China Unrisen

John Robb

I was just got back from a great conference in Singapore. A central theme of the conference was that China (and Asia in general with substantial US help) isn’t ‘rising’ anymore, it has risen (again), and that the US and much of the rest of the world hasn’t recognized this yet. This makes sense. China has risen economically with India is soon to follow and it will require a big rethink in terms of how we manage the world (the UN, IMF, etc.).

Spotlight on Consumer App Usage: Roughly 70% of Users Install at Least One App per Month

App Annie:

Users continue to download apps at a high rate. In all countries analyzed, over 65% of users installed at least one app in May 2017.

In half of the countries analyzed, over half of all users installed two or more apps.

On the whole, people are still looking for new apps to add to their arsenal. As mobile becomes more central to more industries, users will continue to be open to integrating new apps into their lives.

App Power Users Exceed Four Hours per Day in Top Countries

A large amount of this time was spent in banking apps. Six banking apps in Brazil, led by Banco de Brasil, exceeded 10% usage penetration. For comparison, no banking app in the United States achieved this.

These are the top ZIP codes for rental returns

Diana Olnick:

Historically, most mom-and-pop landlords choose homes in their backyards. It’s a practical choice, as they often manage the properties themselves and need to be nearby should a pipe break or a basement flood. With the recent growth of rental management companies to do the dirty work, investors are increasingly looking nationally and don’t necessarily want to have to travel to see the properties they buy. That means statistics are key, and potential investors are hungrier than ever for data.
 “They know real estate is a good investment, and they want to invest, but to do all the due diligence takes a lot of work, and most of our investors are already busy with other jobs,” said Hovland.
 So, will every house in each of those Top 20 markets yield top dollar? Not necessarily. There will always be renters who fail to pay and extenuating circumstances that can suddenly cause a local market to turn. As with the other multitude of lists and rankings, this is just a guide.

Google’s been running a secret test to detect bogus ads — and its findings should make the industry nervous

Mike Shields:

During these tests, Google and the partners shut off all of their programmatic ad inventory for brief periods, say, 10 to 15 minutes, and then scour the ad exchanges to see what’s listed. Google and its partners found thousands if not millions of video and display ad spots still available on multiple ad exchanges, despite no ads actually being for sale at that time, the people said, asking not to be identified because the results haven’t been publicly released.
 These include Google’s own AdEx exchange, as well as AppNexus, Oath’s BrightRoll, and PubMatic. Google also discovered fraudsters claiming to be able to sell YouTube ad inventory on various exchanges, one of the people said.
 Google’s not alone in these findings. An ad-tech executive from a different company went looking for some spoofed ads on exchanges and said they easily found thousands of such misrepresented ads for sale, and below are the results of another search by the Marketing Science Consulting Group, a company that specializes in researching ad fraud.
 Business Insider reached out to all the exchanges mentioned and included their comments below, if they responded.

The cold logic of Iceland’s personal data breakthrough

Tim Green:

Iceland has become the first country in the world to give its citizens full control over their medical records – with financial data next on the list. MEF Minute examines this landmark launch, and what it means for the personal data economy movement…

Extreme Commuting

Bryan Miller:

“My wife always waits up, which is nice,” Mr. Ubert said. “Our little guy goes to bed at 9 p.m., which is not so cool, but he loves the backyard and neighborhood, so it’s completely worth it.”
 At first Mr. Ubert thought he would hate the commuting life, but that soon changed. “It’s really not so bad, and what we get in return is amazing.” What they get in return is a 3,100-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bath colonial on one rustic acre, for which they paid $375,000 last year.
 “It’s true, we are living the American dream, with deer running around in our yard, and bald eagles, too.”

Innovation Is as Much About Finding Partners as Building Products

Chandra GnanasambandamMichael Uhl:

This is the challenge for all kinds of disruptors, whether in the auto industry, pharmaceuticals, service industries, or healthcare. The fact is, going it alone, we believe, is simply not the way to go at all. Collaboration is the essential new secret sauce for startups and industry leaders alike. For true disruption to take hold, old and new must work together, playing to each other’s strengths.
 This is an incredible moment for innovation. Previously unthinkable opportunities to reinvent complex, established industries are now being made possible by the convergence of cloud computing, new analytical tools, and the data flowing from a host of new sensors in the physical world. Improbable advances are now real possibilities.
 Yet the requirements for innovation today are entirely different from those of the last 30 years. The technology-driven disruption model that brought us computing, the internet, and mobile apps is no longer sufficient. Transforming our oldest industries calls for more than new technology; sophisticated knowledge of regulations, testing protocols, and traditional physical assets are now essential.

