pez dispenser

16 results back to index

pages: 218 words: 44,364

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom


Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Burning Man, creative destruction, disintermediation, experimental economics, Firefox, Francisco Pizarro, jimmy wales, Kibera, Lao Tzu, Network effects, peer-to-peer, pez dispenser, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Wisdom of Crowds, union organizing

But then along came Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer whose fiancee couldn't find anyplace to buy her favorite collectible, Pez dispensers. Like Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, Omidyar took matters into his own hands, never realizing the massive force he was about to unleash. The service, originally called "AuctionWeb" but soon renamed "eBay," at first glance appeared similar to Onsale. But eBay had what seemed like a radical idea at the time. It allowed users to sell items directly to THE COMBO SPECIAL: THE HYBRID ORGANIZATION each other. It never took control of inventory and never served as an intermediary. After all, there was really no need to have a moneyback guarantee for Pez dispensers. In true catalyst fashion, Omidyar created a network based on trust. From the get-go, eBay declared, "We believe people are basically good.

From the get-go, eBay declared, "We believe people are basically good. We believe everyone has something to contribute. We believe that an honest and open environment can bring out the best in people." Because eBay opened the doors wide and allowed anyone to sell any item as long as it was legal, the site quickly became home to a huge number of listings—from Pez dispensers to laptop computers to rare antiques. Users began flocking to the site, and eBay became the market leader. Trust wasn't just a promotional scheme eBay cooked up to make users feel better about the site. From the beginning, trust permeated the entire company. Even today, when eBay employees consider a strategic decision, they are required to begin with the assumption that people are basically good and trustworthy. Trust is vital, Omidyar understood. To ensure that people could continue to trust one another, he added a simple but crucial element to the site, one that proved key to eBay's ability to stay alive: user ratings.

pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan


Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, creative destruction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, helicopter parent, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel,, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy

Adverse Selection on eBay Despite his early doubts, Jeff Skoll did ultimately end up running eBay, which (along with other e-tailers like Amazon) has succeeded in selling on the internet only because of the enormous resources it devotes to keeping customers from getting screwed.8 As one eBay economist put it to us, in academic parlance, “Our job is to reduce asymmetric information on eBay.” We buy much more than books (both new and used), diapers, and pet food online now. There are thriving online markets for collectibles, Chinese antiquities, and high-end automobiles. (One of the founding legends of eBay, unfortunately apocryphal, is that Omidyar created AuctionWeb to help his then girlfriend find trading partners for her Pez dispenser collection.) At the time of writing, eBay Motors has listings for hundreds of Porsches, including several with registered bids above $100,000. Dozens of Chinese vases on eBay attracted bids in excess of $10,000 apiece. And early doubters notwithstanding, we get heaps of advice—much of it personalized—via the web on what to buy and why, if not in precisely the form that Future Shop’s authors anticipated.

And as far as we know, none were coined by economists.2 Despite its dubious value, cheap talk is everywhere. Some might argue that most advertising is comprised exclusively of it; there’s certainly no shortage in online commerce: “authentic” and “genuine” are near-ubiquitous descriptors among purveyors of Tiffany jewelry on eBay and in the descriptions of plenty of other items (baseball cards, Pez dispensers, antiquities) where one might have concerns of honest representation (calling yvonne9903!). Why bother to make claims of honesty, love, or authenticity if they’ll be heavily discounted by a skeptical counterpart in business or romance? It’s because that while the upside is limited, the cost isn’t just cheap, it’s nil—so why not give it a try and hope there’s a sucker out there who believes you.

The list goes on, including some of the recent “sharing economy” companies that have gotten so much attention: Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Postmates, and many other online marketplaces. The market maker faces a delicate balancing act in satisfying the needs and wants of each side. And indeed a platform isn’t much good unless all sides agree to participate. Just as no one would visit a supermarket that stocked only a limited supply of cornflakes, eBay wouldn’t get many visitors if the only items for bid were a couple of old Pez dispensers. Nor would anyone bother to post their surplus Beanie Babies if they didn’t expect it to be seen by a reasonable volume of potential customers. The participants on each side of the market are of the chicken-and-egg variety. This is less of a problem for a one-sided market like a grocery store, which often buys its inventory from manufacturers before putting it up for sale. A farmer doesn’t care how many shoppers are in the aisles, since he’s already sold his potatoes to the store.5 But on a platform, neither side will come unless the market maker actively nudges the process along.

