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Dear avid readers,

The facebook era is over. The same viral loop that led to the network's growth is now slowly turning the other way towards its unwinding, writes Gina Bianchini. As the platform's level of attractiveness goes down, people are now choosing various other services to obtain what they used to obtain from facebook before: private messaging platforms, vertical social networks and subscription content, highly curated podcasts and email newsletters.

It has been a month since the last digest. During this time I travelled to London for a few days -- we've lived there for almost two years (moving there right before Brexit), before relocating a year ago to Geneva. I was expecting a bit more of a nostalgia kick-in during the trip, but it didn't happen. Thirty minutes during rush-hour in Central Line Tube was a good reminder of why I didn't really enjoy it there. 

Then last week we travelled to Romania where we spent 48 hours in Bucharest. Susanne Fowler has a great account of things you could do if you're ever in Bucharest for a short trip. Needless to say, as we've travelled with an 8-month old baby, our trip was very much different :-) I did bring this gem from there, though: see how the future of (micro-)mobility was envisaged by Romania in 1974, courtesy of BBC Archives. 

This week I will be in Vienna, attending the 10th Global Drucker Forum, built this year around the human dimension of management and by extent, the societal responsibility of companies. Despite Clayton Christensen dropping from the speakers list at the last minute, I am still very much excited about the speakers line-up, among them: Rita Gunther McGrath, Mariana Mazzucato, Philip Kotler, Henry Mintzberg, Nicolas Colin, Martin Wolf, John Hagel (whose recent blog post Mindset and Heartset I enjoyed) and many others. 

I would have loved to see Esko Kilpi there as well, since his last two blogs are going straight to the heart of the conference's topic: the case for adapting the job market to fit humans (and not the other way around), and the case of why it does not make sense any more to talk about individual competences or skill levels in the job market, but about relationships and interactions developing in small inter-connected networks. Stowe Boyd's evolution of platform organizations would have been another good fit.

I plan the next edition of this digest as a coverage of the Drucker Forum, so slightly a different format.

Until then, on to the most important readings from the past month across strategy, business models, policy and entrepreneurial ecosystems (built on urban agglomeration). 

Read Later

Strategy and Business Models in the Digital Age

History of tech and the next 20 years

📚 A Super Fast Overview and History of Tech VC - Great three-part series post from Michael Ramos-Lynch and Neil Devani covering the history and evolution of the venture capital industry across various tech paradigms, from the birth of the industry under Georges Dariot, to the dotcom era and the subsequent crash, followed by the post-dotcom refractory period, the rise of the information highway, then the cleantech bubble, to the proliferation of accelerators and the smartphone takeover. This is an absolutely fascinating read, do make time for it (and part 2 and part 3).

📚 50 Years In Tech. Part 1 – 10 - Jean-Louis Gassée published a great episode series of short-articles covering some lessons from his 50 years spent in the tech industry: when HP Led Desktop and Mobile Computing; Why HP fell; The Data General Shock; The Exxon Delusion; Starting Apple France; Different Apple Distribution Game; A Resonant Apple France Message; Almost Illicit Fun; Mac Hopes And Troubles; Hard Landing In Cupertino. Steve Jobs Fired. To be continued. Make sure to follow.

📊 The end of the beginning - If we covered the history of tech, then Benedict Evan’s yearly presentation on the state of tech takes us forward, analysing addressable market opportunity for tech-enabled business models over the next 20 years (full stack, high touch goods, high penetration and capital, information businesses). Well articulated, much recommended.  

📝 Predicting a Technology’s Commercial Success - Rodney Brooks in this beautiful essay points out features that tend to make a technology easy or hard to bring to market, and they are mainly around experience – the difference between the possible and the practical can only be discovered by trying things out (spanning from technologies deployed on top of existing ones, hence not much change in required experience is necessary, to technologies based on completely new ideas, to ones that will encounter more obstacles than usually predicted, to technologies based on other smaller components which are easy to grasp with on their own, but very hard when combined all together).