Notifications are highly reliable, except when device manufacturers interfere.

one signal:

After several years of rapid improvements, notifications are now at a point of maturity and broad availability to be the primary way for apps to deliver time-sensitive messages to their users. The advantages over SMS are severalfold – wider platform availability through both mobile apps and web browsers, richer content, better deliverability, greater interactivity, and more user control. It’s now only a matter of time before app-to-user SMS goes away entirely.
 Nevertheless, although notifications are more reliable than SMS, they’re not as reliable as they can be. The problem is due to device manufacturers not realizing just how much users rely on notifications throughout their daily lives.
 In a misguided attempt to increase battery life (or just the appearance of it in benchmarks), many device manufacturers have modified the Android operating system in ways that interfere with prompt notification delivery. Below is a list of affected manufacturers and devices we’ve seen here at OneSignal, along with the steps users must take to fix the problem:

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,”

Monte Reel , Kae Inoue , John Lippert , Jie Ma , and Ania Nussbaum:

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,” Ghosn tells them. Production, profit, growth—the bottom line. Diversions constantly arise, but he’s learned to manage the distractions, which he says assume different forms in different parts of the world. “In Japan,” he says, “people have a tendency to preserve other people. But if you start to look at people, and not your scorecard, you’re going to be in trouble. If you start to say, ‘He’s not very good, but, hey, he’s such a good person, and he’s nice, and he’s a stand-up guy,’ then you’re compromising.”
 It doesn’t take long for an indirect challenge to rise from the crowd: Can’t a modern executive do more than protect his bottom line? A Thai business consultant asks him to consider the example of driverless cars and the potential they have to ease congestion. Nissan is a leader in the field; it’s already selling its Serena model, with driver assistance, in Japan. But maybe, the man suggests, companies such as Ghosn’s should first introduce them to Bangkok and other underdeveloped cities, where rapid globalization has brought increased mobility but also haphazard urbanization and murderous traffic. Conventional business wisdom says companies should first test them in places with advanced infrastructures, but why shouldn’t Ghosn focus on the places where they’d do the most good? “Change the entire society,” the man urges Ghosn. “Disrupt!”

The Great Retail Apocalypse

Die Worker:

And therein lies the story of men’s knitwear. Over the last 75 years, the center of the industry has moved away from Scotland and gone to China and Italy. China competes on price; Italy competes on design. Scotland has struggled because it hasn’t been very good at either, instead just banging out the same classics year after year. The story isn’t too dissimilar from the one Antonio Ciongoli told me a few weeks ago, when I interviewed him about how he designs clothes. When he did his first Eidos collection, he found that the worst sellers included the quarter-zip sweaters and five-pocket chinos everyone told him he had to make. The reason is because they were buried under a mountain of all-too-similar designs from other brands. Today, his best sellers include a unique field jacket and belted cardigan, both of which are distinctive to an Eidos look.
 There’s a word for this: commodification. It’s when a market is so competitive products become nearly indistinguishable, so they primarily compete on price. Think of the difference between a blank white t-shirt and a Rick Owens “unstable” tee. There a million options for the first, so the price ceiling is low. Rick Owens’ tee, on the other hand, is much more unique, so it’s able to command higher prices.
 The difference is that now everything is being commodified. Fast fashion retailers can ripoff a runway look within a month; trends pass through the fashion ecosystem at light speed; and consumers can more easily comparison shop. When a guy is looking at a field jacket at J. Crew, he can compare it against the hundreds of options online, even while he’s in the store. All he needs is a WiFi connection.

Ranking the Most Popular Websites by Demographic


Just because a website makes content for a specific audience – say women or baby boomers – doesn’t mean that other groups won’t find and consume it too. If you could walk into a brick-and-mortar version of your favorite news site, what would you see? Mostly women? Millennials? Would you be surprised with what you found?
 We analyzed data from Priceonomics customer Quantcast, a company that measures and quantifies web audiences. Quantcast uses a combination of direct measurement and inferential statistical models, we’re able to determine the gender, age, income, and education makeup of a website’s traffic. We turned to this data set to find out which websites drew the most male, female, millennial, senior, parent, wealthy and educated audiences.
 For these rankings, we looked at the top 500 websites in the U.S. analyzed by Quantcast, ranging from 8 million to 3 billion pageviews per month. Companies that use Quantcast Measure – known to us as “quantified” sites – include about half of all major websites, including sites like BuzzFeed, The Onion, Yelp, and Stack Overflow.
 Zulily and BlogLovin take home the award for the greatest percentage of female visitors, while New Arena and Covers, sports and sports betting websites, take home the gold for having the most male audience. Gizmodo Media Group – which owns Deadspin, Kotaku, and Jezebel – has the millennial market in hand, while conservative news sites like Con

“The rise of smartphones has made this a more pressing need”

Richard Waters

The main aim of the service — anticipating what users might want to know and supplying results before they enter a search query — echoes a line of experiments dating back to when Marissa Mayer, who went on to head Yahoo, was one of its main product managers.
 “They’ve been trying to do this a long time,” said Greg Sterling, a US search engine analyst. The rise of smartphones has made this a more pressing need, since people are less likely than they are on PCs to spend time on Google’s service clicking through search results to research a topic, he said.
 Mr Gomes said that “the vast majority” of Google’s searches were now conducted on mobile devices. “The needs and expectations of users have changed.”

