Analysis: Adobe

Adobe has been a darling of Wall Streets for the past few years and a trailblazer of the SaaS movement. Below is Adobe’s stock performance for the past 5 years.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Today, I decided to take a look at Adobe’s past performance since the strategic switch from selling software as a perpetual license to a subscription-based model in April 2012. Even though I do own a few stocks of Adobe, this post stemmed from my curiosity about how the company has performed and if/how the strategic switch impacted the bottom line. Before we go into details, there are a few notes worth mentioning:

  • Adobe’s three main product lines include Digital Media, Digital Experience and Publishing
Source: Adobe FY2018 Earning Call Script
  • Adobe reports financial data by Product lines as just mentioned above and segments (subscription, product and services).

Why Adobe switched to cloud?

In 2011, Creative Suite brought to Adobe more than $4 billion in revenue and a filthy gross margin of 97%. The company sold the software and other products in perpetual licenses. In April 2012, the company announced the transition to the cloud and subscription model. Why?

I’ll let Adobe CFO Mark Garrett and VP of Business Ops & Strategy Dan Cohen at the time answer this question. Per Mark Garrett in an interview with McKinsey:

There were a number of reasons, both financial and strategic. For one, even though customers had higher creative demands, our creative business wasn’t really growing. The number of units we shipped under the old perpetual-licensing model was about three million units a year, and it remained flat for a long time. We were driving revenue growth by raising our average selling price—either through straight price increases or through moving people up the product ladder. That wasn’t a sustainable approach.

The perpetual-licensing model was also limiting us from delivering new innovations and capabilities to our customers. Historically, we had delivered product updates only every 18 or 24 months, but our customers’ content-creation requirements were changing much faster than that, with advances in devices, browsers, mobile apps, and screen sizes.

Inside the company, we had this fundamental belief that there were broader market opportunities for us. Where content was being created and managed, when it was being consumed, and where it was going to be monetized—all of that was changing. We also believed that data were going to become more important. We already had a strong presence in content creation, and we saw an opportunity to broaden our presence in these areas.

The recession was also a factor. During the downturn in 2008 and 2009, our revenue and stock price suffered more than that of most software companies, because other companies had high recurring revenue. Our recurring revenue for the prior fiscal year was about 5 percent annually. We had virtually no financial buffer.

And from Dan Cohen in the same interview:

When we looked at how other software companies were faring during the recession, we saw that companies with high recurring revenue had smaller declines in their growth rates and valuations. We had a very big drop in both—our revenue dropped about 20 percent, and our valuation fell even more. We had extremely high customer-satisfaction rates for our products, but when we drilled down into the numbers, we saw that people were saying things like, “I’m happy with what I have, I don’t see the need to ever buy another one again.” Clearly, we needed to figure out how we could get people to want to buy from us more regularly, and, related to that, how we could innovate better and faster for our customers. We saw that the new software companies that were reaching scale were those operating under a cloud model.

Revenue Growth

Source: Data retrieved from Adobe’s annual reports

Except the two years after the launch (2012 and 2013) and 2018, revenue growth has been climbing. The past three years have seen a revenue growth of more than 20% on average.

Net Income

Source: Data retrieved from Adobe’s annual reports

Even though the trend looked negative from 2008 to 2013, the past 5 years has seen an amazing streak of increase in net income as % of total revenue.

Subscription revenue as % of total revenue

Before 2012, subscription revenue never accounted for more than 16% of Adobe’s revenue. However, everything changed after the launch and as of now, subscription revenue made up more than 87% of Adobe’s revenue.

Segment Revenue Growth

Since 2012, subscription revenue YoY growth has remarkably outperformed that of Products and Services.

Segment Gross Margin

On the other hand, Product reigned superior in terms of Gross Margin while that of subscriptions has crept up over the years. My guess is that Product refers to the sale of perpetual licenses while subscriptions refer to the regular charge of fees for usage of Adobe’s software. Meanwhile, the margin of Service continues to drop.

