. That year average wages were $24,705, so Mr Turner was taking home 68 times the norm. In 2013, Fortune magazine estimated his net worth at $2.2 billion. These riches are dwarfed by the personal fortunes of today’s technology entrepreneurs, however. In 2018, Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world with net wealth of $115 billion, since he remains the largest shareholder in Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg takes a salary of only $1 from Facebook, but his shareholding in the social-networking company means he has a net worth of $73 billion. This is in the context of the stagnation in wages for the average American at just over $37,500 a year. Business at the heart of government One of the reasons for the huge growth in top pay in the West in the past 20 years is the establishment of the business culture at the heart of government.


pages: 243 words: 59,662

Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

"side hustle", Atul Gawande, Cal Newport, Checklist Manifesto, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Frederick Winslow Taylor, informal economy, invention of the telegraph, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Parkinson's law, remote working, Steve Jobs, zero-sum game

New York Times Magazine, April 15, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sleep-t.html. 13. On these and related points, see Shawn Stevenson, Sleep Smarter (New York: Rodale, 2016); David K. Randall, Dreamland (New York: Norton, 2012); and Penelope A. Lewis, The Secret World of Sleep (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). 14. Lewis, The Secret World of Sleep, 18. 15. Jeff Bezos, “Why Getting 8 Hours of Sleep Is Good for Amazon Shareholders,” Thrive Global, November 30, 2016, https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/7624-jeff-bezos-why-getting-8-hours-of-sleep-is-good-for-amazon-shareholders. 16. Matthew J. Belvedere, “Why Aetna’s CEO Pays Workers Up to $500 to Sleep,” CNBC, April 5, 2016, https://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/05/why-aetnas-ceo-pays-workers-up-to-500-to-sleep.html. 17. Alex Hern, “Netflix’s Biggest Competitor? Sleep,” Guardian, April 18, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/18/netflix-competitor-sleep-uber-facebook. 18.

Meanwhile, going without sleep makes it harder to stay focused, solve problems, make good decisions, or even play nice with others.13 As neuroscientist Penelope A. Lewis explains, “Sleep-deprived people come up with fewer original ideas and also tend to stick with old strategies that may not continue to be effective.”14 That’s precisely why effective leaders and entrepreneurs stress getting adequate sleep. Consider Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me,” he told Thrive Global. “That’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.”15 Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini actually offers cash incentives for employees to prioritize their sleep. “You can’t be prepared if you’re half-asleep,” he explained in an interview. “Being [fully] present in the workplace and making better decisions has a lot to do with our business fundamentals.”16 Rejuvenating rest comes down to two things: quantity and quality.


pages: 523 words: 61,179

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI by Paul R. Daugherty, H. James Wilson

3D printing, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, digital twin, disintermediation, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, friendly AI, future of work, industrial robot, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, Lyft, natural language processing, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sensor fusion, sentiment analysis, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, software as a service, speech recognition, telepresence, telepresence robot, text mining, the scientific method, uber lyft

Chapter 7 1.Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (New York: Basic Books, 1989), 13. 2.Autoline Network, “The ART of Audi,” YouTube video, 1:04:45, August 22, 2014, https://youtu.be/Y6ymjyPryRo. 3.Sharon Gaudin, “New Markets Push Strong Growth in Robotics Industry,” ComputerWorld, February 26, 2016, http://www.computerworld.com/article/3038721/robotics/new-markets-push-strong-growth-in-robotics-industry.html. 4.Spencer Soper and Olivia Zaleski, “Inside Amazon’s Battle to Break into the $800 Billion Grocery Market,” Bloomberg, March 20, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-20/inside-amazon-s-battle-to-break-into-the-800-billion-grocery-market. 5.Izzie Lapowski, “Jeff Bezos Defends the Fire Phone’s Flop and Amazon’s Dismal Earnings,” Wired, December 2, 2014, https://www.wired.com/2014/12/jeff-bezos-ignition-conference/. 6.Ben Fox Rubin, “Amazon’s Store of the Future Is Delayed. Now What?” CNET, June 20, 2017, www.cnet.com/news/amazon-go-so-far-is-a-no-show-now-what/. 7.Steven Overly, “The Big Moral Dilemma Facing Self-Driving Cars,” Washington Post, February 20, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/02/20/the-big-moral-dilemma-facing-self-driving-cars/?

The store is called Amazon Go, and by the spring of 2017, it was serving a limited number of people—Amazon employees, mostly—as a way to prove the concept that it’s possible to make shopping in physical stores almost as easy as clicking the Buy Now option on the Amazon website.4 Amazon Go is clearly an example of a bold retail experiment, and it also highlights something else: Amazon fosters a culture of experimentation. It allows crazy ideas to flourish. It designs, funds, and runs tests. Many of those will fail, but that’s not the point. “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally,” Jeff Bezos says. “What matters is companies that don’t continue to experiment or embrace failure eventually get in the position where the only thing they can do is make a Hail Mary bet at the end of their corporate existence. I don’t believe in bet-the-company bets.”5 Instead, Bezos firmly believes in the incredible power of experimentation. (For another example of experimentation in a retail setting, see the sidebar “Controlled Chaos.”)


pages: 474 words: 130,575

Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex by Yasha Levine

23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bitcoin, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, collaborative editing, colonial rule, computer age, computerized markets, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, digital map, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global village, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Howard Zinn, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Hackers Conference, uber lyft, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

On election day they built a call center, they built an elaborate database to know where their volunteers were, know the neighborhoods where people appeared not to have voted, so they could go knock on doors and get out the vote,” Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services, told All Things Digital. “Nine Questions for Andy Jassy, Head of Amazon Web Services,” All Things Digital, November 8, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20170528161820/http://allthingsd.com/20131108 /nine-questions-for-andy-jassy-head-of-amazon-web-services/comment-page-1/. 136. Adi Robertson, “Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Partners with Boeing and Lockheed Martin to Reduce Dependence on Russian Rockets,” The Verge, September 17, 2014, https://www.theverge.com/2014/9/17/6328961/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-partners-with-united-launch-alliance-for-new-rocket. 137. Andy Greenberg, “How a ‘Deviant’ Philosopher Built Palantir, a CIA-Funded Data-Mining Juggernaut,” Forbes, August 14, 2013. 138. “The genre of people that Cyber Command are working to recruit are fresh out of high school and college.

Netflix monitored the films people watched to suggest other films but also to guide the licensing of content and the production of new shows.78 Angry Birds, the game out of Finland that went viral, grabbed data from people’s smartphones to build profiles, with data points like age, gender, household income, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and even political alignment, and to transmit them to third-party targeted advertising companies.79 Executives at Pandora, the music streaming service, built a new revenue stream by profiling their seventy-three million listeners, grabbing their political beliefs, ethnicity, income, and even parenting status, then selling the info to advertisers and political campaigns.80 Apple mined data on people’s devices—photos, emails, text messages, and locations—to help organize information and anticipate users’ needs. In its promotional materials, it touted this as a kind of digital personal assistant that could “make proactive suggestions for where you’re likely to go.” Pierre Omidyar’s eBay, the world’s biggest online auction site, deployed specialized software that monitored user data and matched them with information available online to unmask fraudulent sellers.81 Jeff Bezos dreamed of building his online retailer Amazon into the “everything store,” a global sales platform that would anticipate users’ every need and desire and deliver products without being asked.82 To do that, Amazon deployed a system for monitoring and profiling. It recorded people’s shopping habits, their movie preferences, the books they were interested in, how fast they read books on their Kindles, and the highlights and margin notes they made.

It is staffed by over a thousand private investigators, who work closely with intelligence and law enforcement agencies in every country where it operates.131 The company runs seminars and training sessions and offers travel junkets to cops around the world.132 eBay is proud of its relationship with law enforcement and boasts that its efforts have led to the arrests of three thousand people around the world—roughly three per day since the division started.133 Amazon runs cloud computing and storage services for the CIA.134 The initial contract, signed in 2013, was worth $600 million and was later expanded to include the NSA and a dozen other US intelligence agencies.135 Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used his wealth to launch Blue Origin, a missile company that partners with Lockheed Martin and Boeing.136 Blue Origin is a direct competitor of SpaceX, a space company started by another Internet mogul: PayPal cofounder Elon Musk. Meanwhile, another PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, spun off PayPal’s sophisticated fraud-detection algorithm into Palantir Technologies, a major military contractor that provides sophisticated data-mining services for the NSA and CIA.137 Facebook, too, is cozy with the military.


pages: 359 words: 96,019

How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, Hyperloop, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Oculus Rift, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, QR code, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, social graph, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, too big to fail, Y Combinator, young professional

For the venture capitalists, this was great—they got to buy more stock in a red-hot company, and it aligned the founders’ incentives with the VCs; venture capital firms see their returns follow a power law, where one investment makes them the majority of their money while most of their investments fail. If the founders have $10 million sitting in their pockets, they will be more likely to aim the company for the bigger, longer-run exits or IPOs rather than selling for less. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos summed up this idea in a letter to his shareholders, writing, “We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs.

Evan had a team build a Snapchat music product that combined Snapchat’s penchant for communicating through media with Evan’s vision for how music should work digitally. However, it was never released, likely because the rights to the music were too complex and expensive. Employees were happy to work tirelessly on Evan’s experiments, music or otherwise. Evan’s benevolent dictatorship is not uncommon in tech. Many visionaries like Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos have been described in similar, and even more draconian, ways. But Jobs, Musk, and Bezos have accomplished such spectacular achievements that employees will follow them no matter what. Evan seemed to be following right in their footsteps, but we have only seen him at the helm when Snapchat is thriving and growing spectacularly well. While he obviously deserves the credit for this, every company goes through periods of intense pain and scrutiny.

When a Bloomberg Business reporter writing a cover story on Snapchat asked Evan what his long-term vision for the company is, Evan replied, “These are the kinds of questions I hate, dude.” Snapchat investors and advisors, afraid of irritating Evan, have often been unwilling to speak publicly about even basic things like how the company differentiates itself and what its mission is. Evan is hardly the first tech founder to be secretive. Some of the industry’s most revered leaders like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos are known for their intense corporate secrecy. As much as Evan has had a rivalry with Mark Zuckerberg, he has also been empowered by Zuckerberg, who blazed the trail for him. Steve Jobs was not the CEO of Apple until his second stint with the company; Google’s investors demanded they bring in Eric Schmidt as a more professional CEO than cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But Zuckerberg’s overwhelming success and maturation from immature genius into visionary CEO caused a shift in Silicon Valley to strongly favor founders as CEOs.


Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual by Peter Meyers

computer age, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex

A horizontally swipeable list of shortcut icons to items you’ve recently looked at: a book, an app, a TV show, or anything else on the Fire. A single tap launches whatever the icon represents. What’s here is whatever’s in the Fire’s recent memory. In other words, the system decides what’s on this shelf, not you. First time Fire starters will see an Amazon-penned user’s guide (helpful, but containing none of the gems you get in a, um, real guidebook), a welcome note from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and a list of any ebooks you’ve bought from his ebook shop, the Kindle Store. Move through this carousel by holding down and tracing your finger right to left. A light touch is all it takes; you can also flick, just as you’d do when spinning a Lazy Susan: The touchscreen plays along and delivers more or less momentum, depending on how fast you flick. Notice the little white downward-pointing arrow on the lower-right corner of any ebook cover.

It helps that the Fire makes it pretty easy to flush out what you don’t need and download what you do. Tip To keep tabs on how much room you’ve got left, check out Quick Settings→Device→Internal Storage. So there you have it: a short version of Cloud 101. Ready to go have some fun with your Fire? Reading books is a great place to start, which is what the next chapter covers in detail. Chapter 2. Reading Books AMAZON CEO JEFF BEZOS has always had one big design goal for the Kindle: to make it “disappear in your hands so you can enjoy your reading.” Even though the Fire’s the heaviest, most feature-packed model in the family, it meets its dad’s main objective. Whether you’re a Kindle veteran, an occasional smartphone reader, or even a hardcover lover, you’ll find it easy to read on the Fire. Two things in particular make the Fire a good alternative to print.

What OfficeSuite lacks, though, may be a dealbreaker: It has no integration at all with any of the online storage services. Part II. Watching and Listening Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 5. Watching TV and Movies IF YOU’VE GOT A kid or commute in your life, you’ll love the Fire’s talents as a video jukebox. With its growing lineup of mainstream TV shows and movies, Amazon is giving Netflix and Apple a reason to look over their shoulders. It’s all part of Jeff Bezos’s master plan to turn what began as his online bookselling site into something much bigger. He’s also fixing to put the competitive scare into your local cable company. Consider, for example, what’s playing on your local Fireplex: TV shows. Networks big and small have signed on—everyone from ABC to VH1, and most of the alphabet in between. BBC, CBS, and Comedy Central are among those who’ve licensed at least a decent chunk of their catalog.


pages: 252 words: 70,424

The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value by John Sviokla, Mitch Cohen

business cycle, Cass Sunstein, Colonization of Mars, corporate raider, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Elon Musk, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, global supply chain, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Jony Ive, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, old-boy network, paper trading, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart meter, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, young professional

Ballmer became the marketing and sales guru, and was key to realizing Gates’s vision. As second in command, he accumulated significant equity in the company that made him a billionaire. Ballmer became Microsoft’s CEO in 2000, when Gates stepped down, and held that position until retiring in 2014. Today, Ballmer is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. Jeff Bezos b. 1964, United States Amazon.com After graduating from Princeton, Jeff Bezos worked on Wall Street. While at D. E. Shaw & Co., he became the youngest vice president in the investment firm’s history. At age twenty-nine, he left to found Internet retailer Amazon.com. The company started off selling books because the international standard book number (ISBN) system made them suitable for Web search and order fulfillment. A wide range of products soon followed.

This not only gives organizations an option in a new market, it also serves as another way for you to discover Producers in your organization—those with a long-standing interest in or commitment to an idea or a vector will gravitate to the new venture as a way to learn more and be involved in a way that is real. Mergers and Acquisitions Acquirers are clearly motivated by the desire to acquire resources, positioning in a new market, or the potential for scale. Sometimes, mergers are overtly about the people running the operation and their ability to pursue ideas. The acquisition of Zappos by Amazon is an example of the Producer Jeff Bezos recognizing another Producer in CEO Tony Hsieh, and buying not only the business asset but the skills and vision of its leader. Warren Buffett, in contrast, could be said to be a Producer who has made his billions by acquiring cash flow in established, unchanging Performer industries. And the acquisition of Climate Corporation by the agricultural science firm Monsanto reads to us as an effort by a diversified agrigiant to grow Producer capability in an area with enormous potential.


pages: 246 words: 68,392

Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work by Sarah Kessler

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business cycle, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, financial independence, future of work, game design, gig economy, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, job automation, law of one price, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, payday loans, post-work, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

“When you have something that is not humanized, like your refrigerator, you have no empathy for it,” Kristy said. “You don’t care if you slam the door. You don’t care if you leave moldy food in it. It doesn’t matter. You don’t care about the refrigerator.” Her solution to being treated as less than human by clients on Mechanical Turk was simple: Ask Turkers to explain the problem in letters to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. The bullet points on Kristy’s campaign memo, below a “WHAT WE WANT TO SAY” headline, read as follows: 1: Turkers are human beings, not algorithmsb, and should be marketed accordingly. 2: Turkers should not be sold as cheap labour, but instead skilled, flexible labour which needs to be respected. 3: Turkers need to have a method of representing themselves to Requesters [people who hire Mechanical Turk workers] and the world via Amazon.

Thanks for reading, Kristy Milland Amazon did not publicly acknowledge the letter campaign. It did not change its branding of Mechanical Turk. It did not create a minimum wage or a new worker rating system. Nor did it create a system in which workers could better communicate with Amazon. However, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Fast Company Magazine, and Wired all covered the campaign. “The goals of the campaign, which hopes to eventually beam hundreds of letters into Jeff Bezos’s inbox, are as varied as the Turkers themselves,” wrote The Guardian. “Some just want to celebrate Mechanical Turk’s flexibility and bite-size tasks. Others are demanding a more modern website that allows them to market themselves to employers and, in return, rate companies as good or bad to work for.”24 Amazon responded to at least one letter, in which a Turker in India had written to say that his paper checks often got lost in the mail.25 Soon after, the company enabled bank transfers to India.

October 2015. http://static1.squarespace.com/static/53c31c5ce4b053fc7d131b18/t/56405d98e4b07bcd9d9704a1/1447058840358/Portner+-+compensating+wage+differentials.pdf. 23   Salehi et al. We Are Dynamo. 24   Harris, Mark. Amazon Mechanical Turk Workers Protest: “I Am a Human Being, Not an Algorithm.” The Guardian. December 3, 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/03/amazon-mechanical-turk-workers-protest-jeff-bezos. 25   Katz, Miranda. Amazon’s Turker Crowd Has Had Enough. Wired. August 23, 2017. https://www.wired.com/story/amazons-turker-crowd-has-had-enough/. 26   The traditional unions that once helped create the American middle class have nowhere near as much influence today as they once did. Only about 11% of the workforce (and just 6.6% of the non-government workforce) belonged to a union in 2016, compared to about 20% in 1983 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


pages: 271 words: 62,538

The Best Interface Is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technology (Voices That Matter) by Golden Krishna

Airbnb, computer vision, crossover SUV, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, impulse control, Inbox Zero, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, QR code, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tim Cook: Apple, Y Combinator, Y2K

Ante, “H-P CEO Meg Whitman: We Are Doubling Down on Hardware” Wall Street Journal - Digits, February 21, 2014. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/02/21/h-p-ceo-meg-whitman-we-are-doubling-down-on-hardware/ 2 “‘We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards,’ he says. ‘That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.’” Adam Lashinsky, “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The Ultimate Disrupter,” Fortune, November 16, 2012. http://fortune.com/2012/11/16/amazons-jeff-bezos-the-ultimate-disrupter/ 3 “Cook: It’s never been stronger. Innovation is so deeply embedded in Apple’s culture. The boldness, ambition, belief there aren’t limits, a desire to make the very best products in the world. It’s the strongest ever. It’s in the DNA of the company.” “Live Recap: Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaks at Goldman Conference,” Wall Street Journal - Digits, February 12, 2013. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/02/12/live-apple-ceo-tim-cook-speaks-at-goldman-conference/ 4 Jesse Solomon, “Google Worth More Than Exxon.

But blurring the two disciplines upon hiring designers has played an important role in our approach to creating technological experiences. It likely lies near the root of the commonly pervasive and disturbingly screen-obsessed approach to design. The result is that much of our lives today is dominated by digital interfaces asking us to tap, touch, swipe, click, and hover because that’s what people were hired to create. HP CEO Meg Whitman says, “We’ve got to continue the innovation engine.”1 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, “We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards.”2 Apple CEO Tim Cook says, “Innovation is so deeply embedded in Apple’s culture.”3 But when you specifically hire someone to generate UI, you won’t get new, innovative solutions. You’ll get more UI, not better UX. This is UI: Navigation, subnavigation, menus, drop-downs, buttons, links, windows, rounded corners, shadowing, error messages, alerts, updates, checkboxes, password fields, search fields, text inputs, radio selections, text areas, hover states, selection states, pressed states, tooltips, banner ads, embedded videos, swipe animations, scrolling, clicking, iconography, colors, lists, slideshows, alt text, badges, notifications, gradients, pop-ups, carousels, OK/Cancel, etc. etc. etc.


pages: 253 words: 65,834

Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get From Start-Up to IPO on Your Terms by Jeffrey Bussgang

business cycle, business process, carried interest, digital map, discounted cash flows, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pets.com, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, selection bias, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Wisdom of Crowds

I think the difficulty that start-up executives have in fitting in comfortably into a big company is more about what drives an entrepreneur and what satisfies him or her—both in the long run and in the day-to-day work. It comes down to an essential character trait that I observed in myself: the entrepreneurial itch. When you have it, you just have to scratch it. You really can’t help yourself. Being an entrepreneur may be something deep in the genes. John Doerr, the venture capitalist, described some of the greatest entrepreneurs he had invested in—including Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google), Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), and Steve Jobs (Apple)—as “geeks who couldn’t get dates.” Although I don’t know if that is actually true about those four guys, the spirit of the comment resonates. The world of the entrepreneur, even when they are teenagers, is typically not defined by being cool and fitting in but rather by their passion for technology, innovation, change, and a particular idea. Genetic or not, there are certain classic characteristics of the entrepreneur.

