Tag Archives: Strategy

Uber And The False Hopes Of A Sharing Economy


At its inception, Uber touted itself as a shining example of the “sharing economy” described by Jeremy Rifkin, in this now famous book, The Third Industrial Revolution. As time has passed the reality has been radically at odds with a sharing economy.  Among the many issues that have emerged has been the legacy of Uber’s ugly corporate culture, secret apps used to confound regulators, and to intimidate journalists, a Justice Department investigation of illegal practices, including 200 Uber employees conspiring together to attack Lyft’s operations. The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, as municipalities around the world have begun to regain control of transportation policy within their jurisdictions, and the inflated valuations of these unicorns begin to deflate.

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“Specsmanship”: Missing the Point of a “Complete Product”


The Definition of “Specsmanship” Wikipedia defines Specsmanship as the inappropriate use of specifications or measurement results to establish the putative superiority of one entity over another, generally when no such superiority exists. It is commonly found in high fidelity audio equipment, automobiles and other apparatus where uneducated users identify some numerical value upon which to base their pride or derision, […]

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The Internet of Things: The Promise Versus the Tower of Hacked Babbling Things


The term “Internet of Things”  (IoT) is being loosely tossed around in the media.  But what does it mean? It means simply that data communication, like Internet communication, but not necessarily Internet Protocol packets, is emerging for all manner of “things” in the home, in your car, everywhere: light switches, lighting devices, thermostats, door locks, […]

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Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Culture Destroys It’s Own Goals


UPDATE: KALANICK VIDEO SURFACES. Suffice to say, people are angry with Uber, and things aren’t getting better. This is actually deja vu all over again. We have seen this before in Silicon Valley. The hubris of a company founders or founders creates an ugly overly aggressive and unrestrained culture in its employees and before long things begin to unravel. This has been quietly observed at Uber for some time, and can be gleaned by its own actions as reported in the press. Now, new self-inflicted cracks are appearing. More than 200,000 people have deleted the UBER app off their smart phones in the past month. After former employee Susan Fowler Rigetti published a detailed blog post about the sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly experienced at the company, people began deleting the ride sharing-app again. As more and more employees have spoken out about the alleged poor working conditions, Uber’s customer base is dwindling … and the company is getting desperate.

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Tough Love From Silicon Valley For Tough Times


Heidi Roizen is a very well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur. I first met Heidi years ago at a European COMDEX event in Nice when she was still in her entrepreneurial phase. Since that time she has gone on to fund numerous startups, and is now a Partner at Draper Fischer Jurvetson.  In this […]

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Tough Love From Silicon Valley For Tough Times


Heidi Roizen is a very well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur. I first met Heidi years ago at a European COMDEX event in Nice when she was still in her entrepreneurial phase. Since that time she has gone on to fund numerous startups, and is now a Partner at Draper Fischer Jurvetson. In this blog, Heidi is sounding the alarm to entrepreneurs that, as she says, the market has already turned for the worse. She has been there before and offers her sage advice to this generation of entrepreneurs on how to survive. IMHO, she is spot on.

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Facebook’s International Business Blunder: Following In The Footsteps of Google


With good intentions, and also a good dose of Facebook business strategy to expand its base of users, Mark Zuckerberg has struck out to promote Free Basics, a free limited Internet for the poor in less developed countries sponsored by Facebook and its local telecommunications partners. While on the face of it Free Basics would seem to have merit, Zuckerberg has run into a wall of opposition. On close inspection of the details, Facebook’s problem, despite all of its global corporate sophistication, appears to be naïveté about the foreign markets it is trying to enter. It is possible to argue that Zuckerberg and Facebook have the best of intentions and sound arguments. But the best of intentions and sound arguments mean nothing if the key element lacking is a clear understanding of the current foreign market, and the crucial need to adapt to it or fail. Zuckerberg could have looked no further back than 2013 for clues to why he has failed.

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Krugman Joins The Chorus Urging The Return Of Big Ideas In Technology and Venture Capital


Following my recent blog posts on Reid Hoffman, COP21, and an apparent resurgence of Big Ideas in technology, a growing group of venture capitalists are resurrecting their original mission in industry and the economy. Paul Krugman of the New York Times has also noticed and offers his hope that this trend continues. Max Marmer, who wrote his now legendary 2012 Harvard Business Review article, “Reversing the Decline in Big Ideas,” has stimulated a broad rethinking on what we should be focusing. The successful landing of Space X’s Falcon 9 is a hopeful early indication that Elon Musk is one of those on the right track.

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Online Business Education? Harvard versus Stanford


Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School are adopting drastically different strategies for delivering business education. These differing strategies are reflected in the debate that has erupted between two of Harvard Business School’s best known professors and their visions for the future of business education, Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen. I have also been personally tire kicking MOOC’s, acting as a mentor for Stanford’s online Technology Entrepreneurship course, hosted by NovoEd. I have been pleasantly surprised by the experience, and among the teams I am mentoring is a group of Xerox senior research scientists acting as an entrepreneurial team.

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Nimbleness: Strategy or Opportunism?


I am a strong believer in strategic focus, however I have also personally experienced a case where an “openness” to opportunism turned the enterprise from a pedestrian company to a Silicon Valley legend. Ascend Communications was “focused” on ISDN based video conferencing with an OEM agreement with AT&T. However, AT&T came to Ascend and asked if it could solve a much bigger problem…dial-up access to the Internet over the voice switches was overloading them. 90 days later, Ascend delivered the solution, and the rest is Silicon Valley legend. The Ascend MAX became the global industry standard for dial-up Internet access, and the company the most successful SV company in 1996. So it always pays to keep your eyes and ears open.

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