Weekly readings – 22nd February 2020

The Merits of Bottoms Up Investing

I admit that I was initially fond of Lambda, but there has been growing coverage of the challenges that the startup faces and of what the company really is about. Here is one of the most damning articles: THE HIGH COST OF A FREE CODING BOOTCAMP

The Ride-Hail Utopia That Got Stuck in Traffic

Student debt in the US reached $1.6 trillion, yet graduates are having the hardest time ever to find employment

Unemployment among Americans aged between 22 and 27 who recently earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.9% in December — about 0.3 percentage point above the rate for all workers.

Source: Bloomberg

What Can the Stock Market Tell Us About the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger?

In light of the Coronavirus, here is how WHO advises us to wear a mask

Masayoshi Son and SoftBank struck again, this time with Oyo. Given the magnitude of capital involved, it’s incredulous to read this kind of shocking articles.

There were missteps at Oyo from the start. The Japan hotel team, led by a transplant from India named Prasun Choudhary, figured they could get to as many as 75,000 rooms in the first year, which would put them ahead of the Apa Hotels chain in the No. 1 spot. But they took as their starting point an inflated addressable market of 1.6 million rooms based on numbers from the local tourism authority: They included campgrounds, bed-and-breakfasts and pay-by-the-hour love hotels, which weren’t part of Oyo’s business plan, according to people involved at the time.

Oyo Life, the apartment rentals business led by another Indian lieutenant called Kavikrut (who like many Indians goes by one name), set the goal of 1 million rooms in part because it was a stunning, round number that would exceed the capacity of the Japan market leader, the people said. That was the target that caught Son’s attention in March.

The unpredictable economics of pawn shops

An interesting report by PwC on the consumer preference in the streaming battle

An interesting read on a software startup that helps coffee farmers

How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter

a16z compiled a report on Top 100 Marketplace startups

What is the proper way to drink whisky?

How to write usefully

An amazing piece of innovation from F1 Mercedes team that is an immensely ominous sign for their rivals

Today I learned – 24th January 2020

Thanks to this presentation by a16z, I learned that Meituan is responsible for 50% hotel night bookings in China while CTrip plummets to around 20%. I also learned about a startup called Knowable that offers professional courses via audio.

Though the presenter made great points and gave excellent examples of Chinese companies that I know nothing about, I have a couple of disagreements with the material. First, to back up her first big trend that superapps are trending, she used the following slide

The issue I have with the use of the slide is that it’s unclear what activities an average person spends on the phone. Is the rise of usage due to streaming? Video games? Activities that have less to do with superapp wannabes?

Second, letting advertisers have access to user data is a slippery road in the West. It’s acceptable in China, but users are much more conscious of their privacy in the West. Apple tries hard to highlight its privacy-first position to users as much as possible. Facebook and Google repeatedly run into privacy-related trouble with users and lawmakers. I have no idea what the future holds, but at this moment, I have reservation over Western companies repeating the success of Chinese superapps.

It will be interesting to see at what point an app is called a superapp. It’s common to take advantage of a low-margin service segment that brings a lot of traffic in order to offer a higher margin service. Amazon did that. Their e-commerce leads to fulfillment. Along the way, they came up with Prime, AWS and advertising, services that offer a much higher margin than E-commerce. Facebook lets us use their platform for free and then turns around to sell ads at a ridiculous margin.

I do think that the battle for users’ attention and time will eventually lead apps to build more functions and offer more services. I; however, doubt that every app will be a superapp, the same way that those Chinese apps are.

Nonetheless, pops to Connie and a16z for an interesting presentation.

Weekly readings – 14th November 2019

FDA Approving Drugs at Breakneck Speed, Raising Alarm

Climate change: Oceans running out of oxygen as temperatures rise

Should I delete Tinder? These millennials think so

The lesson to unlearn

Why some of America’s top CEOs take a $1 salary

The Video-First Future of Ecommerce

How Airbnb Profits From Our Love of Experience

This article talks about how Apple’s stance on privacy makes life harder for advertisers.

Startups and Uncertainty

A very interesting study on podcasts

Weekly readings – 2nd November 2019

How Pizza Hut stopped innovating its pizza and fell behind Domino’s

Spotify Saved the Music Industry. Now What?

An interesting study on how Americans personally view success and perceived success by others

Source: Gallup

Anglo American closes in on Peruvian copper bounty

Inside the iPhone 11 Camera, Part 1: A Completely New Camera

Biology is Eating the World: A Manifesto

Venmo vs. Cash App: A Look Inside the Most Popular Consumer Finance Products in the US

Video: Tesla and the nature of disruption

I came across this very interesting conversation between Ben Evans and Steven Sinofsky on Tesla and disruption. When we say Tesla is disrupting, what exactly is it disrupting? Also, who is Tesla truly competing against? Between the electric part and autonomous part, which one is bigger? If you are interested in Tesla, have a listen.

a16z recently started to release their podcast episodes on YouTube, which I truly really appreciate. I learned a lot from them and it serves as an inspiration with regards to B2B marketing/content marketing.

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.