These Six Companies May Well Change the World. We Should All Be Rooting For Them

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For their second act, the founders of “Total NewCos” are reaching for far more than a payday.


You had a good idea, and you started a company around it. You hired a strong team, nearly killed yourself for years, and despite numerous failures along the way, you made it work. And now you find yourself at the receiving end of our nation’s most fabled business narrative: Your company has been acquired for a princely sum, and you’re wealthy enough to retire.

Now what?

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NewCo Five — Universal Basic Income

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The NewCo Five collects the five most important stories for the NewCo economy that our editors found over the past seven days


1. Universal basic income may seem unrealistic and unaffordable. They said that about Social Security and Medicare, too (James Surowiecki, The New Yorker)

2. How do you get Rupert Murdoch to acknowledge climate change? Pay him (Paul Farhi, Washington Post)

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Where Did the Productivity Go? Five Theories.

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After my last post on how you can blame Silicon Valley for Donald Trump, I got a lot of questions as to why productivity is stagnating. Stagnating productivity leads to people being angry with their economic well being and turning to easy sounding solutions spouted by Mr Trump. Silicon Valley is the self proclaimed world capital of innovation, but as of yet none of the Bay Area break throughs is accelerating the sluggish productivity growth.

But why? How is it possible that giving everybody in the world access to all the information in the world doesn’t show up in economic statistics? Here are five theories.

Good things will come to those who wait

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What’s New at NewCo Shift

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June 6, 2016


Hello, NewCo Shift readers. Thanks so much for reading. I’d like to share with you some of my favorites on our site right now:

Scott Rosenberg has a terrific piece on The Idea That’s Killing Mission-Driven Companies. If profit isn’t your only goal, congratulations. You’re now at odds with neoliberalism, the economic consensus of the last three decades (Lady Thatcher, above, was a severe proponent). Rosenberg dives deep into this much-cited but little-understood economic philosophy and shows what NewCos can do about it.

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The NewCo Five — Rapacious Capitalism FTL!

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Each week NewCo Shift selects the top five stories you can’t miss.

Harare, Zimbabwe

1.Rapacious 20th century capitalism is thriving in the developing world (Michael Hobbes, Foreign Policy)

2. Maybe it’s time for a new map of the United States (Parag Khanna, New York Times)

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The NewCo Five

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Each week NewCo Shift selects the top five stories you can’t miss.

1. Move Along, People. The Singularity Is Not Coming Any Time Soon. (John Markoff, New York Times)

2. Thanks To His Offshore Investments, Might David Cameron Be the New Warren Buffett? (Jason Karaian, Quartz)

3. Hey Zuckulus! What Are You Doing With All That User Data? (Sen. Al Franken)

4. Crowdfunding Gets Companies More Than Money: It Garners Powerful New Feedback Too (Michael A. Stanko and David H. Henard, MIT Sloan Management Review)

5. Top Sharing Economies Are About to Become Profitable. The Taxman Isn’t Ready (David Kocieniewski, Businessweek)

The NewCo Five

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Each week NewCo Shift selects the top five stories you can’t miss.

1. Want your business to have an effect on public policy? Lobbying isn’t enough. (Ben W. Heineman, Jr., Harvard Business Review)

2. How Snapchat leveraged disappearing sexts to create the ultimate Trojan Horse. (Ben Thompson, Stratechery)

3. When outsourcing to maximize shareholder value makes no sense (Tim O’Reilly, WTF)

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Growing Up Is Hard To Do

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The business story of the decade is one of insurgency: Every sector of our economy has spawned a cohort of software-driven companies “moving fast and breaking things,” “asking for forgiveness, not permission,” and “blitzscaling” their way to “eating the world.” For years we’ve collectively marveled as new kinds of companies have stormed traditional markets, garnering winner-take-all valuations and delivering extraordinary growth in customers, top line revenue, and private valuations.

Image: Facebook

But what happens when the insurgents hit headwinds? In the past year or so, we’ve begun to find out. The unicorn class has had its collective mane shorn. A quick spin through the “unicorn leaderboard” finds a cohort strewn with cautionary tales: Uber’s under continual attack by regulators and increasingly well funded competitors. Square and Box, both of which managed tepid public debuts, have consistently traded below their private valuations. Turn, SnapChat, Dropbox, and many others have been marked down by their largest investors. And of course, there’s the cautionary tale of Zenefits.

While this news has evinced a whiff of schadenfreude throughout the tech press, I think the reckoning is more fundamental in nature. The hardest part of running a company, it turns out, is actually running a company. Put another way: Growth can be bought, but growing up has to be earned.

Take Uber, for example. Once a poster child for a culture of “ask for forgiveness, not permission,” Uber is now taking a more traditional approach to new markets, meeting (and working with) local regulators, hiring seasoned pros, and learning how to play politics just like any other big company. It even gave itself a new grownup “haircut.”

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