MoviePass. Premature Scaling?
One theater chain executive went so far as to describe the cup holder mounted on each seat, which allows customers to park their soda while returning to the concession stand for more popcorn, as ‘the most important technological innovation since sound.’ He also credited the extra salt added into the buttery topping on popcorn as the “secret” to extending the popcorn-soda-popcorn cycle throughout the movie. For this type of business, theater owners don’t benefit from movies with gripping or complex plots, since that would keep potential popcorn customers in their seats. …theater owners prefer movies whose length does not exceed 128 minutes. If a movie runs longer than that, and the theater owners do not want to sacrifice their on-screen advertising time, they will reduce the number of their evening audience ‘turns” or showings from three to two, which means that 33 percent fewer people pass their popcorn stands.
All of which suggests that the Buddhist ideal of ego suppression is grounded in neurochemical reality, for the brains of experienced meditators and people undergoing a psychedelic trip display striking commonalities. The more connected we feel to what’s around us, and the less we obsess about ourselves, the happier we are likely to be.
Happiness, it turns out, is not that profound, but then it doesn’t have to be. Pollan describes one intellectual — a professor of philosophy — coming out of his first trip during a clinical trial and summing it up with three timeless words: “Love conquers all.” And here’s how a smoker explained his decision to ditch nicotine after a particularly potent trip: “Because I found it irrelevant.”
For the best response, keep the introduction brief. Ensure the viewer knows what they’re about to see, perhaps share your expectations of it, but generally be concise and ready to open the box within the first 15 seconds.
The main takeaway is that the real causative factors of success are often hidden from us. We think that knowing the intricacies of green lumber are more important than keeping a close eye on the order flow. We seduce ourselves into overestimating the impact of our intellectualism and then wonder why “idiots” are getting ahead. (Probably hustle and competenc
We're consumed—bombarded even—by all of this incoming information that's constructed in a way to capture and maintain our attention. Somewhat counter-intuitively, this distraction offers negative, not positive utility. Not only does it give us easily accessible information that's full of noise from people that are not deeply fluent in the subject they are talking about but we rarely consider the opportunity cost of this time. It would be much better to focus our limited attention in two places. The first, our niche. That is our narrow specialization. The second, on
Not all Aggregators are the same, though; they vary based on the cost of supply:
Level 1 Aggregators have to acquire their supply and win by leveraging their user base into superior buying power (i.e. Netflix).
Level 2 Aggregators do not own their supply but incur significant marginal costs in scaling supply (i.e. Airbnb or Uber).
Level 3 Aggregators have zero supply costs (i.e. App Stores or social networks)
ggregators as a whole share three characteristics:
A direct relationship with users
Zero marginal costs to serve those users
Demand-driven multi-sided networks that result in decreasing acquisition costs
This allows Aggregators to leverage an initial user experience advantage with a relatively small number of users into power over some number of suppliers, which come onto the platform on the Aggregator’s terms, enhancing the user experience and attracting more users, setting off a virtuous cycle of an ever-increasing user base leading to ever-increasing power over suppliers.
If I don’t understand something, exclude it….You people know a lot about what exclusion means. If you have an uncapped claim, it is Extremistan,” he said, referring to a metaphoric world of extreme risks that he introduced in his book “The Black Swan.”
“There are two ways to approach the problem of risk. The first one is trying to understand the dynamics of the world. Interesting, but you’re not going to get very far. The second one is to make sure your contract insulates you from it.”
“In other words, what do you need a statistician or a lawyer? You need both but I’d rather have 10 lawyers for every statistician,” said Taleb who identified himself as also being a statistician.
“In other words, what do you need a statistician or a lawyer? You need both but I’d rather have 10 lawyers for every statistician,” said Taleb who identified himself as also being a statistician.
In particular, Taleb praised insurers for knowing how to limit extreme—low frequency, high severity—losses so they don’t spiral out of control with tools like exclusions, caps, limits and pricing adjustments. “And you guys learn from example,” he said, referring to the unlimited liabilities that wiped out the Names that invested in Lloyd’s in the 1980s.
Here’s where Caldbeck and I diverge entirely. I absolutely believe that UI (the user interface, basically the look and feel of the app and website) is what distinguishes Wealthfront and Betterment from their competitors, and is the main reason why people are signing up with them rather than with Vanguard.
