Dozen Worthy Reads 📰 (No. 175)
This week : Wordle/NYT, #daoboss, Googe/Android tablets, FTC & Monopsony, Diem's timely death, grocery delivery wars, design tools, ecommerce ads, header bidding, product momentum, web3.0 fixes ...
I hope you all are doing well and welcome to Dozen Worthy Reads. A newsletter where I talk about the most interesting things about tech that I read the past couple of weeks or write about tech happenings. You can sign up here or just read on …
Lets get into this Edition 175, which is a collection of interesting things I read over the past couple of weeks
Wordle gets acquired
As I wrote in What's the good Word(le)? I had really hoped that Wordle would stay independent but NYT acquired Wordle and it possibly isn’t the most evil thing that could happen but lets hope the “daily free” option still remains. For me it's less about NYT being the acquirer but as we know NYT is a successful subs business and the real question is how would they bundle this into an existing sub? NYT acquires Wordle
Meet your new boss. S/he is a smart contract!
A look at DAO’s and how they might impact future employment. I'm still a bit (maybe more than a bit) skeptical about this but time will tell.
How Google messed up Android Tablets
A really good look at how Google could have owned the low(ish) to mid end of tablets but faltered. Given their ad’s business had they owned the entire Tablet ecosystem it would not have made a material difference to their ad’s topline. Perhaps that's the strategy tax? Perhaps they are getting serious since it is now a substantial market?
FTC and Monopsony
The right way to think about Big tech’s debilitating power over suppliers (small and large alike). Consumer benefit is only considered to be an issue insofar as does the consumer have to pay more $. That is a weak lens where a consumer pays the lowest prices because suppliers have no choice. It's not a question that regulation is coming, it's just now a matter of when. On the consumer lens, a free product, as we all know, isn't free. I decided to dig deeper into how much Facebook really knows about me and tried to delete most of my prior updates (not that I have anything to hide, I just want to lead a more private life) but they have a lot of data.. A LOT. Of the FAANGM (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft) companies I truly think that Microsoft is in the best place followed by Netflix (from a regulation standpoint - Media censorship for TV’s and movies is not really new). I think the senators and regulators just despise Facebook, and Google. Money makes everyone jealous. I also think that Amazon might be in significant regulatory territory in the future. An interesting comparison is Airbnb and Uber (and home/rideshare), where, in general, because the manifestation was physical v/s digital regulation (kinda) already existed. However the party is over. What does this spell for new tech? Does this prevent new American tech from getting as easily created? Does this put a damper in tech pay? Does this help new tech that can meet “governmental” standards become more prominent in local countries (India, Russia, China already have a head start). This might just be the best time to start a company in India : How the FTC Is Reshaping the Antitrust Argument Against Tech Giants - WSJ
The death of a Diem
Facebook’s default “ask for permission, apologize later” worked and they used a different tack for Diem (nee Libra) but how did it end up? I wonder if their entire logic was flawed or there was more fear or crossing the line or perhaps David Marcus and his experience with Paypal helped further pave the “regulator” path? Killing Diem (ie selling) makes the most sense since Facebook’s brand makes it unsalvageable. However, considering stablecoins such as Tether that help with one of the functions of money , “store of value”, going the route of asking for forgiveness seems like it was the right way? Sometimes not having a brand or history or being a small company helps you stay under the radar and in service of the product rather than brand. Facebook though has a huge marketplace and alternative payment mechanisms might be a net good for business. However, if the Fed creates a CBDC, entirely all stablecoins become a moot point? Furthermore perhaps forgiveness was not an option since the law as far as Money Transmission is way more clear v/s the wild wild west of Social?
Grocery race to the bottom?
Venture subsidies are still a huge thing for a “new” category of grocery delivery. Conceptually the idea is good right? Yeah get that one little can of tomato soup delivered to your door in under 10 minutes (or 30 or 50 of whatever). Next day do the same with a loaf of bread that costs a couple of bucks. I grew up in India where Brand Loyalty was reserved for some FMCG goods but mostly for cars and clothing. The thing I grapple with when I look at this is truly that. If the product is fungible you’ll go to the next cheapest option. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you booked an Uber and also peeked at Lyft’s price? Did your brand loyalty play a part in your decision? The argument here is that the AOS (Avg. Order Size) might be small but the number of orders will be a LOT higher than the number of Uber rides that you take and therefore once a customer your LTV will be uhh the rest of your life, and thus larger? What happens when drone deliveries, if they become a thing, exist? Is the party going to end? Create a habit before it does, like Uber (where btw if you compare prices even for a PICK UP order, they are higher on Uber than the restaurants actual menu). The other argument here has always been a “dark store” with fewer staff and only popular SKU’s which AI/ML can tweak this so the space is optimized right? And that is a good argument. One only needs to look at the photo of a Kirana Store in India. These are extremely well optimized and NO, you don’t have a cart you can wheel around. That's the whole store right below! Also AI can be copied by any tech company. Losses Mount for Startups Racing to Deliver Groceries Fast and Cheap - WSJ
How design tools are changing the designer profession
A good read on how design apps are making it easier as well as more complicated for a designer : How Design Tools Like Figma and Canva Are Impacting Designers | Future
Ecommerce and ads.
A look at Instacart's grand ad’s vision and the pitfalls. If the original premise of companies such as Amazon and Instacart were a fixed yearly payment, no ad’s (for a consumer directly at least!) since shelf space is “unlimited” ads are a way to reduce shelf space, promote coupons, capture the consumer on their path of “just trying to get milk” into a large ass shopping cart then that lens no longer applies. These are ad’s and placement businesses that are NOT THAT different from a traditional grocery store. And yes, shelf space is definitely limited .. or at least ad space and consumer attention. This is the same as Page1 of Google Ads all over again. Here's How Instacart Plans To Become A Major Ad Platform – AdExchanger
Header Bidding deep dive (WARNING : This is convoluted and complex)
In light of the lawsuit a deep look at Google’s project Bernanke, google “sell side” and header bidding. This is well written but quite deep so I don't know how accurate this is but a lot of it makes sense to me.
A good read on Product (product momentum) and what companies can do to speed up slowed or stalled product execution : Intercom on Product: Speeding back up when momentum drops
A look at the three most important priorities for Web 3.0 companies from Casey Newton.
No code technologist?
Becoming a better technologist even if you dont code. A lot of PM’s always ask “do I need to know how to code” and the answer is no. However it helps if you know how Technology works v/s how to actually create it How to Excel in Tech Without Learning to Code | Future
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