Strategies for a discontinuous future.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Quote of the Day

'"How many jobs do you have that are really, really creative?" he asks a class of Richmond fourth graders. "Teaching is creative. Engineering is creative. But if you're an accountant or something like that and you get creative you go to jail," he says.'

Ha ha. It's funny, but it's also the reason why the corporation is dying a slow, painful death.


-- umair // 11:21 AM //


Strategy Decay

See the problem with the game industry is that even when it thinks out of the box, it still doesn't think about disruption or radical innovation.

-- umair // 11:15 AM //


Interesting piece about video games, Abu Ghraib, and violence. Interesting - but completely wrong. The evidence suggests that it's our legal system which is the problem, not video games.

-- umair // 11:12 AM //


Politics of the Day

I think the Reagan coverage is way out of hand.

-- umair // 11:08 AM //



Competition hits the blogware market. What do we expect to see? MS will co-opt this market (unfortunately) - because the blogware producers haven't really built any isolating mechanisms to protect themselves from competition. A competence in blogware is not exactly difficult to replicate.

-- umair // 11:03 AM //


Wired's got a nice lil biotech piece.

-- umair // 11:02 AM //


GMail sends each existing user between 3-6 invitations for his pals; the price of GMail on the secondary market crashes. I predict it will rise by at least 100% from it's current low of $20.

-- umair // 10:50 AM //


The perks of a being a VIP clubber now include subdermal RFID. Which tells us something pretty important, actually: that when the gains to implantation reach a high enough point, the mass market is likely to herd into line. This is a very strong piece of evidence that subdermal chips will, eventually, be accepted by consumers.

-- umair // 10:46 AM //

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

And, of course, any value investing day would be incomplete without Michael Mauboussin's Columbia files.

-- umair // 12:39 AM //


Many nice value investing pieces here.

-- umair // 12:38 AM //


Value Investing Day

Excellent piece by Buffett.

It's value investing day because I've got to put away some $$, and I like value investing because it's about competitive advantage (as opposed to delta or gamma hedging).

-- umair // 12:36 AM //


Value Investing Day

Damodaran's value investing lecture. Excellent stuff, complete with Graham's screens.

-- umair // 12:35 AM //

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Link of the Week

Munger gives a speech about the shortcomings of economics at UCSB. Essential reading.

-- umair // 1:19 PM //


Unintended Consequences

Declan says we should abolish the FCC.

And he makes a (bit of a misguided) economic argument.

Dear Declan,

If you privatize the FCC, you will end up with a series of natural monopolists controlling technologically relevant bits of the spectrum. There will be huge gains to 'society' - but these gains will be appropriated by the monopolist.

Sounds great in theory, consider it in practice via a greatly simplified thought exercise: the first player to monopolize any spectrum frequency and make more $$ than his rivals will be able to buy them out, extending his control over the spectrum...which will give him a greater advantage, enabling him to buy out still more rivals - this competitive dynamic ends with a single total spectrum monopolist, because there are increasing returns to scale in media industries (via advertising, publishing, marketing, etc).

What you really want is an American Beeb - because the Beeb fights the natural monopolistic economics of (nearly) all one-to-many networks by setting a bar for competition among different networks. The BBC acts like a magnet, counteracting the force of increasing returns, which is pulling in it's own direction: towards natural monopoly.

That means natural monopolists can't get away with the things they can in the US. To use some examples that highlight differences in the radio market between the US and the UK - Clear Channel's 'ghost' DJ's, embedded 'journalism', 25 hours of ad-time per hour. These are a few of the very tiny effects of the Beeb's competition-enhancing force on the entire media landscape across Europe.

By abolishing the FCC, you'll end with Microsoft Radio - which, I think, is not what you really want.

-- umair // 12:12 PM //


Corporate of the Day

From the Journal:

"...Yet that strategy helped 25-year-old J. Hamilton Halberg rapidly win multiple promotions, plus a transfer to corporate headquarters. The young man said he joined his company a year ago "as an office grunt passing out faxes to everyone in the office. I did my job well and showed that I took my position seriously by wearing a tie, a crisp collared shirt and dress slacks."

His wardrobe was far from typical. "Cargo pants, an occasional pair of jeans, midriffs and otherwise slovenly dress dominated the workplace," he recollected. Co-workers ribbed him every day for donning a tie.

"Now, a little less than a year and three positions later," Mr. Halberg wrote, "I'm happily working as one of five analysts handpicked by upper management serving on a small, specialized IT team." He added, "I think everyone out there knows that dressing well will not guarantee you success on the job. What it did for me, though, was convince others I was serious about my work, and that made it worth the extra effort."

I found this extremely funny.

-- umair // 12:06 PM //


The Net 2004-2005

I see 2 big ideas.

1) Extending the net's reach in space and time to the dumb world of inert objects (ie SpotCode, Semacode)

2) Coordination machines for new domains - especially politics (ie faxyourmp.com)

-- umair // 11:28 AM //


Marketing of the Day

Printing ads on food. I do wonder if the droids that thought this up have heard of diminishing returns.