The Financial Industry Needs to Start Planning for the Next 50 Years, Not the Next Five

Nadeem Shaikh:

Despite rapid innovations in data processing and machine learning, many businesses have yet to make the leap from the Industrial Age to the information age, and the gap between technological and organizational progress is widening. Closing this gap requires much more than short-term fixes, like adopting new technologies. Businesses need to organize around long-term strategies for growth and partnership in a sustainable way. The consequences for not doing so can be dire.
 The financial services industry is still in the early stages of digital transformation. Some organizations have been quicker to embrace this shift, while others remain firmly entrenched in Industrial Age mindsets. Goldman Sachs falls into the former category, and is providing a model for industry peers to emulate. Beyond simply nodding to the need for greater innovation, it has begun to take a series of bold, decisive steps that are atypical of financial services firms companies. From elevating its former CIO to CFO, as it increasingly defines itself as a technology company rather than a financial services firm, to emerging as one of the most high-profile advocates of cryptocurrencies, it’s clear that the company is thinking in longer time horizons than quarter to quarter or year to year.

You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product

Quote Investigator:

Richard Serra? Carlota Fay Schoolman? Steve Atkins? Tom Johnson? Andrew Lewis? blue_beetle? Tim O’Reilly?
 Dear Quote Investigator: For decades the most powerful mass medium has been television. The internet has dramatically shifted our access to information. Nowadays, society reflects upon itself by using internet search engines. Yet, both of these fundamental channels of communication, access, and synthesis are primarily supported by advertising. A pithy expression explicates the resultant skewed perspective:
 You’re not the customer; you’re the product.

“Amazon is always looking for ways to add more perceived value to it, preferably with no marginal cost”

Ben Evans:

The smartphone is the sun and everything else orbits it…

How financial technology affects everyday life


What exactly is fintech? How is it impacting consumers?
 These are some of the questions we asked Yvette Butler of Capital One Investing and Dr. Jason Mars, CEO and co-founder of Clinc Inc, a start up that builds an artificial intelligence platform for financial services.

The evolution of The Economist’s social media team How we’ve changed our approach over the past two years

Denise Law:

That’s why we’ve diversified our sources of traffic by focusing more on app push notifications and newsletters. Since January, our team has been experimenting with different types of push notifications to figure out what works. We’re also beta-testing and preparing to launch a new newsletter later this year. (Details to come!)
 The Economist has more than 40m social media followers, but what does that actually mean in terms of their propensity to engage with and subscribe to our publication? Not much.
 We’re more interested in driving high-quality engagements and traffic, and trying to hone in on the behaviours — bounce rate, articles read, retention and time spent — that lead people to ultimately become loyal fans and subscribers. For us, reach is a meaningless metric if it does not translate into anything concrete.

“With consumers, PCs having almost become an obsolete product”

Ben Evans:

There’s a pretty common argument in tech that though of course there are billions more smartphones than PCs, and will be many more still, smartphones are not really the next computing platform, just a computing platform, because smartphones (and the tablets that derive from them) are only used for consumption where PCs are used for creation. You might look at your smartphone a lot, but once you need to create, you’ll go back to a PC.

There are two pretty basic problems with this line of thinking. First, the idea that you cannot create on a smartphone or tablet assumes both that the software on the new device doesn’t change and that the nature of the work won’t change. Neither are good assumptions. You begin by making the new tool fit the old way of working, but then the tool changes how you work. More importantly though, I think the whole idea that people create on PCs today, with today’s tools and tasks, is flawed, and, so, I think, is the idea that people aren’t already creating on mobile. It’s the other way around. People don’t create on PCs – they create on mobile.

PC Market Downturn Continues Into Its Sixth Year:

There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the PC market, as it continues its lean run in the recently concluded second quarter. The PC market has been on a secular decline for five years now, and the second quarter marked the eleventh straight quarter PC shipments fell year over year.

The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

Jakob Nielsen:

If you want to target a broad consumer audience, it’s safest to assume that users’ skills are those specified for level 1. (But, remember that 14% of adults have even poorer skills, even disregarding the many who can’t use a computer at all.)
 To recap, level 1 skills are:
 Little or no navigation required to access the information or commands required to solve the problem
 Few steps and a minimal number of operators
 Problem resolution requiring the respondent to apply explicit criteria only (no implicit criteria)
 Few monitoring demands (e.g., having to check one’s progress toward the goal)
 Identifying content and operators done through simple match (no transformation or inferences needed)
 No need to contrast or integrate information
 Anything more complicated, and your design can only be used by people with skills at level 2 or 3, meaning that you’re down to serving 31% of the population in the United States, 35% in Japan and the UK, 37% in Canada and Singapore, and 38% in Northern Europe and Australia. Again, the international variations don’t matter much relative to the big-picture conclusion: keep it extremely simple, or two thirds of the population can’t use your design.

