Weekly reading – 23rd July 2022

What I wrote last week

Three things a company can to hire great new entry-level staff and integrate them successfully

Business Unlimited Ultimate+ For Iphone

Business

Consumer Trends 2022: Mid-Year Update. An interesting study on consumer behavior by Coefficient Capital. One thing that stood out as terrifying to me is that 39% of the surveyed folks sayed they’d vote for Donald Trump if he runs for President in 2024

($) 71 Cities and Towns Are Paying Tech Workers to Abandon Silicon Valley. It’s Working. Local economies need bodies, tax revenue, consumption and entrepreneurship. Without these incentive programs, smaller cities have little chance to stand out and be the next destination for highly skilled workers. I really hope that somebody will conduct a wide range study on how effective such programs are.

From $25 billion to $167 million: How a major crypto lender collapsed and dragged many investors down with it. You live by the hype, you die when it dies. A rude reckoning for crypto traders

($) CFPB to Push Banks to Cover More Payment-Services Scams. Up to now, banks only have to repay the money that customers lost in fraudulently induced transactions. If the report is true, banks will soon have to provide more protection for consumers, investigate more transactions and potentially have to repay the money lost in scams that were even authorized by the end users. I welcome the proposal. Fraud is the number one concern when it comes to real time payment. Zelle, to the industry insiders, is littered with frauds. Having the regulatory push from the CFPB will force major banks to take more actions to protect the end users. On the flip side, more oversight may curtail the investment and interest in real time payment from financial institutions. But I think it’s a risk worth taking.

Target puts the squeeze on suppliers after inventories pile up. Relying on major retailers boosts a supplier’s scale tremendously, but also means that an abrupt change can seriously hurt the supplier’s margin. Dealing with expensive excessive inventory, retail giants like Target or Walmart pressures their suppliers to hold what they previously committed to take on and eat the cost. These suppliers are likely to swallow this bitter pill since a lot of future business is on the line here

Lessons from Germany’s Midsize Giants. A great collection of great mid-size companies from Germany that have the same formula to success as Aldi. I believe you get more value from reading this article and studying these companies than from a lot of business strategy textbooks at school

Other stuff I find interesting

The 2022 13-Inch MacBook Air. John Gruber’s review is excellent, as usual. I have to admit that it nudges me towards buying one later this year

($) Afghan Economy Crumbles Since Taliban Takeover. The economy collapsed. Demand evaporated. Financial support from other countries was cut off. 90% of the citizens don’t eat sufficiently while half of the population face acute hunger. The Talibans do not know how to run the country. What a catastrophe!

($) MBS’s $500 Billion Desert Dream Just Keeps Getting Weirder. “MBS, as he’s known abroad, was in the early stages of one of the largest and most difficult construction projects in history, which involves turning an expanse of desert the size of Belgium into a high-tech city-region called Neom. Starting with a budget of $500 billion, MBS bills Neom as a showpiece that will transform Saudi Arabia’s economy and serve as a testbed for technologies that could revolutionize daily life.” As I read this article, I couldn’t help but feel sad. The amount of money and resources poured into this grandiose project fueled by the ambition, if not delusion, of one powerful man could have helped a lot of unfortunate people around the world.

Case Study 8: How Hertz Paid Accenture $32 Million for a Website That Never Went Live. It’s mind-blowing that Accenture couldn’t even deliver the responsive design and decent security features after receiving a lot of money from Hertz. I don’t know how complicated Hertz wanted their website and mobile application to be nor do I know how the office politics involved is. But based on the description of the requested elements, I have a feeling that a $2 million to a Vietnamese ads agency would get the job done.

U.S. Wind Energy Is (Finally) Venturing Offshore. “Capturing offshore wind in the U.S. has long been an uphill battle, with various stumbling blocks in the terrain. Objections from fisheries, skepticism from conservationists and tenuous support from tourism have all stalled development in the past decade. That is, until May of 2021, when the U.S. Department of the Interior approved construction of a sprawling wind facility several miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.”

Stats

In 2021, venture capitalists invested $14.8 billion into startups in Latin America. The nearly $15 billion was more than the previous six years of venture investment combined

Forests Now Cover 2% of Iceland, a 6-fold increase since the 1990s

Since 2012, the SEC has awarded $1.3 billion to 278 whistleblowers

63% of African American students in K-12 in San Francisco are chronically absent, compared to 46% Latinx, 20% White and 8.4% Asian

YouTube has 5,500 channels in the US with more than 1 million subscribers in 2021

Source: Sensor Tower

Weekly reading – 12th March 2022

What I wrote last week

Cuisine in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), Vietnam

Business

‘Batman’ and the Movie Pricing Predicament. A good article on AMC’s move to charge one more dollar to every ticket for the upcoming Batman movie. Yield management by theaters often involves higher ticket prices in the evening or on Fridays and weekends. Charging more for a specific movie is rare. I look forward to seeing how this will benefit or harm the theaters.

