Strategies for a discontinuous future.

Consulting & advisory, research notes, in the press, about bubblegen,
next wednesdays.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Anti-trust case on Wal-Mart

Waiting at an airport, I recently glanced through an interesting article in the July issue of Harper's that sounded pretty interesting. The main idea is that the current anti-trust law and economic philosophy are based on the premise of firms acquire monopoly control as suppliers in the market and earning rents, which is not sufficient. There is an anti-trust cazse to be made against Wal-Mart for being a monopsony and exerting buyer power in the market to squeeze profits out of the industry value chain. Not sure if I entirely agree with the reasoning, but it's an interesting take. Here's a Wal-Mart Watch's take on it.

-- Mahashunyam // 7:09 PM //

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

World Cup

France vs Spain - what a match. At the pub I was at - about 40 Spaniards and maybe 5 French guys - the French literally could not believe their eyes, then they were almost in tears.

Intense stuff, but the real question is - did Henri dive?

Here's a nice para from the Guardian:

"...This was torment for Spain to endure. With only one victory - and that in a friendly - over these opponents in 25 years, this had been billed as an opportunity to exact revenge but instead it has prolonged the nightmare. They fell flat, maintaining a sorry tradition in major finals. All the zest enjoyed in spanking Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia was lost against France's weightier experience. Youth ran aground. Their time should still come but they must learn in bitter defeat."

Which also incidentally makes the writing in most American papers read like the clumsy bureaucratese it has devolved to. What a shame I can't read writing meant to stir something other than my wallet in most American papers (but that's another, old, boring story).

-- umair // 2:00 PM //

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Industry Note: Jellyfish and Edge Competencies - Liquidity

Scott K writes a brilliant post to which I will defer and point you.

From a strategic pov, note the marginal benefit vs marginal cost of liquidity; it is the fundamental source of advantage in this model, and the imbalance in that equation tells us not just that attention scarcity is very real and will continue to be arbitraged with greater and greater efficiency across consumer markets, but also that there is plenty of room for micromediaries like Jellyfish to continue to blossom (=I'm impressed, nice one guys).

-- umair // 3:01 PM //


Industry Note: From Brands to Microcultures

American Apparel opens store in Second Life - is it marketing, advertising, branding, a new business model? A bit of each.

Very much a harbinger of things to come - those who want to read the leaves are advised to spend some time checking this out.

-- umair // 2:34 PM //


Bubblegen 10 (15, 20, ...)

Guys, I am going to put together a list of startups (actually, one US, one Europe/global) I think are incredibly cool/beyond disruptive/will reshape industries and value chains/will crush Google and the incumbents of the universe like the puny little gnats they really are/you know the score.

This doesn't just mean the www 2.0 hipsters, it means anyone, everyone, all corners of the globe, all industries, etc. But since media is the industry in the most wrenching change, it will obviously be over-represented.

If you wanna be considered, or if you wanna rec someone, this is a good place to do it...

-- umair // 2:25 PM //


San Francisco is Not London

1) San Francisco, LA, New York = we hates the "user generated content"!!�"$!! everyone tries desperately to think of a better name, we all wait for Chris A to actually do it.

2) Europe = "user generated content" is teh hot!�%$!

3) As an example of the roughly 12-18 month idea gap between the States and Europe which is still very much in full effect.

-- umair // 2:20 PM //


How Not to Think Strategically, pt 1351

"...The stance from football's governing body is that the officials have got it about right so far in Germany, despite the apparent card frenzy.

Fifa spokesman Markus Siegler rejected the notion that the extraordinarily high number of cautions was a paradox.

"You could say if the referees were not active, it could have turned out into a more unfair or dirty tournament," he said."

See, the thing about incentives is that they're often paradoxical.

In this case, Fifa doesn't understand that the incentive to foul is, in large part, set by the refs, not the players (or, more accurately, they're pretending not to understand it).

Let's say I am a player. If a ref is being liberal with cards, am I better off fouling, or not fouling? I am always better off not fouling - but only if everyone else does too. If everyone else fouls, I am always better off fouling, since it's likely my team will be penalized anyways.

In other words, this is a classic multiplayer Prisoner's Dilemma - after a certain point, the harsher refs are, the more fouls we should expect (as, I guess, any fan could have told you without the game theory).

-- umair // 1:42 PM //


Fooled by Economics

Only in hyperrational America can we ask a question to which the answer is blindingly obvious: Is Wal-Mart good for America's Working Class?

So good, in fact, that communities in America and the rest of the world alike are beginning to resist Wal-Martization tooth and nail.

It should be absolutely transparent that the financial economies of scale Wal-Mart reaps come at the expense of social capital, cultural capital, imagination, meaning - you know, all the stuff that makes life interesting in the first place.

-- umair // 1:37 PM //


Age of Plasticity

A very nice example (MeFi).

-- umair // 1:33 PM //

Monday, June 26, 2006

Unintended Consequences

Fifa, Holland vs Portgual, and the World Cup as a near-perfect example of adverse selection (read the comments) - don't miss.

-- umair // 2:46 PM //



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