As I said, they’re looking for a needle in the haystack of deals. I made my first major VC pitch during my second week on the job at Upromise. My partner, Michael Bronner, and I flew out to California to meet with John Doerr and his partners at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, generally known as Kleiner Perkins. John Doerr is one of the most famous VCs in history and considered the “center of gravity in the Internet,” according to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com. After graduating from Harvard Business School, John went to work for Intel in 1974, just as the company was bringing out the 8080 Microprocessor (essentially the first microchip). He went on to become an amazingly successful VC, investing at an early stage in Amazon, Google, Sun, and Intuit, among others. I was excited to meet this Silicon Valley legend. It was not my first time visiting the nondescript low-rise office buildings on famous Sand Hill Road in the heart of Silicon Valley, but it was my first time doing it with hat in hand, trying to raise money and delivering the pitch.

Ben Franklin—inventor, philosopher, statesman, and writer—was also a great entrepreneur who combined practical application with commercial instincts. Thomas Edison continued in this great tradition throughout the nineteenth century and, to this day, is the holder of more patents than any individual in U.S. history (although, now in the number two spot with over 750 and counting, MIT professor Bob Langer might someday surpass him). Modern iconic entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, and others, continue to inspire young entrepreneurs around the globe to pursue the art of the possible. In the last few decades, the venture capital industry has worked to accelerate entrepreneurship and, as much as possible, improve the odds for success. By working with entrepreneurs in a range of industries across a number of business cycles, VCs try to figure out the formula for entrepreneurial success and impart those lessons to the next generation of would-be Franklins and Edisons.


Amazing Stories of the Space Age by Rod Pyle

centre right, desegregation, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan

At about 30,000 feet a single parachute would be released, and the MOOSE would float to a soft landing in water, in which it could float just like a life raft. Brilliant as it was, MOOSE would have been a risky, last-ditch option and was never developed beyond very basic ground testing. These ideas have been mothballed for decades, just another set of wild space-age designs that never made it off the drawing board or beyond limited prototyping. But there is new life in some of these old concepts. With Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Amazon's Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin looking to haul tourists into space, a handful of companies have begun investigating high-tech space suits that would allow an adrenaline-fueled few to exit a spacecraft and descend to Earth protected by nothing more than the suit. In 2013, a high-altitude suit called the RL Mark VI Space Diving Ensemble was announced by a pair of companies working together out of Baltimore, Maryland.

The almost heroic competition and excitement of the space race had ebbed, replaced by routine orbital ventures, a number of Earth-orbiting space stations, and the robotic exploration of the planets. All this had its appeal, but was by no measure as popular as the early lunar expeditions had been with kids or grown-ups. And what of the future? Will public fascination with spaceflight be rekindled as NASA and SpaceX reach for Mars, as Virgin Galactic sends tourists into space, and orbital hotels are regularly visited by Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rockets? Will a new line of space toys and electronic games focus on Martian expeditions and space colonies? The private ventures mentioned are moving ahead as quickly as they can, and NASA continues to refine its plan to get astronauts to Mars by the mid-2030s. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is planning similar ventures closer to Earth. The European Space Agency, which has flown its own astronauts on both US and Russian spacecraft, is discussing an ambitious international “lunar village.”2 China plans to send humans to the moon within a decade and is aggressively pursuing its own orbital space program, including space stations, the second of which was launched in 2016.

The upper limit for liquid engines on NASA rockets has to date been the Saturn V with five engines on the first stage; SpaceX's Falcon 9 uses nine engines, and the Falcon Heavy rocket will use twenty-seven on the first stage alone.3 The Falcon Heavy is poised to become a new leader in heavy-lift capability for the US when it flies in 2017 or 2018 (followed by NASA's SLS heavy booster soon thereafter). And SpaceX's rockets are designed to fly back to their launch points (or nearby sea-going barges) for refurbishment and reuse, which should finally fulfill the vision of the early space shuttle designs for economical and frequent spaceflight on a budget. Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame has followed a somewhat similar path, but is serving both a higher and lower (no pun intended) segment of the marketplace. His Blue Origin rockets have flown numerous times to suborbital altitudes, testing both reusable boosters and capsules similar to SpaceX's. These are the core of his tourist-driven suborbital rocket business. On the other end of the spectrum, he has a contract in hand to design the new high-power engines for United Launch Alliance's (ULA) replacement for the Atlas rocket, which, until SpaceX came into the market, dominated (along with the Delta II) US launch services.


pages: 334 words: 102,899

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea by Marc Randolph

Airbnb, crowdsourcing, high net worth, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, late fees, loose coupling, Mason jar, pets.com, recommendation engine, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Travis Kalanick

At Borland International, where I worked in the eighties, the very architecture of the corporate campus—engineers on the top floor, in the window offices, and everyone else on the floors below them—enforced a sense of hierarchy: engineers were on top, and everyone else worked for them. Along with that hierarchy was a certain staidness. Change happened logically, according to plan. By the mid-nineties, things had changed. Jeff Bezos’s success at Amazon had shown us that it wasn’t just more powerful hardware or more innovative software that would lead to future progress—it was the internet itself. You could leverage it to sell things. It was the future. The internet was not predictable. Its innovations were not centralized on a corporate campus. It was a whole new world. Here’s how tangibly—and quickly—things had changed.

I leaned in toward one of the tall glass windows that made up the front of the building. If I cupped my hands around my eyes, I could just see into the dimly lit lobby. On the wall, behind a faded wood desk, was a large sign reading AMAZON.COM. Reed had gotten the call a few days earlier from Joy Covey, Amazon’s CFO. She wondered if we would be interested in coming up to Seattle to meet with her and Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO. She didn’t say why she wanted to meet, but she didn’t need to. It was obvious. Although Amazon was only a few years old, and still strictly a place to buy books, Bezos had decided early in 1998 that his site wouldn’t just be a bookstore. It was going to be an everything store, and we knew that music and video were going to be his next two targets. Although it was unlikely that Jeff would be interested (or foolish) enough to rent DVDs, it was clear that he was soon going to start selling them.

The carpeting was stained; the partitions used to separate the cubicles were dirty and torn. Dogs roamed the hallways. There were multiple people per cubicle, desks under the stairs, desks pushed to the edges of hallways. Almost every horizontal surface was covered: by books; by gaping Amazon boxes; by papers, printouts, coffee cups, plates, and pizza boxes. It made the green carpeting and beach chairs of the Netflix offices seem like the executive suite at IBM. We could hear Jeff Bezos before we saw him. He-huh-huh-huh-huh. Jeff has a…distinctive laugh. If you’ve seen any video of him speaking, you’ll have heard a version of it—but not the true, untamed thing. In the same way that he’s definitely hired a personal trainer since the late nineties, I think he’s also worked with someone to tame his laugh. Now it’s polite, a little giggly. But back then, it was explosive, loud, hiccupping.


pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, one-China policy, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, selection bias, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, turn-by-turn navigation, undersea cable, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

The subject would stand Page in good stead in the future with respect to product development, even though it was not in the HCI domain to figure out a new model of information retrieval. On his desk and permeating his conversations was Apple interface guru Donald Norman’s classic tome The Psychology of Everyday Things, the bible of a religion whose first, and arguably only, commandment is “The user is always right.” (Other Norman disciples, such as Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com, were adopting this creed on the web.) Another influential book was a biography of Nikola Tesla, the brilliant Serb scientist; though Tesla’s contributions arguably matched Thomas Edison’s—and his ambitions were grand enough to impress even Page—he died in obscurity. “I felt like he was a great inventor and it was a sad story,” says Page. “I feel like he could’ve accomplished much more had he had more resources.

Soon afterward, Bechtolsheim was joined by other angel investors, including Dave Cheriton. One was a Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Ram Shriram, whose own company had recently been purchased by Amazon.com. Shriram had met Brin and Page in February 1998; although he had been skeptical about a business model for search engines, he was so impressed with Google that he had been advising them. After the Bechtolsheim meeting, Shriram invited them to his house to meet his boss Jeff Bezos, who was enthralled with their passion and “healthy stubbornness,” as they explained why they would never put display ads on their home page. Bezos joined Bechtolsheim, Cheriton, and Shriram as investors, making for a total of a million dollars of angel money. On September 4, 1998, Page and Brin filed for incorporation and finally moved off campus. Sergey’s girlfriend at the time was friendly with a manager at Intel named Susan Wojcicki, who had just purchased a house on Santa Margarita Street in Menlo Park with her husband for $615,000.

He spent so much time in the small library there that he knew nearly every volume in the collection. Manber loved telling visitors to the library which books they might enjoy and which ones might answer their questions. He studied information retrieval and eventually wound up at Yahoo where he brokered the Google deal, until he quit in disgust in 2002. His next job was as the leader of A9, a search start-up funded by Jeff Bezos. In February 2006, he accepted an offer from Google to become the czar of search engineering. It was like someone who worked on space science all his life finally arriving at NASA. “Suddenly I’m in charge of everybody asking questions in the whole world,” he says. “I thought I had a reasonable idea of the main problems facing search—what was minor and major. When I got here, I saw they solved many of the minor problems and made more headway on the major problems than I thought possible.


pages: 293 words: 78,439

Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today's Business While Creating the Future by Scott D. Anthony, Mark W. Johnson

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, blockchain, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, diversified portfolio, Internet of things, invention of hypertext, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Minecraft, obamacare, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, pez dispenser, recommendation engine, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, the market place, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transfer pricing, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Zipcar

App=Announcement&FileID=412793. Creation of Amazon Web Services: Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman, Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016); Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013). AWS market share: “AWS, Google, Microsoft and IBM pull away from pack in race for cloud market share,” Business Cloud News, April, 29, 2016, www.businesscloudnews.com/2016/04/29/aws-google-microsoft-and-ibm-pull-away-from-pack-in-race-for-cloud-market-share/. Jeff Bezos quote: Scott Anthony, “Constant Transformation Is the New Normal,” Harvard Business Review Online, October 27, 2009, https://hbr.org/2009/10/constant-change-is-the-new-nor/. Campus amenities arms race: Scott Carlson, “What’s the Payoff for the ‘Country Club’ College?”

