This week in the NewCo Daily, we’re starting something different. We’re committed to publishing detailed stories of business and positive change at stories.newco.co, and we’ll let you know about them as we do. In the Daily, we’re aiming to do what many of our favorite newsletters do best: share a curated view of the last 24 hours with our own unique, NewCo point of view. We’re eager to find out what you think, especially in the coming days as we figure out how to make the new format work best for you.
Medium Might Not Be the Right Size for Everyone
How do you know when your platform is succeeding? When people use it to go on about what’s wrong with your platform. Facebook and Twitter host countless complaints about their services. Now it’s Medium’s turn. What I’ve Learned From Medium 2 Months In — It Isn’t Good and Why I’m Leaving Medium are exemplars of the sound-more-outrageous-than-you-really-are form and the headline on this is so great that you must click on this link and reward the author. It’s a terrific example of the sort of parody posts Medium is now provoking. Maybe complaints about your service on your service will be the new KPI. (Disclosure: We publish on Medium, of course.)
“Eating the World” Is Eating the World
“X is eating the world” is the business cliche of the moment, so it was surprising to not only find a strong piece of analysis under the headline Facebook Is Eating the World, but to find it at a publication like the Columbia Journalism Review — not exactly at the forefront of today’s business conversation (or journalism conversation, come to think of it). Author Emily Bell’s observation that “We are handing the controls of important parts of our public and private lives to a very small number of people, who are unelected and unaccountable” echoes the thoughts of Douglas Rushkoff, who we’ll get to shortly. Her essay is about journalism, but it’s applicable to many industries. And it’s not only Facebook that’s doing the eating. So are Airbnb, Uber, Google, Twitter, or any platform play that is becoming (or has become) a major channel for business value exchange, be it social, informational, or transactional. We want all to tilt toward the open … or does our behavior say otherwise?
Less Than Zero
Or maybe it’s the financial industry that’s eating the world, and it’s running out of table? Bill Gross, head of Janus Capital and former head of PIMCO, says in his latest outlook that the financialization of the economy has been very, very good for business — and it’s almost over. Gross’s wide-ranging letter goes on about helicopter drops of money and why the $100 bill shouldn’t go away. But his most trenchant argument is that negative interest rates (Wall Street Journal) are a sign that financialization may have run its course. Maybe an architect of the current economy has finally noticed that the building is starting to crumble. Now what? Gross’s letter is light on answers.
Rushkoff Loves Medium, Isn’t So Hot About Money
Speaking of money, Douglas Rushkoff wants to reimagine it. In an Atlantic excerpt from his Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, Rushkoff considers what markets based on trust rather than wealth might look like. Some of it has to do with creating digital scarcity (an issue roiling the Bitcoin community at present) and one could argue that he’s reimagining banks more than money. But Rushkoff is one of the tech community’s most consistent critics and his work bears consideration. And, in keeping with today’s theme of what’s happening on Medium, Rushkoff has pitched a tent there, poking holes in the sharing economy and writing a public mash note to the company’s CEO (pictured above).
Businesses Wide Open
Yesterday we noted Microsoft’s move away from proprietary and locked-in platforms. If you want to go deep on the move from closed to open, listen to a16z’s podcast interview with Industries of the Future author Alec Ross. And for a fascinating example about how companies are doing things in open in real-time, see how BuzzFeed is documenting its own reporting of an Uber story. Companies comfortable sharing their processes in public are the ones most likely to elicit confidence and create lasting change.
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Photo Credit: Christopher Michel