🤷 Why Bain Capital Made A $2 Billion Bet On Old Technology – Sometimes, replacing older technologies with newer ones takes much longer in the economic markets than people predict. Such a technology whose demise has been greatly exaggerated is the mainframe – and Bain Capital is making on $2 billion bet that there is still enough profit to be made out of it from software that runs on top of these ultra-powerful computers (apps that make mainframe programs accessible to non-experts on personal computers, tablets and smartphones). Banks and larger financial institutions, for example, still make up a good chunk of mainframe’s customer base.

What's next for marketplace startups?

🖧  Reinventing the $10 trillion service economy, that’s what – Li Jin and Andrew Chen make a strong case on why there is still a big road ahead of marketplace business models, which have evolved through 4 stages so far (see below). Particularly, while marketplaces have reinvented the goods economy, it is now ripe for reinventing the services economy, including regulated markets. The services market is primarily an offline market – due to the complexity and diversity of services and the interactions behind them, limited budgets for implementing an online strategy. The critical potential for the services marketplaces lies in tackling the regulated industries. Regulation of services was critical pre-internet, since it served to signify a certain level of skill or knowledge required to perform a job. But digital platforms mitigate the need for licensing by exposing relevant information about providers and by establishing trust through reviews, managed models, guarantees, platform requirements, and other mechanisms, write Li and Andrew. Unlocking these industries can be approached via five strategies: Making discovery of licensed providers easier; Hiring and managing existing providers to maintain quality; Expanding or augmenting the licensed supply pool; Utilizing unlicensed supply; Automation and AI.

Image source: Andrew Chen a16z

⚕️ Business Model Innovation in Healthcare - Excellent post from Naomi Shah covering the emerging business model innovation happening in (the U.S.) healthcare. Un-bundling of healthcare is now happening at two main levels, driving down costs through technology: 1) change of infrastructure (who pays, when they pay, how they pay) with four novel models of care emerging: direct to consumer, direct to employer, value-based, and group cost-sharing for catastrophic events; 2/ change of venue (from in person to online) with models emerging such as virtual primary care, pop-up clinics.

🖧 Mapping the B2B Marketplaces - Julia Morrongiello’s view is that the next stage for marketplace business models is the shift to B2B Marketplaces. The next generation of billion-dollar marketplaces will be increasingly focused around on serving businesses, as opposed to end-consumers, in industries that suffer from low transparency and complex supply chains and are dependent on inefficient intermediaries to facilitate transactions. She has created a B2B Marketplace Landscape across industries such as logistics, heavy industry, agriculture, machinery.

🖧 Adopting Platform-Ecosystem thinking in your Organization: The 3 Phases - Of course, this implies that also incumbent companies acting across these industries could, in theory, try to disrupt themselves and adopt platform-ecosystem organisation models. Simone Cicero (with help from Ron Kersic, Adriana Lakatosova, Pascal W.R. Hazeleger) covers the three phases required to make this shift, in detail: refusal; excitement; awareness of interconnectedness. Good read!

The power shift from inside to the outside

♺  Subscription Models Can Inspire Innovation in Stagnant Industries – Serenity Gibbons writes that businesses should take a step back to develop a comprehensive model that puts the customer at the center and enables innovation to develop around him – and this model is found in the subscription-based business model. This is because the subscription model metrics are designed to keep a close tab on customer churn and the factors influencing it - immediately identify problems and pinpoint possible adjustments or solutions. And as Serenity writes, there is virtually no limit to the diversity of industries the model can be applied to – by designing a model that makes the company self-aware, failure become much less likely. Companies like Zuora are actively enabling through tech and services this shift.

🤹The Experience Economy – this shift from product-centric companies to customer-centric companies is also embodied by SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics. The acquisition seems strategically sound, writes Ben Thompson, and it signals that SAP is understanding that power is shifting from inside the organisation, to the outside of the organisation. As per Nicolas Colin, the multitude (networked users) now controls the value chain. James Allworth also writes about this acquisition, as it points the fact that just as SAP took birth as a management accounting system aiming to offer insight into the efficiency of operations, so does the combined offering will result in a system that enables companies to truly execute on their core mission  — which is not about making money. It’s about serving their customers.