Because here’s the thing: The people signing up for a low-cost passive investment strategy are not motivated by making money. That’s the passive-investment revolution, which Caldbeck (an active investor himself) fails to see. The robo-advisors’ customers just want a simple and easy way to save their money for retirement, or maybe for a down-payment on a house, or just for a rainy day. They are not trying to make millions and beat the market.
Eventually, U.S. intelligence analysts determined that the Qataris had been telling the truth: the televised statements attributed to Emir Thani had been fabricated by hackers hired by the United Arab Emirates. “The hacking was a pretext for us to be attacked,” bin Abdulrahman, the Qatari foreign minister, told me. Other indications emerged that the crisis had been premeditated. Last summer, Otaiba’s e-mails were hacked. Financial documents found among them showed that Emirati officials had, through a bank in Luxembourg, plotted a campaign of financial warfare aimed at causing Qatar’s currency to crash.
Charles Kushner has maintained that the Qataris requested the meeting, and that he attended out of politeness but was too wary of conflicts of interest to accept funding. The financial analyst, however, said that Kushner pitched a huge renovation of the property, which included bringing in retail stores and converting offices to residences, and hosted a follow-up meeting the next day at 666 Fifth Avenue. “He asked for just under a billion dollars,” he told me. The Qataris declined, citing dubious business logic. “They could have bought the building—believe me, they have the money,” the analyst said. “They just didn’t think it would ever pay off.” The analyst worried that refusing the deal had a political cost. “Here’s a question for you: If they had given Kushner the money, would there have been a blockade? I don’t think so.”
In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.
Efficient with limited resources
Confident in managing up
Ability to comfortably dive into most/any area of the business or product
Good sounding board for others in the company — provide open, honest feedback
No ego — help employees
When you’re at work, you need to know what you need to do to keep your job. You need to know the table stakes. Then you need to distinguish between tasks that offer a lot of speed and those that offer velocity.
because she settled the S.E.C.’s charges, the public hasn’t heard her defense. When more facts emerge, her case may be more complex than it now appears. But on the face of the S.E.C.’s complaint, Mr. Shkreli’s crimes pale in comparison.
Feeling out of control can cause debilitating stress and destroy self-motivation.
Building agency begins with parents, because it has to be cultivated and nurtured in childhood, write Stixrud and Johnson. But many parents find that difficult, since giving kids more control requires parents to give up some of their own.
What's the fix? Feeling in control of your own destiny. Let's call it "agency."
"Agency may be the one most important factor in human happiness and well-being."
Going back to the loneliness, that was often the worst part. You start to feel very different to other people as you learn more about the intricacies of how the world really works. You start to see that most people just sort of go blindly about their lives not asking questions, just being part of the system. It becomes difficult to find anyone you can really talk to about these things, but at the same time you realize that you’re privileged to be in a position to ask these questions.
The most important thing that you need to get right in the beginning is surrounding yourself with two or three amazing people and then hiring A-players.
In business, especially in the beginning, do not settle for anyone but A-players, the absolute best. They will define the whole future of your company.
Success is about moving forward, even when you don’t really know which way forward is. Uncertainty is part of the game, those that endure it prevail.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
Falconry, Abu Mohammed seemed to be saying, is a remedy for the gulf’s oil curse. Training a raptor can be a solitary, obsessive enterprise, enforcing a measure of self-discipline that is often lacking in such men’s lives. There are many hours of patient habituation and repetitious work with glove and lure that form a bond between bird and human: The bird is training you, master falconers like to say. All this elicits passionate, even fanatical devotion. Risks are easily brushed aside. Money — even vast sums of money — seems meaningless. Abu Mohammed told me he was already planning trips to the desert to hunt the houbara again, despite the danger.
The incident became known as Spezgiving, and it’s still invoked, internally and externally, as a paradigmatic example of tech-executive overreach. Social-media platforms must do something to rein in their users, the consensus goes, but not that.
fast sex, slow love
People who don’t feel desired are more likely to feel insecure, and to like themselves less around you, which can metastasize into the cancer of relationships: indifference and contempt.
Yet no American president before Mr. Trump has given such an underqualified son or daughter a White House post, and Ms. Trump’s tenure demonstrates why.