Subscription-based revenue by Products

Below is the subscription-based revenue by Products: Digital Media, Digital Experience and Publishing. Missing data is due to the lack of reporting by Adobe

For Digital Media and Digital Experience, revenue from subscriptions makes up the majority of each revenue stream.

Conclusion

Around 2011 when the subscription model wasn’t as popular as it is now, Adobe took a considerable risk by being a vanguard going into an uncharted territory. Nonetheless, it seemed that the company had no choice. Based on the interview with the two C-Suite executives at the time, as mentioned above, the business was entering into a threatening and tricky period. Raising prices was not a sustainable solution. Plus, the company faced a risk of being left behind as the explosion of content outpaced the development & release rate at the time. By turning to the cloud & a different delivery model, Adobe avoided the risk of being obsolete.

Retrospect is a beautiful thing. Looking at the wild popularity of SaaS model nowadays and the data above, it’s clear that Adobe made a correct strategic call to switch the cloud and subscription model.

Video: Howard Marks interview with Tim Ferriss

The stock markets are crashing now. For quite obvious reasons. Tariffs, trade wars, the government shutdown that has no signs of being abated soon. Markets don’t like uncertainty, chaos or unpredictability.

The S&P500 has gone down by 15% since October. Apple has lost 38% of its market capitalization in the same time frame. My phone has repeatedly received notifications on the 52-week lows of the stocks in my portfolio for the past few weeks.

The knives have started falling. Should you stand still and try to catch the falling knives?

I listened to the interview between Tim Ferriss and Howard Marks, the author of the book: The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for The Thoughtful Investor; which I highly recommend.

Howard argued that it is only when the knives are falling are people terrified and do the bargains show up. If we wait till the dust settles, the bargain will be gone. But when should one start buying to take advantage of the downturn? It’s up to one’s skills. Howard also cautioned that buying during the downturn isn’t enough to guarantee returns. Investors have to be right first and if investors want to outperform the markets and everyone else, they must have insights that no one has or the 2nd layer of thoughts.

If you are interested in investing and business, it is a great interview with a lot of insights. Have a listen while driving or working out or cleaning your place. It’s worth your time.

Vietnam in 2018

For the past few days, I saw some positive articles on the economic performance of Vietnam. First, the GDP growth rate in 2018 is the highest in 11 years, reaching 7.08%

Source: Worldbank and Vietnam’s General Statistics Office 

Our trade surplus reached $7 billion in 2018

vietnams trade surplus reaches 72 billion usd
Source: vir.com.vn

This is Vietnam’s GDP per capita compared to neighboring countries

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)
Source: seasia

Even though the GDP per capita is around $2,500, there is a wide gap in terms of income between cities in Vietnam. In big cities such as Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon) and Hanoi, the income level is much higher than the GDP per capita mark. When I was still working in the country back in 2014, my salary after tax was already around the $1,400/month. Granted, the living cost in Saigon and Hanoi is pretty expensive as well. In fact, students who study abroad usually complain about the high living cost in the two cities in Vietnam, given the low income in comparison with cities in Western countries. On the other hand, in other cities, an income of $300 – $400 can be considered very good. It goes to show the stark difference between cities in Vietnam.

The last time Vietnam’s GDP growth was below 5% was in 1999, almost 20 years ago. Hence, we have seen the growth rate in the region of 5-7% for almost two decades. Yet, I am not so confident in the future of the country. The infrastructure is abysmal. Here are a few photos of the infrastructure in Saigon and Hanoi that is terribly under-developed.