Science...For Her! by Megan Amram


Albert Einstein, blood diamonds, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, pez dispenser, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Wall-E, wikimedia commons

MORE LIKE “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” OUR RELATIONSHIP! I apologize for screaming! I’m going to go make myself some throat-soothing tea now! Mmm . . . tea: nature’s coffee! Girls, if you have any boys to set me up with, I’d really appreciate you passing along this cover letter. Maybe you have a cute brother? A single gardener who speaks English? A PEZ dispenser in the shape of a human that I can wiggle so that it looks like a boyfriend? Lady tip: there’s not that much of a difference between a rare PEZ dispenser and a boyfriend! They’re both handsome, worth a lot of money, and spit PEZ at you! FIG. 6.7 Girlfriend Cover Letter To Whom It May Concern: My name is Megan Amram, and this letter is to express my interest in the position of “Girlfriend.” The opportunity presented in this listing is very appealing, and I believe that my experience, desperation, and non-FDA-approved scratch-and-sniff tramp stamp will make me a competitive candidate for this position.

pages: 212 words: 70,224

How to Retire the Cheapskate Way by Jeff Yeager


asset allocation, car-free, employer provided health coverage, estate planning, financial independence, fixed income, pez dispenser, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Zipcar

Some of the more valuable finds as Marv dug deeper into his barn-size time capsule: a massive collection of Matchbox cars (many in mint condition); dozens of highly collectible metal lunch boxes; vinyl record albums that had never been opened; dolls and other toys still in their original packaging; boxes filled with classic comic books, metal signs, and other vintage advertising memorabilia for everything from Tabasco sauce to Pepto-Bismol; and an entire box filled with nothing but PEZ dispensers. The other thing Marv realized as he stood in the barn one evening staring at boxes still stacked all the way up as high as the hayloft, was that even at the rapid pace he was working, he might not live long enough to see the last box unpacked. So he enlisted the help of one of his daughters who lived nearby—“she knows all about selling stuff on eBay, is that what it’s called?”—and with some muscle power supplied by his teenage grandsons, Team Marv really put their backs into the project.

Plus Marv has two other new little income producers: he leases space in the now empty barn to people looking to store their boats and RVs, and he “saved back a few (dozen) boxes of the most special stuff” he and Joan bought over the years, so that Marv himself can now spend some enjoyable summer afternoons manning a sales table of his own at the Shipshewana flea market, making some other young couple’s secondhand treasure hunting dreams come true. LOSE IT IF YOU DON’T USE IT “Not everybody has a barn full of stuff they can sell off,” Marv Johnson openly admits, “but most people my age have a lot more things than they probably realize, and a lot of things they’d be better-off getting rid of.” With Marv and his army of PEZ dispensers as your inspiration, it pays in more ways than one to undertake a thorough decluttering exercise prior to retiring. Experts in decluttering and home organization generally give a thumbs-up to Marv’s “five crates” approach, or some similar system of sorting items into categories, including: “Trash,” “Save,” “Sell,” and “Giveaway.” Many decluttering authorities even endorse Marv’s creation of a “Who Knows?”

pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

In no place is this more visible than on eBay—where, despite the opportunity for buyers and sellers to transact directly, most of the trading flows through trusted middlemen, those sellers who have built up the best reputations over thousands of transactions. We see in eBay’s early days, for example, the rise of brick-and-mortar services like AuctionDrop and iSoldIt; people trying to make a buck through eBay’s virtual garage sale didn’t list their old Beatles albums and Pez dispensers on eBay themselves but paid these intermediaries a commission of as much as 45 percent to do it for them. Now that eBay has been around for years, thousands of people make their living by buying specialty products and reselling them on the site, the preeminent among them enjoying over $150,000 in sales per month. Even those in the second tier, the platinum-level power sellers, make monthly sales of at least $25,000.