You have to consider social and digital in addition to physical stores, the experiential factor, and the multigenerational consumer base to understand who the new customers are.
“The strategy was the same as now — create the right perception with the right publications,” Otto remembers. “I was doing everything, sales as well as press. But we were three friends and it was so much fun.”
The fashion we had in Germany wasn’t very attractive. Fassbinder, Herzog, Wim Wenders, Joseph Beuys… they were all much more interesting.”
However, something else momentous happened around 20 years ago: the emergence of the Internet. As I’ve written repeatedly, including two weeks ago in Selling Feelings and this summer in Aggregation Theory, the Internet has completely transformed business by making both distribution and transaction costs effectively free. In turn, this has completely changed the calculus when it comes to adding new customers: specifically, it is now possible to build businesses where every incremental customer has both zero marginal costs and zero opportunity costs.
This has profound implications: instead of some companies serving the high end of a market with a superior experience while others serve the low-end with a “good-enough” offering, one company can serve everyone. And, given the choice between a superior experience and one that is “good-enough,” of course the superior experience will win.
To be sure, it takes time to scale such a company, but given the end game of owning the entire market, the rational approach is not to start on the low-end, but rather the exact opposite. After all, while marginal costs may be zero, providing a superior experience in the age of the Internet entails significant upfront (fixed) costs, and while those fixed costs are minimized on a per-customer basis at scale, they can have a significant impact with a small customer base. Therefore, it makes sense to start at the high-end with customers who have a greater willingness-to-pay, and from there scale downwards, decreasing your price along with the decrease in your per-customer cost base (because of scale) as you go (and again, without accruing material marginal costs).
First, Christensen categorizes all innovations as being either “disruptive” or “sustaining”; according to disruption theory the former are ignored by incumbents, giving space for new companies to develop, while the latter are adopted by incumbents who eventually crush new entrants. This is why Christensen was infamously bearish on the iPhone: it was a superior product that Nokia et al would surely respond to.
In reality, though, the iPhone was not disruptive nor sustaining: it was Obsoletive, a term I coined back in 2013:
Disruption” describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. Specifically, as incumbents focus on improving their products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others. Entrants that prove disruptive begin by successfully targeting those overlooked segments, gaining a foothold by delivering more-suitable functionality—frequently at a lower price. Incumbents, chasing higher profitability in more-demanding segments, tend not to respond vigorously. Entrants then move upmarket, delivering the performance that incumbents’ mainstream customers require, while preserving the advantages that drove their early success. When mainstream customers start adopting the entrants’ offerings in volume, disruption has occurred.
Startups looking to disrupt other decades or century old industries should take note: be patient, get your business model and core user base right, and wait for the fundamental changes wrought by the Internet and mobile to come to you.
Yes, we need a lot more shame in the world. The loss of our sense of shame is, I think, the greatest loss of our modern world, where — to retweet myself — scale and mass distribution are ends in themselves, where the supercilious State knows what’s best for you and your family, where communication policy and fiat news shout down authenticity, where rapacious, know-nothing narcissism is celebrated as leadership even as civility, expertise, and service are mocked as cuckery. Or to put it in sheep logic terms: the tragedy of the flock is that everything is instrumental, including our relationship to others. Including our relationship to ourselves.
And that brings us back to @RandoBlueStateLawyer and @RandoRedStateRetiree, fighting the good fight on Twitter or Facebook or wherever, speaking their Truth to their audience of dozens. They’re smart guys. Politically engaged guys. They’re angry about the mendacity of the Other Side. In another day and age they’d slam the newspaper down on the table and tell the dog what a fool that darn Truman was. Maybe write a strongly worded letter to the editor. But today they are consumed by this modern equivalent of writing a letter to the editor. They are immersed in the world of the Constant Hot Take, morning, noon and night. Why? Because Common Knowledge Game. Because they see a crowd responding to a crowd, and they are hard-wired to join in. Because it makes them feel good about themselves. Because they’ve been turned into other-regarding sheep even as they think they’re being self-regarding wolves.