Traffic jam in Hanoi, a normal sight. Source: laodongthudo
Kẹt xe tại các đô thị lớn đang là một trong những thách thức của giao thông Việt Nam /// Ảnh: Ngọc Dương
Traffic jam in Saigon. Source: thanhnien
Flood after a heavy rain in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Source: tuoitre
Cars were abandoned in a heavy rain in Danang, Vietnam’s 3rd largest city. Source: tuoitre

The country’s first metro project was started in 2007. 12 years later, the budget for the project increased by 300%, compared to the initial outlay. Yet, only 56% has been completed so far. The project can be halted in the near future if the bottlenecks are not settled.

At the time of approval in 2007, Metro Line 1 was projected to cost VND17.388 trillion. This ballooned to VND47 trillion over the years. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) shoulders 88.4% of the budget in the form of official development assistance loan (ODA).

Source: saigoneer

As a Saigon native, I experienced first-hand for years the terrible infrastructure of my city. The streets were built several decades ago. Back then, there were not as many inhabitants in the city as there are now. Not even close. Fast forward, many people from poorer cities flock to the city for better career opportunities and income. More cars are bought and run. More big buses are operated. More houses are built. Yet, the drainage system and the streets in the city haven’t been upgraded accordingly. It usually took me 30 mins to commute over a distance of 10km with my scooter. The only time that the city doesn’t have traffic jam is probably before 7am and after 8pm.

From Saigon to Vungtau, a distance of 120km, it takes two hours and the travel can be pretty dangerous if you ride a scooter. In China, it takes 4.5 hours to travel from Shanghai to Beijing or vice versa, a distance of more than 1,300km. The difference cannot be bigger.

If you fly domestically in Vietnam, take my word. Either go extremely late or first flight in the morning. Any flight between 7AM and 10PM is almost guaranteed to be delayed. One of the reasons for the horrible delays is that the airports cannot accommodate the number of flights and aircrafts.

A country needs a robust infrastructure to grow. Right now, Vietnam doesn’t have that. I am not confident in the possibility that it will change any time soon in the future.

Furthermore, I am not a big fan of growing by being the source of cheap labor, being the factory of the world. It’s ok in the beginning, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. Vietnam needs to look at Singapore or Nordic countries to get some inspiration and lessons for using education and services to grow the economy. Plus, the infrastructure is amazing, at least in Finland.

Book: The courage to be disliked

I spent some time thinking about what I should write first in 2019. Instead of some predictions, I decided to write a bit about the book that influenced me greatly in 2018 – The courage to be disliked. I am reading it for the second time and believe that by writing about it here, it will stick longer in my memory and can be beneficial in 2019 for those who happen to read this post. Here we go.

Avoid the victim mentality

According to the author and Alfred Adler, the psychologist and philosopher, even though we can’t change what happened in the past, our past should not dictate our happiness and future or should not be an excuse for our unhappiness. In layman’s terms, we should not have the victim mentality regarding our past or what we were born with. For instance, even if you are born in a poor family or short, it should not be the source of your unhappiness or you shouldn’t use it to say that causes your failures in life.

Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.

One tries to get rid of one’s feeling of inferiority and keep moving forward. One’s never satisfied with one’s present situation – even if it’s just a single step, one wants to make progress. One wants to be happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of this kind of feeling of inferiority. There are; however, people who lose the courage to take a single step forward, who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making realistic efforts. People who, before even doing anything, simply give up and say things like “I’m not good enough anyway” or “Even if I tried, I wouldn’t stand a chance”.

Anger

You did not fly into a rage and then start shouting. It is solely that you got angry so that you could shout. In other words, in order to fulfill the goal of shouting, you created the emotion of anger.

In a word, anger is a tool that can be taken out as needed. It can be put away the moment the phone rings, and pulled out again after one hangs up. The mother isn’t yelling in anger she cannot control. She is simply using the anger to overpower her daughter with a loud voice and thereby assert her opinions.

Love yourself

“I’m sure that no one would want to get involved with a guy as warped as me”. I am sure you understand this already. Why do you dislike yourself? Why do you focus only on your shortcomings, and why have you decided to not start liking yourself? It’s because you are overly afraid of being disliked by other people and getting hurt in your interpersonal relationships.