“It’s like shooting fish in barrel,” Wood says. But although anybody can make a sale on eBay, not everyone can turn a profit, let alone the kind of profit Wood makes. The site started out as a consumer-to-consumer marketplace: like a global garage sale where anybody could sell just about anything to anyone directly. In eBay’s early days, when most sales were through auctions, the prototypical eBay item was a Pez dispenser that one collector might sell to another. Very quickly, though, the site evolved into a place where more and more sales would go through professional middlemen. Some were owners of brick-and-mortar stores wishing to expand their market or people like Mike Wolfe who found eBay so helpful (and time-consuming) that he hired a full-time person to run sales through the site.15 Some were “trading assistants”—companies like AuctionDrop and iSoldIt, that made it easy for occasional sellers to off-load their castoffs without the hassle of going on eBay themselves.

pages: 255 words: 90,456

Frommer's Irreverent Guide to San Francisco by Matthew Richard Poole


Bay Area Rapid Transit, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Loma Prieta earthquake, Maui Hawaii, old-boy network, pez dispenser, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, Torches of Freedom, upwardly mobile

Lyle Tuttle, undisputed king of the San Francisco tattoo empire, moved his minimuseum from a seedy location at Seventh and Market streets long after he had already engraved Janis Joplin’s flesh, but you can still see his 109 Outlandish out-of-town archives... Heading south from the city, US 101 is dotted with weird little wayside collections. The first stop is the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, not far from the airport. Remember those little candies spit from the mouths of plastic cartoon characters? Since the first Pez dispenser hit the shelves in 1952, hundreds, if not thousands, of models have been issued, and the museum’s collection is exhaustive. Moving right along to the Silicon Valley, you’ll find the perfect antidote to Apple, Intel, and the rest of the area’s high-tech cathedrals: the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. One of the mummies on display at this San Jose park was actually a postmortem hitchhiker discovered by the shippers at Neiman Marcus, who packaged up what was supposed to be a “vacant” case.

., between Grove and McAllister sts., Civic Center Plaza. Civic Center BART/MUNI Metro Station. Tues–Wed and Fri–Sun 10am–5pm; Thurs 10am–9pm. Admission $10 adults, $7 seniors 65 and over, $6 youths 12–17, free for children under 12, $5 flat rate for all after 5pm Thurs. See Map 7 on p. 94. See Map 7 on p. 94. Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia (p. 109) BURLINGAME One of the world’s most exhaustive collections of Pez dispensers.... Tel 650/347-2301. www.burlingamepezmuseum. com. 214 California Dr., Burlingame. Tues–Sat 10am–6pm. Free admission. Cable Car Museum (p. 106) RUSSIAN HILL San Francisco’s cablecar system is still run out of this museum, which also houses the original prototype cable car.... Tel 415/474-1887. www. 1201 Mason St. Powell–Hyde or Powell– Mason cable car. Open daily 10am–6pm, Oct–March 10am– 5pm.

pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey


Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, Vannevar Bush

Facebook is a platform for social interactions like wishing your friends happy birthday or sharing videos of your cat. The beautiful thing about owning an Internet platform is that other people pay for all the expensive parts of your business. The hardware and software are developed by Apple, Intel, Apache, Samsung, and Microsoft. The telecommunications networks are maintained by Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Pez makes the Pez dispensers, Pixar makes the cute cartoons, Penguin Random House publishes the books, and the nation’s aunts make the cat videos. You sit in the middle and take a small percentage of every sale, or charge advertisers for the privilege of marketing their low-profit commodity products to your customers. The key is getting there first, because a platform’s value increases exponentially as the number of buyers and sellers grows.

