Building a fairer economy. How to build a more entrepreneurial society. Tackling inequality. Uber’s travails. The history of AI.
Have some great conversations.
Dept of the near future
A three-step manifesto to a smarter, fairer economy. EV reader and smart cities expert, Dr Rick Robinson, makes a strong case. EXCELLENT.
🔥 “Everything is burning around us” on Tennesee’s freakish firestorm, almost certainly climate-change related. STRONGLY RECOMMEND you read and watch the video of the burning escape.
🔭 In search of the entrepreneurial society. Decent write-up of the recent Global Drucker Forum. THOUGHT PROVOKING
🏙 “The clustering of knowledge over physical labor is among the most disruptive in recorded history.” Richard Florida on why we need to devolve power to cities. MUST READ.
😐 Silicon Valley has an empathy problem. EV reader, Om Malik, has had the Bay Area achatter this week. RECOMMENDED
Dept of two-sided platforms & gig economy
Is the taxi unicorn naked? asks Izabella Kaminska MUST READ. According to a recent teardown of Uber’s finances:
Uber passengers were paying only 41% of the actual cost of their trips; Uber was using these massive subsidies to undercut the fares and provide more capacity than the competitors who had to cover 100% of their costs out of passenger fares.
Izabella suggests that more pivots may be ahead
The first came in the shape of subtly turning its private taxi service into an economised carpool experience and hoping customers wouldn’t notice Uber’s slow and steady transformation into a bus service. Indeed, since this is Uber, customers’ preferences are instead subtly massaged and managed with discount incentives and other behaviour moderating mechanisms.
Which brings me to Juno, a new ridesharing platform in the US. Juno has what can best be described as a fresher model than Ubers. First, their take is only 10%, Uber’s vigorish is 25%. Second, they have placed half of the companies shares into a pool for drivers. If Juno succeeds in creating significant value, then the labour employed (comprising riders and employees) will likely get more than half of that value. Which seems quite remarkable.
If consumers like the Juno experience, seems like it would be might be tough for Uber to compete. But, Uber has tons of money (even with its burn rate), massive brand recognition and vast liquidity….
- Jessica Lessin has excellent details on the Uber acquisition of Otto, the self-driving truck startup. It’s a complex deal leveraged on Otto’s performance in building a self-driving truck business.
- Uber continues to track your location after you stop a ride.
- AirBnb has cut deals with London and Amsterdam to limit number of days per year homes can be rented without a license. Positive move forward to create a regulatory agreement that works in these circumstances.
Department of AI & autonomy
Excellent BBC overview of the history of AI. Really good for non-technical readers.
Profile of Jurgen Schmidhuber, an often-overlooked AI pioneer.
- Product management for driverless cars
- Displaced by automation in Shanghai
- Economist Robin Hanson: This AI boom will turn to a bust.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
What is the state of the European tech industry? EV subscriber Tom Wehmeier has been extremely busy. METICULOUS RESEARCH
The US economy voted against Trump. (Nice visualisation)
Welcome to the gerontocracy. Solid data on how the over 60s have done increasingly well.
Alt-right trolls are getting genetic tests to prove their origins. Often disappointed.
How the Trump campaign used Facebook Ads to win the election
I had a very busy week in San Francisco, so managed to read very little, most of what I did leant towards the miserable, dystopian and hyper-realist. Such are the challenges we need to address, let’s not shy away from them.
That said, I met with some great founders while in SF. I’m continually impressed by the quality of the thinking of the entrepreneurs there. Why break the habit of a lifetime, eh?
Dashing onto my flight - sorry for the abbreviated issue of EV this week.