A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self.

Avoid the fabricated superiority complex

One makes a show of being on good terms with a powerful person. By doing that, one lets it be known that one is special. Behaviors like misrepresenting one’s work experience or excessive allegiance to particular brands of clothing are forms of giving authority and probably also have aspects of the superiority complex. In each case, it isn’t that the “I” is actually superior or special. It is only that one is making the “I” look superior by linking it to authority. In short, it’s a fabricated feeling of superiority.

There’s the kind of person who likes to boast about his achievements. Someone who clings to his past glory and is always recounting memories of the time when his light shone brightest. Those who go so far as to boast about things out loud actually have no confidence in themselves. As Adler clearly indicates, “The one who boasts does so only out of a feeling of inferiority”…those who make themselves look bigger on borrowed power are essentially living according to other people’s value systems – they are living other people’s lives.

Separation of tasks

All you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.

You are worried about other people looking at you. You are worried about being judged by other people. That’s why you are constantly craving recognition from others. Now, why are you worried about other people looking at you, anyway? Adlerian psychology has an easy answer. You haven’t done the separation of tasks yet. You assume that even things that should be other people’s tasks are your own. Remember the words of the grandmother: “You’re the only one who’s worried how you look”. What other people think when they see your face – that is the task of other people and is not something you have any control over.

Those are the main lessons I picked up from the first half of the book. They really hit home with me and changed my perspective in 2018. Of course, there are many more lessons and nuances, but the above stood out for me. Others might do for you. If you find them helpful, give the book a try. You’ll likely find more interesting insights from the book which will be helpful to your growth in 2019 and beyond.

What I got better at in 2018

First of all, 2018 has been an eventful year. There are a lot to be concerned about in the past 12 months, but there are also plenty to be thankful for and optimistic about. I came across an article that summarized how the world became a better place in 2018. Highly recommended.

Personally, the following are what I got better at in 2018

Javascript

I didn’t write a single Javascript line of code before August 2018. That; however, changed during the course of 4 months. My MIS Capstone project forced to work mostly with Javascript as I was responsible for data visualization piece of the project.

Python

From January to December, I had courses in which I had to use Python every single month. Hence, I am much more comfortable with the language now than I was in 2017 in different ways, from data analysis, data cleaning and writing functions in the back end.

GitHub

I am still a bit frustrated and annoyed by GitHub. As somebody with a background in business, GitHub can be annoyingly user-unfriendly at times. But the Capstone project taught me a lot more on how to use branches, set up the origin URL and push code more efficiently.

Reading books

This year, I have read arguably the most impactful and best books in my life. 16 books were read in 2018, but I didn’t finish all of them. In the past, I was determined to go cover to cover for every book, but this year, I let loose. For some books, I stopped reading whenever I thought that I got the gist of it and that the rest of the book was just anecdotes and examples. It’s a better use of my time.

Knowledge in enterprise IT

12 months of working, reading and learning in the industry gave me a better handle on what was going on. The fact that I haven’t been fired from my job at a Managed Service Provider is proof of that. But there is a lot to learn and the IT field moves dizzyingly fast that getting complacent or listless isn’t an option.

Compassion and control of my emotions

I used to be angry, hot-headed and very impatient. Over the course of 12 months, I sought feedback from folks around me and received positive comments on my improvement. I still feel the urge to do things fast and speed things up, but I have a better control over my Hulk now than I did.

Blogging

I was more committed to this blog than I had ever been. I reached my goal of having the 100th blog post published in 2018. At least I could say there is an improvement in this area in 2018 than in previous years.

B2B Marketing

My working experience was mostly in B2C space. Since August 2017, I have been working in a B2B company and as a result, have learned a great deal about B2B marketing. For the past year, I learned much more about HubSpot, Salesforce, Webinar making, content marketing strategy and so on. Hopefully in 2019, I will get more experience in webinars and podcast as well. We’ll see

Honorable mentions: playing pool and cutting my own hair

It’s much easier to list what I got better at than to list what I am still lacking. There are just too many and we don’t have the time and space for that! Coming to 2019, I really look forward to learning more things or the same things but with more depth. Let’s see in about 8760 hours what I have to share again.

