Mid Day Take: What I Read Today


Money Quote, Issue 1. Possibly a regular column. Or not.

My morning news reading is starting to stretch throughout the day. So here’s what I found worth reading before my day got started. May it help you be more efficient in your daily media consumption.


Read this. It really nails Zuck, and we’re going to be living with this guy for, well, pretty much the rest of our lives. Money quote: “Throughout the interview, he seems irritated that his actions could be viewed as anything other than expansive benevolence.”

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Can Business and New Federalism Save Our Cities?


Noted urbanist Richard Florida has some challenging ideas on the income inequality that is killing our nation’s cities.

Richard Florida (image)

Richard Florida is an academic, author, and leading voice on all things urban studies. His Rise of the Creative Class, first published in 2002, predicted a resurgence in city centers due to a new class of creative “knowledge workers.” His insights helped to catalyze scores of major city redevelopment efforts. Hailed as a far-reaching seer for predicting the tech and arts-driven boom in American cities, Florida’s work has recently been called into question for the unexpected consequences of urban renewal, in particular gentrification and its attendant income inequality, which has pushed lower income and diverse populations from cities throughout the United States.

But instead of ducking those consequences, Florida embraces them in his most recent work, The New Urban Crisis. In our conversation, Florida has some choice words for the tech industry, and posits a new approach to local government that he admits would be challenging to implement. We spoke to Florida earlier this week, below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for length and clarity.

NewCo Shift: First of all let’s talk about your latest book. It seems like it’s a departure — maybe a bit of a look back on your previous work. Some of the reviews said it was a mea culpa — but I’d call it a “rethinking” of some of your earlier work. Can you contextualize it in light of that?

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Tech Is Public Enemy #1. So Now What?


If tech wants to reverse the crushing tide of negative public opinion, it must start creating public good commensurate with its extraction of private profit.

If the technology industry were in fact a singular entity — if GAFA, or FANG, or whatever the acronym we identify with the world’s most valuable and profitable companies was in fact one huge corporation, the head of public relations for that fictional conglomerate would be hiding under his desk, likely curled in a fetal position around a sizeable bottle of gin.

The tech backlash is here, and it’s pissed off, it’s complex, and it’s dug in for a long, ugly fight.

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Who Will Get Amazon’s Rose?


It’s “The Bachelor, City Edition.” Plus: WTF? JP Morgan Wins the “Doing Good” Title?!

Amazon yesterday announced it’s looking for a second home, and cities across the continent began preening for the Seattle-based tech oligarch. The Everything Store laid out its requirements: A “North American” metropolitan area with at least one million souls, a quality higher education system, proximity to transportation and an international airport, “a stable and business-friendly environment” — whatever that means — and tax incentives, because, well, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Initial bids are due in mid-October, which gives Mayors and Chambers of Commerce across the land a month or so to shine their shoes, slick back their hair, and don their Sunday best. Businessweek, Axios, and the New York Times have already created short lists: The Times favors Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond, Kansas City and Jacksonville. Axios: Denver, Chicago, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Detroit. And Businessweek? Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Austin, Memphis, LA, and Detroit.

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The NonProfit Sector Must Move From Transaction to Collaboration


We’re Measuring Ourselves To Death When We Should Be Working to Understand How to Get Better Together

This summer I spent three days at The Collaborative, an event that brings together the best and brightest from the nonprofit world (a video is at end of this story). Across all of the panels I attended and the conversations I had, one theme stuck out: Too often it feels like funders and nonprofits are sitting on opposite sides of the table. Without a shared view of success, the grant-making relationship has become transactional rather than collaborative.

Modern philanthropy has created a problematic culture of KPIs. It’s something we don’t like talking about, but it’s harmful for both foundations and the nonprofits they support. Success has become equated with charts and reports that look nice and validate metric-driven theories. But are we really learning anything? Behind the scenes, I hear the term “necessary evil” far too often.

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Will Harvey Teach Us the Dangers of Short Term Thinking?


Short Answer: Nope.