Simon Israel, who had served as chair of SingPost’s former owner Singtel since 2011, took over as SingPost’s board chair in mid-2016. He promised to bring greater transparency while continuing SingPost’s transformation, which he called “strategically sound.” Amazon: From Retailer to Cloud Computing Leader In Seizing the White Space, coauthor Mark Johnson describes how Amazon.com is built to transform. The company’s innovation efforts, spearheaded by founder Jeff Bezos, are relentless. In Lead and Disrupt, academics Charles O’Reilly III and Michael Tushman detail how Amazon’s first twenty-one years of existence (from 1994 to 2015) featured twenty-five significant innovations. Many of these, such as Amazon Prime (free shipping for members) and customer reviews, fit within the rubric of transformation A, part of Amazon’s continual transformation from a retailer of books to achieve its vision of the world’s most customer-centered retailer.


pages: 256 words: 79,075

Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain by James Bloodworth

Airbnb, Berlin Wall, call centre, clockwatching, collective bargaining, congestion charging, credit crunch, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, gig economy, Jeff Bezos, low skilled workers, Network effects, new economy, North Sea oil, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, post-work, profit motive, race to the bottom, reshoring, Silicon Valley, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, working poor, working-age population

Significantly, the potentially antagonistic categories of Boss and Worker had also been abolished. You were all ‘Associates’ – both high and lowly alike. Over the course of a single morning the average picker could earn around £29 carting totes back and forth along the dimly lit aisles of the warehouse. Meanwhile Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, who at the time of writing is worth around $60.7 billion, once increased his wealth by a cool £1.4 billion over the course of a similar amount of time. Calling everyone ‘associates’ was, it seemed, a ruse designed to foster the illusion that you were all one big happy family. ‘Jeff Bezos is an associate and so are all of you,’ an Amazon supervisor cheerily informed us on the very first day.7 Which is fine as far as it goes; though the vernacular seemed purposely designed to blur the distinction between the life of a seven-pound-an-hour picker and the sort of life you can lead with £1.4 billion in the bank.

‘Jeff Bezos is an associate and so are all of you,’ an Amazon supervisor cheerily informed us on the very first day.7 Which is fine as far as it goes; though the vernacular seemed purposely designed to blur the distinction between the life of a seven-pound-an-hour picker and the sort of life you can lead with £1.4 billion in the bank. The ‘associates’ who walked home at midnight, heavy legs supporting suppurating feet which over the course of the day had puffed up half a size bigger, were treated at every juncture as lesser human beings than men like Jeff Bezos. This was all the more reason, perhaps, for those who do so well out of such a state of affairs to create a rhetorical universe distinct from the flesh and blood reality. Amazon’s recruitment process ran strictly through two agencies – PMP Recruitment and Transline Group. I landed the job at Amazon through Transline. This agency shot to notoriety in 2013 after one of the company’s employees was suspended for cruelly boasting about her apparent ability to ‘stop’ Jobseeker’s Allowance: ‘If people from the JC [job centre] don’t turn up to an appointment, I stop their benefits for thirteen weeks ... suckers ...


pages: 268 words: 75,850

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems-And Create More by Luke Dormehl

3D printing, algorithmic trading, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, death of newspapers, deferred acceptance, disruptive innovation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Earth, Google Glasses, High speed trading, Internet Archive, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, lifelogging, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, price discrimination, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Slavoj Žižek, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, upwardly mobile, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator

At the 2013 Emmy Awards, the company notched up a total of 14 nominations for its efforts.28 “It took HBO 25 years to get its first Emmy nomination,” noted American TV critic and columnist David Bianculli in an article for the New York Times. “It took Netflix six months.”29 Netflix’s success has seen it followed by online retailer Amazon, which also has access to a vast bank of customer information, revealing the kind of detailed “likes” and “dislikes” data that traditional studio bosses could only dream of. “It’s a completely new way of making movies,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told Wired magazine. “Some would say our approach is unworkable—we disagree.”30 In Soviet Russia, Films Watch You In a previous life, Alexis Kirke worked as a quantitative analyst on Wall Street, one of the so-called rocket scientists whose job concerns a heady blend of mathematics, high finance and computer skills. Having completed a PhD in computer science, Kirke should have been on top of the world.

USA Today, February 1, 2013. usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/01/31/bianco-review-house-of-cards/1880835/. 28 Blakely, Rhys. “Emmy Awards Brings the Computer Algorithm to Hollywood.” Times, September 20, 2013. thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/tv-radio/article3874137.ece. 29 nytimes.com/2013/07/22/business/media/tv-foresees-its-future-netflix-is-there.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. 30 Levy, Steven. “In Conversation with Jeff Bezos: CEO of the Internet.” Wired, December 12, 2011. wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/01/features/ceo-of-the-internet/page/2. 31 Dormehl, Luke. “Can Alternate Endings Save the Hollywood Blockbuster?” Fast Company, July 30, 2013. fastcolabs.com/3015037/open-company/can-alternate-endings-save-the-hollywood-blockbuster. 32 This idea is backed up by Wired editor Chris Anderson’s concept of the “98 Percent Rule,” described in his 2006 book The Long Tail.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (New York: Little, Brown, 2005). 5 MacCormick, John. Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today’s Computers (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012). 6 Levy, Frank, and Richard Murnane. The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market (New York: Russell Sage Foundation; Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004). 7 Stone, Brad. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2013). 8 Bellos, David. Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything (New York: Faber and Faber, 2011). 9 Lanier, Jaron. Who Owns the Future? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013). 10 jay.law.ou.edu/faculty/Jmaute/Lawyering_21st_Century/Spring%202012%20files/TheFutureofLaw_DarkClouds.pdf. 11 Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee.


pages: 280 words: 71,268

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs by John Doerr

Albert Einstein, Bob Noyce, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, crowdsourcing, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Haight Ashbury, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Ray Kurzweil, risk tolerance, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, subscription business, web application, Yogi Berra, éminence grise

When you’re fund-raising and making pizza with robots and building out kitchens, there’s a lot of rapid context switching. It can feel a little frenetic at times. But when you know your company objectives like you know your last name, it’s very calming. OKRs help me to be that focused, clear-headed leader. No matter how crazy things get, I can always default back to what matters. 18 Culture You need a culture that high-fives small and innovative ideas. —Jeff Bezos Culture, as the saying goes, eats strategy for breakfast. It’s our stake in the ground; it’s what makes meaning of work. Leaders are rightly obsessed with culture. Founders ask how they can protect their companies’ cultural values as they grow. Chiefs of large companies are turning to OKRs and CFRs as tools for culture change. And growing numbers of job seekers and career builders are making the right cultural fit their top criterion.

From his gift for honest, open communication to his zeal for data-driven operating excellence, the Coach embodied the very spirit of OKRs. So it’s only fitting that he graces our close. On that clear April morning in Atherton, California, it took a big tent to hold Bill’s funeral mass on the Sacred Heart playing fields, the place he’d spent so many Saturdays coaching eighth-graders in flag football or softball. More than three thousand mourners turned out, from Larry Page and Jeff Bezos to generations of the (once) young people who’d played for him. Bill had embraced every one of us with his unabashed bear hugs and selfless guidance. And every one of us believed that Bill was our best friend. His life was the biggest tent of all. The son of a gym teacher who worked nights at the steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania, Bill first earned his sobriquet in the 1970s as varsity football coach at his adored alma mater, Columbia University. * But Coach became the Coach when he traded the gridiron for an even more competitive arena, namely the boardrooms and executive suites of Silicon Valley.

David Rock; Timo Salzsieder; Jake Schmidt; Erin Sharp; Jeff Smith; Tim Staffa; Joseph Suzuki; Chris Villar; Jeff Weiner; Christina Wodtke; and Jessica Woodall. Thanks especially to CEO Doug Dennerline and the goal-oriented crew at BetterWorks, who are advancing OKRs and CFRs like no one else while working better themselves every day. Not least, I’d like to thank some special individuals with whom I’ve been privileged to work over the years, and whose lives are exemplars of excellence. Notable among them: Jim Barksdale, Andy Bechtolsheim, Jeff Bezos, Scott Cook, John Chambers, Bill Joy, and KR Sridhar. And Andy Grove, Bill Campbell, and Steve Jobs, gone but never to be forgotten. I sincerely thank Jeff Coplon, who was at the center of the team that made this happen—and who proved, once again, that execution is everything. Long before I encountered OKRs, my father and hero, Lou Doerr, taught me the value of focus, commitment, high standards, and higher aspirations (and RMA—the Right Mental Attitude).


Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America by David Callahan

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, automated trading system, Bernie Sanders, Bonfire of the Vanities, carbon footprint, carried interest, clean water, corporate social responsibility, David Brooks, demographic transition, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Thorp, financial deregulation, financial independence, global village, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, high net worth, income inequality, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, medical malpractice, mega-rich, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, short selling, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, working poor, World Values Survey

When he eventually turns over his land holdings to permanent conservation, that amount will be much greater. Brad Kelley, who became a billionaire through selling discount cigarette brands, is doing much the same thing that Turner is—buying up land and preserving it for conservation. The little-known Kelley now owns 1.7 million acres, and he is buying more all the time. Among other holdings, he owns hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas, where Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has also bought a reported 300,000 acres. Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt’s Bees, has bought up thousands of acres in northern Maine, the largest virgin wilderness east of the Mississippi. Quimby first came to Maine in a Volkswagen microbus as a back-to-nature hippie in the 1970s and started making candles out of leftover beeswax. Eventually, she pocketed several hundred million dollars from the sale of Burt’s Bees and began to bankroll a dream that has tantalized environmentalists since Henry Thoreau’s day: protecting the great forests of Maine in perpetuity.

But the man does have $5 billion, and one day—when he’s no longer obsessed with “i” this or “i” that—Jobs will turn inevitably to philanthropy. Chances are, that philanthropy will reflect his countercultural roots and Democratic sympathies. The great technology fortunes of the United States remain very new, and many are in the hands of relatively young people. Steve Jobs was born in 1955. Bill Gates is the same age, as is Eric Schmidt, the “grown-up” in Google’s high command. Jeff Bezos of Amazon was born in 1964. The eBay billionaires Jeff Skoll and Pierre Omidyar were born in 1965 and 1967, respectively. Sergey Brin and Larry Page were both born in 1973. Marc Andreessen made a fortune on Netscape in the 1990s and would seem to be a senior statesman in Silicon Valley; he was born in 1971. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who could well emerge as one of the richest technologists of the twenty-first century, was born in 1984.

