Cops, robbers & algorithms, the (un)coolness of failure, GoT startups
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep06 - 2019.06.03
The convergence between IT and other sciences is accelerating. London startup accelerator Entrepreneur First just announced a partnership with RebelBio – a life sciences accelerator – and a new European VC fund called Future Positive Capital just launched. Its investment thesis: “Investing in deep-tech companies solving global needs”. And that includes not only digital tech (AI and robotics) but also synthetic biology and genetics. (T)
Amazon leads a massive $575m funding round in Deliveroo – that Uber was said to try to acquire in September. In the meantime, American counterpart DoorDash raises $600m at a valuation of $12.6bn. In the restaurant delivery space, there will be blood! Link (T)
This is always the same old story, a game of cops and robbers. Algorithms will never be safe from being fooled by humans. Good news for humanity but not for Uber and Lyft. Link (S)
“The future is already here”. You may know it is my favorite quote and the best take I know on innovation. What would a world with no bank, no cash and soon no public services look like? What will be the deserts or our always-growing urban areas? It may look like some parts of Scotland nowadays. Link (S)
Should we praise failure so much?
For two decades now, I have been considering failures from many different perspectives. Should failure be considered as something to look for or to avoid? Fall down seven times and stand up eight or get right and win at the first pass?
A new entrepreneurial mindset has been spread all over the world built on the “new economy” set of rules and culture, a super-product (an industrial super-ego?), just like our iPhones, designed in California. One of the best things about the startup culture is that it made it really cool to be an entrepreneur. So cool it became the most right-swiped job on Tinder for both women and men. And, accordingly, it made it ok to be a failed entrepreneur.
For a very long time, failure has been an absolute shame in Europe and especially in France: black mark and stigmatization was the only possible result when you failed and the consequences were (are still?) all over. From a too academic and too early selection of key decision makers to a dangerous and sometimes morbid lack of endeavor in private and public organizations.
As an example, it is only in 2013 that Fleur Pellerin, deputy-minister for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, passed one of the most important reforms in the past decades for French entrepreneurs, the withdrawal of the record known as “040 file” kept at Banque de France for bankrupted business people. A record that prevented generations of entrepreneurs to start over new businesses in the right conditions.
But should we really make failure cool or fancy? Pretty often I feel like when it comes about culture, the tradutore traditore malediction just fools ourselves. I am now convinced you can’t apply a part of a principle without mastering the related principles and context. Actually, the “American way of failing” comes with a huge ambition and metrics. Accepting failure with a low target and no measure of your achievements is just... failure.
Thus, before learning how to deal with failure we should definitely learn how to raise the bar and measure the height first.
- Mobilis in mobile, that was my first ever essay totally written on a smartphone in mobility
This is the only known picture of an albino giant panda. Thank you Chinese video surveillance! (S)
Tech is so sexy that even GoT actors want to found their own startups. Link (T)
When an executive of a one-trillion-dollar company, overseeing 38 million square feet of office space across 36 countries, the most advanced organization on human - robot collaboration, speaks about the future of work, we all should listen. Amazon real estate chief explains how he wants to change the way people work within the four walls, “working hard to innovate and pioneer new space configurations to make sure employees are in spaces that feel and work best for them so they can innovate and passionately serve customers”. (S)
I mentioned the extinction of frogs as part of our #2 issue… unfortunately it’s also necessary to talk about bats. The “white-nose syndrome” is responsible for their disappearance in the USA and Canada. “Some states (...) have lost 70 to 90% of their bat populations.”
The problem is: “One bat can eat 1,000 mosquitos in an hour. The loss of bat populations will definitely lead to an increase in insect populations, and the chain reaction effect of that growth could be monumental.” Link (T)
Why are we always obsessed with conflicts and danger? While Donald Trump blows hot and cold, and China and the USA seem to start a new type of cold war, Africa is peacefully building the biggest free-trade area in the world, meaning a single market of goods and services for 1.2 billion people with an aggregate GDP of over $2 trillion. Knowing how little African countries had been trading with each other until now (just 16% of total continental trade in 2014), this Free Trade Agreement starting on May 30, will have a tremendous impact on the region. Link (S)
The young Christian Dior, shaming his bourgeois family, opened an art gallery before opting for fashion with the success we all know. He was the first to display Alberto Giacometti’s artworks and Salvador Dali’s melted clocks among Picasso, Braque and Cocteau’s masterpiceces. As discussed in this issue’s Pause section, for some people, failure is no option. Link (S)
One of the first divisional organizational charts, from the ancestor of IBM in 1917. As you can see, the company is literally depicted as a pyramid. (T)
Do you remember Habbo Hotel, one the first online communities aimed at teens in the early 2000s? It still counts a few aficionados. Digital services fall into oblivion but don’t always disappear; they just get sedimented in the vast Internet. Link (T)
The amazing story of the smiley face logo. A journey between the US and France and to 100 countries, involving a broke artist and rich entrepreneurs, father and son, based on countercultures, with hippies, drugs and the Internet. Now a $500 million a year business. Link (S)
My favorite picture of Michel Serres. We are lucky enough to display one photograph of this series in our new premises in Paris, on the 3rd floor.
A never-published Wired interview of Michel Serres (1995). They never ran it, considering it too French. I loved Michel Serres so much because he never opposed ancients and moderns and always built brilliant, enlightened, optimistic and gourmand bridges between both banks. Angels were his subject in this interview. That’s what the philosopher became this Saturday. Link (S)
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