Weekly reading – 25th February 2022

What I wrote last week

Updates on PayPal


Update from Andy Jassy on return to office plans. Jassy’s memo hit the nail on its head on why companies want staff back into the office. Personally, I believe it’s difficult to maintain productivity, creativity and culture with remote working. It’s particularly harder on new members. In my job, the learning curve is high. It usually takes a person one year to get acclimated. We had a few interns who couldn’t catch on because they found it difficult to learn while working remotely. Recent interns fared better. That hardens my belief that for jobs like mine, it’s important to get folks to the office.

($) More Auto Payments Are Late, Exposing Cracks in Consumer Credit. Two things stood out from this article for me. The first is that it will be interesting to see how the economy will be when consumer debt hits new highs regularly while lenders already see rising delinquency rates. The other takeaway is how many consumers are careless with their personal finance. How would they put themselves into a position where they had to set up a GoFundMe page to make ends meet?

Amazon employees express dismay, anger about sudden return-to-office policy. Opponents of the new policy said that it was decided in an Anti-Amazon way. If they were implying that the decision was arbitrary and subjective, unlike the data-driven way that Amazon is supposedly known for, I’d say it is perhaps exactly how corporate decisions are made. I read a recent Amazon book by insiders who spent years at the company. They chronicled how Amazon came to make a decision on their notoriously obnoxious 2nd HQ selection. At first, it was all about data. Eventually, it was merely a decision made by somebody DESPITE all the data. Or Jeff Bezos just came up with two business ideas out of nowhere that were eventually proven worthless. And if that’s not enough, I’d like to remind everyone that work is not a democracy.

($) Walgreens CEO Bets on Doctors Over Drugstores in Search for Growth. ““I went deeply into a strategic analysis of what could be next” after taking the helm, said Ms. Brewer. “It was clear to me that, from a strategic standpoint, traditional retail plus the pharmacy business is a very mature business, and at some point we’re going to have to have another way to grow revenue.” 

Addigy releases its 2023 State of the Apple Device Management Industry Report for MSPs. I consider it a positive sign for Apple. Demand for Apple device management is there and big enough for Managed Service Providers to charge premium for. Apple launched Apple Business Essentials for the exact same reason. It will take time for the tech giant to scale this business and even report some metrics. But directionally, I think they are onto something

($) American Express Airport Lounges Cut Back on Free Plus Ones. Amex no longer allows its cardholders to bring guests into lounges for free. The company has a dilemma. If they are too cavalier with the guest policy, lounges will be crowded, devaluing what is supposed to be a premium experience. On the other hand, making it too expensive to bring children or spouses will anger some, if not many, members. Amex premium credit cards are not cheap. To justify the high annual fee, cardholders need to travel quite a bit every year. But how many can spend and travel a lot all by themselves? It’ll be interesting to see how the new policy will affect customer churn.

Other stuff I find interesting

Will ChatGPT supplant us as writers, thinkers?For 25 years I’ve begun my introductory psychology course by showing how our best artificial intelligence still can’t duplicate ordinary common sense. This year I was terrified that that part of the lecture would be obsolete because the examples I gave would be aced by GPT. But I needn’t have worried. When I asked ChatGPT, “If Mabel was alive at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., was she alive at noon?” it responded, “It was not specified whether Mabel was alive at noon. She’s known to be alive at 9 and 5, but there’s no information provided about her being alive at noon.” So, it doesn’t grasp basic facts of the world — like people live for continuous stretches of time and once you’re dead you stay dead — because it has never come across a stretch of text that made that explicit. (To its credit, it did know that goldfish don’t wear underpants.)

AI-created images lose U.S. copyrights in test for new technology. Generative AI is all the rage these days. It’s hard to go on a day without hearing something related to AI. Futurists run wild with predictions. Tech giants race to introduce their own version of AI-powered tools. Google’s stock price even dropped because of a botched AI demo. As generative AI gains popularity and usage, the question of copyrights will be increasingly important. Hence, the action that the US Copyright Office took carries significant meaning in determining who owns what, in the world of AI.

A Rollout Like No Other. Henry Ford was very protective of his invention and needed convincing to allow new changes to Ford vehicles.

Earth’s innermost layer is a 644 kilometer wide ball of iron. “This newly detected center, which is probably a ball of metal 644 kilometers wide, and its outer shell would be formed of an iron-nickel alloy, with traces of other elements.”


Private labels totaled a record of $228.6 billion in sales in 2022

Durian, which is an unpopular fruit with Westerners, is expected to bring in $1 billion in export for Vietnam in 2023

Commercial gaming in the US reached $60.4 billion in 2022

Source: Elizabeth Spyers

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