Apple’s Health and Fitness Push Accelerates as it Turns 3

Jan Dawson:

In what was one of the most packed WWDC keynotes in recent memory, the Apple Watch got under 15 minutes of stage time, and health and fitness features got only a fraction of that. But that’s not really indicative of all the additions to Apple’s health, fitness, and broader wellness features being made this year, and it’s certainly not indicative of Apple’s commitment to the space. I spent some time this week getting briefings about both what’s new in Apple’s own software, and what developers and others are bringing to the party.
 Four Key Domains in Health
 Apple’s focus in health, fitness, and wellness is clear from the moment you open its Health app – it highlights four key domains for which the app can track data:

Disrupting the trust business

The Economist:

“WE LIKE lists because we don’t want to die.” What Umberto Eco, an Italian writer, said about human beings applies even more to the institutions they create. Without lists that keep track of people and things, most big organisations would collapse.
 Lists range from simple checklists to complex databases, but they all have one major drawback: we must trust their keepers. Administrators hold the power. They can doctor corporate accounts, delete titles from land registries or add names to party rolls. To stop the keepers from going rogue, and catch them if they do, society has come to rely on all sorts of tools, from audits to supervisory boards. Together, list-keepers and those who watch them form one of the world’s biggest and least noticed industries, the trust business.
 Now imagine a parallel universe in which lists have declared independence: they maintain themselves. This, broadly, is the promise of the “blockchain”, the system which underlies bitcoin, a digital currency, and similar “distributed-ledger” technologies. If blockchains take over, as fans are sure they will, what are the implications of the trust business migrating into the ether?
 It would not be the first time a novel form of list-making changed the world. More than 500 years ago a new accounting technique, later known as double-entry book-keeping, emerged in northern Italy. It was a big step in the development of the modern company and economy. Werner Sombart, a German sociologist who died in 1941, argued that double-entry book-keeping marked the birth of capitalism. It allowed people other than the owner of a business to keep track of its finances.

Amazon Prime Is a Blessing and a Curse For Remote Towns

Kaleigh Rogers:

Profits are for suckers

D/D Advisers

Once upon a time, in the olden days, companies started out small. They made something, they sold that something for a little bit more than it cost to make. They reinvested that bit, and grew the business. Eventually they got big enough that they went public. Their stock was valued on their profits.
 Apparently, those days are over. Selling something for more than it costs to produce is overrated. Profits are for suckers.
 This started during the last Bubble in the 1990’s. It became common for companies to go public while they were still losing money. Then the crash came in 2001. For a while, companies again needed to be profitable before going public. But in the ensuing decade, the public markets eased up on that restriction. For a period, companies merely needed to go public with a plan to reach profitability. Today, even that plan is no longer required. We do not have the historical data to back this up, but it seems pretty likely that the number of high-profile companies with little or no profitability is at some kind of historical high.

Related: Redfin S-1.

The Impact of Autonomous and Electric Cars on Cities

Christopher Beech::

Although the potential impact of autonomous and electric cars has been talked about extensively on technology blogs and podcasts, I’ve seen little discussion on urban planning and architecture sites. How might our cities change as a result of new road transportation technologies? How might technology change cycling? Here I explore the ideas of Benedict Evans and Horace Dediu and add a few of my own.
 Autonomous cars may yet be 5-10 years away from reality. And what currently works well in sunny California may not work quite so well in rainy Manchester or worse. Similarly, if algorithms are trained in the US where ‘jaywalking’ is a crime, I’d want to see how well they can learn about London’s rather more anarchical pedestrians crossing the road anywhere, any which way.
 Autonomous cars will vastly reduce accidents, injuries and deaths and the subsequent costs on society. If roads are safer might cities become that little bit less stressful? Would there be a psychological shift for potential cyclists? True autonomous cars won’t require fixed traffic lanes but I’d imagine that cyclists would still prefer the safety of their own lane.

The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem

Chris Aldrich::

Here’s what’s happening
 I write my content on my own personal site. I automatically syndicate it to Facebook. My mom, who seems to be on Facebook 24/7, immediately clicks “like” on the post. The Facebook algorithm immediately thinks that because my mom liked it, it must be a family related piece of content–even if it’s obviously about theoretical math, a subject in which my mom has no interest or knowledge. (My mom has about 180 friends on Facebook; 45 of them overlap with mine and the vast majority of those are close family members).
 The algorithm narrows the presentation of the content down to very close family. Then my mom’s sister sees it and clicks “like” moments later. Now Facebook’s algorithm has created a self-fulfilling prophesy and further narrows the audience of my post. As a result, my post gets no further exposure on Facebook other than perhaps five people–the circle of family that overlaps in all three of our social graphs. Naturally, none of these people love me enough to click “like” on random technical things I think are cool. I certainly couldn’t blame them for not liking these arcane topics, but shame on Facebook for torturing them for the exposure when I was originally targeting maybe 10 other colleagues to begin with.

With Amazon on the rise and a business tycoon in the the White House, can a new generation of Democrats return the party to its trust-busting roots?

Matt Stoller:

On July 15, 2015, Amazon marked the twentieth anniversary of its founding with a “global shopping event” called Prime Day. Over the next 24 hours, starting at midnight, the company offered special discounts every ten minutes to the 44 million users of Amazon Prime, its members-only benefit program. The event was astonishingly successful: Amazon made 34 million Prime sales that day, nearly 20 percent more than it had on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving buying bonanza. The company received almost 400 orders per second—all on a single, ordinary day in the middle of summer.