The shift from physical to online... and vice-versa

💻 Bringing Up Baby’s Market Share at J&J - More and more industrial-age companies are in the midst of transitioning their business model to the internet. Johnson Baby is on a quest to regain its baby-care perch and embrace the change required to take on the new D2C competitors, and so it has come to the realisation that it is missing big e-commerce – and must get better, fast, at marketing and selling its products online, an area in which the company has lagged behind. It seems that by focusing too much on streamlining manufacturing, it completely ignored the customer (new parents seeking products with natural ingredients online and other recommendations from social network parenting groups).

🏪 How (and why) D2C brands are moving into physical retail —  While industrial-age companies are struggling to move their business model online (or at least fake it), it seems that the opposite flow is also happening: almost every D2C brand starts exclusively online. However, a number of now more established D2C brands make a move that may seem backward — opening brick-and-mortar stores, write Justine and Olivia Moore. Physical stores are becoming a key point of differentiation and are tied to higher performance at most internet D2C startups – a place where they can offer experiences and products that cannot be offered online.

Even Apple’s strategy for the future seems to revolve around its retail, physical stores – by creating a narrative where unit sales (owning an Apple device) unlock in reality a bigger door to value: an ongoing relationship with Apple, as per Ben Thompson. Using its retail presence, Apple is creating a social network in the real world, where customers will continue to pay for devices to gain access. And now Amazon is mailing printed holiday toy catalogues to millions of customers, further mimicking traditional retailers.

🌟 Superstars 🌟  Beware the fall. Strategy or execution?

⭐  The dynamics of firms, sectors, and cities leading the global economy – McKinsey has a new great research piece out, co-authored by James Manyika, Sree Ramaswamy, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Michael Birshan, and Zubin Nagpal, on the impact of concentration of economic success into the hands of a few firms, sectors and cities – they are dubbed superstars.
  • the top 10 percent of firms capturing 80 percent of economic profit among companies with annual revenues greater than $1 billion. The middle 80 percent of firms record near-zero economic profit in aggregate, while the bottom 10 percent destroys as much value as the top 10 percent creates. Over the years, this gap has widened.
  • They also identify fifty cities that are superstars... they account for 8 percent of global population, 21 percent of world GDP, 37 percent of urban high-income households, and 45 percent of headquarters of firms with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. The growth of superstar cities is fuelled by gains in labour income and wealth from real estate and investor income, yet many show higher rates of income inequality within the cities than peers.
The rising advantage of superstar firms, sectors and cities raises questions of what are the best practices and policies to create them, but also how they can be used so that they are more broadly disseminated across the rest of the economy.

Image source: McKinsey

🌠 The GE End Game – Not so long ago, General Electric was the embodiment of a superstar firm, led by a superstar CEO. Things have changed. Aswath Damodaran writes a light case-study on the conglomerate’s history and its potential faith in the near-term, as it has most probably reached its declining stage. He envisions three possible routes: break it up and sell by pieces; retrench and reshape into a growth company; reincarnate by trying to recapture its old glory. Aswath’s lessons from GE is that industrial-age conglomerates are a bad idea as we’re entering a new paradigm, complexity always has a cost, easy money like GE Capital always has a catch, and there is no such thing as saviour CEOs.

🌠 IBM’s Old Playbook – Ben Thompson article on the strategy of IBM - forming a point of integration and extracting profits from the emerging technologies underlying the Internet, which were fragmented, open and commoditized – by taking care of everything, they locked customers in, allowing it to grow and become fat and lazy. By acquiring Red Hat, IBM is admitting that its public cloud efforts are effectively dead (and can finally stop faking it), and it argues that in the current environment, where the reduction of cloud computing to three centralized providers makes businesses reluctant to commit to any one of them, IBM can again provide the bespoke solution, combining with Red Hat to build products that will seamlessly bridge private data centers and all of the public clouds, writes Ben. In a way, re-enacting the “never get fired for buying IBM” for the cloud computing era.

📅 Strategic Planning Is Dead. Here Are Two New Ways To Face The Future - William Vanderbloemen argues that the multi-year corporate strategic plan (3-year, 5-year, and 10-year) is dead and is being replaced. The reason for its demise is that technology makes everything move much faster, making various business areas to be in constant flux in the decision-making process, and this required agility and flexibility. Also, the current labour market is much more dynamic, he argues, and it is virtually impossible to hold on to employees for long periods of time required to create and execute on the multi-year strategic plan. Instead, he argues, the strategic plans are now no longer than 3 to 6 months, and the focus is shifted to culture and teams as actors of independent decision-making (n.b. I tend to agree with the shortening of the strategic plan to months – basically anywhere between 3 to 12 months), but I also favour longer-term strategic plans like 10 years. John Hagel’s zoom-in, zoom-out approach).

