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Pop business for the intelligent reader. A publication from Medium.

Thinking outside the antitrust box

Writing in Wired, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) researcher and anti-monopolist Ron Knox gives a thorough, important account of how music industry monopolization resulted in declining revenue for artists, even as the industry itself has reaped greater profits.

Knox describes how concentration has come to every link in music’s supply chain, from radio to recording, streaming to live performance. The monopolists who dominate these sectors fight fiercely between each other, but no matter who wins, artists lose.

Let’s go segment by segment. Two-thirds of all North American music comes from three labels. The labels grew through anti-competitive mergers: giant…

Collaboration is the human employee’s secret weapon

This is the second of a two-part series on the future of work. You can read part one here.

Truly competent employees need to be rewarded. Bonuses and raises are fine, but they’re not the sign of a culture where competence is valued above all else. No. Instead of extrinsic rewards like money, workers in a culture of competence value autonomy. They want to make it to the innermost circle in the company’s mandala-like org chart — the skunkworks or innovation lab where employees are entrusted to develop new ideas.

“Compensation” is for people who don’t like the work they’re…

2020 was a hard year for a lot of businesses. Regulations made some operations impossible, but health and fitness establishments lived in a weird gray zone. While many retail stores ceased all operations, gyms were able to remain open at varied capacities while abiding by ever-changing protocols. Meanwhile, in the United States, there was civil unrest in response to the death of George Floyd.

Many businesses were showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and demanding accountability for George Floyd’s death. Silence did not go unnoticed, so mockery certainly was not going to be tolerated. Perhaps Greg Glassman, the…

The company is attempting to appeal to growing demand for sustainability

You’d be forgiven for assuming Ikea’s best-selling product is its meatballs (full disclosure: not a fan). In fact, the company’s biggest hit is the humble Billy bookcase. Ikea sells one from its famous blue and yellow gates every 5 seconds. An unfortunate consequence of this staggering volume is that a Billy bookcase is also just as likely to end up in landfill every 5 seconds.

The company has long drawn criticism for its impact on the planet. To mass-produce its products — products that are not known for durability — it consumes vast resources, space and relies on a long…

Firms would love to have us believe that society’s biggest problems can be fixed as our stock portfolios explode in value

Note: I was not under influence of Zacapa or edibles writing this one … so it’s wonky. Oh well, my blog.

A perfect storm may be brewing: tech, software as a service (SaaS), and climate change. My podcast co-host, Kara Swisher, believes the first trillionaire will be an entrepreneur who addresses climate change. It’s not unthinkable, as Elon Musk is already 15% of the way there — to a trillion in wealth, not solving climate change. I’m more skeptical and believe the only entities that can begin to reverse climate change are the EU and the governments of China and…

I Read It So You Don’t Have To

A recent book explains how humans think about wealth, economics, and success

What did I read?

The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness published in September 2020.

So who is Morgan Housel?

Morgan Housel is a former financial columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He is now a partner at Collaborative Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Give me the 30-second sell.

Unlike in the fields of medicine or engineering, expertise in finance requires an understanding of human psychology. Investors and consumers behave with flawed attitudes such as overconfidence, impatience, and anchoring bias. These irrational patterns have tangible effects on global markets and, likely, on your own personal finances.

Housel explores these topics with a thoughtful mix of anecdotes, research, and advice…

How automation will force us to retrieve human competence

We are not in a second industrial age. That may be the dream of those who really want to double down on the dehumanizing legacy of the past few hundred years of employment. But the emergence of digital technology, algorithms, and robots offers much more than an opportunity to further automate our businesses, alienating our workers and customers alike; it’s a chance to retrieve the human sensibilities at the heart of our organizations, and embrace the truly collaborative, participatory spirit of this age.

The digital renaissance of the early 1990s was about the unbridled possibilities of the collective human imagination…

Is it the end for the infamous startup strategy?

At the heart of the Theranos trial is a story about a founder with a potentially world-changing idea who took some questionable steps in desperation to achieve it, only to see that dream go up in flames. The fate of Elizabeth Holmes — the one-time “future Steve Jobs” — and her actions aside, the trial is also putting the very practices of Silicon Valley under the microscope; namely, the practice of ‘fake it till you make it.’

Silicon Valley has a long history with the idea that you can talk the talk before you can walk the walk, selling potential…

Two decades ago, you would need to go to the mall if you wanted to chase trends. All of the most popular fashion brands had their own stores and the department stores tended to have the latest trends in home goods. In 2020, this experience has drastically changed. Malls are closing, and customers have more options when it comes to making purchases.

During this time period, the name Gap was synonymous with cool. While the brand doesn’t have the same “cool” factor it had decades ago, it was still considered more fashionable than many big-box stores. Now, the brand is…

A look at the company’s P&L raises serious questions about its administrative costs

Jimmy McMillan had a point. Just one. The rent is too damn high.

McMillan founded the Rent Is Too Damn High party and ran for mayor of New York City in 2005 and 2009 and governor of New York state in 2010. While his bids were unsuccessful — McMillan never won more than 1% of the vote — he succeeded in going viral, spawning memes and even a music video.

McMillan retired from politics in December 2015, so he’s probably never seen Peloton’s income statement. If he did, he’d have a second point:


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