MoviePass vs Sinemia vs AMC A-List

A few days ago, I read an article on WSJ on the subscription service from AMC, the biggest theater chain in the US. I was intrigued by this market. So I took a look at the three players in the sphere: MoviePass, Sinemia and AMC. Below are my findings.

Pricings

MoviePass

Last July, I was one of the lucky ones to enjoy the crazy “one movie a day for $10/month” offer by MoviePass before the plan was cancelled. Fast forward, the company changed its pricing to move its business model closer to reality, not dreams. Here are its 3-month and 12-month subscriptions

MoviePass’ 3-month subscription. Source: moviepass.com
MoviePass’ 12-month subscription. Source: moviepass.com

For the sake of simplicity, I only looked at the one that would allow users to watch movies in 3D and IMAX. After some calculations, a user is expected to pay at least $8.21 and $8.30 for a movie, with 3-month and 12 month subscriptions respectively, provided that such a user will go to theaters 3 times a month. It’s a bit surprising that it costs more on average per movie to have a longer subscription. Nonetheless, multiple yearly subscriptions will bring the average ticket price per movie down to around $7.5.

Sinemia

For Sinemia, prices are structured a little bit differently. There is an initiation fee of $20, depending on whether the subscription is monthly or yearly.

Sinemia’s monthly subscription. Source: sinemia.com
Sinemia’s yearly subscription. Source: sinemia.com

As you can see, subscription prices don’t change, but whether the initiation fee is added depends on the level of commitment you have with Sinemia. If we look at the same number of movies and the possibilities of 3D and IMAX as we did for MoviePass, Sinemia’s holiday plan is much more affordable. Each movie costs around $5.33. However, without the holiday plan, a movie will cost around $11.67. Their family plan is more or less the same.

It’s worth noting that consumers are willing to pay from $15 to $20 for services such as MoviePass or Sinemia. As a result, most of their prices (not all) are out of the surveyed preference range.

Willingness to pay for a movie subscription. Source: priceintelligently blog

AMC A-List

The pricing structure with AMC is much simpler and more straightforward. For $20 a month without any commitment, you can watch 3 movies a week, in any format

AMC A-list subscription. Source: amctheatres.com

If you maintain the AMC A-list subscription for a year (52 weeks) and go to theaters 3 times a week, each movie ticket will average out to be around $1.54. It’s much lower than what MoviePass and Sinemia are offering. I suspect the significant difference comes from the fact that each ticket’s marginal cost by AMC is much lower than that of MoviePass or Sinemia. AMC is a theater chain. They already have to pay for the rights to show the movies anyway. Sure, each ticket sold through the subscription comes at the opportunity cost of a normal ticket, as WSJ pointed out:

And though the service is growing AMC continues to face questions over whether the service will cannibalize its existing customer base, as patrons simply sign up as subscribers to lower their ticket costs.

But if a screen slot isn’t full anyway, I figure it’s better to put more bums on seats. The appealing price seems to gain popularity among moviegoers. Per WSJ:

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s movie-subscription program has grown faster than the theater chain expected, giving the company a predictable revenue stream as it battles other movie-theater operators and streaming services like Netflix Inc. for consumer attention.

The company said Wednesday more than 100,000 people signed up for the AMC Stubs A-List program over the past six weeks, sending the service’s subscriber count past 600,000 since it launched in late June. Company officials had set a target for the service to have 500,000 subscribers after its first year in operation.

The company now believes between one million and two million people may become A-List subscribers, up from an earlier projection of 500,000 to one million, AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron told analysts last month.

