Weekly reading – 29th January 2022

What I wrote last week

Book review: A shot to save the world

Microsoft through charts

Business

MPC Letter Highlights Amazon Action on Visa Credit Cards in UK. The market power of Visa is evidenced by a number of big name retailers unable to ditch them completely. In the U.S, you can use Visa at Costco stores, but you can’t Mastercard. “Walmart, for example, announced in 2016 that it would no longer accept Visa credit cards at its stores in Canada, but began taking them again seven months later. In 2018, Kroger stopped accepting Visa credit cards at about 20 of its Food Co. locations in California and later expanded the ban to 142 supermarkets and 108 gas stations in its Smith’s Good and Drug Store chain across seven states but resumed accepting the cards the following year.”

How France’s Largest Semiconductor Company Got Stolen in Plain Sight. A great example of a power grab from a Board against its own CEO.

Casualties of Your Own Success. “The second is size is associated with success, success is associated with hubris, and hubris is the beginning of the end of success. Some of the most enduring animals aren’t apex predators, but they’re very good at evasion, camouflage, and armor. They’re paranoid. I always come back to the time Charlie Rose asked Michael Moritz how Sequoia Capital has thrived for three decades, and he said, “We’ve always been afraid of going out of business.” Paranoia in the face of success is extremely hard but in hindsight it’s the closest thing to a secret weapon that exists.

Amazon’s Banned China Sellers Turn to Walmart’s Marketplace. Adding merchants is cool, but Walmart should be very careful about losing customer trust because of goods or services of questionable quality.

Battery Swapping for EVs Is Big in China. Here’s How It Works. I do think that battery swapping can have the potential to take EVs to another level, but there are some key questions that need answering. The high cost to build swapping stations, how many batteries should be at a station, how many stations, how we can make sure that drivers can only retrieve fully charged batteries…

Utah’s ‘Steve Jobs of the Skies’ is ready to do it again. An inspiring story of a legend in the airline industry

Interchange is going toward 0.. So what? A thought-provoking post by Tom on the prospect that interchange fees will drop significantly in the US and the risks that issuers have to face. I don’t know when the interchange fees will drop in the US, to be honest. If we had just Democrats in Congress, it would happen in the next 4-5 years. But because we have GOP lawmakers who are easily persuaded by lobbyists, I can’t imagine the change would happen soon. Issuers love the card business because it’s profitable. Users only use credit cards because of the rewards and what pays for those rewards? Part of it is interchange. Nonetheless, Tom’s blog post is very interesting.

Stuff I found interesting

US unveils changes to attract foreign science, tech students. The Biden administration and its successors would be wise to continue this talent-friendly policy and take it further. The competitiveness of a country is forever based on the human capital that it has and is even more so today. Immigrants like to come to the US, but for the past few years, opted for other countries because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric from Trump. Now, it’s Biden’s responsibility to clean up the image and make America the destination for talented immigrants again.

A Journey Along Afghanistan’s Main Highway Leads Through a Country in Transition. I had mixed feelings reading this piece. First of all, I was reminded how lucky I was to live a normal and healthy life in America. Folks in some areas of the world like Afghanistan live in fear and poverty. The image of a mother holding two children and being scared of losing her three-year-old daughter is haunting. Second, it’s tragic how a group of people want to impose their extreme view of a religion on others and inflict immeasurable pain in the process. Third, what did the last 20 years and billions of dollars gain the U.S and the people of Afghanistan? While they may be suppressed under Taliban, some are relieved that the war is temporarily over. That says a lot about what the US and its allies did. Lastly, are the continued sanctions in the best interest of the Afghan people? Yes, the Taliban needs coercing to a negotiation table, but what about hurting the innocent people as collateral damage?

The Nanotechnology Revolution Is Here—We Just Haven’t Noticed Yet. “For decades, computer scientists and physicists speculated that, any minute now, nanotechnology was going to completely reshape our lives, unleashing a wave of humanity-saving inventions. Things haven’t unfolded as they predicted but, quietly, the nanotech revolution is under way. Among the routine items that have benefited from nanotechnology: air bags, cellphones, radar, inkjet printers, home projectors, and 5G and other fast wireless technology. Just around the bend, nanotechnology could enable ultra-tiny cameras, as well as a dizzying array of other kinds of sensors, able to detect everything from air pollution and black ice to hacking attempts and skin cancer. Unlocking your phone with your face is just the beginning, says Metalenz CEO Robert Devlin. Metalenses also have abilities that can be difficult to reproduce with conventional lenses. For example, because they facilitate the detection of polarized light, they can “see” things conventional lenses can’t. That could include detecting levels of light pollution, allowing the cameras on automobile safety and self-driving systems to detect black ice, and giving our phone cameras the ability to detect skin cancer.

Here’s how Ohio won a bid by Intel to build the world’s largest chip factory. I am intrigued to see how this long-term plan will fare in the next few years. From the US perspective, it is important to have a domestic fab that can rival TSMC. Whether Intel can make it work as it is so far behind the Taiwanese firm is another matter. But like they always say, you miss all the shots you don’t take. At least Intel is taking its shot here.

Google Topics API – The new Privacy Sandbox proposal from Google. At first glance, it looks like an improvement over FLoC to me, but we’ll see how the technology really works in real life and what the feedback from the community will be.

Don’t shine the turd. “If something is shit, don’t hide it. Because eventually, I’ll smell it.” It’s actually truly great advice.

Stats

YouTube Shorts has 5 trillion all-time views. That’s 5 trillion and it’s not a typo

Online channels only made up 10% of U.S grocery sales in 2021. Among all stats related to digital grocery, this seems right to me the most

45 million Americans used BNPL in 2021

Source: Bloomberg

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