The bulk of William Hewlett’s fortune, amassed through the Hewlett-Packard computer giant, wasn’t made available for philanthropy until after Hewlett’s death in 2001. The William Flora Hewlett Foundation is now among the top c08.indd 193 5/11/10 6:24:56 AM 194 fortunes of change five foundations in the United States and supports a wide array of progressive organizations. Steve Jobs isn’t alone in his lack of philanthropy. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos hasn’t gotten around to giving away large chunks of his wealth, either. Nor has Larry Ellison of Oracle, the third-richest man in the United States, or Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, who was worth $14.5 billion in 2010. Inevitably, though, these and other giant tech fortunes will one day be harnessed to some kind of public purpose, as they are too big to be disposed of privately. Only then will we have a full picture of how the technology sector’s vast new wealth is likely to affect the United States and the world.


eBoys by Randall E. Stross

barriers to entry, business cycle, call centre, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, edge city, high net worth, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, knowledge worker, late capitalism, market bubble, Menlo Park, new economy, old-boy network, passive investing, performance metric, pez dispenser, railway mania, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Y2K

But Yahoo, standing on top of the Internet world, was not interested in sharing equally with a pipsqueak like eBay, and brushed it off. Amazon was another potential entrant, and eBay had sought to avert competition from that quarter, too. In August eBay had proposed to Amazon that the two companies jointly offer links to used-book auctions, cobranded on both sites. The Amazon board had been receptive and invited a delegation from eBay to come up to Seattle and present a proposal to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and senior executives. EBay executives flew up and thought a deal could be hammered out. Kagle told his partners what eBay said to Amazon: Your customers win, our customers win, we’ll do it 50/50, but the traffic is higher on your site, and you’ll get more customers out of it than we will. Let’s go do this! Bezos said, Psssssshhhh. This is too strategic. We’re going to crush you. And we’re going to figure out how to get Yahoo and Microsoft and us together to crush you.

In mid-May, Amazon opened up a price war in books, offering New York Times best-sellers at 50 percent off. Most of the eBay executive staff members were glad to hear of it: another distraction from auctions. Every day Amazon seemed to enter an entirely new business: Investments in pet supplies and an online drugstore had been the most recent moves. But there was another view within eBay that held that the price war in books showed that once again Jeff Bezos was unpredictable, and he could bring woe to eBay without warning. “Should we be spending any time trying to figure out what Amazon’s next move is?” Meg Whitman wondered aloud. “If I was making the case,” Steve Westly said, pretending he was Bezos, “I’d say I’m not expecting much yet from auctions. They hit a plateau. They’ll go up with another ten-million ad spend.” “They have a hundred people in auctions,” said Gary Bengier, eBay’s CFO.

What all of the Benchmark partners could agree upon was that the ability of a company to produce profits remained the touchstone for a true built-to-last company, even if investors seemed less than concerned. EBay was the company that all were most proud of, as it was that rarity, a profitable Internet company. Even when investors treated eBay’s shares no differently from money-losing Amazon’s—and on August 4 eBay’s stock was off 68 percent from its fifty-two-week high—eBay remained the brightest star among the many Benchmark successes for that reason. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos defiantly told the world that Amazon would be “unprofitable for a long time”; his bravado in pursuing growth above all else served to reassure investors that Amazon was on course. Webvan’s Louis Borders, however, did not subscribe to the Bezos line. Borders publicly stated, “I don’t see any reason why an Internet company should take five to ten years to be profitable,” and in this way Webvan was philosophically linked to eBay.


pages: 185 words: 43,609

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Andy Kessler, Berlin Wall, cleantech, cloud computing, crony capitalism, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, life extension, lone genius, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, strong AI, Ted Kaczynski, Tesla Model S, uber lyft, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor

In practice, a large market will either lack a good starting point or it will be open to competition, so it’s hard to ever reach that 1%. And even if you do succeed in gaining a small foothold, you’ll have to be satisfied with keeping the lights on: cutthroat competition means your profits will be zero. Scaling Up Once you create and dominate a niche market, then you should gradually expand into related and slightly broader markets. Amazon shows how it can be done. Jeff Bezos’s founding vision was to dominate all of online retail, but he very deliberately started with books. There were millions of books to catalog, but they all had roughly the same shape, they were easy to ship, and some of the most rarely sold books—those least profitable for any retail store to keep in stock—also drew the most enthusiastic customers. Amazon became the dominant solution for anyone located far from a bookstore or seeking something unusual.

Grandmaster José Raúl Capablanca put it well: to succeed, “you must study the endgame before everything else.” 6 YOU ARE NOT A LOTTERY TICKET THE MOST CONTENTIOUS question in business is whether success comes from luck or skill. What do successful people say? Malcolm Gladwell, a successful author who writes about successful people, declares in Outliers that success results from a “patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages.” Warren Buffett famously considers himself a “member of the lucky sperm club” and a winner of the “ovarian lottery.” Jeff Bezos attributes Amazon’s success to an “incredible planetary alignment” and jokes that it was “half luck, half good timing, and the rest brains.” Bill Gates even goes so far as to claim that he “was lucky to be born with certain skills,” though it’s not clear whether that’s actually possible. Perhaps these guys are being strategically humble. However, the phenomenon of serial entrepreneurship would seem to call into question our tendency to explain success as the product of chance.


pages: 362 words: 83,464

The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, owns just under 23 percent of his company and is worth over $50 billion; in 2013 Forbes ranked him the country’s third richest man.20 Bill Gates, the country’s richest man, is worth $78 billion and still controls 7 percent of his firm.21 Mark Zuckerberg’s 29.3 percent stake in Facebook is worth upwards of $25 billion.22 As a result, like their far less admired counterparts on Wall Street, America’s elite tech firms—and their owners—have become fantastically cash rich. Besides GE, a classic conglomerate, the largest cash hordes now belong to Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Google, all of whom sometimes have more dollars on hand than the U.S. government. Seven of the eight biggest individual winners from stock gains in 2013 were tech entrepreneurs, led by Jeff Bezos, who added $12 billion to his paper wealth; Mark Zuckerberg, who raked in an additional $11.9 billion; and Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who saw their wallets expand by roughly $9 billion.23 Of course, these numbers can rise and fall with market shifts, but the long-term impact of this accumulation of wealth will be profound. Perhaps most critically, the new Oligarchs have made their fortunes both quickly and at an early age.

Elon Musk, billionaire co-founder of PayPal, founded Tesla, which has emerged as a dynamic player in the electric car market, with plans to build a $5 billion electric battery plant.76 Both Google and Apple have also made moves into the automotive market, focusing on driverless cars.77 In the long run, the most important drive by the Oligarchs is the one toward a field once dominated by one of the early Valley’s key contractors, NASA. Although headquartered in Los Angeles, the traditional center of the aerospace industry, Space X, the largest of the space startups, was founded by Tesla’s Musk, with some 1500 employees at a former Boeing plant in Hawthorne, California.78 Musk is not the only Oligarch with interests in space. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos founded his own private space exploration company, Blue Origin, which has launched two vehicles into space, Charon and Goddard. It intends to build orbital space stations, and it has contracted for NASA. Critically, these two firms, as well as a third new player, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, are the pet projects of billionaires fascinated by space, both for travel and business purposes.

Since 2001, for example, book, periodical, and newspaper publishing—all traditionally concentrated in the New York area—have lost some 250,000 jobs, while Internet publishing and portals generated some 70,000 new positions, many of them in the Bay Area or Seattle.83 To the new Oligarchs, older industries are holdovers from what one venture capitalist derisively called “the paper economy” that is destined soon to be swept away by the new digital aristocracy.84 As relatively young people—even Bill Gates is barely sixty—they will have the money, and the time, to disseminate their views to the public, both the mass market and the influential higher echelons.85 Another new $250 million venture, First Look Media, with a specific mission to support largely left-of-center investigative reporting, is being backed by another Oligarch, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.86 One way to consolidate such influence—previously used by Gilded Age moguls like William Randolph Hearst—has been to buy up the former bastions of the old media. Facebook billionaire and Obama tech guru Chris Hughes87 has bought the venerable New Republic. Perhaps more importantly, the purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has brought not only resources to that struggling, still influential paper but also technical savvy and a certain entrepreneurial aura. Moreover, it places the tech Oligarchy at the center of the media in the nation’s capital.88 Yet over time the purchase of existing media may prove to be just a sideshow. Far more critical will be the growth of their own Oligarch-controlled news media. Yahoo is now the top news site in the United States with 110 million monthly viewers, and Google News isn’t far behind, in fourth place with 65 million users.


pages: 266 words: 87,411

The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed by Carl Honore

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Broken windows theory, call centre, Checklist Manifesto, clean water, clockwatching, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, drone strike, Enrique Peñalosa, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Exxon Valdez, fundamental attribution error, game design, income inequality, index card, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, lateral thinking, lone genius, medical malpractice, microcredit, Netflix Prize, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty

“We weren’t trying to just go public and get rich,” Bill Gates once said of the early days at Microsoft. “There was no near-term thing. It always was this many-decades thing where there were no shortcuts and we’d sort of put one foot in front of the other.” Amazon has evolved into a global behemoth by embracing a similar creed. Looking beyond the next board meeting is an article of faith for its founder, Jeff Bezos. “It’s all about the long term,” he wrote in his first letter to shareholders in 1997. Since then, Bezos has irked investors by sacrificing short-term profits in order to back new technologies that might only pay off down the line. Critics scoffed when Amazon started selling cloud-computing services to high-tech firms in 2006, but today the company is a leading player in the field. Bezos argues that thinking long delivers a competitive advantage, allowing us to lay claim to the future while the madding crowd slugs it out over the here and now.

Like ExxonMobil, Simpson prefers to keep money separate from the business of solving safety problems. “I deliberately try not to work out the financial cost of any damage caused by a mistake,” she says. “If you do that, then people would go back to the blame culture. You know, pointing the finger and saying, ‘You’ve cost us half a million pounds,’ and that’s very much not where we want to go with this.” Yet the tyranny of short-termism is hard to resist. Jeff Bezos warns that taking the long view often means being “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.” And this is a vital point. When you dare to apply a Slow Fix, the brickbats are never far behind – too indulgent, too expensive, too slow, the skeptics will cry. To weather the storm, make the case that fixing problems thoroughly is never an indulgence or a luxury; it is a wise and essential investment in the future.