., 90 NLS/Augment, 125 Nobel Prize, 3, 45, 59, 78, 80, 176 Northeastern University, 64 Northern Arizona University, 229–30 Health and Learning Center, 230 Northern Iowa, University of, 55 Norvig, Peter, 149, 170, 227–28, 232 Notre Dame (Paris), cathedral school at, 18 Nurkiewicz, Tomasz, 218 Obama, Barack, 2 Oberlin College, 46 O’Brien, Conan, 166 Oklahoma, University of, 90 Omdurman Islamic University, 88 oNLine system, 125–26 Open Badges, 207 Open source materials and software, 177, 205–6, 215, 223, 232 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 9, 224 Overeducated American, The (Freeman), 56 Oxford University, 19, 21, 23, 24, 92, 135 Packard, David, 123 Parkinson’s disease, 70 Paris, University of, 18–19, 21, 137 Pauli, Wolfgang, 176 Pauling, Linus, 70 Pausch, Randy, 71–72 Peace Corps, 125 Pellar, Ronald (“Doctor Dante”), 208 Pell Grant Program, 56 Penguin Random House, 146 Pennsylvania, University of, 23, 24, 31 Wharton Business School, 155 Pennsylvania State University, 53 People magazine, 57 Pez dispensers, 146 Phaedrus (Socrates), 20, 98 PhDs, 7, 55, 117, 141, 193, 237, 250, 254 adjunct faculty replacing, 252 college rankings based on number of scholars with, 59 regional universities and community colleges and, 60, 64, 253 as requirement for teaching in hybrid universities, 31–33, 35, 50, 60, 224 Silicon Valley attitude toward, 66 Philadelphia, College of, 23 Philip of Macedon, 92 Phoenix, University of, 114 Piaget, Jean, 84, 227 Piazza, 132 Pittsburgh, University of, 73–76 Pixar, 146 Planck, Max, 45 Plato, 16, 17, 21, 31, 44, 250–51 Portman, Natalie, 165 Powell, Walter, 50, 117 Princeton University, 1–2, 23, 112, 134, 161, 245 Principia (Newton), 190 Protestantism, 24 Public universities, 7, 55, 177, 224, 253 Purdue University, 96, 208 Puritans, 22–24 Queens College, 23 Quizlet, 133 Rafter, 131–32 Raphael, 16, 17 Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, 87 Reagan, Ronald, 56 Regional universities, 55, 60, 64 Reid, Harry, 42 Renaissance, 19 Rhode Island, College of, 23 Rhodes Scholarships, 2 Rice University, 204 RNA, 3 Rockstar Games, 230 Roksa, Josipa, 9, 36, 85, 244 Romans, ancient, 16 Roosevelt, Theodore, 165 Ruby on Rails Web development framework, 144 Rutgers University, 23 Sample, Steven, 64 Samsung, 146 San Jose State University, 177 Sandel, Michael, 177 SAT scores, 63, 136–37, 171, 195, 213 Saylor, Michael, 186–93, 199, 201, 191, 223, 231 Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph, 45 School of Athens, The (Raphael), 16 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 45 Science: The Endless Frontier (Bush), 51 Scientific American, 92, 155 Scientific Research and Development, U.S.

pages: 285 words: 81,743

Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle by Dan Senor; Saul Singer


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Boycotts of Israel, call centre, Celtic Tiger, cleantech, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, friendly fire, immigration reform, labor-force participation, mass immigration, new economy, pez dispenser, post scarcity, profit motive, Silicon Valley, smart grid, social graph, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, web application, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

Shvat Shaked did not have the brashness of an entrepreneur, which was just as well, since most start-ups, Thompson knew, didn’t go anywhere. He did not look like he had the moxie of even a typical PayPal junior engineer. But Thompson wasn’t going to say no to this meeting, not when Benchmark Capital had requested it. Benchmark had made a seed investment in eBay, back when it was being run out of the founders’ apartment as a quirky exchange site for collectible Pez dispensers. Today, eBay is an $18 billion public company with sixteen thousand employees around the world. It’s also PayPal’s parent company. Benchmark was considering an investment in Shaked’s company, Israel-based Fraud Sciences. To help with due diligence, the Benchmark partners asked Thompson, who knew a thing or two about e-fraud, to check Shaked out. “So what’s your model, Shvat?” Thompson asked, eager to get the meeting over with.

pages: 291 words: 87,296

Lethal Passage by Erik Larson


mass immigration, Menlo Park, pez dispenser, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, The Great Moderation

CHAPTER ELEVEN NICHOLAS WHEN NICHOLAS ELLIOT LOADED HIS COBRAY before beginning his shooting spree, he selected one of the six clips he had crammed into his backpack. Each clip was long, slender, and gray, with a powerful spring that forced the stacked cartridges upward after the topmost round was fired and stripped away. The clips, also known as magazines or, in gunspeak, simply “mags,” were designed to inject bullets into the Cobray’s receiver much the way a kid’s Pez dispenser keeps presenting new blocks of candy. To a cynic, God may have seemed suspiciously absent from Atlantic Shores that morning. The faithful, however, believe that God did indeed intercede, at the point where Nicholas chose that first clip. Forensic investigators later test-fired Nicholas’s gun repeatedly, inserting each of the six magazines. All worked perfectly, except that first one. It misfed cartridges to the gun, but only to a point about halfway down the magazine, the fifteen-round point, where it began feeding bullets correctly.

pages: 347 words: 112,727

Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Anton Chekhov, computer age, David Brooks, digital map, Exxon Valdez, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Golden Gate Park, index card, Isaac Newton, Mason jar, pez dispenser, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Works Progress Administration, Y2K

