Create a desert of profitability around you

ucaetano on Hacker News:

I once had a strategy professor define the Google business model somewhat like that, where Google tries to make every other business around it free or irrelevant”. It results in a few different effects:

By reducing the cost of other links of the value chain, there is more money available to spend on the links you actually generate revenue on. This shifts profits along the value chain to that link. One example is dramatically reducing the cost of phones and internet access, thus allowing customers to spend more time and money online, which generates revenue and profits for Google

By making the other links free or irrelevant, you reduce the odds that a competitor in those links will strengthen their position and will extract more profits from the rest of the value chain. One example is using Android to prevent a monopoly on the smartphone side

If Apple had a monopoly or near monopoly, it would be able to extract larger economic profits from the other links on the value chain, including Google

A desert of profitability shifts consumers to you, and keeps competitors away.


Engineers are efficient problem solvers. Business people think short term. Designers want things to be elegant and beautiful. All three need to create collaboration and harmony, and honor the value each other brings. There needs to be a new kind of multi-dimensional’ approach to design that is yet to be invented.”

—Linda Holliday / @lmholliday


Idealized design

Doesn’t it strike you as odd,” he said, that the three most important contributions this laboratory has ever made to telephonic communications were made beofre any of you were born? What have you been doing?” he asked. I’ll tell you,” he said. You have been improving the parts of the system taken separately, but you have not significantly improved the system as a whole. The deficiency,” he said, is not your’s but mine. We’ve had the wrong research-and-development strategy. We’ve been focusing on improving parts of the system rather than focusing on the system as a whole. As a result, we have been improving the parts, but not the whole. We have got to restart by focusing on desiging the whole and then designing parts that fit it rather than vice versa. Therefore, gentlemen, we are going to begin by designing the system with which we would replace the existing system right now if we were free to replace it with whatever system we wanted, subject to only two not-very-restrictive constraints.

First,” he continued, let me explain why we will focus on what we want right now, not out five or ten years. Why? Because we know that where we say today we would like to be five years from now is not where we will want to be when we get there. Things will happen between now and then that will affect our goals and objectives. By focusing on what we want right now, we can eliminate that potential source of error.”

Second, why remove practically all constraints? Because if we don’t know what we would do now if we could do whatever we wanted, how can we know what to do when we can’t do everything we want? If we knew what we would do with virtually no constraints, we could modify it, if necessary, to become feasible and adapt it to changing internal and external conditions as time goes on.”

Now, here are the two constraints. First, technological feasibility. This means we cannot use any but currently available knowledge. No science fiction. We can’t replace the phone with mental telepathy. The second constraint,” he said, was that the system we design must be operationally viable. What does that mean? Because we are not changing the environment, it means that the system must be able to function and survive in the current environment. For example, it will have to obey current laws and regulations.”

The vice president then said, This group is too large to operate as a single group. Therefore, I am going to divide you into six subgroups of about six each, each with responsibility for a subsystem. Each group will select a representative to meet with other representatives at least once a week to discuss interactions. Let me explain.

Each group will be able to design whatever it wants as long as it does not affect any other group’s design. If what a group wants to do does affect one or more other groups’ designs, it must get their agreement before it can be included in their design. I can tell you in advance,” he said, that the groups will do little that does not affect other groups. At the end of the year,” he said, I want to see one completely integrated system design, not six subsystem designs. I don’t even want to know what the individual teams came up with. Is that clear?” he asked.

Excerpt from Ackoff’s work.


Automattic’s Design principles

Fantastic new work from John Maeda to follow on how to run remote design teams.

But we’re the world’s largest all-remote design team, so we felt there was a need to brew our own.

  • Start from curiosity. Welcome and seek out difference.
  • Intuition is grounded in interpretation through iteration.
  • Search for and tell stories about people, not just data.
  • Consistency builds trust. Speed builds trust. Simplicity builds trust.

If you are designing for extremes then understanding remote design teams are a great way to help all design teams.


But the process of laundering, after all, becomes rather difficult when there is an immutable, peer-maintained record of every penny being pushed around. Small slip-ups in the team’s operational security allowed investigators to tie, for example, an email address used to access a given bitcoin wallet with the one used to pay for a VPN.

Russian hackers used bitcoin however they were eventually traced. Fascinating.


Uber and the new scooter economy

Sunil Paul:

For all the attention and money that Bird, Lime and Spin have raised, they are not going to win the Scooter Wars. The Uber of scooters is going to be Uber.

As a pioneer in the space, Sidecar had the first-mover advantage, but Uber ended up being the dominant player in the category by using what are now euphemistically called aggressive” tactics. It wasn’t its unlimited capital, although that certainly helped. It was able to leverage its existing dominance of riders using its app for black cars to dominate in ride-sharing. We put up a good fight, but ultimately ended up selling Sidecar’s assets to General Motors in 2016.