With global membership nearing 1 billion, co-ops now own half the renewable energy in Germany and are driving the push towards solar panels and other green initiatives in parts of the United States. Soon we will even have a monument to the wisdom of thinking beyond the here and now. Inside a remote mountain in western Texas, activists are building a huge clock that is designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every so often its chimes will ring out a completely new melody. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is helping bankroll the project to give the world what he calls “an icon for long-term thinking.” Against that backdrop, a Slow Movement is gaining momentum as more and more people challenge the canard that faster is always better. To take part, you don’t have to ditch your career, toss the iPhone and join a commune. Living Slow is not about living like a snail. It means doing everything at the right speed – fast, slow or whatever pace delivers the best results.


pages: 340 words: 81,110

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Gunnar Myrdal, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Nate Silver, Norman Mailer, old-boy network, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, universal basic income

One thing that separates contemporary autocrats from democratic leaders is their intolerance of criticism, and their readiness to use their power to punish those—in the opposition, media, or civil society—who criticize them. Donald Trump displayed such a readiness in 2016. He said he planned to arrange for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton after the election and declared that Clinton should be imprisoned. Trump also repeatedly threatened to punish unfriendly media. At a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, for example, he attacked Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, declaring, “If I become president, oh, do they have problems. They are going to have such problems.” Describing the media as “among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met,” Trump declared: I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money….So that when the New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace—or when the Washington Post…writes a hit piece, we can sue them….

His multimillion-dollar defamation suits and jailing of journalists on charges of defamation had a powerfully chilling effect on the media. Although Trump dropped the libel issue, he continued his threats. In July, he retweeted an altered video clip made from old WWE footage of him tackling and then punching someone with a CNN logo superimposed on his face. President Trump also considered using government regulatory agencies against unfriendly media companies. During the 2016 campaign, he had threatened Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post and Amazon, with antitrust action, tweeting: “If I become president, oh do they have problems.” He also threatened to block the pending merger of Time Warner (CNN’s parent company) and AT&T, and during the first months of his presidency, there were reports that White House advisors considered using the administration’s antitrust authority as a source of leverage against CNN.

“I think that’s something we’ve looked at”: Jonathan Turley, “Trump’s Quest to Stop Bad Media Coverage Threatens Our Constitution,” The Hill, May 2, 2017. multimillion-dollar defamation suits: “Confrontation, Repression in Correa’s Ecuador,” Committee to Protect Journalists, September 1, 2011, https://cpj.org/​reports/​2011/​09/​confrontation-repression-correa-ecuador.php. “If I become president”: Conor Gaffey, “Donald Trump Versus Amazon: All the Times the President and Jeff Bezos Have Called Each Other Out,” Newsweek, July 25, 2017. He also threatened to block: Philip Bump, “Would the Trump Administration Block a Merger Just to Punish CNN?,” Washington Post, July 6, 2017. President Trump signed an executive order: “President Trump Vows to Take Aggressive Steps on Immigration,” Boston Globe, January 25, 2017. “If we have to”: “Judge Blocks Trump Effort to Withhold Money from Sanctuary Cities,” New York Times, April 25, 2017.


pages: 283 words: 85,824

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional

The afternoon I met Janis, he was pleased because he had just sold an ad for the site, a rare occurrence. A handful of subscriptions were sold to people who believed in the enterprise, but that has brought in only a trickle measurable in hundreds of dollars. While wealthy individuals from the technology sector have recently been investing in high profile journalism outlets (Facebook’s Chris Hughes with the New Republic, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos with the Washington Post, and ebay’s Pierre Omidyar with his online start-up) capital has not been flowing to small- and medium-sized efforts, which are sinking. Many now argue that foundation funding is the only option if we want investigative reporting to survive. Nationwide there are a few shining examples of Web-based nonprofits that are held up as the saviors of the industry and hailed by new-media thinkers as emblematic of journalism’s bright digital-first future—Voice of San Diego, MinnPost, and ProPublica, to name a few.

The most straightforward method may be to force leading technology firms to pay their taxes, which they have been diligently dodging through cunning accounting schemes, loopholes, and shelters. These machinations have allowed Google to effectively pay an overseas tax rate of as little as 2.4 percent, Apple to shield approximately $74 billion from the Internal Revenue Service between 2009 and 2012, and Amazon to spend years refusing to collect sales tax, starving states of revenue (Jeff Bezos is said to have considered establishing Amazon on an Indian reservation to avoid paying taxes).25 A portion of these funds could be earmarked to underwrite and promote art, culture, and journalism. The fruits of such investment could be made widely available, free of copyright restrictions, much the way a dedicated community of academics working under the banner of “open access” is making publicly funded research readily available to anyone who wants to learn regardless of income or institutional affiliation.

This perspective should not be entirely discounted, but my belief is that these efforts ultimately won’t scale and risk leaving large portions of the population out. 23. The $1 trillion figure is from the Consumer Electronics Association. 24. Jesse Drucker, “Google 2.4% rate shows how $60 billion lost to tax loopholes,” Bloomberg News, October 21, 2010; Nelson D. Schwartz and Charles Duhigg, “Apple’s Web of Tax Shelters Saved It Billions, Panel Finds,” New York Times, May 21, 2013, A1; and Brian Faler, “Jeff Bezos Plays Active Role in Tax Fights,” Politico.com, August 6, 2013. 25. The extension of copyright also incentivizes the production of films with licensing potential, such as sequels and prequels and toys and video games. Please find the complete index at www.randomhouse.ca/thepeoplesplatform ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thanks to friends and family, movement comrades, and writing and film colleagues for insightful conversations and endless patience and encouragement as I worked on this book.


pages: 282 words: 81,873

Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein

23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator

Under the latest iteration of the American Dream, if you aren’t a billionaire yet, you haven’t tried hard enough. * * * There was no place more appropriate to begin my conquest of the new gig economy than in the proverbial basement—from there, after all, I had nowhere to go but up. The contemporary equivalent of an entry-level job in the corporate mailroom was a work-from-home service called Mechanical Turk, operated by Amazon, the $136 billion online retailer controlled by Jeff Bezos. The idea with Mechanical Turk was to create a digitized assembly line featuring thousands of discrete “Human Intelligence Tasks,” designed to be completed within seconds and commensurately paying pennies. Academic surveys found that many Turkers worked more than thirty hours per week for average wages of under $2 per hour. Yet these workers were considered self-employed small business owners.

Amazon’s salaried cubicle jockeys got it almost as bad as the warehouse temps, who were so overworked and toiled in such miserable conditions, that the company notoriously hired private paramedics to park their ambulances outside one of its facilities waiting to treat the next batch of employees who collapsed as a result of heat exhaustion. In Germany, Amazon hired menacing black-clad security guards employed by an outfit with neo-Nazi ties as modern-day Pinkertons to police its warehouse workers. And until the spring of 2017, founder Jeff Bezos refused to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes in many jurisdictions, thus starving state and local governments while furnishing extra cash to crush the competition. The pattern continued with eBay, the grifters’ paradise; Craigslist, which profited from the promotion of prostitution and discriminatory housing arrangements (although a judge found Craigslist not liable); and PayPal, which partnered with offshore gambling operations, fought attempts to regulate it as a bank, and settled various money laundering charges.

“It’s called capitalism” Brian Womack, “Google Chairman Says Android Winning Mobile War with Apple: Tech,” December 12, 2012, bloomberg.com. secret behavioral experiments Susie Cagle, “Facebook Wants to Redline Your Friends List,” August 24, 2015, psmag.com; James Grimmelmann, “As Flies to Wanton Boys,” June 28, 2014, laboratorium.net; Charles Arthur, “Facebook Emotion Study Breached Ethical Guidelines, Researchers Say,” June 30, 2014, theguardian.com. abuse of employment laws Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown, 2013); Nathaniel Mott, “Amazon Faces Lawsuit Alleging Unfair Labor Policies,” April 9, 2015, pando.com; Spencer Soper, “Inside Amazon’s Warehouse,” September 18, 2011, articles.mcall.com. starving state and local governments Chris Isidore, “Amazon to Start Collecting State Sales Taxes Everywhere,” March 29, 2017, money.cnn.com. Craigslist “Lawsuit Accuses Craigslist of Promoting Prostitution,” March 5, 2009, cnn.com; “Craigslist Sued Over Discriminatory Ads,” February 9, 2006, Associated Press.


pages: 280 words: 82,355

Extreme Teams: Why Pixar, Netflix, AirBnB, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail by Robert Bruce Shaw, James Foster, Brilliance Audio

Airbnb, augmented reality, call centre, cloud computing, deliberate practice, Elon Musk, future of work, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Jony Ive, loose coupling, meta analysis, meta-analysis, nuclear winter, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, Peter Thiel, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh

Nov. 12, 2015. 19Grossman, “Tough Love at Netflix.” 20Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” New York Times, August 15, 2015. 21The New York Times is a competitor of the Washington Post, which was acquired by Jeff Bezos several years ago. Some of those supporting Amazon suggest that the Times article is biased as a result. 22John Cook, “Facebook, Amazon Staffers Are the Most Stressed: Google, Microsoft Are the Best Paid,” Geekwire, June 6, 2001. 23Amazon is not alone in this practice as other firms, such as Walmart, use similar technologies to eliminate what some refer to as “time theft.” 24Joe Nocera, “Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Way,” New York Times, August 21, 2015. 25Amazon corporate site, “Our Leadership Principles,” www.amazon.jobs/principles. 26Spencer Soper, “Amazon Warehouse Workers Complain of Harsh Conditions,” Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2011. 27The Times did not indicate how often this occurs, but Amazon, in responding to the article, suggested that the large majority of the comments in its feedback process are positive (by a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative comment). 28Amazon grew from $6.92B in revenue in 2004 to $88.99 billion in 2014. 29Those who invested $1,000 in Amazon at the time of its public offering now have stock worth over $350,000, based on an initial IPO price of $18 in 1997 and a price of $531 in 2015 (post stock splits).