He worried about damaged military equipment, and, seeing a photo of a flooded New York City subway, said there was saltwater in all kinds of undiscovered places—that we’d find out about it years hence. “I just hope they consult us, include us in the contracts,” he said. He carried his things into his Ford Excursion—the V10 behemoth, he called it—and loaded them in the trunk. On his way to Florida, his trunk had been full of Star Trek paraphernalia: a McCoy model, a set of Star Trek Pez dispensers, a door chime à la Starship Enterprise, a big blue foam “live long and prosper” hand, and ten more figurines and scenes and toys from the show. He’d given them all to Stacey Cook for Christmas. Now he had a large 3-D television, for corrosion education purposes, in their place. Dunmire dropped me off at the Orlando airport. The last I saw of the corrosion ambassador was his license plate, PGH 57—for Pittsburgh and Heinz—as he headed north, back into the maw of a natural disaster. 7 WHERE THE STREETS ARE PAVED WITH ZINC A chunk of the rust market belongs to the galvanizing industry.

pages: 350 words: 103,988

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets by John McMillan


accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, Deng Xiaoping, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, first-price auction, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, George Gilder, global village, Hernando de Soto, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job-hopping, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, lone genius, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market friction, market microstructure, means of production, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, ought to be enough for anybody, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, proxy bid, purchasing power parity, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Stewart Brand, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, yield management

Drawing on the internet’s speedy two-way communication, a myriad of mechanisms have been concocted to make buying and selling easier. At the internet auction site eBay, for example, bidders feverishly compete for everything from junk to high art. It all began in 1995, when Pierre Omidyar set up a web site called AuctionWeb for people wanting to exchange information about collectibles and to make trades. Legend has it that his initial goal was to sell his girl-friend’s collection of Pez dispensers. The site’s services were initially offered free of charge, as a service to the public. After six months’ explosive growth in usage, based on word-of-mouth recommendations, Omidyar began charging a fee, a small percentage of the sale price, to cover his costs of running the web site. Payment was left up to the honesty of the seller, but the checks rolled in. He gave up his day job and was joined in the firm by Jeffrey Skoll.

pages: 329 words: 88,954

Emergence by Steven Johnson

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, edge city, epigenetics, game design, garden city movement, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, pez dispenser, phenotype, Potemkin village, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, slashdot, Socratic dialogue, stakhanovite, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

The top auctions, the highly rated buyers-and-sellers lists, the user feedback, the communities formed around specific categories like Stamp Collecting or Consumer Electronics, the regional filters, the lists of new offerings from people you’ve bought from before—all of these are attempts to make patterns of group behavior transparent to individual users, the way a city neighborhood makes comparable patterns visible to its residents. EBay’s founder, Pierre Omidyar, originally created the site to enable his wife to trade Pez Dispensers with other Pez fanatics worldwide; six years later the site harbors thousands of similar microcommunities, united by shared interests. If eBay had restricted itself to showcasing the collector’s items that happened to be in vogue that month—Beanie Babies or PlayStation 2—the results wouldn’t have looked all that different from your traditional shopping mall. But they wisely allowed their site to splinter into thousands of smaller clusters, like little eddies in the group current of their customer activity.

pages: 402 words: 110,972

Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets by David J. Leinweber


AI winter, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, butterfly effect, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Danny Hillis, demand response, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman,, experimental economics, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information retrieval, intangible asset, Internet Archive, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, load shedding, Long Term Capital Management, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, market fragmentation, market microstructure, Mars Rover, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, negative equity, Network effects, optical character recognition, paper trading, passive investing, pez dispenser, phenotype, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, semantic web, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, smart grid, smart meter, social web, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing machine, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vernor Vinge, yield curve, Yogi Berra, your tax dollars at work

The Internet has many positive examples: The collective ratings at consumer sites like Amazon for books (and almost anything that can be shipped in a box), Newegg for electronics, and Yelp for restaurants are almost always reliable when there is a strong consensus among a large crowd.When 95 out of 100 people say a software program doesn’t work, it is probably no prize (and the other five likely work for the publisher).When 250 out of 275 people rave about the latest Asian Cajun1 spot and the waiting line winds around the block, dinner is not likely to be too bad. When every other customer complains about meeting a man with a stomach pump, you’re better off packing your own lunch. Markets themselves are a form of collective intelligence (CI), and since transactions occur, they clearly arrive at prices seen as fair by buyers and sellers alike for everything from stocks to Pez dispensers (the first eBay merchandise). A recent book by James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations (Random House, 2004) has nearly 300 pages of examples of group wisdom. One such example is the television quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Contestants are asked a series of increasingly difficult 227 228 Nerds on Wall Str eet questions, worth increasingly large payoffs if answered correctly.

