Weekly reading – 31st December 2022

This is the last post of 2022. If you come across this little blog of mine or have been following, thanks and I wish you and your loved ones a great holiday.

What I wrote last week

My 2022

Business

Direct-to-clinician—How product-led growth is changing healthcare and life sciences. A really nice write-up on how the Direct-to-Clinician model is changing the healthcare landscape and powering startups that specialize in the field

The ABCs of health tech: key metrics to know and grow your business. These metrics and formulas are also used in other industries, not just healthcare. Hence, it’s helpful to have a list like this

Podcasting could be in for a rocky 2023. An interesting data point in the article: an ad agency executive claimed that only 5% of its client base submitted an advertising budget for 2023. The figure does seem unusually low, but given the uncertainty of the economy, I get where they are coming from. With that being said, I think this will be positive news to incumbent ads platforms like Google, Facebook or Amazon, just to name a few. They provide a sense of security that brands will get something for their bucks. Podcasting ads have potential, but at the moment, I don’t think they are there yet.

Are discount grocers outpacing traditional operators? I am a frequent shopper at Aldi in Omaha. I can attest that there have been more shoppers lately than in the past. The appeal of discount grocers is very simple: fewer items yet prices are hard to beat. In the time of inflation when everything is still more expensive, shoppers look for bargains. That’s exactly what these discount brands offer. They also benefit from a growing acceptance of private labels from shoppers. Private labels used to be stigmatized with low quality. That’s no longer the case. Even high-income households shop private labels nowadays which make up the majority of hard discounters’ inventory. Will these discount brands replace big box retailers? I don’t think so. But the likes of Walmart or Target will have to sell to shoppers in a different way and face pressures on margin.

The fintech reckoning is upon us. Here’s what to expect next year. Despite all the hype, rarely do I see a neobank or a fintech startup with meaningful market share, profitability and a sustainable growth trajectory. In the meantime, incumbent banks keep generating more profits and invest in their own capabilities to ensure feature parity with smaller competitors. Interest rates will persist at the current level for a few more months. Funding is more expensive to come by. The market will likely remain pessimistic next year. Investors put a premium on profitability, not growth. I expect that a lot of fintech startups will be acquired in the near future, mainly for talents and Intellectual Property. Their revenue and market share will be too small to mean anything.

($) How Southwest Airlines Melted Down. “Airline executives and labor leaders point to inadequate technology systems, in particular SkySolver, as one reason why a brutal winter storm turned into a debacle. SkySolver was overwhelmed by the scale of the task of sorting out which pilots and flight attendants could work which flights, Southwest executives said. Crew schedulers instead had to comb through records by hand. Upgrading Southwest’s technology has been a yearslong endeavor. Before it grew from a small player to a national and then international airline, Southwest didn’t need the same kinds of commercial platforms that rivals used, and developed many of its own systems instead. As Southwest grew and took on more complicated operations, such as flying outside the U.S., that has changed. SkySolver, an off-the-shelf piece of software that Southwest has customized and updated, was nearing the end of its life, the airline said.” The airline’s pilots and flight attendants have said outdated technology is part of the reason Southwest has struggled to rebound after upsets. Last year, a severe storm and an air-traffic control slowdown in Florida set off a chain reaction that rippled through Southwest’s network for several days. The airline canceled flights in a disruption that ended up costing $75 million.” There is another Reddit thread on the same issue. In the digital world we live in, companies live and die by IT infrastructure. Regarding Southwest, it’s remarkable that they let it come to this point even though the antiquated systems have been called out for a while.

Other stuff I find interesting

How cellphones transformed life at a women’s prison in Argentina. Most of our daily activities are online; which makes the lack of cellphones crippling to inmates. Although they are in prison for a reason, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the right to access life essentials like we all do. I am happy for those inmates to have a little life brought back to them

Online shopping in the middle of the ocean. A practical look into how difficult online shipping is in remote areas such as Haiti or French Polynesia and how local companies are filling the gap left by giants like Amazon

($) Putin, Isolated and Distrustful, Leans on Handful of Hard-Line Advisers. What the article describes is concerning. Putin has unquestioned power in Russia, yet he is surrounded by hard liners that don’t have the courage to give him true facts and intelligence. Worse, some factions in the Russian government are willing to tap into Putin’s desire to restore Russia to what it once was, in order to advance their career regardless of consequences. The war in Ukraine is an example. And from what goes on in the article, it may not be the last example.

Stats

Salesforce predicts that holiday shopping returns this year will increase by 57% year over year

Gartner forecasts that global IT spending will reach $4.7 trillion in 2023

3 out of 4 developers surveyed by StackOverflow use Visual Studio as the preferred Integrated Development Environment

Vietnam GDP grows 8.02% in 2022; fastest expansion in 25 years

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