Monday, October 12, 2015

In which people discuss things I don't understand

Does everything look like a nail?

  • Uber's Move to Oakland Will Test an Economy in Overdrive
    For non-residents, this expansion by Uber, a company that has already strong-armed its way into multiple countries and won scores of battles against regulators, might not sound especially significant. But Oakland is one of the most diverse communities in the US, a West Coast arts mecca, and the heart of California counterculture, from the peace movement to the Black Panther Party—an ingrained anti-establishment culture of protest that survives to this day. In that respect, Oakland seems like an especially awkward fit for Uber, the company whose capitalist ideologies and characteristic stubbornness when it comes to barging into new places and bending governments to its will has made it such a lightning rod for controversy.
  • This Is How Uber Takes Over a City
    Although Uber promotes itself as a great disrupter, it’s quickly mastered the old art of political influence. Over the past year, Uber built one of the largest and most successful lobbying forces in the country, with a presence in almost every statehouse. It has 250 lobbyists and 29 lobbying firms registered in capitols around the nation, at least a third more than Wal-Mart Stores. That doesn’t count municipal lobbyists. In Portland, the 28th-largest city in the U.S., 10 people would ultimately register to lobby on Uber’s behalf. They’d become a constant force in City Hall. City officials say they’d never seen anything on this scale.
  • Lunch with the FT: Travis Kalanick
    Amazon, once just an online bookstore, is often cited as a template for how Uber might develop. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, is an Uber investor, though Kalanick rejects comparisons. “I think Uber is just very different, there’s no model to copy,” he says. “It may be the reason why we’ve been a lightning rod in so many ways, because we don’t do anything conventional . . . And then I think also, as an entrepreneur, I’m a bit of a lone wolf.”
  • Twitter Thanks You For Your Service
    That these are impossible guidelines is a hint at a coming conflict that I’m not sure anyone has quite figured out: as publications assimilate into platforms, and as platforms, in an effort to capture some of the energy and attention garnered by said publications on their turf, attempt to redefine the role of an editor/curator/reporter in terms that are most beneficial to them, we’ll have to re-litigate old arguments about control, bias, voice and balance, with higher stakes and less of a sense of accountability; the defendant, now, is simply insisting it isn’t liable. A first look suggests that the Moments approach to editorial judgement is learned, too: Its vague and primitive sense of what is and isn’t political (I’m sure opponents would challenge the unquoted “right-to-die” language here, for example); its implicit distinguishing between explicitly supporting or criticizing something, which is bad, and merely celebrating it, which is… fine?
  • What fintech companies can learn from Uber
    There’s also the issue of money itself, which is far more emotionally fraught than, say, what car service you’re going to use. “Money is really hard for people because it’s not just about the money,” said von Tobel. “They don’t want to face the fact that for most of us, we’re not in a great spot.” Fintech companies must build trust and community to break through the emotional wall that some people put up around their finances, said panelists.
  • How Do You Value A Company Like Uber?
    Though not a direct input into valuation, it is unquestionable that when investing in a young business, you should be aware of the management culture in that business. With Uber, the news stories about its management team and the responses to these stories reflect your prior opinions on the company. If you are predisposed to like the company, you will view it as confident in its attacks on new markets, aggressive in defending its turf and creative in its counter-attacks. If you don’t like the company, the very same actions will be viewed as indicative of the arrogance of the company, its challenging a status quo will signal its unwillingness to play by the rules and its counter attacks will be viewed as overkill.
  • The Chicago End-Times
    Miner tried to spin the news with a positive light. He credited Knight with bringing twelve pages of national USA Today content to the print paper, of which a former Sun-Times employee said, “I don’t think they care about having national content. They just want more pages, they wanted to be thicker, because they probably heard some feedback saying the paper’s too small. It came right on the heels of us cutting a bunch of people, and then you expand the newshole. They’re trying to do the same thing with the Network, which is demand that everybody write a billion stories a day because that’s the panacea. That’s how we’re gonna get pageviews, that’s how we’re gonna get cheap CPM ads, that’s how we’re gonna fix everything, right?”
  • Lyft: It wasn't our CTO who cracked Uber's database
    It turns out that the company itself leaked a database login key, onto the code-sharing platform GitHub, and nobody noticed until months had passed and 50,000 records - including names and driver license numbers - had been slurped.

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