Weekly reading – 11th December 2021

Good reads on Business

What the Tech? The Apple Watch’s Straps Are More Than Just a Finishing Touch. “For us, the band is not at all about technology — each band expresses our love for materials, craft, and the process of making.” When we look at the Apple Watch, we may wonder how obvious the band looks. But I believe that a lot of research and technology went into bringing the band and Watch together into beings. We are used to having the tail of the band stick out on normal watches. On the other hand, the Apple Watch tucks the tail under the band itself. Even that little detail is worth commanding.

A couple of good posts on Visa here and here. If you aren’t familiar with what the company whose logo is on your debit or credit card does, have a read.

Web3 is Bullshit. The article is as provocative as the headline. I do; however, agree with some of the points the author made, regarding cryptocurrencies.

Ride-Hailing: Is It Sustainable? A good essay arguing that ride-hailing is a sustainable business and the likes of Uber and Lyft have untapped pricing power. I wrote quite a couple of pieces on Uber, you can check out here: Uber acquired Drizly and Postmates, Uber Q3 FY2021 earnings

Amazon is making its own containers and bypassing supply chain chaos with chartered ships and long-haul planes. “Who else would think of putting something going into an obscure port in Washington, and then trucking it down to L.A.? Most people are thinking, well, just bring the ship into L.A. But then you’re experiencing those two-week and three-weeks delay. So Amazon’s really taken advantage of some of the niche strategies I believe that the market needs to employ”

Kohl’s Urged to Consider Sale by Activist Investor. Engine Capital estimated that Kohl’s eCommerce business can be worth around $13 billion. My question concerns whether that estimate factors in the value of the physical stores. Walmart, Target and Best Buy know the importance of using stores to enhance customer experience and fulfill online orders. If Engine Capital or other activist investors want to separate the online business from physical stores, how do they think the online business alone would fare against the likes of Amazon?

Scaling to $100 Million. ARR and Margin. ARR and Margin.

Stuff that I found interesting

Flutter allows developers to build apps for mobile, web and desktop from a single code base

Climate change: Is ‘blue hydrogen’ Japan’s answer to coal? Any disaster that costs lives is tragic, but I can’t help thinking that the switch back from nuclear to coal is massively disappointing

Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet. An interesting article on grapefruit. “Because those base fruits are all native to Asia, the vast majority of hybrid citrus fruits are also from Asia. Grapefruit, however, is not. In fact, the grapefruit was first found a world away, in Barbados, probably in the mid-1600s. In 1664, a Dutch physician named Wouter Schouden visited Barbados and described the citrus he sampled there as “tasting like unripe grapes.” In 1814, John Lunan, a British plantation and slave owner from Jamaica, reported that this fruit was named “on account of its resemblance in flavour to the grape. A Frenchman named Odet Philippe is generally credited with bringing the grapefruit to the American mainland, in the 1820s. He was the first permanent European settler in Pinellas County, Florida, where modern-day St. Petersburg* lies.”

The Many Worlds of Enough. “Ambition is largely driven by self-actualization, or the desire to become a more capable person. And when this happens, it’s only natural that good outcomes arise. You’ll witness bumps in your reputation, be offered higher salaries, and so on. But these things happen as a byproduct of your ambition, and not because these outcomes were your primary desires. Greed, however, is when those outcomes become your primary desires. When prestige, praise, and power are the reasons why you are ambitious, that’s no longer driven by self-actualization. That’s when you lust for everything that is external to you. It’s rather difficult to know where this point is, as the boundary between ambition and greed can be blurry. But for the most part, you’ve entered the domain of greed when you no longer pursue an endeavor because you’re curious about it. It’s when the coldness of utility replaces the warmth of curiosity.”

The $11-billion Webb telescope aims to probe the early Universe. If everything goes as planned, the Webb telescope will be 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth. 1.5 MILLION kilometers. Science and technology are just amazing.

Why U.S. Infrastructure Costs So Much. “Mile for mile, studies show the U.S. spends more than all but five other countries in the world on public transit, and more on roads than any other country that discloses spending data. In 2013, Portland’s 7-mile Milwaukie light rail extension cost more than $200 million per mile, as much as a full subway system would cost in many European cities. The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan, the most expensive subway project in the world, cost $2.5 billion per mile, nearly five times the cost of a similar extension in Paris. Spending swelled across three problem areas: over-design, inefficient project management and misaligned politics”

Stats

Global Logistics and Supply Chain is a $11 trillion market

Lieferando has…99% of Germany’s food delivery market

YouTube removed 2.2 million videos that violated copyrights between January and June 2021

Consumers are expected to spend $133 billion on apps in 2021. The App Store continues to dominate Google Play

Remittances to Vietnam in 2021 are projected to hit $18.1 billion

Weekly reading – 4th December 2021

What I wrote last week

I shared my research on real-time payments

Good reads on Business

Glass bottle shortage leaves US distillers high and dry. The supply chain challenges still persist. While the demand for spirits and wines in the U.S continues to be strong, the task of finding glass bottles becomes more challenging and expensive. One glass supplier considers more than quadrupled the price of a container. That kind of price increase will make your next bottle fairly more pricey.