The Fear of Disruption Can Be More Damaging than Actual Disruption – Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi somehow make the opposite case: resist the urge to react too hastily to change — or to use it as an excuse not to take action. Focus instead on making the fundamental strategic choices necessary to strengthen the business – because, more often than not, fear of disruption is exaggerated. The pace of disruption — the time it takes to appear and have impact — is generally much slower than the conventional wisdom may suggest, and thus easier to deal with, their study finds. And when it does happen, it is because the company was already vulnerable in some fundamental way – and this can only be prevented through strategic planning.

SaaStars - Blockchain is coming

💰  #SaaS: A landscape of the growing number of alternatives to VC funding - SaaS business models are in the middle of replacing incumbent software companies (on premise, licence based). Clement Vouillon covers interesting new startups providing services aimed at offering alternative finance methods to SaaS companies  - besides VC Funding, that is – and he classifies them into 1) alternative ways to finance a SaaS company before product/market fit - accelerators for bootstrapped businesses and “profitable compatible” angel investing; 2) ways to finance after product/market fit – equity and revenue distribution, debt; and 3) exit/acquisition.

🥪 Why crypto networks will eat the SaaS industry - Louis Aboud-Hogben builds a case on why distributed-software systems through crypto-networks could replace the SaaS industry, just like the SaaS industry replaced the incumbent on-premise licence based software industry (the shift which resulted in software consumers paying more to vendors over time for a similar product). The SaaS shift was a price arbitrage enabled by the increased scale and purchasing power of a software vendor versus an individual software consumer, however, like most price arbitrages, the excess returns diminish over time argues Louis. Crypto-assets have the potential to solidify the connection between value creation and value capture better than the traditional profit model, which suffers from constant margin decay and diminishing returns – hence why self-incentivized, decentralized software systems as having the requisite structural advantages over SaaS needed to catalyze the next cycle of value creation and destruction (provides indirect compensation to software developers; facilitates the compensation of network participants who provide services; ensure good behaviour).

⛓️ Is Blockchain Really Over? - Gigi Levy-Weiss backs Louis' view above and argues that the  decentralized apps (dApps) that are starting to come out of the various blockchain deployments should be paid attention to. And contrary to popular belief, these distributed software applications are not consumer-only, but also enterprise and government serving as well. In Gigi’s view, the confluence of six trends should make us bullish on the future of distributed software applications: 1/ better use cases and UX; 2/ increasing resources and talent; 3/ rise of private blockchains; 4/ normalized funding; 5/ maturing blockchain ecosystem; 6/ friendlier regulation.

Growth - metrics and stories

📈  The red flags and magic numbers that investors look for in your startup’s metrics – 80 slide deck included!  - By following this link, you will be able to great a great slide-deck from Andrew Chen on growth metrics that he likes on look at when assessing the health of fast-growing organisations. The metrics are mainly devised to better measure the quality of the customer acquisition loops (user generated content, SEO, paid marketing, viral) and engagement loops (personalized content, social feedback). Definitely recommend to save this resource.

📈 Growth Story: How Canva acquired 10 million users within 5 years – interesting case-study from Canva’s growth, acquiring 10 million users in 5 years, avoiding paid marketing and instead relying on 4 main strategies: user feedback loop; word of mouth; influencer advocacy; good content.