The Rise and Fall of Working From Home

Rebecca Greenfield:

Last year, Richard Laermer decided to let his employees work from home on a regular basis. “We hire adults, they shouldn’t be tied to the office five days a week,” said Laermer, who owns a New York-based public relations firm. “I always assumed that you can get your work done anywhere, as long as you actually get it done.”
 Turns out, he was wrong.
 Employees took advantage of the perk, Laermer said. One was unavailable for hours at a time. Another wouldn’t communicate with co-workers all day, which Laermer found suspicious. The last straw, he said, was when someone refused to come in for a meeting because she had plans to go to the Hamptons. “That was the most unbelievably nervy thing I’d heard in years,” he said.

Americans Who Can’t Afford Their Homes Up 146 Percent

Ben Popken:

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.
 Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
 But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

What will remain of your brand, if you are only a name, a price and a schedule?

Victoria Moores:

“People don’t notice things that are the same; they notice things which are different.” I don’t remember where I first heard this quote, but it’s true.
 That’s bad news for the cookie-cutter airline experience…or is it? When there is little differentiation, it doesn’t take much to differentiate.
 Norwegian has used free Wifi on short-haul to be different. Having WiFi – paid or unpaid – is still rare on short-haul European flights. But it strikes me as odd that they haven’t transferred this unique selling point to their long-haul flights too. Norwegian’s Boeing 787s don’t have WiFi.
 Being different doesn’t need to be complex. KLM has used social media to stand apart. After a few one-off social media projects, the Dutch airline was fuelled by a desire to be different and is now using artificial intelligence (AI) to create a balance between IT-driven personalization and a human experience. This sounds an awful lot like PR speak. It’s not.
 “Bots and AI are bad for quite a lot of cases, but you would be stupid to not use it for some others. Technology is no longer problem. We want to combine the best of both worlds,” KLM social media development manager Martine van der Lee told the Future Travel Experience (FTE), Europe conference in Dublin.

“Passive investing is another technological advance. It will free up resources to focus on less-efficient markets such as real estate, infrastructure and private debt. This will be good for society,” he says.

Chris Flood:

The shift into passive investments has helped to boost MSCI’s annual revenues from $370m in 2007, when it first became a publicly listed company, to $1.2bn. Annual net profits have increased from $81m to $261m over the same period.
 Active management is “clearly in a long downcycle” in equity markets, says Mr Fernandez, but he willingly acknowledges the importance of its wider role in allocating capital.
 “What planet are we on with this talk of the death of active investment? We are still far from creating efficient allocations across capital markets globally,” he says.
 Among his many interests outside of MSCI, Mr Fernandez serves on the board of trustees of Stanford University and the board of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. These roles have fuelled a deep interest in technology and the potential for advances in computing to bring benefits to modern societies.
 “Passive investing is another technological advance. It will free up resources to focus on less-efficient markets such as real estate, infrastructure and private debt. This will be good for society,” he says.

Why the Future of Stuff Is Having More and Owning Less

Vanessa Bates Ramirez::

If you’re one of the many people who’s embraced the sharing economy, you’ve probably stayed in someone else’s apartment or ridden in someone else’s car. Maybe you’ve also done away with your clutter of DVDs, books, or CDs, since you can watch movies on Netflix, read books on Kindle, and hear music on Pandora.
 The concept of having more while owning less sounds paradoxical, but that’s exactly the scenario we’re finding ourselves in. Technology is enabling us to move away from ownership and towards an economy based on sharing and subscriptions. Platforms like Airbnb and Lyft or Uber connect renters and riders to landlords and drivers, and digitization means all kinds of media can be stored, streamed, or downloaded in seconds.
 But where does it end? Are there things we’ll always want to own, and if so, what are they?
 In a new video from Big Think, author and WIRED founding executive editor Kevin Kelly explores the limits of what he calls the subscription economy and asks, “Is this the end of owning stuff?”

10 Emerging Technologies to Watch

Scientific American:

Innovations that are on the verge of making a difference to society

Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2017

Scientific American::

Which 10 disruptive solutions are now poised to change the world?

This Is How Big Oil Will Die

Seth Miller::

Let’s bring this back to today: Big Oil is perhaps the most feared and respected industry in history. Oil is warming the planet — cars and trucks contribute about 15% of global fossil fuels emissions — yet this fact barely dents its use. Oil fuels the most politically volatile regions in the world, yet we’ve decided to send military aid to unstable and untrustworthy dictators, because their oil is critical to our own security. For the last century, oil has dominated our economics and our politics. Oil is power.
 Yet I argue here that technology is about to undo a century of political and economic dominance by oil. Big Oil will be cut down in the next decade by a combination of smartphone apps, long-life batteries, and simpler gearing. And as is always the case with new technology, the undoing will occur far faster than anyone thought possible.
 To understand why Big Oil is in far weaker a position than anyone realizes, let’s take a closer look at the lynchpin of oil’s grip on our lives: the internal combustion engine, and the modern vehicle drivetrain.

Real estate site Redfin files for IPO


Redfin, the popular real estate listings site, has filed for IPO.
 The Seattle-based company unveiled its filing, suggesting that it will raise $100 million, a placeholder that is subject to change.
 The timing of the filing implies that Redfin is likely to debut in late July or early August. Because of the JOBS Act, most companies can wait until 15 days before their investor roadshow to reveal their filing. Almost all of them take advantage of this.
 This was a long time coming for Redfin, which got its start in 2004. Since then, the company has raised at least $167 million in venture funding.
 Greylock Partners is the largest shareholder with a 12.4 percent stake, followed by Madrona Ventures with 11.4 percent, Tiger Global at 10.5 percent and Draper Fisher Jurvetson at 10.2 percent.