It’s clear that the subscription plan is welcomed by the end users, but does it contribute to or affect AMC’s financials? The answer is the latter, so far. According to AMC’s latest quarterly earnings report:

The decline in average ticket price was primarily due to discounted pricing for our AMC Stubs members, increased attendance from our A-list loyalty program, and declines in IMAX and 3D related attendance.

AMC’s U.S. film exhibition costs increased 7.4% to $289.0 million compared to last year’s pro forma results, representing 53.6% of admissions revenue as compared to 50.6% in the same quarter a year ago primarily due to a combination of strong box office and higher attendance from A-List. AMC continues to incur film exhibition expense on each ticket presented for admission, but the revenue associated with increased AList attendance does not currently offset the increase in film exhibition expense.

Hence, don’t be surprised that AMC will increase their prices after 12 months. If AMC increases the subscription price by $3/month, we are talking about a boost of $21.6 million more in revenue for 600,000 current subscribers. If the increase is by $5/month, the revenue addition will amount to $36,000,000.

According to Priceintelligently, there is a willingness to pay up to $25 for AMC:

The median willingness to pay, based on our algorithms, puts MoviePass at $14.89, which is about 50% higher than their actual price. What’s interesting is how similar these two services are when comparing on this metric. Willingness to pay for each flexes between approximately $5 and $20 per month, and almost up to $25 for AMC. Where MoviePass is definitely going after the volume play, AMC is priced higher than the median, at $20 a month for three movies per week.

Zoom Out to the industry

Theaters have been under pressure from streaming services such as Hulu, HBO or Netflix. It’ll only get more intense given the investment race into original content by the incumbents and the upcoming arrival of Disney streaming service which will likely bring, you guess it, Star Wars and Marvel movies – the usually big draws for moviegoers. The theater attendance in the US increased in 2018 compared to 2017 after a downward trend for the past years

Number of tickets sold. Data source: boxofficemojo.com

Hence, it’s important that customers have a great experience at theaters to justify the inconvenience of commuting instead of relaxing on the couch at home while watching all the new releases. Theaters like AMC must continue to invest to make watching movies an enjoyable experience for customers. Regarding the ticket subscription services such as MoviePass or Sinemia, their hope to compete may rest more on the availability of theaters across US. In cities, especially rural and smaller ones, or cities where AMC theaters may not be conveniently located, perhaps consumers may be more motivated to pay for the more expensive subscriptions. Nonetheless, if all the box office right owners have their own streaming services which are likely to be priced around $15 a month, it’s going to be tough for Sinemia or MoviePass to attract subscribers.

Stats on retail store size & revenue per square feet

I have been doing some industry research for work, specifically on the retail industry. One trend that CBInsights mentioned in their report was that retail stores were shrinking in size. CBInsights argued that retailers wanted to more conscious of how they made use of their retail space. The competition is so fierce that retailers cannot afford to do everything, be everything and sell everything. They tend to get more nimble in operations and conscious of what they have on display. Nonetheless, CBInsights’ latest year in their data was 2015. So I went through the financial reports by several retailers to find out if retail stores are actually shrinking in size. Before I go through the findings, below are a few important notes:

  • The list of retailers was from this article by WSJ. There are several retailers whose information was not retrieved. The omission was attributed to the way such retailers structured their data, making it time-consuming to retrieve data and complicated to explain. Hence, I decided to omit those retailers
  • Retail is a complex industry. The data is for reference only and may represent to some extent the players or trend in the industry. By no means do I believe that the data represents 100% the retail industry
  • Data from 2015 to 2017 was from the chosen retailers’ annual reports. Data in 2018 was from the latest quarterly reports. Only Walmart already filed their 2018 annual report
  • Apart from Walmart and Sam’s Club, no other companies had their revenue data retrieved. It doesn’t make sense to analyze revenue per square feet with only 3 quarters’ data recorded
  • Data is for the retailers’ US segment only
  • Revenue by Sam’s Club excludes fuel revenue

Number of stores

Among the surveyed companies, only Best Buy, JC Penny and Sam’s Club lowered their store count

Average Store Size

Best Buy, JC Penny and Sam’s Club increased their average store size. The rest decreased theirs, except Dick’s, which keeps their store size more or less the same for the past 4 years

Revenue per square feet

Only Target saw their revenue per square feet decrease in 2017, compared to 2016 and 2015. As the chart can show, 2018 looks to be a good year for Walmart. Both Walmart (the brand) and Sam’s Club increased revenue per square feet, especially the latter.