-- umair // 11:25 AM //


Nanotube RAM moves from lab to production line. Why is this not a big deal? Because it's an incremental improvement to one of the lowest value parts of a standardized, hypercommoditized platform. It has almost no impact on the value equation, because it's locked into a platform which has gone beyond the point of diminishing returns.

-- umair // 2:37 AM //


Programmable e. coli - binary genetic logic via coupled signalling pathways effecting a simple phenotypic response. Veeeery interesting. Here's the paper itself.

-- umair // 2:28 AM //


Regulation, biopharming, and 'GM' crops. Worth a glance to think about the economics of biopharming - Malthusian economics. Ha ha.

-- umair // 2:24 AM //


Nanofiber chips - massively parallel microinjection. Another method is to simply intravenously inject naked DNA. Technics like this will control the emergence of the value propositions of the genetic economy. In this case, by offering highly controlled, targeted, and painless gene therapy.

-- umair // 2:11 AM //


The protein regulation of adipose tissue (fat) by famine (calorie intake) has big consequences for how we a new technics of diet and longevity will be built.

-- umair // 1:58 AM //


Divergent populations on the verge of speciation are observed for the first time.

-- umair // 1:55 AM //


BARF looks incredibly cool - an RSS abstract aggregator for many of the top science journals - I can't get it to work though. Maybe you'll have better luck.

-- umair // 1:50 AM //


Despite the hype, genomics has a long way to go before science becomes technics. Here's an illustration.

-- umair // 1:43 AM //


A bit about Motorola's plans for UWB.

-- umair // 1:42 AM //


BREW now supports integrated micropayments. Wow! That only took four years after Korean and Japanese consumers started loving microsubscriptions.

-- umair // 1:37 AM //


I've been thinking for a while now that the Net is reaching diminishing returns, because it's value depends on two things:

1) how much info info there is in it (the size of the network)
2) how efficiently you can search it (the efficacy of the search mechanism)

It's not 2 that has me concerned (yet) - it's 1. The rate of change of the amount of info we put into the web is decreasing - the marginal value of the Net is dropping. This is because most of the info on the Net is now recycled - take the blogosphere, for example. Why didn't it emerge in 1996?

I think one big reason is that there was little incentive for discussion - because there was little to link to and discuss - ie, newspapers, magazines, and other information producers weren't all online yet. But in 2004, bloggers can endlessly reiterate and link to the same 50 articles for weeks - adding little value but much mass to the Net.

Agree with my example or not, I think the future of Net is not blogging, or social networks, etc - those are all information recyclers. I think the future is information producers - those who add whole new domains of information to the Net, and thus create radical value shifts (which you can build a nice business model on, because you can exchange the value created for cash).

What's going to be the first example of this? I think it's gonna be machines that slash political transaction, bargaining, enforcement, and coordination costs, and reshape the technics of democracy. Theyworkforyou is a great example.

I'll end this post with a related question: how long will it be before we see political blogging syndicates? My guess is not long - because the economics of 'bundled' bloggers are far superior to the economics of lone bloggers. Note that complementarity is the key to this model - unrelated bundled bloggers are kind of (not entirely, but mostly) pointless.

-- umair // 1:27 AM //


Link of the Week

The commercialization of the technics of transgenics is about radically shifting - revolutionizing - the cost base of the supply chain of pharmaceutical manufacture: from automatic (machine) to organic (chickens). Essential reading - I've been wanting to link something like this for a while; this is the best nontechnical explanation I've seen yet.

-- umair // 1:21 AM //


Art of the Day (2)

Eric J Heller Gallery - quantum art. Phenomenal stuff. (Via MeFi).

-- umair // 1:18 AM //


Art of the Day

OpenArt - streaming independent Japanese film.

-- umair // 1:17 AM //


Alternative energies will explode as coordination costs get paid, standards get set - because then, markets for emerging technologies based on alternative energies can be built.

-- umair // 1:13 AM //


How not to analyse tech strategy, pt 373.

'Risks relating to commoditization' - like Andy Roddick faces the risk of tennis elbow. Commoditization is the entropy of the economic world - it's not a 'risk', it's the prime mover.

-- umair // 1:10 AM //


The invention of RFID.

-- umair // 1:08 AM //


A big deal about free VoIP - this time, it's StanaPhone. Apparently, it's a 'doomed business model'. Blah, blah, blah, don't buy the hype.

-- umair // 1:05 AM //


Rick James knows how to invest. Yeah, that Rick James. (Via LinkFilter)

-- umair // 1:03 AM //


The technics of house-building are about to be roboticized and automated.

-- umair // 12:59 AM //


The genetics of infidelity.

-- umair // 12:56 AM //


Welcome to Your Future

BT and the British government now filter and censor the Net.

-- umair // 12:27 AM //

Monday, June 07, 2004

What we think of now as Replication Wars are just a warmup for the real thing - the coming genetic property wars.

-- umair // 4:01 PM //


The return of Malthus.

-- umair // 3:56 PM //




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