Monopolies and the Middle Class

Noah Smith:

But Pareene’s focus on conservative political appeal is much too narrow. The white middle-class that tended to support leaders like Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush, lost huge percentages of their life’s savings because of excessive fees paid to actively managed mutual funds, financial advisers, stockbrokers, pension fund managers and the like. They also paid 6 percent real estate commissions even as people in most countries paid much less. They rejected the Clintons’ health-care plan in 1993, and ended up paying double what people in other countries pay for comparable treatment. They forked over more and more money in college tuition. They paid higher prices to companies that went on to monopolize markets after spending millions convincing the government to allow their megamergers. The spectacular rise of U.S. wealth inequality shows that trillions of dollars in middle-class assets were shifted up the socio-economic ladder into the hands of a relatively small and fantastically rich upper tier.
 Each of these little free-market failures was another slice off of the ham that was the wealth of the American middle class. The people who thought they were going to be the guests of honor at the feast ended up being the main course.
 But this is only part of the answer. Much of middle-class Americans’ prosperity wasn’t stolen — it was never there to begin with. Hidden fees and overpriced services took away real wealth, but unrealistic expectations created fantasies of future wealth whose evaporation is probably an even bigger source of disappointment.
 Why did U.S. households save less and less during the neoliberal era?

How Zillow Became an internet villain

Megan McArdle:

Take Zillow, for example. The real estate site noticed that McMansion Hell, a blog specializing in acerbic architectural commentary on modern developments, seemed to be using some Zillow images. Zillow didn’t like this; Zillow makes money by helping agents sell houses, not helping bloggers make fun of them. So Zillow sent a cease-and-desist letter to Kate Wagner, who runs the site, ordering her to take down the photos.
 Wagner took the site down. She also took to Twitter to beg for help. In short order, she had a lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and also, a wave of social media outrage at her plight. That wave crashed over Zillow, whose apologists had to shamefacedly explain that they had not intended to force her to shutter McMansion Hell.
 Now I am not a lawyer. But people who are lawyers specializing in First Amendment jurisprudence seem to think that Zillow hasn’t a legal leg to stand on. While copyright does prevent people from simply reprinting images or words that another person has created, there are exceptions for “fair use,” including for the purposes of parody or commentary. Fair use is not an unlimited right to copy, but it seems pretty clear that making fun of the houses on Zillow falls within those limitations.
 But even if the law had been behind them, Zillow would have been wise to refrain. That’s because the internet creates something known as the “Streisand Effect.” In 2003, Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress publication of photographs of her Malibu beach home. Prior to this ill-fated effort to disappear them, almost no one had been aware that these photographs existed. Afterwards, everyone knew — and looked.

Mobile Fact Sheet

Pew Internet::

In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices. Explore the patterns and trends that have shaped the mobile revolution below.

The Tiny Satellites Ushering in the New Space Revolution

Ashlee Vance::

This satellite constellation is one of many signs that the relationship between humans and space is changing in ways unseen since Russia and the U.S. began sending rockets into orbit six decades ago. Thanks to modern software, artificial intelligence, advances in electronics and materials, and a generation of aggressive, unconventional entrepreneurs, we are awash in space startups. These companies envision an era in which rockets take off daily, filling the skies with satellites that sense Earth’s every action—in effect building a computational shell around our planet. The people constructing this bustling new economic highway promise it will improve life down below, but the future they describe is packed with wonder and controversy in equal measure—and although few have noticed, it’s coming to pass right now.
 The New Space revolution’s satellite boom began near another marshland, two oceans away from Sriharikota, where the San Francisco Bay meets the border of Mountain View, Calif. There you’ll find the NASA Ames Research Center, marked by odd-shaped buildings and some hangars that once housed Depression-era airships and enormous old wind tunnels.
 Since 2006, under the stewardship of Pete Worden, Ames has garnered a reputation for far-flung experimentation. Worden, an astrophysicist and former U.S. Air Force brigadier general, spent decades running Black Ops missions and oversaw the development of Ronald Reagan’s never-built Star Wars missile defense shield, among other jobs geared toward weaponizing space. At Ames he delighted in hiring adventurous young engineers for unusual research projects and forged strong ties with Silicon Valley, inviting startups to set up on NASA property and creating commercial links between the organization and Google Inc. He was also eccentric, occasionally donning a robe and taking to the surrounding fields with a staff to herd goats.