Some of those supporting Amazon suggest that the Times article is biased as a result. 22John Cook, “Facebook, Amazon Staffers Are the Most Stressed: Google, Microsoft Are the Best Paid,” Geekwire, June 6, 2001. 23Amazon is not alone in this practice as other firms, such as Walmart, use similar technologies to eliminate what some refer to as “time theft.” 24Joe Nocera, “Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Way,” New York Times, August 21, 2015. 25Amazon corporate site, “Our Leadership Principles,” www.amazon.jobs/principles. 26Spencer Soper, “Amazon Warehouse Workers Complain of Harsh Conditions,” Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2011. 27The Times did not indicate how often this occurs, but Amazon, in responding to the article, suggested that the large majority of the comments in its feedback process are positive (by a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative comment). 28Amazon grew from $6.92B in revenue in 2004 to $88.99 billion in 2014. 29Those who invested $1,000 in Amazon at the time of its public offering now have stock worth over $350,000, based on an initial IPO price of $18 in 1997 and a price of $531 in 2015 (post stock splits). This stock as of September 2016 is trading even higher, approaching $800 per share. 30Jeff Bezos in Amazon’s 1997 shareholder letter, media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/97/97664/reports/Shareholderletter97.pdf. 31Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013), 131. 32There are various definitions of what constitutes a team and also various types of teams. Susan Cohen, a team’s researcher, suggests the following as the most general definition: “Team is a collection of individuals who are interdependent in the their tasks, who share responsibility for outcomes, who see themselves and are seen by others an intact social entity embed in one or more larger social systems and who manage their relationships across organizational boundaries.”


pages: 402 words: 126,835

The Job: The Future of Work in the Modern Era by Ellen Ruppel Shell

3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, big-box store, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, follow your passion, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, game design, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban renewal, white picket fence, working poor, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game

In 2016, Bloomberg news reported that the company had installed big-screen monitors to broadcast streams of images of workers fired for stealing. The employees are seen in silhouettes, stamped with the words “Terminated” or “Arrested.” “announcing a fitness initiative” Helaine Olen, “President Obama’s Amazon Jobs Pitch Is Hard to Buy with One Click,” Guardian, August 6, 2013, https://www.thegua­rdian.com/​money/​us-money-blog/2013/​aug/​06/​obama-amazon-jobs-hard-to-buy. Jeff Bezos regularly offers workers While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claimed the “pay to quit” option was instituted to rid the company of less-engaged employees, this explanation lacks credibility. The offer was extended only to low-wage warehouse employees, who could easily be replaced by even lower-wage temporary workers hired by a staffing agency. It was not extended to high-wage earners, such as Seattle-based engineers and technicians, who while in theory may be equally disengaged are far more difficult and costly to replace.

The company produces television shows and movies, manufactures thousands of products from batteries to baby food, and owns such familiar brands as Zappos, Shopbop, IMDb, Audible, and Twitch. Amazon Handmade is poised to challenge Etsy, and Amazon Business is aiming a death blow at Staples and other independent office suppliers. Analysts generally prefer to hedge their bets, but on one thing they seem to agree: Amazon is on the glide path toward becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company. Whether or not Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is, as some claim, a “people person,” it’s clear that one of his business missions is having as few people as possible on the payroll. To be fair, the company is so efficient that it needs relatively few people, reaping roughly $400,000 in revenue for every employee, nearly twice the revenue per employee of Walmart, the nation’s most efficient big-box retailer. Given this enormous success, the company is leading the way for many established retailers—from Walmart to Best Buy to Bloomingdale’s—to also sell online, or to die trying.

President Obama seemed to suggest that Amazon had created many solid middle-class jobs in Chattanooga, but not everyone saw things that way. One commentator likened the president’s Amazon warehouse speech to “announcing a fitness initiative in a grocery store’s snack aisle, and nodding approvingly as unhealthy-looking Americans toss giant bags of potato chips into their carts.” Amazon itself may not object to this critic’s characterization. After all, Jeff Bezos regularly offers workers throughout the company money to quit, and makes no secret of his robot fixation. Worldwide, his company has installed over one hundred thousand robots to labor in “perfect symbiosis” with humans in its warehouses and has plans to install many thousands more. While it’s not clear what constitutes a perfect symbiosis, the robots are said to save the company $22 million annually, per warehouse.


pages: 606 words: 157,120

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov

3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

In this instance, “everything” is to be explained by a fixed set of concerns—in Wu’s case, concerns over openness and innovation—that have come to dominate our thinking about “the Internet.” First of all, Wu conveniently leaves aside those information industries—like book publishing—in which no dominant information emperor has emerged. The Cycle doesn’t go there; it’s too crowded. Curiously, one such emperor might emerge very soon—his name is Jeff Bezos, and he runs a small start-up called Amazon—but Wu himself seems to be enamored of Amazon and the price efficiencies it brings. Second, by limiting his history only to America—and why would “the Cycle,” if it were real, unfold in America only?—he misses many foreign cases in which information emperors have done much good. Wasn’t André Malraux, France’s powerful minister of cultural affairs under Charles de Gaulle and the godfather of New Wave cinema, one such emperor, albeit perhaps of a public-service variety?

Just as the church was seen as an unnecessary and corrosive gatekeeper that interfered with direct communication with God, so are publishing institutions seen as essentially precluding unmediated access to the world of memes and ideas. “The Internet,” say the hopeful, will liberate the memes from the oppression of the creative elites—the very elites who dare claim that not all memes are created equal and some are so bad that they should perhaps not be created at all. No one is more enamored of this highly democratizing development than Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. He likes to boast that he’s dedicated himself to eliminating the gatekeepers, for they “slow innovation” and stand in the way of “self-service platforms”—where everyone can publish a book in minutes—that Amazon itself has been so keen to promote. Bezos’s populist rage against institutions—in the best traditions of Martin Luther’s fulminations against the church—is on full display when he boasts that the Kindle best-seller list “is chock-full of books from small presses and self-published authors, while the New York Times list is dominated by successful and established authors.”

Such pro-innovation bias is responsible for the establishment of a clear boundary between the study of innovation and its various boosting factors—this field of inquiry is mostly pursued in business schools—and the study of the consequences of innovation, which is usually done in disciplines such as public policy and science and technology studies but very rarely under the umbrella of “innovation studies” as such. Thus, innovations that fail or lead to disastrous results are naturally not considered part of the innovation vocabulary; technologies are innovative only if they are successful and risk-free. Moreover, the consequences of innovation that are considered tend to be rather linear and direct. When Jeff Bezos writes of “innovation” associated with the Kindle, he knows that his intended audience is not likely to consider any consequences that may not be direct, anticipated, or desirable; most of us suffer from some form of “pro-innovation bias” as well. It wasn’t always like this. According to Benoit Godin, the Canadian scholar who has traced the intellectual history of “innovation” as a concept, for over 2,500 years, the word had negative connotations.


pages: 339 words: 88,732

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, digital map, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, falling living standards, Filter Bubble, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, full employment, G4S, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, intangible asset, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, law of one price, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, mass immigration, means of production, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, post-work, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telepresence, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Y2K

In the early years of the twentieth century, the Italian physician and researcher Maria Montessori developed the primary educational system that still bears her name. Montessori classrooms emphasize self-directed learning, hands-on engagement with a wide variety of materials (including plants and animals), and a largely unstructured school day. And in recent years they’ve produced alumni including the founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), and Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales). These examples appear to be part of a broader trend. Management researchers Jeffrey Dyer and Hal Gregersen interviewed five hundred prominent innovators and found that a disproportionate number of them also went to Montessori schools, where “they learned to follow their curiosity.” As a Wall Street Journal blog post by Peter Sims put it, “the Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia.”

This reflects the career advice that Google chief economist Hal Varian frequently gives: seek to be an indispensable complement to something that’s getting cheap and plentiful. Examples include data scientists, writers of mobile phone apps, and genetic counselors, who have come into demand as more people have their genes sequenced. Bill Gates has said that he chose to go into software when he saw how cheap and ubiquitous computers, especially microcomputers, were becoming. Jeff Bezos systematically analyzed the bottlenecks and opportunities created by low-cost online commerce, particularly the ability to index large numbers of products, before he set up Amazon. Today, the cognitive skills of college graduates—including not only science, technology, engineering, and math, the so-called STEM disciplines, but also humanities, arts, and social sciences—are often complements to low-cost data and cheap computer power.

The software was originally intended only for internal use, but in November of 2005 Amazon released it to the public under the name Mechanical Turk, in honor of a famous eighteenth-century chess-playing ‘robot’ that turned out to have a human inside it.25 The Mechanical Turk software was similar to this automaton in that it too appeared to accomplish tasks automatically, but in reality made use of human labor. It was an example of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called “artificial artificial intelligence,” and another way for people to race with machines, although not one with particularly high wages.26 Mechanical Turk, which quickly became popular, was an early instance of what came to be called crowdsourcing, defined by communications scholar Daren Brabham as “an online, distributed problem-solving and production model.”27 This model is interesting because instead of using technology to automate a process, crowdsourcing makes it deliberately labor intensive.


Moon Rush: The New Space Race by Leonard David

agricultural Revolution, Colonization of Mars, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, Jeff Bezos, life extension, low earth orbit, multiplanetary species, out of africa, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telepresence, telerobotics

Of course, the space agency needs to devote the up-front resources to build such a base. Over the past few years since the study was published, the situation has improved, says Miller, pointing to space tech luminaries like Elon Musk with SpaceX and Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin. Both space entrepreneurs are pushing forward with plans to develop boosters capable of reaching the Moon. “We went to the Moon in the 1960s as a race between nations,” Miller says. “The best way to go back to the Moon is to set up a race between billionaires.” * * * JEFF BEZOS, the retail billionaire of Amazon.com fame and fortune, is also head of Blue Origin, a company with big plans to pioneer the space frontier. At the age of five, Bezos watched Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins carry out the Apollo 11 mission. The Apollo program was inspirational for him, helping to fuel his desire and passion to make a difference in space exploration.


pages: 193 words: 98,671

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper

Albert Einstein, business cycle, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, lateral thinking, Menlo Park, natural language processing, new economy, pets.com, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, urban planning

Writing a book is a business, and for making it a successful one I also owe sincere thanks to my team of technology-savvy businesspersons, headed by my agent Jim Levine, and including Glenn Halstead, Lynne Bowman, Kelly Bowman, and Sue Cooper. At Pearson, Brad Jones supported this project throughout, but the most credit goes to Chris Webb, whose tenacity, focus, and hard work really made The Inmates happen. I really appreciate the many people who provided moral support, anecdotes, advice, and time. Thanks very much to Daniel Appleman, Todd Basche, Chris Bauer, Jeff Bezos, Alice Blair, Michel Bourque, Po Bronson, Steve Calde, David Carlick, Jeff Carlick, Carol Christie, Clay Collier, Kendall Cosby, Dan Crane, Robert X. Cringely, Troy Daniels, Lisa Powers, Philip Englehardt, Karen Evensen, Ridgely Evers, Royal Farros, Pat Fleck, David Fore, Ed Forman, Ed Fredkin, Jean-Louis Gassee, Jim Gay, Russ Goldin, Vlad Gorelik, Marcia Gregory, Garrett Gruener, Chuck Hartledge, Ted Harwood, Will Hearst, Tamra Heathershaw-Hart, J.D.