📈 How Square Became a $30 Billion Company by Reimagining Payments – also, excellent case study from Hiten Shah on Square’s growth story, creating an ecosystem of financial services, merchant solutions, marketing and engagement services.
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Policy, Techies and Misdemeanours


Myth busting  

💰 Do the Rich Capture All the Gains from Economic Growth? – Russ Roberts does some pragmatic myth busting, particularly the one where the economic gains of the past 40 years or so did not cascade to the average person. As per Russ analysis, it is not necessarily correct to assume that the middle class and the poor are stagnating (while the rich get the goodies), since there may be many flaws in the way data is analysed (use measures of prices that mis-measure inflation; leave out important components of compensation such as fringe benefits; include the elderly which lowers measured progress because the elderly are an increasing share of the population and they are less likely to be working full-time; ignore the fall in marriage and the increase in divorce). His biggest issue is however that the studies they rarely follow the same people to see how they do over time, and instead, they rely on a snapshot at two points in time (median income quintile in 1975 vs. median income quintile in 2014 – if no change, conclusion is no progress for average American) – but these people are not the same people, so it cannot truly capture economic mobility. Russ argues that from this vantage point, the children from the poorest families actually added more to their income than children from the richest families – hence the pessimism is exaggerated.

🚕 Myths of the gig-economy, corrected – David Jolley looks at the gig-economy (either full-time or part-time work) and dispels a few myths: 1/ millennials love to do gig-work (not so much, the percentage of millennials with full-time proper careers is rising abruptly since they pretty much want steady jobs with a clear advancement track and benefits such as health insurance and paid time off); 2/ we are all going to be giggers (only about 10% of workers rely on gig arrangements for their full-time jobs, less than 1% of workers used online platforms to arrange part-time work in the past month); 3/ gig is better for companies – most companies are still committed to full-time employments for what it offers: loyalty, retained knowledge, institutional memory, stealing top talent from the competition; 4/ gig work is unfulfilling – not true, still debatable.

👩‍💻 Freelancing in America – More on this subject, Upwork’s annual study on the freelancer market in the U.S. is a good read. Lots of stats.

On anti-trust
🎓 Readings on policy matters from Thibault Schrepel (mainly antitrust) – I found Thibault via twitter and apparently he puts together every month a list of links with reading material he enjoys, mainly related to policy dealings with innovation in high-tech markets. Here are the links of October and make sure you follow.

👩‍⚖️ Why the FTC Should Focus on Labor Monopsony – To Thibault’s articles above, I add two more. First, the case made by Eric Posner that anti-trust regulators should focus equally on the abuse of product market power and the abuse of labour market power. Since many labour markets are now very concentrated (much more than product markets), wage suppression is a much more significant issue than price inflation.

👩‍⚖️ Competitive Edge: Protecting the “competitive process”— writing on the evolution of antitrust enforcement in the US, Jonathan Sallet reminds us that the influence of the Chicago School (anti-trust should focus on short-term price effects; monopoly power will inevitably be disturbed by future competition) has been extremely significant. But now growing pressure asks that anti-trust regulators drop the consumer-welfare approach, because it leads to increased market concentration in the U.S. economy, and to broaden it beyond the consumer welfare standard to account for trading parties other than final consumers. Anti-trust regulators should be protecting a competitive process that actually rewards firms with better products.

It’s Time for Tech Workers to Get Political
✊ Tyler Elliot Bettilyon makes a case that it is time for tech workers to stand up for their values and display some corporate activism: by writing and signing open letters, threatening to quit, and making demands, the highly valued technology workforce can flex its muscles and push big organizations to change. If workers want to see holistic change and serious commitment to ethical behaviour, they need to do more than single-issue ad hoc organizing. They need to form organizations that span more than a single company, writes Tyler. And they need to do so before their power gets devalued (by deployment of capital to remove scarcity of their skill) – else, if programmers wait too long to stand up, they might just join the huddled masses of the gig economy instead.

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(Healthy) Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Superstar cities and urban agglomeration

There is a growing concern about how successful entrepreneurial ecosystems lead to urban agglomeration, driven in general by sector agglomeration (mainly tech, finance) - which does not benefit or please all the settlers of that particular ecosystem (city), and also create new problems for policymakers and politicians. 

Just last week I finished Paul Collier's book, The Future of Capitalism, in which he dedicates a big section to the growing divergence between loser-cities and superstar cities - and the implications this has on people that are left behind, with no means of geographical mobility to chase better opportunity. One interest concept in the book was what he proposes, as a policy measure to combat the negative externalities of urban agglomeration, is, besides taxing landlords (who obviously extract economic rents from agglomeration) to tax the workers who are being attracted to these mega-cities, and because they are hunters (highly skilled, high earners, low housing needs, usually singe, flexible) they are able to extract economic rents generated by the agglomeration, which far exceeds their contribution (as opposed to settler workers, families with bigger housing needs, who despite being skilled and high earning households, their budget it eaten up entirely by the agglomeration effects). He is making a pragmatic, centrist case that by taxing economic-hunters more, the benefits of urban agglomeration can be better distributed across the rest of the cities within a nation-state. 