Civics and Privacy: Google anti-trust case

Scott Cleland::

And the FTC’s abrupt and chaotic closure of all Google antitrust matters January 3, 2013, (after Google was publicly credited with successfully helping the 2012 Presidential Reelect campaign, see: Bloomberg,, Bloomberg, Built in Chicago, Time Magazine.), U.S. antitrust scrutiny went from intense before the election to nearly non-existent at the FTC and DOJ after January 3, 2013.
 During this apparent Google antitrust pardon period, Google acquired 85 companies per Wikpedia.
 The recent change in Administrations creates the opportunity for a fresh look at the available evidence without any strictures on which companies the FTC and DOJ can investigate.
 If one considers the clear evidentiary patterns that emerge from a decade of Google antitrust investigations, a slam dunk U.S. v. Alphabet-Google antitrust case can come into sharp focus.
 The Apparent Slam Dunk U.S. v. Alphabet-Google Antitrust Case
 Starting Point: Make the case, not about Google’s discrimination of search results, like the FTC or the EU did, and where Google’s antitrust defense is relatively strongest and most developed, but make the case about the Google anti-competitive behaviors about which Google has virtually no good defenses.
 That would be a pure Sherman Act Section II antitrust case about how Google has monopolized, attempted to monopolize, combined, and conspired with multiple companies and persons to monopolize many parts of the trade and commerce in the search advertising and Internet search syndication markets.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has been quite active politically.

Retail’s Single Biggest Disruptor. Spoiler Alert: It’s Not E-commerce

Steve Dennis:

To be sure, online shopping has, and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on virtually every aspect of retail. One simply cannot ignore the dramatic share shift from physical stores to digital commerce, nor can we under-estimate the transformative effect of e-commerce on pricing, product availability and shopping convenience.

Yet a far more profound dynamic is at play, namely what some have termed “digital-first retail.” Digital-first retail is the growing tendency of consumers’ shopping journeys to be influenced by digital channels, regardless of where the ultimate transaction takes place. It’s obvious that this shift helps explain the success of Amazon and other e-commerce players. But when it comes to how traditional retailers need to reinvent themselves, several factors related to this phenomenon need to be better understood and, most importantly, acted upon.

The majority of physical store sales start online. Deloitte has done a great job tracking digitally influenced sales and its most recent report indicates 56% of in-store sales involved a digital device–and this will only continue to grow. Moreover, quite a few major retailers, across a spectrum of categories, have publicly commented that they are experiencing 60-70% digital influence of physical stores sales.
Digitally-influenced brick & mortar sales dwarf e-commerce. While e-commerce now accounts for (depending on the source) some 10% of all retail sales, both Forrester and Deloitte have estimated that web-influenced physical store sales are about 5X online sales.

For UK Mothers, It’s All About Smartphones and Social Media


Based on January 2017 usage data, the report found that UK women ages 25 to 54 with children in their households spent most of their time online (59%) via smartphone. By comparison, among women in that age group without children at home, the smartphone figure was a more modest 48%. The nonmothers spent comparatively more time on desktop computers (35%) than did the women with kids at home (26%).
 The device usage patterns were similar for men, with male parents of kids at home also overindexing for smartphone time spent online compared with child-free men in the UK ages 25 to 54.

The New York Times CEO on state of digital advertising: ‘Nightmarish joke

Brian Morrissey:

“The world of digital advertising is a nightmarish joke,” he said during a panel discussion at the Cannes Lions. “Mark Zuckerberg’s first post about fake news, Facebook managed to serve an ad for fake news next to it. It’s a joke. It’s out of control. There are all sorts of creepy, borderline fraudulent middlemen, this thicket of strange companies, tracking pixels on everything. You couldn’t think of a more dangerous environment for a brand.”
 In case there was any mistaking his position, Thompson added a further assessment: “a complete mess.”
 “In terms of brand safety, you couldn’t think of a more dangerous environment,” he added. “A monster has been created.”
 I asked Thompson whether he blames ad tech for the current situation. He said the entire digital media world is too premised on audience buying.
 “The ecosystem that’s grown up is a strangely shaped thing,” he said. “It’s based on the idea that content doesn’t matter.”

What works in e-commerce – a meta-analysis of 6700 online experiments

Will Browne, Mike Swarbrick Jones:

Today, it is relatively simple to experiment with different versions of the same website. There are many technologies and tools that can help e-commerce businesses build and run randomised controlled trials (otherwise known as A/B tests). The amount of data available to large e-commerce sites means that businesses can measure the effect of changing design, messaging and merchandising. Over the last three years, Qubit has been helping these businesses explore which changes are associated with an increase in revenue.
In previous work [7], Qubit showed that many of the practices used in the A/B testing industry at the time were fundamentally flawed. Since its release we have seen a change in both the statistical models used in the industry, and a shift to more robust experimental procedures. In this paper, we would like to move the industry forward again, and answer the question – what kind of changes do our clients make, and how do they impact revenue?
We will present the results of a meta-analysis, conducted in 2017, on Qubit’s large database of experiments. We will describe the effects of 29 treatment types and estimate the cumulative impact of these experiments on site wide revenue. The methodology used in this paper was independently assured by PricewaterhouseCoopers UK LLP (PwC)1. To our knowledge, this is the first published, independently assured quantitative analysis of its type. We hope it will be used to improve the quality of A/B testing, to reset expectations, and to prioritise optimisations to websites.
We have decided to separate this work into three sections to answer three slightly different questions, keeping methodologies and results together where possible. In section 2 we divide our experiments into different treatment categories, and estimate the overall impact of each of them. In section 3 we estimate the overall distribution of all experiment impacts used in this work. In section 4 we look at how A/B testing impacts overall site-wide revenue across sets of web-domains. There are a number of appendices expanding on the results of these sections.

