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

DTC companies are turning to physical retail in an attempt to prove they are more than just hype

“They make your forehead look big,” my straight-shooting wife belted out with a chuckle. “Okay…” I said, slightly offended. “How about these glasses?” hoping for a more confidence-building response. “Now you look like that televangelist preacher from the 90s, Jim Baker,” she replied.

“I think we’re done here,” I said to the lab-coat-wearing salesperson.

I’ve never found the experience of buying eyewear fun, but when the digital darlings of prescription glasses, Warby Parker, came along, we cheered them on. Warby Parker filled a void in the mature eyewear market, and have since built an elaborate supply-side network and developed a…


Metropolis

The dangerous allure of using easy anecdotes to explain complex problems

It all started on TikTok. These 5 words could probably explain much of what’s happening in popular culture today. They also inspire fear, excitement, or confusion depending on who’s reading them. Instead of touching on the latest dance craze, “life hacks”, celebrity drama, or cute dog videos here, though, this piece is focused on a much more sober subject — the housing market.

In the last year, home prices have risen dramatically. Since the middle of 2020, the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index has gone nearly vertical. But this much is obvious to anyone who has even passively been…


Number Crunch

The company’s shareholders aren’t very happy about it

$3.6 billion: That’s how much the father of Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia III has sold in the company’s stock since October 2020.

Garcia III spun Carvana off from his father’s used-car dealership chain, DriveTime, in Arizona. A unique investment structure has given Garcia II, the CEO’s father, a chance to invest that public shareholders have not received.

Carvana operates under a dual-class stock structure, also used by companies such as Facebook, Alphabet, Ford, and Berkshire Hathaway. This structure allows founders, executives, and families the ability to have more control while owning fewer shares.

According to the Harvard Law School, just…


Let’s not kid ourselves; working our bodies to the bone is destroying us.

It’s the first full week of fall. The air is crisp and, after a long-awaited summer, we’re supposed to be feeling refreshed. But in the U.S. right now, people are absolutely fried. Four million people have quit their jobs for four months running, and labor shortages continue even as federal unemployment benefits dry up. Speak to people who’ve stayed at work, and they’re jealous of the quitters. Many want out too.

This is what a society with a deeply unhealthy work culture looks lIke. It began with the Blackberry years ago, but work is now in our pockets at all…


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…


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.

https://www.wired.com/story/opinion-big-music-needs-to-be-broken-up-to-save-the-industry/

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…


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…


No Mercy No Malice

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…

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

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