Image source: McKinsey

🇬🇧 How London became the center of the world - Beautiful visual essay from Laura Parker covering the impact over London of thirty decades of growth. London is bigger and richer than ever, with more than 8.8 million residents—and is on track to add two million more by 2050. Massive investment projects are underway to scale and sustain all this growth. Last fall, Google broke ground on an 11-story “landscraper” that will stretch for 1,000 feet, with room for about 7,000 employees. Facebook plans to move in next door in an expanded office for 6,000. In the same time, London’s prosperity arrived with the usual set of urban headaches, and as they have worsened, many wonder whether their great city is losing its allure. Traffic is terrible. Air pollution is blamed for a marked increase in asthma deaths in children and the elderly. Rising land values have pushed housing prices beyond the reach of average Londoners, forcing even well-paid professionals to pack up the kids and move out in search of affordable places where a family can live.

🍁 The City That Had Too Much Money - Vancouver was the first place to experience the tidal wave of Chinese cash. Now the city is leading efforts to stop it, write Matthew Campbell and Natalie Obiko Pearson. Vancouver is a product of one of the largest financial flows of the 21st century, and has suffered a dramatic economic, demographic, and physical transformation. Now policymakers there are busy trying to restrain the arrival of Chinese money. The province is hiking taxes, toughening transparency rules, and tightening oversight of casinos and financial institutions. Now, Vancouver’s economic fundamentals can’t justify the cost of its housing, being highly reliant on a few industries, mainly real estate and banking. Vancouver tries to diversify its economy now, but it keeps running into the same problem: rents are too high to attract startups. And the more that land prices have crowded out other industries, the more the economy has leaned on real estate — a vicious cycle with no obvious exit.

💰 Chinese investment in Europe is increasing - now, Europe is starting to worry about the power and influence China is gaining through its growing investments in the region, and political leaders' efforts to curb this investment are barely keeping up with the rate at which the cash is flowing in.

🇩🇪 Over in Berlin, the idea that the city is a cheap place to relocate and/or launch startups anymore, is now only a myth, dispelled by Hugo Amsellem. Recently, Google had to abandon plans of opening a large campus in the city, after locals protested in a bid to defend themselves against rent hikes.

🇺🇸 America’s Homelessness Crisis Is Deepening - Over in the U.S., Laura Tyson and Lenny Mendonca write about US's West Coast problem with skyrocketing homelessness levels. From Seattle to the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, tech workers earning six-figure salaries are dodging tent cities (temporary housing facility made using tents, usually by homeless people) to get to work, and state and city governments are under increasing pressure to respond. California, accounts for 12% of the US population but 25% of its homeless, so this issue has moved to the top f the political agenda. In Seattle, with the third-largest homeless population among US cities, a per-employee tax on large companies was soon repealed under intense business pressure.

🇺🇸 Boston Lost 15,000 Middle-Income Households Over 25 Years - Over to the East side, Benjamin Swasey covers Boston's problem where the middle class is being squeezed out due to high living costs. From 1990 to 2014, the number of high-income households in Boston jumped by 43,000 (reflecting Boston's addition of higher-wage jobs, like in health care and informational technology sectors) and the number of low-income households increased by 30,000, but the tally of households at the middle of the income distribution fell by 15,000. As demand to live in Boston dramatically outpaces the production of new housing, higher-income households are the only ones equipped to stay and pay market rates. 

🇺🇸 The great family exodus - American cities are becoming more and more unfriendly to families, and new parents are fleeing for the exurbs, where housing is more affordable and public schools are better, writes Steve LeVine. We're seeing declining birth rates in the most extreme form in cities. It's a window into a larger demographic trend where kids are few and far between, and the high cost of living makes it hard for young parents to pay for the housing and living expenses of young children of school age so they move elsewhere. The result: Cities are barbells, with young, affluent and single people on one end and wealthy empty-nesters on the other.