Metaverse is all…hype? Google introduced Google Glass years ago. Today, you’ll have the same odds of seeing that Glass on the streets as finding Nokia’s iconic flip phones. I don’t know what these tech visionaries see, but I won’t bet my money on seeing metaverse or whatever the hell it is in the next 10 years.

Moving money internationally. A fantastic read on SWIFT.

Visa, Mastercard Prepare to Raise Credit-Card Fees. Visa and Mastercard are going to charge higher interchange fees to big merchants while lowering the fees for small merchants whose annual revenue is less than $250,000. Visa said merchants could avoid paying more by offering more transaction data and using its tokenization services. I look forward to seeing how this increase will harm consumers as merchants are likely to pass on the higher expense. It’s no wonder why lawmakers want to look into this sort of duopoly enjoyed by Visa and Mastercard. They simply have too much power

The Three Sides of Risk. “You realize that the tail-end consequences – the low-probability, high-impact events – are all that matter. In investing, the average consequences of risk make up most of the daily news headlines. But the tail-end consequences of risk – like pandemics, and depressions – are what make the pages of history books. They’re all that matter. They’re all you should focus on. Once you experience it, you’ll never think otherwise.”

Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. The Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem. “Nearly 18 million Americans were defrauded through scams involving digital wallets and person-to-person payment apps in 2020, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, an industry consultant. When swindled customers, already upset to find themselves on the hook, search for other means of redress, many are enraged to find out that Zelle is owned and operated by banks. Banks say they take fraud seriously and are constantly making adjustments to improve security. But police reports and dispatches from industry analysts make it clear that the network has become a preferred tool for grifters like romance scammers, cryptocurrency con artists and those who prowl social media sites advertising concert tickets and purebred puppies — only to disappear with buyers’ cash after they pay.”

Why Commercials Are Coming to the Biggest Streamers. A good piece on streamers weighing on offering ads.

Other stuff I find interesting

Unleash collaboration with new experiences in Google Workspace. The new features look very sweet. If you are a Google Drive/Docs/Workspace user, check this out!

How U.S. Visa Delays Are Taking a Costly Toll on Frustrated Workers. I can tell you from personal experience that these delays add unnecessary stress to immigrants’ life. My colleague’s PERM application in 2019 took 52 days to get adjudicated. Mine is expected to take 6-8 months.

The story of how Swahili became Africa’s most spoken language. “During the decades leading up to the independence of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in the early 1960s, Swahili functioned as an international means of political collaboration. It enabled freedom fighters throughout the region to communicate their common aspirations even though their native languages varied widely. Swahili lacks the numbers of speakers, the wealth, and the political power associated with global languages such as Mandarin, English or Spanish. But Swahili appears to be the only language boasting more than 200 million speakers that has more second-language speakers than native ones.”

The Magic of the Japanese Convenience Store Sandwich

Stats

Hertz had more than 3,300 cars stolen each year

“Just one pint of beer or average glass of wine a day may begin to shrink the overall volume of the brain”

Solar power and batteries account for 60% of planned new U.S. electric generation capacity

US merchants paid more than $55 billion in interchange fees to Visa and Mastercard in 2021

Tap-to-pay penetration in the US as of March 2022 is 20%, according to Visa (from KBW Fintech Payments Conference)

Weekly readings – 20th June 2020

What I wrote

I wrote about the new partnership between Walmart and Shopify

Arguably the hottest topic in tech this week is the saga between Apple and Hey

I also talked a bit about Verisign, a company that makes most of the Internet work properly

If you are interested in Quick-Service-Restaurant franchise, I wrote about operating margin that can be expected by a franchisee

A couple of quick tutorials on SQL and rolling average in Power BI

Business

If You Want Hertz, Have Some Hertz

How Robinhood Convinced Millennials to Trade Their Way Through a Pandemic. Robinhood now has 10+ million users and has become a phenomenon lately

The Observer Effect’s interview with Marc Andreessen

Stemming from the interview above, I found Marc’s previous post on productivity hack

A great post on Structured Procrastination

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

Source: Structured Procrastination

The Risk of Outsourced Thinking

Google and HTTP

The Case for ARM-Based Macs

Amazon asks court to block former AWS marketing VP from working on Google Cloud Next speeches

How Large Is the Apple App Store Ecosystem?

Other stuff

The Death of Engagement. A good read on America’s foreign policy with China over the last administrations

A collection of free books from Springer

In Japan and France, Riding Transit Looks Surprisingly Safe

Architects have designed a Martian city for the desert outside Dubai