pages: 470 words: 144,455

Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World by Bruce Schneier


Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, business process, butterfly effect, cashless society, Columbine, defense in depth, double entry bookkeeping, fault tolerance, game design, IFF: identification friend or foe, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, pez dispenser, pirate software, profit motive, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, slashdot, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, the payments system, Y2K, Yogi Berra

It took young master Luke to complete step four, after Han Solo got Darth Vader off his tail, and Alec Guiness’s disembodied voice cajoled him to turn off his targeting computer (probably still in beta) and use the Force. Blowing the Death Star to bits (step five) effectively eliminated any chance of retaliation, at least until the sequel. After that, getting away was easy. Our heroes get medals from a rebel alliance whose cash balance was high enough to afford new uniforms, and the universe is saved for a new series of themed PEZ dispensers. Roll credits. It’s not much different to attack a company’s computers via the Internet. Step 1 is to identify the target and gather information. This is surprisingly easy. The target’s Web site will contain all sorts of information, as do various Internet databases like the one run by Network Solutions. War dialers can find dial-up connections. There are many techniques an attacker can use to figure out what is running on the target network: ping scans, port scans, service listings, and others.

pages: 538 words: 147,612

All the Money in the World by Peter W. Bernstein


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, currency peg, David Brooks, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial innovation, George Gilder, high net worth, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, Norman Mailer, PageRank, Peter Singer: altruism, pez dispenser, popular electronics, Renaissance Technologies, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, school vouchers, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the new new thing, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning, wealth creators, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce

Millay points to white elephants that sucked up cash, including the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ Newport summer home, which was sold to the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1973, and the magnificent Biltmore mansion, originally built on 125,000 acres in North Carolina by George Washington Vanderbilt, which survives today as a tourist attraction (albeit a lucrative one) for his heirs. In contrast, Pocantico Hills, the Rockefeller estate in Westchester County, New York, is a mere 3,400 acres—but it remains in the family. * * * 2001 from the pages of Forbes Pierre Omidyar allegedly created eBay in 1995 so his girlfriend could trade Pez dispensers—a story subsequently revealed as a publicity ploy. (2001 net worth: $4.6 billion) Joseph Ricketts of discount brokerage Ameritrade makes annual pilgrimages to the famed Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally. (2001 net worth: $850 million) Jerral Wayne Jones, Texas oilman and owner of the Dallas Cowboys, claims to have lost fifty-five pounds just by giving up cheeseburgers and beer. (2001 net worth: $850 million) William Morean, whose fortune comes from computer outsourcing, was briefly a bush pilot in Alaska and also swept floors for his dad. (1999 net worth: $1 billion) * * * * * * The Eyrie “Folly” Every summer for decades, the Rockefeller family would gather at the Eyrie, their hundred-room mansion on Mount Desert Island, Maine, less than ten miles from New England’s fashionable Bar Harbor resort and the stunningly gorgeous Acadia National Park, which an ancestor helped create.

pages: 490 words: 117,629

Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment by David F. Swensen


asset allocation, asset-backed security, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, diversification, diversified portfolio, fixed income, index fund, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, money market fund, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, pez dispenser, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, survivorship bias, technology bubble, the market place, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, yield curve, zero-sum game

Although investing in venture capital partnerships promises participation in the substance and glamour of backing start-up enterprises, investors providing capital to the venture industry receive returns inadequate to compensate for the high degree of risk. Only if investors generate top-quartile, or even top-decile results do returns suffice to compensate for the risks incurred. The Glamorous Appeal of Venture Capital In September 1995, Pierre Omidyar, a French-born Iranian immigrant, started an online auction site, ostensibly to help his girlfriend sell her collection of Pez dispensers. Even though by late 1996 the business expanded nicely and produced solid profits, the company’s founder decided to seek outside assistance. Two years after the humble beginnings of the company now named eBay, Omidyar invited venture capital provider Benchmark Capital to make an investment and join the board. The recently formed Silicon Valley venture firm made a $6.7 million investment in Omidyar’s eBay, valuing the company at $20 million.