 🇮🇳 So, will future megacities be a marvel or a mess? Look at New Delhi, tells us Jill Ward in a long essay. 

Image from Matt Daniels' Human Terrain Project - visualise the world population in 3D

🗽 New York is on its path to become a real tech hub. As per Matt Turck on Twitter:
"Crazy to think about the long-term impact on the NYC startup ecosystem of 12,000 new Google workers + 25,000 new Amazon tech workers... almost bottomless pools of talent for New York startups in the next 5-10 years."

Yes, amazon decided to split its HQ2 across two locations: New York City and Arlington, Virginia, close to Washington D.C. It will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new locations (25,000 each). This is in return of $1.5 billion incentives Amazon will receive from New York taxpayer's money, and $573 million from Arlington's.

Of curse, backlash came: 
 ✊ Nick Kolakowski on why Amazon coming to Long Island, NY could be a disaster (lack of infrastructure, further overcrowding shooting up rents for everyone, including small businesses).

✊ Emily Badger on how this move only gives even further advantage for already superstar cities NY and Washington, leaving the rest of the country behind. Cities that already have wealth, opportunity, highly educated workers and high salaries will just keep attracting more of the tech companies. In hindsight, thinking that HQ2 could have gone to the Midwest seems naïve. Between 2010 and 2017, nearly half of the country’s total employment growth occurred in just 20 large metro areas (places that are home to about a third of the population). The Washington and New York regions alone accounted for about half of the net increase in business establishments across the country between 2007 and 2016

✊ David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of Basecamp, wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos claiming that the selection process was a mockery to disadvantaged cities across the country. And rather than keep asking what cities and countries can do for Amazon, maybe start asking what Amazon can do for them. Because, at some point, people are going to have had enough, and when they figure out a way to channel that discontent into political action.

✊ And protests from the population and journalists, covered by Minda Zetlind. 

✊ A lot has been written about Amazon choosing Washington for its half-HQ2 in order to increase its lobbying power in preparations for anti-trust clampdown (being closer to politicians in DC who hold the power). But Catherine Boyle argues that, in reality, there is already a power shift from Washington to Silicon Valley.

But ultimately, cities are about ambition!
As Paul Graham wrote in 2008, great cities attract great people and send ambitious messages. 

And, as per Fred Wilson, we should not underestimate the virtuous circle of economic development, applicable to cities. You invest, you grow, you produce economic returns, you invest, you grow. And neither we should underestimate the power of tech to dramatically reduce household costs (and not just increase them via housing). Ultimately, this is what healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems should do: bring consumer surplus to all sectors and make more room in the household budget.

And we should not underestimate the power of developing housing stock and business models tuned to the idea of co-living, as a solution to urban agglomeration, writes Simon Schmincke of Creandum

There's still more work to be done.
Read Later

One more essay for the long commute

🍴 Tom Standage's essay on how the history of fork-adoption, spread over five centuries before it reached mass adoption, can teach us a few things about general trajectories of technological adoption.

Top 10 articles I recommend which were featured in this digest:

1. Stowe Boyd - Evolution of platform organization - October 2018
2. Michael Ramos-Lynch and Neil Devani - A Super Fast Overview and History of Tech VC
 - September 2018
3. Benedict Evans - The End of The Beginning - November 2018
4. Li Jin and Andrew Chen - What's next for marketplace startups - November 2018
5. Simone Cicero - Adopting Platform-Ecosystem thinking in your Organization
 - November 2018
6. Ben Thompson - The Experience Economy - November 2018
7. Aswath Damodaran - The GE End Game - November 2018
8. Louis Aboud-Hogben Why crypto networks will eat the SaaS industry
 November 2018
9. Andrew Chen
 The red flags and magic numbers that investors look for in your startup’s metrics – 80 slide deck included! - November 2018
10. Esko Kilpi - We need to shift our focus from competencies to agency
 - November 2018

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     My name is Dan Colceriu and I hope this reading was rewarding. Any opinions expressed here do not represent financial or investment advice. Also, they represent my personal view, and not my employer's, which is in no way associated with this email. 
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2018 a p e r t u r e, 

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