Walmart plays “second mover,” Google does Toronto, Trump wrecks Nafta.
A short but important note in time from The Atlantic: The #MeToo movement is very real, and very powerful. As Dave Pell put it in his always excellent NextDraft, “The sharing was eye-opening and awesome, and a reminder that we can use social media for some good once in a while.” Of course, as with anything related to social media, there’s already a robust backlash.
I am cheering Walmart on here. Wait, did I just type that? Yes, I did just type that. I am cheering Walmart on, because Amazon scares the shit out of me in ways that are primal. I have some ideas (here) about how this might play out. Meanwhile, the money quote: “Wal-Mart trails rival Amazon in online market share, but Mr. Lore said Wal-Mart’s built-in network of thousands of stores can serve as hubs for online orders and distribution. Mr. Lore said Wal-Mart has a “second-mover advantage.”
We need a new financing model to build new, better companies
Two decades into a software career, I’m still moved by its potential to improve people’s lives through connection, automation, and access to information, yet I’m less convinced than ever that our financial systems are built to get the most out of it.
This is the first post in a series I’ll be writing on the structural problems in venture capital. These problems aren’t a condemnation of the industry, they’re an attempt to outline where the industry fails the market. This failure helps to explain people’s experiences, but I think also helps to outline the opportunity and need for other ways of funding companies. These ways will also have flaws — they’ll likely not be great at building unicorns — but they’ll be finding people and markets ignored by the current environment.
Like the general financial industry, the world of venture capital has become adept at using money to create more money, but it does not consider of the wisdom of its actions. It chooses easy answers, thus leaving harder but better questions unexplored, and accepts high collateral damage to the employees, customers, and industry that at best is painful and at worst is pure exploitation.
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, andthe 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.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid taking on the big players in slow growth categories like beverages or CPG. But purpose isn’t one of them.
At the NewCo Shift Forum earlier this year, Bill Kanarick, CMO, SapientRazorfish, hosted a conversation with Kara Goldin, Founder & CEO, hint, Inc., and Tina Sharkey Co-Founder & CEO, Brandless. Goldin and Sharkey had just delivered overviews of their companies, which you can find here (Hint) and here (Brandless). In the ensuing conversation, Kanarick focused his questioning on how best to be a startup in a massive category like beverages or consumer packaged goods. Their answer? Start with a clean slate. More in the video and transcript below.
Bill Kanarick: We just had a conversation about disruption and transformation. We at Sapient and Publicis deal an awful lot with both startups as well as incumbents. I’d be interested to get each of your perspectives on, as a startup, your advantages relative to the incumbents attacking the same space.
What are those advantages? What do you think really gives you an edge over those that might be trying to reinvent themselves, like, say, Proctor & Gamble, Tina, to use your example?
Launching today, Brandless is rethinking everything about CPG, from its purpose to its pricing, distribution, and value proposition
Technology and mobility have redefined a huge swath of our lives, but when it comes to the brands we use every day — from laundry detergent to toilet paper — not much has changed. Sure, you can order online, but consumer packaged goods, or CPG as the category is called, are still run on a business model of mass media advertising and mass market distribution. Long time entrepreneur Tina Sharkey is on a mission to change that, and rethink CPG from the ground up. Her company Brandless launches today, but we had Sharkey at the NewCo Shift Forum back in February, where she gave an overview of her new company’s purpose.
Tina Sharkey: I’m going to give you an overview of what we’re doing and hopefully you’ll understand that we think we’re starting a revolution. Steve Jobs said in ’84 — I know he set the bar really low — he said mainframes, PCs, it’s all going to change. It absolutely did change, and we never looked back from that moment.
I don’t think they thought at that moment that this would happen. They thought merging music player and a phone was a great idea, but I don’t think they thought that you were going to hail taxis. I certainly don’t think they thought they were building a remote control for your life.
Know anyone who wants to start a new tech business that makes a big social impact, but who also needs help with finding a great co-founder, time and space to work out the ideas and need expert help to build great new products?
If you do, please let them know they have 2 weeks left to apply to the Zinc Transformer Programme, and please share this post, which tells about the 450 people who have applied already and who could become their future co-founders.
Don’t paint every company in the Valley with Uber’s tarred brush.
Now that the other shoe has dropped, and Uber’s CEO has been (somewhat) restrained, it’s time for the schadenfreude. Given Uber’s remarkable string of screwups and controversies, it’s cominginthick, in particular from the East coast. And while I believe Uber deserves the scrutiny — there are certainly critical lessons to be learned — the hot takes from many media outlets are starting to get lazy.
Here’s why. Uber does not reflect the entirety of the Valley, particularly when it comes to how companies are run. As I wrote in The Myth of the Valley Douchebag, there are far more companies here run by decent, earnest, well meaning people than there are Ubers. But of course, the Ubers get most of the attention, because they confirm an easy bias that all of tech is off the rails, and deserves to be taken down a notch.