Weekly reading – 7th January 2023

What I wrote last week

Book Review: A.P. Giannini: The Man With The Midas Touch

Legacy Systems Can Cost Businesses Dearly

Business

How digital helps businesses serve ice cream and smiles 24/7. “Smart freezer cabinets are currently being piloted. These can capture products that are out of stock in the cabinet and send a push message to the store that suggests a quantity that can be ordered and sent automatically, drastically reducing the chance of their running out of stock. The pilot saw 1,200 trade customers offered the opportunity to make orders through a virtual sales rep via WhatsApp at any time of the day. Once the order was placed, a team at the distribution hub got it prepared in an average of 60 minutes. It was then delivered in backpacks with special cooling zones in less than four hours – a system that guaranteed product stability.”

‘They’ve gone too far’: How Spotify dug a giant hole — and how it can dig itself out. The piece pains a pessimistic outlook on Spotify’s future and it does have some valid points. The company generates almost $10 billion in annual revenue, but it hasn’t turned profitable so far. The competition is getting fiercer and fiercer every year. Spotify may have some bargaining power as a major industry player, but the label companies still have a lot of sway. It makes sense in theory to create a library of podcast content and sell podcast ads. But it’s the execution that counts and right now, some analysts and investors are not buying Spotify’s ability to execute. If they couldn’t turn a profit when the tide was high, how would they do so when the tide is retreating out?

($) Facebook Wanted Out of Politics. It Was Messier Than Anyone Expected. Facebook did try to limit the virality of some content, even more than anybody thought. I never thought that the company put that much effort into suppressing toxic yet viral content. However, Facebook was a little too late. The damage was already done. They never got rid of the image of being politically toxic. Their work on the newsfeed still didn’t address what happened within Facebook Groups. More importantly, any attempt to moderate content contradicts Facebook’s business model which hinges on engagement and ads revenue. “Views of civic content in newsfeed fell by nearly a third, internal data showed. With the company no longer amplifying posts it predicted were most likely to draw lots of replies, comments on civic posts dropped by two-thirds. Anger reactions fell by more than half on civic content, and nearly a quarter platform-wide. Bullying, inaccurate information and graphic violence fell, too.”

Apple Fitness+ unveils new offerings for the new year. My wife and I pay $84 a year for access to Apple Fitness+ and I can tell you that it’s one of the best investments we make. We exercise almost every day and there is a variety of workouts that keep us interested. With Kickboxing and a new meditation theme, consumers will have more workout options and Fitness+ content library keeps growing. I can’t think of another company that has a fitness IP this size and a popular fitness gadget like Apple Watch. This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience and vision. Software drives hardware sales and hardware is the tool that makes consumer lives better.

Other stuff I found interesting

Micromobility in Limbo: Takeaways from Paris and LA. Scooters are good and should be used for short trips. Cities that want to reduce car traffic must revamp their public transportation systems to accommodate longer trips. Any scooter startup that banks on and advertises the prospect of their services replacing cars deserves a rude awakening and no support from city governments.

(S) Tourism and Manufacturing Fight for the Future of Power in Europe. I get that renewables play an important role in our fight against climate change. It’s even more important for Europe to reduce its reliance on energy from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. But I do think that wind turbines don’t need to be built around historical landmarks or areas that source most of their revenue from tourism. And it is particularly baffling when local officials admit that turbines could be built in areas far away from the lands where there is protest.

How a vanished Ice Age lake shaped the past and present of Missoula, Montana. It is mind-blowing how much the climate changed over the last hundreds of years and how much our life today was shaped by it.

Meet the most powerful Uber driver in India. Salauddin has a computer science degree, drove for Uber and nowadays spends his time as a union leader for gig workers in India. What an interesting arc!

How New Lines Magazine built a home for long-form international reporting. I hadn’t heard about this magazine before, but now I have and the first couple of long articles that I read did not disappoint

Stats

Total holiday spend grew nearly 7% in 2022

150 million users are using Google TV and Android TV

Amazon Prime Video averaged 9.6 million viewers for its first season as exclusive rights holder to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package.

Online holiday shopping topped $211 billion between 11/1/2022 and 12/31/2022

Source: CDC

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