Quicken Loans/Rocket: Before You Hit “Submit,” This Company Has Already Logged Your Personal Data

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu:

If you’re daydreaming about buying a home or need to lower the payment on the one you already have, you might pay a visit to the Quicken Loans mortgage calculator. You’ll be asked a quick succession of questions that reveal how much cash you have on hand or how much your home is worth and how close you are to paying it off. Then Quicken will tell you how much you’d owe per month if you got a loan from them and asks for your name, email address, and phone number.
 You might fill in the contact form, but then have second thoughts. Do you really want to tell this company how much you’re worth or how in debt you are? You change your mind and close the page before clicking the Submit button and agreeing to Quicken’s privacy policy.
 But it’s too late. Your email address and phone number have already been sent to a server at “,” which is owned by NaviStone, a company that advertises its ability to unmask anonymous website visitors and figure out their home addresses. NaviStone’s code on Quicken’s site invisibly grabbed each piece of your information as you filled it out, before you could hit the “Submit” button.

Quicken Loans’ In-House Realty wading further into real estate

Teke Wiggin::

n-House Realty is leveraging the acquisition to build a platform that will fuse property search with both its referral network and Quicken Loans’ lending experience.

Consumers will be able to use the coming platform to get pre-approved by Quicken Loans, zero in on listings and connect with an agent to see the properties.

It will present agents based largely on their performance data, facilitate instant communication between buyer and seller and tee up quick showings.

“We have all of the information on our partner [agent] that we can instantly share with the consumer because of our experience with the lender and our experience with the agent partner in that market,” Seabolt said.

In-House Realty plans to launch the new platform later this year or sometime in 2018.

This is only the beginning of Quicken Loans’ push into real estate.

In-House Realty is tinkering with ideas and technology in a laboratory-like environment. All the experimentation is aimed at streamlining the homebuying process and, ultimately, crafting the ever-elusive “end-to-end solution” for the industry, Seabolt said.

The basis of competition continues to change. Virtual Properties offers end to end lead generation/management, documents and transaction services along with core service integration (mortgage, insurance, relocation). Contact 608 468 6013 or to learn more.

Surveillance business models: How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Sends You Letters about Your Medical Condition

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu:

Yet there’s some medical information that Acurian doesn’t have to guess about: The company pays Walgreens, which uses a privacy exemption for research, to send recruitment letters to its pharmacy customers on Acurian’s behalf, based on the medications they’re using. Under this arrangement, Acurian notes that it doesn’t access the medical information directly; the customers’ identities remain private until they respond to the invitations.
 And that is not the entire story. An investigation by the Special Projects Desk has found that Acurian may also be pursuing people’s medical information more directly, using the services of a startup that advertises its ability to unmask anonymous website visitors. This could allow it harvest the identities of people seeking information about particular conditions online, before they’ve consented to anything.

Google (and Facebook), not GCHQ, is the truly chilling spy network

John Naughton:

During the hoo-ha, one of the spooks with whom I discussed Snowden’s revelations waxed indignant about our coverage of the story. What bugged him (pardon the pun) was the unfairness of having state agencies pilloried, while firms such as Google and Facebook, which, in his opinion, conducted much more intensive surveillance than the NSA or GCHQ, got off scot free. His argument was that he and his colleagues were at least subject to some degree of democratic oversight, but the companies, whose business model is essentially “surveillance capitalism”, were entirely unregulated.
 He was right. “Surveillance”, as the security expert Bruce Schneier has observed, is the business model of the internet and that is true of both the public and private sectors. Given how central the network has become to our lives, that means our societies have embarked on the greatest uncontrolled experiment in history. Without really thinking about it, we have subjected ourselves to relentless, intrusive, comprehensive surveillance of all our activities and much of our most intimate actions and thoughts. And we have no idea what the long-term implications of this will be for our societies – or for us as citizens.

The Grocery Store Of The Future Is Mobile, Self-Driving, And Run By A

Adele Peters:

For consumers, it’s designed to be an easier way to shop. To use the store, called Moby, you download an app and use your phone to open the door. A hologram-like AI greets you, and, as you shop, you scan what you want to buy or place it in a smart basket that tracks your purchases. Then you walk out the door; instead of waiting in line, the store automatically charges your card when you leave (Amazon is testing a similar system). The tiny shop will stock fresh food and other daily supplies, and if you want something else you can order it using the store’s artificial intelligence. The packages will be waiting when you return to shop the next time. When autonomous vehicles are allowed on roads, the store could also show up at your home, and the company is also testing a set of drones to make small deliveries.

The Mall of the Future Will Have No Stores

Esther Fang:

When Starwood Capital Group LLC bought Fairlane Town Center in 2014, the investment firm had a lot of work to do.
 The Dearborn, Mich., mall was only 72% leased, and among the vacant space was a sprawling former anchor store.
 A chance call to Ford Motor Co. to sell some mall advertising turned out to be a game changer. In April, Ford moved its entire engineering and purchasing staff into space once inhabited by department-store chain Lord & Taylor. Ford is now the mall’s largest tenant, with 240,000 square feet of space.