The flip side to all this, of course, is that so long as stocks DO go up, nothing big is ever going to change, You say you want a revolution? You’re a MAGA guy and you want someone to drain the Swamp? You’re a Bernie Bro and you want the rich to “pay their fair share”? Well, good luck with any of that so long as stocks go up. It’s a very stable political equilibrium we have today, full of Sturm und Drang to provide a bit of amusement and distraction, but very stable for the Haves.
When Donald Trump and Steve Mnuchin talk about the stock market being their “report card”, they’re just saying out loud what every other Administration has known for years. Forget about markets, our entire political system relies on stocks going up. If stocks don’t go up, our public pension funds and social insurance programs are busted, driving our current levels of wealth inequality from ridiculously unbalanced to Louis XVI unbalanced. If stocks don’t go up, we don’t have new collateral for our new debt, and if we can’t keep borrowing and borrowing to fuel today’s consumption with tomorrow’s growth … well, that’s no fun, now is it?
What matters is what everyone thinks that everyone thinks about the Fed. That’s how sheep logic, aka the Common Knowledge Game, works in markets.
If you’ve ever kept a pack animal like a dog, you know how clearly they can experience a sense of shame, that feeling when you believe you’ve let the pack down through your personal failure. Sheep have no shame. Not a bit. Shame requires self-evaluation and self-judgment against some standard of obligation to the pack, concepts which would make sheep laugh if they could. Sheep are enormously other-aware, but never other-obliged. They’re high-functioning sociopaths, shameless creatures of jealousy and schadenfreude, which is exactly the type of human most purely designed to succeed in the modern age.
But here’s the kicker. When a spell doesn’t work, no one in the magically thinking society believes it’s because spell-casting itself doesn’t work. It means that the spell wasn’t performed properly. Either the priest-kings said the words wrong or they didn’t think the right thoughts or there’s some other invisible force that we need to propitiate first. So what always happens, and I mean “always” in the sense of This. Is. Human. Nature. and has been happening in a rhyming sense for tens of thousands of years across every human society that ever lived, is this:
Investors like risk, as long as they can price it. What they hate is uncertainty—not knowing how big the risk is. As a result, bond investors and mortgage lenders desperately want to be able to measure, model, and price correlation. Before quantitative models came along, the only time investors were comfortable putting their money in mortgage pools was when there was no risk whatsoever—in other words, when the bonds were guaranteed implicitly by the federal government through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
And that brings me to what is personally the most frustrating aspect of all this. The inevitable result of financial innovation gone awry, which it ALWAYS does, is that it ALWAYS ends up empowering the State. And not just empowering the State, but empowering the State in a specific way, where it becomes harder and harder to be a non-domesticated, clever coyote, even as the non-clever, criminal raccoons flourish.
That’s not an accident. The State doesn’t really care about the raccoons, precisely because they’re NOT clever. The State — particularly the Nudging State
as when new ways of leveraging and securitizing U.S. residential mortgages were developed in 2001, resulting in the creation of a $10 trillion asset class that utterly collapsed during the Great Financial Crisis. There were a lot of coyotes involved in so gargantuan an Idea That Changes Things, but most illustrative for these purposes is the Gaussian Copula formula published by David Li in 2000, the “technology” which allowed the securitization of pretty much any mortgage portfolio (prior to this most securitization was limited to “conforming” mortgages securitized by Fannie Mae and other government-sponsored mortgage agencies) and also the leveraging of those securities through tranching (splitting up the security into still more securities, each of which can be used as collateral for more borrowing, particularly those tranches with higher credit ratings).
The biggest market disasters happen when both leverage and securitization get mixed up with the same clever scheme
The truth is that domestication makes any animal dumb. You name the species — dogs, cats, cows, horses, sheep, pigs — human selection on “tameness” for thousands of years accumulates a wide array of traits, including floppier ears, shorter snouts, hair color variability and the like, most likely based on more basic inherited alterations in certain stem cell and stress hormone production patterns (see Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World, by Richard Francis, for a great read on all this). Different species show these external traits to different degrees
Mary’s attention to the creature’s point of view turns her novel from a tale of the supernatural to a complicated psychological study. Frankenstein is not simply the story of a brilliant inventor and his invention; it is the story of what happens after the act of creation. What are the consequences of Victor Frankenstein’s invention? What are his responsibilities? What happens to everyone else as a result of his creation? And most important of all, what happens to his neglected creation, the creature?