Summary

The majority of the surveyed companies reduced their total retail space, but managed to make the most of their selling space. This is in line with what CBInsights mentioned (I touched on it above as well).

The data I collected is available here on my Tableau profile

Tipping culture

This morning, a friend shared with me a passage from an online article, as follows:

A 2018 survey found people ages 18–27 are the most likely to shortchange the restaurant waitstaff. In fact, 10 percent admitted to routinely leaving no tip at all. Here’s a tip for all you millennials: Try leaving a few bucks on the table instead of posting pictures of your food to social media.

I found it baffling. The tipping culture in the US or Canada doesn’t really make sense to me. Wait staff enters a labor agreement with restaurant owners for a reason. They agree to the benefits and compensation offered by the owners. Without any involvement from customers. Customers have nothing to do with that. Yet, customers are forced to make up for the low wage. In some cases, tips are just expected, but in others, tips are automatically added to the bills. For the past two and a half years in the US, I could count on two hands the times when I felt satisfied with customer services at restaurants. Staff repeatedly and unnecessarily interferes in my conversation with the people I am with or rushes us out by proposing the bill when we are not done yet. Yet, tips are either expected or forced. How does that make sense?

As users, we are pissed that companies do something related to us without our consent, such as sharing our data. We are annoyed by others telling us what to do without consulting us beforehand. Then, why should the tipping “standard” be any different and acceptable? And as diners, why should we defend the owners paying low wages by arguing that it’s a standard?

I would love to pay a little bit more for the meals if it meant that wait staff got a higher wage. In that case, I wouldn’t have to tolerate the tips forced on me without my consent or the overly eager services by staff. Tipping is a standard, but it can be changed and should be. For the better.

Video: 3.8 billion years worth of innovation

In this video clip, the speaker discussed some astonishing findings regarding innovations by Mother Nature. For the last millions of years, Mother Nature has perfected some innovations that could be the inspirations for our societies such as sharks’ skin, the outer layer of fruits or a certain kind of butterfly’s wings.

In addition to great and surprising facts, I found the clip inspiring. Our technological advancements should be sufficient for us to try to replicate innovations that have stood the test of millions of years. If we could get rid of chemicals used to dye our clothes or limit food waste, they would be fantastic achievements for our human race.

100th post in 2018

I don’t remember the exact time, but somewhere in the summer, I decided to put effort into this blog and resolve to have at least 100 posts at the end of 2018. At the time, I had around 20 something posts already. Not a tall order. Not an ambitious goal. But a goal to work on, to look forward to.

Fast forward, a few days from when the sun will finally set on 2018, I achieved the goal set a few months ago. But it’s just the start of a very long road. I set my sight on publishing 200 more posts in 2019 and more in the future.

The primary metric is the number of published posts, not the number of followers or likes. The purpose of this blog is an outlet of my expression, whether it is a coding tip, a book I enjoyed, something that happened in my life or an opinion on a topic. My goal is to get out of my shell more as well as to create a rewarding long-term habit. I have enjoyed the journey of getting to 100 posts as much as the feeling coming from reaching the milestone itself. Hence, I really look forward to writing more next year and beyond.

Finally, as 2019 is just around the corner, I wish everyone a great holiday break, fully charged before taking on the new challenges in 2019. In a non-stop world we are living in, it’s more important to have a slow period of time such as this time of the year.