For more, head to Chron.com

Houston’s tragedy is still unfolding, but its lessons can already be drawn. When an area the size of fifteen Manhattans floods, there’s plenty of blame to throw around. But in the end, it all comes down to money, in particular, the kind of money one can make by encouraging short term thinking.

Many are claiming Hurricane Harvey’s wrath proves climate change is real — and that our current administration’s steadfast ignorance of that fact should be called out. It’s hard to disagree, but also hard to believe anything will change. After all, we already knew Houston had a major weather problem: Journalists and academics had pointed that fact out repeatedly, and repeatedly, society has ignored that fact. Why?

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When delivery is free, will ownership survive?


Cheap distribution already changed the world once. It most likely will happen again.

Still from a video about JD.com’s robot delivery vehicles, already launched on college campuses in Beijing.

In the late 1990s, my father became a thief.

He would stay up late into the night in his office upstairs, his desk perched where my bed used to be. The green glow of the CRT reflecting off his forehead in the dark, he would sit nearly motionless, hour after hour watching the progress bar fill as he pirated old radio shows, books on tape, and music from the golden age of rock and roll.

Back in the early 1990s, it was not obvious that the internet would launch a global army of greying men into the world’s most tedious crime spree. It was not obvious college students and housewives and kids obsessed with Jamiroquai would join them to take down the record industry. And journalism. And video stores, encyclopedias, and travel agents.

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Google and Amazon Hit the Feed Trough


NewCo Daily July 19 2017

The Big Five in tech are eating each others’ lunch

When the top five companies by market cap are all roughly in the same business, they’ll inevitably start going after each other’s core business. As for startups working on adjacent markets? As long as those markets are large enough, or support one of the Big Five’s larger business goals — well they’re just an hors d’oeuvre.

While Facebook has been aggressive in the past (its Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions all but insured Twitter and Snapchat’s woes), Google takes this week’s crown as the most omnivorous of the bunch. Not only is the company taking on Microsoft’s LinkedIn with its new Hire service, its also shaking Facebook’s core moneymaker — the newsfeed. Yesterday Google announced a new newsfeed product that looks and feels an awful lot like Facebook’s newsfeed product — minus the baby pics and kitten videos (and, one presumes, the fake news). Built on top of Google’s massive knowledge of its customers’ preferences, search history, and app usage, the newsfeed product has a decent chance of stealing valuable attention from Facebook’s core customer set (and, let’s face it, Twitter is most likely not pleased with this development as well).

And while Google takes this week’s crown, Amazon’s also bellying up to the lunch buffet. A report in Quartz this weeks notes that Amazon recently filed a trademark for the tagline “We do the prep. You be the chef.” That sank Blue Apron’s newly minted stock to all time lows —and the beleaguered startup’s only been public for a few weeks. Not content with spooking the entire home grocery market (remember, it recently bought Whole Foods), Amazon also announced Spark, a shopping service cum social network that, you guessed it, takes the form of a feed that looks an awful lot like Instagram. Only Amazon Prime members can post products to Spark, but any Amazon customer can browse and buy from the “shoppable” feed. While press reports focused on Spark as a challenge to Facebook’s Instagram, it’s likely that executives at Pinterest are sleeping less soundly this week as well.

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Ignite Your Thinking


NewCo Shift Forum

At the Shift Forum earlier this year, five short, superb talks challenged the audience’s thinking. Here they are, all in one place.

One of my favorite parts of this year’s Shift Forum as “Ignite at Shift,” a series of five-minute talks give in rapid succession. If you’ve never heard of Ignite, you’re in for a treat, they’ve spread to hundreds of cities around the world and range across a heady set of topics. They’ve been called “TED Talks on speed,” and feature a unique creative box: each presenter gets 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is a fast and impactful experience. We’ve now published each one of them, and curated them here for your viewing pleasure. Special thanks to Ignite founder Brady Forrest for curating these extraordinary talks.

We Don’t Need to Wait For Driverless Cars

Rose Broome makes the case for a universal basic income.

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How Can We Keep Artists In Our Cities?

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