The new memo by Howard Marks: The Winds of Change. Howard touches on many topics from politics, regulations to macro economics. Have a read and if you have time, read his other memos too.

The Rising Tide of Semiconductor Cost. The technological advances we made in chip design and production are not going to make chips cheaper any time soon.

Amazon Builds Out Network to Speed Delivery, Handle Holiday Crunch. “As of mid-November, more than 98% of parcels that arrived at Amazon’s delivery centers, which typically are in close proximity to packages’ final destinations, were being delivered the next day, according to estimates from research firm ShipMatrix Inc. At the same time, some items like household products and sporting goods were showing delivery windows of a few days, ShipMatrix said, emphasizing Amazon’s message to shop early.” As Amazon continues to invest aggressively in its warehouse and delivery network, it’s more likely that the company will raise the bar, making the next day or same day delivery a norm. When that happens, other retailers will have a hard time catching up. Replicating the same recipe requires a lot of capital, time and expertise. I think the more Amazon succeeds in raising the bar, the better the market will be for delivery services like Instacart, Uber or DoorDash

Ghost Kitchens Are Proving to Be a Messy Business, as Reef Global Shows. “Since the summer, local officials in New York City, Houston, Detroit and Chicago have suspended operations at some or all of Reef’s fleets of trailers for violating regulations, totaling more than 25 closures. Many of the suspensions were for kitchens that were operating without permits, while others were for failing to tow the trailers to a central commissary every day, a requirement for food trucks in many cities. Utility hookups routinely take months longer than expected, requiring expensive generators and water deliveries, according to former Reef managers. Food waste is a consistent problem, as is a broader labor shortage in the food-service sector that has sent its cooks’ wages soaring.

Payments are eating the world. A very interesting report by JPMorgan Chase on the state of payments

Oct 2021: U.S. Online Grocery Sales Stabilize at $8.1 Billion. This study of online grocery sales in the U.S is interesting. It claims that 50% of U.S households bought groceries online. The average order placed by an active customer is 2.6 per month and the average value for order is $70. That’s almost $200 in online groceries, more than what I expected.

Amazon charges sellers fees that are high enough to offset losses from Prime, a new report says. Amazon can exert this much control over sellers because it can bring consumers to the table. Sellers may not be pleased with how Amazon squeezes them, but if they want to rely on the eCommerce platform for reach and sales, they have to deal with its shenanigans too.

Stuff that I found interesting

How the Ancient Romans Went to the Bathroom. “Despite the lack of toilet paper, toilet-goers did wipe. That’s what the mysterious shallow gutter was for. The Romans cleaned their behinds with sea sponges attached to a stick, and the gutter supplied clean flowing water to dip the sponges in. This soft, gentle tool was called a tersorium, which literally meant “a wiping thing.”

Stats

A new paper estimates that 67% – 76% of new Covid infections in Germany in October 2021 came from the unvaccinated

Shopify merchants around the world recorded $2.9 billion in Black Friday sales

Black Friday 2021 sales in the U.S dropped from $9 billion in 2020 to $8.9 billion this year

Cyber Monday online sales in the U.S hit $7.1 billion in 2021, down from $10.8 billion last year

More than 17 million UK customers have now used a buy now pay later 

The U.S generates 42 million metric ton in trash a year, more than all EU nations combined

Weekly reading – 13th February 2021

What I wrote last week

I reviewed Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved To Do Is Healthy And Rewarding, a book that talks about how important exercise is from a Human Evolution and Anthropology perspective

The importance of owning a relationship with your customers

I talked about Uber as a business and its acquisition of Drizly

Business

An interesting piece on the CEO of Adobe and his relationship with fellow CEOs

An interview with the richest man in Japan

A very interesting piece on the threat that Canva and Fima pose to Adobe

An interesting post on the culture of writing memos at Amazon

Bloomberg has a piece on how Tim Cook built his own version of Apple. Tim Cook’s version isn’t bad at all as the company is now worth $2.3 trillion

