Category Archives: business

Hey! My Crypto-Currency Just had a Baby!

We are not  used to crypto-currencies, so it is no surprise that we are not used to crytpo-currencies doing “hard forks” that give birth to new crypto-currencies.

That is what happened to Ethereum a while back and it justhappened toBitcoin.

What is going on?

Stripping it all down — There was a dispute among the currency developers. Some thought that the design of bitcoin makes it impossible to scale (too few transactions per second in bitcoin are possible). The dispute could not be reconsiled, so the two groups have split.

Welcome to the world Bitcoin Cash, the new crypto-currency.

How will thsi work out? Stay tiuned. No one knows.

Ouch! Startups Are Very Risky!

Starups get a lot of attention for their potential to “change the world”. Less publicized is that they are hugely risky. They may fail for lack of funding. But they fail at an alarming rate even after they get fudning, even after a first round of seed investment.

Fred Wilson shares a chart that shows this. It is an eye opener for anyone who relies on the startup world for his or her career. Be ready to manage risk!

Hey Buddy, Got any Lithium?

The catch phrase is that lithium is the new oil.

Why? Because lithium is a key component to make EV batteries — and lots of other types of batteries — work. Assuming that EV’s will take off, and btw, in that regard –

Last December, Morgan Stanley upped its forecast for EV penetration to potentially 10 to 15 per cent by 2025, as car makers accelerate plans to build EVs (think of the Jaguar E-Pace) and as tightening rules on traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) cars make them uncompetitive more quickly than expected.

where will we get the litium to make all of those battieres? Keep in imnd that

The equivalent of 15 million cell phone batteries are needed to make one battery for an 80 kWh electric car.

Hmmm … that seems like a lot of lithium. But there is a lot of lithium in the world’s crust. Probably enough for 100 years or so. But as the abo ve linked article points out, there is something missing. That is the technology to identify where these deposits are, to extract them in a reasonable way, and bring them to market. As demand grows, these concerns will grow as well.

The same was true for oil. It is largely forgotten that the oil industry did not just need to develop systems to find and extract crude.  The crude had to be refined into gasolene. In the early days, that process was dirty, expensive and hugely wasteful. A major technology race ensued to address those concerns that eventually gave us the systems we use today. We are likely to bump into unknown tech challenges as we start developing lithium markets as well.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile. we may see alternatives to litium. A quick search reveals more than one such possibility.

Errrr … Excuse me, but how Comfortable are your Underpants?

It is, of course, not a question that one is asked every day. Nor is it a question that most of us think about very much. They are likely “good enough”. Indeed, that is why many men tend not to replace them very frequently. Hmmm …

But a company called MeUndies wants to change all that. MeUndies wants you to consider that your underpants could be more stylish and comfortable. And they could cost less than the Ralf Lauren or other brand name products that you can buy at department stores.  And they could be delivered to your home, so you don’t even have to go to the store to get a regular supply of whatever styles you like.

It is an odd idea, but I think it is a good one. That is why I contacted MeUndies and said that I want to subscribe. There is only one problem. The shipping fees to get MeUndies to me here in Tartu are too high. That problem could be solved if MeUndies went international. And I pitched the idea.

How would it work? Simple. MeUndies makes their products in Turkey. At least they do for the time being (businesses in Turkey are being targeted by Erdogan). Instead of all this product being shipped to the US, ship some to a distribution center located somewhere in Europe. Perhaps Estonia? And create local franchisees that can advertise in local languages. The local franchises do all the front office sales work, and the back office delivers. You get superior customer service, fast delivery and reduced shipping costs.

Did my pitch work? Errr … not yet anyway. So, in the meantime, you can get MeUndies outside the states, but the product is a bit expensive with the shipping costs thrown in. BTW, I can attest that the product itself is really nice.

Stay tuned!

Blue Apron, Appetizing but Expensive!

I was enthusiastic about Blue Apron. I liked the idea of not having to shop for all the ingredients to make a gourmet meal. It was a dream that they could be delivered to me asa single package along with the recipes so I could just do my thing in the kitchen.

Blue Apron thought that this was their ticket. But their IPO has been, shall we say, disappointing, and they are now on the ropes.

What went wrong? It seems that the product is just too expensive for most folks. Budget trumps luxury. If so, we can expect the more cost conscious food distributors (like Amazon and Walmart) to see if they can carve out a niche. Their products will be more generic and less expesnive. Walmart will no doubt develop its drive through pick up option as well to leverage its huge network of stores. Perhaps one day, Amazon will deliver your dinner by drone.

For now, too bad!

Worried about the Popped Crypto Bubble?`Get over it!

It was bound to happen, and it is happening. The rapid rise in the valuations of bitcoin and Ether have ended and prices have tumbled. They may tumble further.

Does this mean the end of the crytpo-currency fad? Fred Wilson thinks not. He argues that crypto is not primarily here as a speculative invetment vehicle. There are other reasons why folks are experimenting with it.

I agree. But do I own any bitcoin or ether? No. And I would not buy any either. On the other hand, I have chatted with folks about ICO’s. So far, we have not found a platform where it makes sense — and we have found out that we do not  have enough experience from a business modeling point of view to take any huge risks. I think ten years from now, that will sound quaint.

Nick Grossman and Lee Duckworth

Yesterdayt, I posted on a TNW talk given by Nick Grossman, a partner at the New York venture capital firm, USV.  As I thought about Nick’s presentation, I began to see more clearly that what Nick has done is greatly simplify the strategic model develop by Lafley and Martin in their book, “Playing to Win” and that is employed at Proctor and Gamble.

The key to understanding this model is getting a grip on the idea of “iterative questions”. For example, your strategy should be based on speculative answers to questions like these

  • What are we trrying to achieve (what is winning?)
  • Who is our target group to market our goods and services (where to we play)
  • How do we gain a competitive advantage (How do we win+)

The answers that you generate to the above questions are not final in any sense of the word. They have to be tested as you go forward. And if you find that experience is not consistent with any one of your answers, you need to re-think all of the answers you are acting on.

Nick’s list of itereative questions are

  • Purpose – why doi we exist?
  • Mission – who do we serve?
  • Strategy – how do we do it?

Again, the answers to these questions have to tie together. They are iterative. Sort of like this – “If this is who we are, then this is how we serve. If this is how we serve, this is what we should do.” Conversely, “If this is what we do, it should serve our target group. And if we serve our target group this wya, this is who we are becoming. ”

Nick takes thisto a personal level, based on his reading of a book called “Grit” by Lee Duckworth. Lee proposes that you set up a “goal hierarchy”. The biggest meta goals are at the top. They link down to goals for broader time periods or areas of work. These link down to goals for more narrow tasks needed to move forward. Lee’s point is that if the goals for your small tasks are not linked up to a meta goal, failure at the tiny area will lead to a breakdown. You are more likely to give up.

That is an important point because most of us give up on  lots and lots of stuff. Most of us can’t maintain focus for extended periods of time. Most of us need to work on this. And if this is true on the individual level, it will certainly be true on the institutional level.

BTW, you can think of the above as a way to gamify strategicthinking. That has broad implications – not just for business, but for how we build meaning into our lives.

Food for thought!