Programmers become so familiar with code reuse that they often copy existing techniques even when they aren't actually copying code. This comes naturally, coupled with programmers' tendency towards conservatism. For example, most programs have lots of confirmation screens, virtually all of which are unnecessary. Many of them exist because they existed in reused code, but many of them exist because programmers are simply habituated to putting them in. For example, I ran into Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, at a conference and told him how much I like the "1-Click" interface on his Web site. This interface allows you to purchase a product with—big surprise—one click. The interface is really well designed, because it pushes all of the annoying details out of the interface and lets the user merely click one button without reentering shipping and billing information. Jeff was pleased to hear that I liked 1-Click, and he told me that when he and his designers had cooked up the idea, they presented it to the programmers, who duly nodded and agreed that they could do such a thing.

He is not getting interaction design, free or otherwise, from his programmers. Rather, the interface he gets is one designed to please only the authors: people with atypical training, personality, and aptitude. This highlights another key point regarding the culture of software development. Although it is founded on the particular nature of programmers, it is propagated by their managers, many of whom—it must be said—are former programmers. Jeff Bezos says that the most vociferous defense of the two-click interface came from the product manager! The reverence for technical skill has another effect. Most people assume that programming is more technical than design. I won't dispute that, but I strongly disagree with the conclusion typically drawn from it that programming should therefore come before design in the development process. This has the effect of making the user conform to the technology.


pages: 319 words: 100,984

The Moon: A History for the Future by Oliver Morton

Charles Lindbergh, commoditize, Dava Sobel, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, multiplanetary species, Norman Mailer, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, UNCLOS, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

The desire not to seem outmatched by China is one of the reasons that, under President Donald Trump, NASA has taken on a far more explicitly Moon-focused strategy, with an overt intention to return on a permanent and eventually moneymaking basis.12 But China is not the whole story. Billionaires matter too—particularly, though not exclusively, billionaires with Silicon Valley in their background. The path down which computer technology and software have travelled since the 1970s has concentrated a great deal of wealth into the hands of men now entering—Mark Zuckerberg, 35 in May 2019—enjoying—Jeff Bezos, 55 in January 2019—or leaving—Bill Gates, 64 in October 2019—middle age. A fair few of them still cherish the dream of spaceflight that Apollo, “Star Trek” or both lit in their hearts. Following that dream offers a way to spend money amassed from technologies closer to home on self-gratification, inspiration, ego jousting, the denting of the universe, preserving and enhancing the future of humankind, having fun, showing off and experiencing the sublime.

Someone excited by the prospect of putting together a landing party of artists or of others might be able to do so for a billion. A simple moonbase could probably be had for less than has been spent on the SLS to date. No one should bet on #dearMoon actually taking off in 2023. But even a slower-than-promised Moon programme from SpaceX would probably bring about the Return before a programme based on the SLS, and before the Chinese, too. AND SPACEX IS NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN. JEFF BEZOS, THE founder of Amazon, one of the world’s first trillion-dollar companies, is at the time of writing the richest person in the world. Since 2000 he has been regularly investing slivers of his wealth in Blue Origin, a company that builds rockets. Its first, New Shepard, is a small reusable rocket not unlike the first stage of a Falcon 9, though with only one engine it is considerably less capable.

It is reminiscent of the crisis of the unclosed circle foreseen by Commoner, and in the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”, a soft apocalypse hardly any less scary, and infinitely more widely worried about, than the sudden sharp impact of an asteroid one in which the Earth runs out of new stuff to use and new places to dispose of that which has already been used. But there is a distinct difference. Seen in Club-of-Rome terms, the crisis could be put off by the bounty of the sky, promised in the 1970s and 1980s by Gerard O’Neill and the L5-ers, promised now by Jeff Bezos. Space technology operating outside the environment but within the economy could reduce the impact of affluence, rather than multiply it, thus allowing economic growth to continue. If, like Mr Moore, you read economic history not as the winning of inanimate resources but as the appropriation of processes which are part human, part natural—of the pasture and farmland where the carbon cycle is turned into food, of the ways of life that turn sunlight into surplus labour—things look less cheerful.


pages: 360 words: 101,038

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

Airbnb, barriers to entry, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, creative destruction, death of newspapers, declining real wages, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, hypertext link, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, low cost airline, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Minecraft, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Travis Kalanick, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog

And yet here they were, stepping into Book Culture’s 3,000-square-foot location (its third), watching other people buying real books. This wasn’t just a bookstore opening up. It was a symbol of hope, a lone flower poking up from the spring frost after a long, brutal winter for bookstores. Along with record stores, bookstores were among the first brick-and-mortar retail segments challenged by digital technology, starting when Jeff Bezos launched his online bookstore Amazon out of a Seattle garage in 1995. Amazon grew to define the limitless power and speed of online retailing, devouring books, then other products, until it became the Internet’s largest retailer. Amazon began an e-commerce revolution that seemed to upend the world of retail in every sector, from eBay and auctions, to Craigslist and classified ads, to Fresh Direct and groceries.

The first challenge was mall chains, such as Crown, Encore, and Tower, which provided a bigger selection and lower prices than independents could match. These were quickly surpassed by the big-box chains—Barnes and Noble and Borders in the United States, Indigo and Chapters in Canada, and Waterstones and WHSmith in the United Kingdom—which erected warehouses filled with books that they sold at the lowest price possible, extracting the best terms from publishers beholden to their market share. Long before Jeff Bezos registered Amazon’s domain name, the big-box chains, as well as other discount retailers such as Costco and Walmart, greatly reduced the ranks of independent bookstores. Amazon was the final blow, not just for smaller independent bookstores, but more dramatically for the big-box chains, which could not compete in the two areas (price and selection) where they once held an unassailable advantage.

Once Percolate banned devices, the results were instantaneous. “It just makes it so people are actually paying attention. Meetings are shorter and more useful.” Other technology companies have adopted different techniques to achieve the same results. Orpilla had heard about a semiconductor firm in Silicon Valley that actually created a meeting room with signal-blocking technology. Amazon, on the other hand, opted for a more analog solution. When Jeff Bezos gathers his executive team in Seattle, the entire meeting is structured around a six-page narrative memo that executives are responsible to write. Every person who enters the meeting spends the first half-hour quietly reading, and the discussion begins only once everyone has finished the memo. In an interview Bezos likened the experience to study hall, but he believed that making executives compose their ideas into a narrative format forced them to articulate those ideas more clearly than they would with PowerPoint slides.


pages: 417 words: 97,577

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, diversification, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, late capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, merger arbitrage, Metcalfe's law, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, passive investing, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, undersea cable, Vanguard fund, very high income, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

Companies will fail to pay overtime, comply with minimum wage laws, or pay a worker for the total amount of hours she has worked. Claims that workers have been insufficiently paid have quadrupled over the past decade. A 2009 survey of over 4,000 low-wage workers in three major US cities found that 76% of full-time workers had been unpaid or underpaid for overtime hours, and 26% were paid less than minimum wage.26 In Seattle, home to two of the world's richest men – Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos – some companies can't be bothered to pay their employees minimum wage. SkyChefs, a company that puts together airplane food trays, was fined $335,000 in 2017 for violating Washington State's $13.50/hour minimum wage laws.27 The city later settled privately with the company for 40% less than the original fine at $190,000. As we write this book, employees are still complaining that they have yet to receive compensation for their lost wages.

While customers cheer the convenience and low cost, companies may have no choice but to use Amazon's fulfillment services if they want to get competitive shipping rates and favorable listings. Amazon has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to policing counterfeits and competing with its own partners. As a platform, it wants the maximum number of people selling on its site, much like Facebook and Google want the maximum number of eyeballs to sell ads against. Whether that comes from pirated content or not, the tech giants simply don't care. Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, has been known to put an empty chair in meetings to remind employees of the need to focus on the customer. But Amazon puts itself first, when it comes to customer searches. A recent study by ProPublica found that the company is “using its market power and proprietary algorithm to advantage itself at the expense of sellers and many customers.”57 When they searched for hundreds of items on the site, about three-quarters of the time, Amazon put its own products above third-party products using its platform, even when competing products were cheaper.

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders, 2016 (Kindle Location 14589). Explorist Productions, Kindle Edition. 2. Ibid. 3. http://www.thebuffett.com/quotes/How-to-Think-About-Businesses.html. 4. Roger Lowenstein, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist (Random House, 2008). 5. https://businessmanagement.news/2017/05/05/warren-buffet-would-rather-invest-in-your-idiot-nephew-than-with-mark-zuckerberg-or-jeff-bezos/. 6. https://www.ft.com/content/fd27245a-9790-11e7-a652-cde3f882dd7b. 7. https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-uncontested-3-pointers-1519595032. 8. http://gawker.com/322852/is-peter-thiel-silicon-valleys-godfather. 9. https://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-losers-1410535536. 10. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 2nd ed. (Dancing Unicorn Books, 2016). 11. http://consumerfed.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Overcharged-and-Underserved.pdf. 12. https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history. 13. https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-formally-rules-comcasts-throttling-of-bittorrent-was-illegal/. 14.


pages: 173 words: 53,564

Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn by Chris Hughes

"side hustle", basic income, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, end world poverty, full employment, future of journalism, gig economy, high net worth, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, oil rush, payday loans, Peter Singer: altruism, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, TaskRabbit, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, uber lyft, universal basic income, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

That luck wasn’t just because I was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate—much larger forces were at work. A collection of economic and political decisions over the past four decades has given rise to unprecedented wealth for a small number of fortunate people, collectively called the one percent. America has created and supported powerful economic forces—specifically globalization, rapid technological development, and the growth of finance—that have made the rise of Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, and other new billionaires possible. The companies we built went from dorm room ideas to assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars because America provided the companies with a fertile environment for explosive growth. Google, Amazon, and Facebook may be extreme examples, but the massive wealth they create for a select few isn’t as rare as you might think. Inequality has now reached levels not seen since 1929, the year the Great Depression began, and stands to get even worse.

These investments took The New Republic’s annual losses from around $2 million a year up to $6 million nearly overnight. Everyone on the outside assumed I intended to transform The New Republic into a personal megaphone, or at the very least to use it to advance my own political agenda. But over four years, I wrote only one piece for the website, on the rise of big data, and a short note reflecting on Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post. The journalists and academics who wrote for us were some of the smartest, most sophisticated minds in media, and whatever I happened to think about the Iraqi surge or Mitt Romney’s tax policies felt superficial in comparison. Close friends marveled at how much I talked about the business side of things and how little I had to say about what Frank was planning to put on the cover.


pages: 209 words: 53,175