How Facebook is doubling down on Marketplace

What I found interesting

A story on Yuta Watanabe, a Japanese basketball player who is having a season in the NBA

According to a new study, Apple Watch can help identify Covid-19 symptoms

Interesting stats

Contactless payments are expected to grow by 6-8% after Covid

40% of consumers in the US that used a “Buy Now, Pay Later” service missed at least one payment

The App Store saw more than $10 billion in consumer spending in 2020

Apple Watch is reportedly worn on 100 million wrists

Weekly readings – 7th August 2020

What I wrote last week

Uber’s latest quarter

Apple’s acquisition of this promising fintech startup from Canada

Business

Inside Netflix’s Quest to Become a Global TV Giant

US citizens increasingly moved to Canada through its Express Entry program

Content creators on YouTube that no longer rely on advertising dollars on the platform grew 40% between Jan and May 2020

Why Microsoft wants Tiktok

A sensible piece on Amazon, its private label and the antitrust issue that it has to deal with

Eugene Wei’s latest essay is on TikTok and it’s good

ARK’s latest white paper on SaaS

How Tim Cook has molded Apple into his own version, not Steve Jobs’

Technology

Apple secured a new patent that could equip Apple Watch with odor sensor technology

What’s the Big Deal About Revit? Understanding the Role of Autodesk Revit in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction

Other stuff that I think is interesting

Inside look at CloudKitchens

Bill Gates’ conversation on Covid-19

Weekly readings – 9th May 2020

The decline in trust in governments shows no signs of abating. Everywhere you look, there is suspicion that measures taken by governments to combat Covid-19 will soon be used for mass surveillance afterwards. India is no exception. For A Billion Indians, The Government’s Voluntary Contact Tracing App Might Actually Be Mandatory

The pandemic doesn’t seem to affect spending on cloud infrastructure badly

The man feeding a remote Alaska town with a Costco card and a ship

Apple Watch detecting coronary ischaemia during chest pain episodes or an apple a day may keep myocardial infarction away

VP of Amazon resigned to protest the firing of workers who spoke out on the working conditions at Amazon warehouses

Looking Back on Four Years at The Times, in the words of their former CTO

Amazon pulled no punches in its public blog post on Microsoft regarding the JEDI dispute

Spotify should pay musicians more? Let’s talk more about how

Weekly readings – 2nd May 2020

While the world is struggling with the pandemic, some politicians took advantage of the situation to consolidate their power

America is wasting a lot of space on parking slots

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

Techcrunch’s profile of Flexport’s CEO

Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not

Taking a virtual tour inside a Pharaoh’s tomb

Weekly readings – 9th November 2019

Three Big Things: The Most Important Forces Shaping the World

Venture Capital Pioneer Kept Entrepreneurs’ Egos in Check

Microsoft Japan’s experiment with 3-day weekend boosts worker productivity by 40 percent

The father of the modern frozen food industry

Nokia’s collapse turned a sleepy town in Finland into an internet wonderland

Apple TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, and Apple TV+. I have to say Apple could and should have done better with all these silly names

Apple Watch Forced Fitbit to Sell Itself

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers

How Google Edged Out Rivals and Built the World’s Dominant Ad Machine: A Visual Guide

AirPods Pro review – within earshot of perfection

Less than Half of Google Searches Now Result in a Click

A deep dive into Internet censorship in Russia

Bob Iger Takes the Gloves Off for Disney’s Streaming Debut

Weekly readings – 28th Sep 2019

Bike crash left Spokane man unconscious, so his Apple Watch called 911. One of those examples that will catapult the value and appeal of Apple Watch to a new height.

The Slow-Burning Success of Disney’s Bob Iger. I love the part where the article’s author talked about Bob’s work ethic and ability to keep his ego in check

The Milky Way Has Giant Bubbles at Its Center

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic (and Recycling)

A Taxonomy of Moats

WeWork and Counterfeit Capitalism

Weekly readings – 7th September 2019

An interesting Twitter thread on Sahara dessert

Nearly a quarter of rural hospitals are on the brink of closure

The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant Where All the Servers Are People Living with Dementia

Modern applications at AWS

China’s Spies Are on the Offensive

Amazon’s Next-Day Delivery System Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America’s Streets — But The World’s Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame. A very long but worthwhile read on Amazon’s delivery network

The European Series A landscape — actionable benchmarks & the most active lead VCs

The epic, decades-long battle between Ford and a small-time inventor

Apple Watch sleep tracking revealed: sleep quality, battery management, more

The ‘paradox’ of working in the world’s most equal countries

Climate crisis: Greenland’s ice faces melting ‘death sentence’