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Adam may be on vacation, but the rest of us can still enjoy his work. In a feature out today for Fortune, Adam profiles Silicon Valley management guru Eric Ries, who is trying to teach big companies like Procter & Gamble and General Electric to innovate like much smaller startups.
Ries is probably best known as the author of the 2011 book Lean Startup, which popularized the strategy of developing a “minimum viable product,” so companies can test a new market and “pivot” to something else if it fails. And while the book led to a busy and successful consulting practice, Ries is now concentrating on what he sees as a much bigger problem underlying many of the challenges that trip up big companies: the pressure from being a public company reporting quarterly results. Forced short-term thinking is bad for long-term success, and scares many companies away from going public in the first place, he says.
“I don’t really understand what people’s plan is if this trend continues,” Ries tells Fortune. “We’re going to wind up with, like, seven public companies that are mega-conglomerates, and everything else is private. That’s a terrible policy outcome.”
As a result, Ries has a new startup of his own, called the Long-Term Stock Exchange. The idea is to create an alternative to venues like the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq with different rules that would prompt companies to do the right thing. For example, quarterly earnings guidance would be forbidden and the voting power of shareholders would increase the longer they held their shares. So far, however, no takers. Changing Wall Street may require the biggest pivot of all.
Sabotage. Google’s YouTube found itself at the center of a fake news controversy again, after the site promoted false conspiracy videos about a student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. The false video about survivor David Hogg made it to the top of YouTube’s trending list on Wednesday before attracting an outcry and being deleted. Google was also sued by former engineer Tim Chevalier, who was fired in part for allegedly overly-criticizing the sexist memo by also-fired and also-suing former engineer James Damore.
Root down. Some conservative commentators accused Twitter of bias after the social network began aggressively deleting fake or abusive accounts. Twitter said it was an equal opportunity deleter. “Twitter’s tools are apolitical and we enforce our rules without political bias,” the company said. Twitter is also moving to limit apps that allow users to make simultaneous posts across multiple accounts, a common tactic of propaganda bots.
Pass the mic. They may be getting a sinking feeling in the executive suite of Spotify today, after Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that his company, with its hundreds of billions of dollars of cash on hand, isn’t in the music streaming business to make money. “Music is a service that we think our users want us to provide,” Cook said in an interview with Fast Company. “It’s a service that we worry about the humanity being drained out of. We worry about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world, instead of the art and craft. You’re right, we’re not in it for the money.”
Sure shot. Uber introduced a new type of ride called Express Pool that’s even cheaper than its UberPool plan. Expected to be half as costly as the prior shared ride pool choice, Express requires riders to gather at specific pickup points.
Skills to pay the bills. A couple of small tech media companies reported results on Wednesday, but the implications were night and day. Shares of the struggling music streaming service Pandora rose 5% in premarket trading on Thursday after the company reported $395 million of revenue, up 7% and better than Wall Street expected. But shares of set top box maker Roku (though they object to that description and point to their growing ad revenue) dropped 19% on a weak forecast for first quarter sales and profit.
So what ‘cha want. Total TV advertising dropped 8% to $62 billion last year, the largest decline in a non-recession year in decades. Probably not coincidentally, network ratings for the most coveted viewer demographic, people age 18 to 49, dropped 10%.
(For reference: Non-Gen Xer headlines hints.)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Who needs bitcoin to launder their ill-gotten gains anymore? The most cutting edge way for crooks to move stolen money back into the real economy may be via…Amazon’s print book self-publishing business. It sounds unlikely but ace cybercrime report Brian Krebs has uncovered what looks like a scheme by crooks to steal the identities of real book authors, publish phony (and super-expensive) books on Amazon’s CreateSpace service, and wash thousands of dollars into the legitimate banking system.
Reames is a credited author on Amazon by way of several commodity industry books, although none of them made anywhere near the amount Amazon is reporting to the Internal Revenue Service. Nor does he have a personal account with Createspace. But that didn’t stop someone from publishing a “novel” under his name. That word is in quotations because the publication appears to be little more than computer-generated text, almost like the gibberish one might find in a spam email.
“Based on what I could see from the ‘sneak peak’ function, the book was nothing more than a computer generated ‘story’ with no structure, chapters or paragraphs — only lines of text with a carriage return after each sentence,” Reames said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity. The impersonator priced the book at $555 and it was posted to multiple Amazon sites in different countries. The book — which as been removed from most Amazon country pages as of a few days ago — is titled “Lower Days Ahead,” and was published on Oct 7, 2017.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
4 Things Everyone Should Fear About Artificial Intelligence and the Future By Jonathan Vanian
Why AT&T’s 5G Network Won’t Be Speeding Up Your Phone Anytime Soon By Aaron Pressman
Elon Musk Is Leaving the Board of an AI Safety Group He Co-Founded By Tom Huddleston Jr.
Now You Can Play ‘Angry Birds’ for Real Money By Chris Morris
Ex-Synack Engineers Raise $3 Million for Security Startup By Robert Hackett
Qualcomm Shows Off Slick VR Gear Powered by Mobile Phone Chip By Aaron Pressman
BEFORE YOU GO
Amazon’s video division has grabbed the rights to many a classic sci-fi novel in the search for creating their own Game of Thrones, including Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Next up is the somewhat more erudite if equally entertaining space opera (and a favorite of mine) Consider Phlebas by the late British sci-fi master, Iain M. Banks.