The scooter opportunity, the case against specialists and moon rocks
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep08 - 2019.07.01
There have been plenty of commentaries around the announcement of Facebook-driven Libra. I recommend this one: it’s nuanced because centered on the real target of the project: the unbanked. (T)
Wired at its best, a long read on Libra again, certainly the biggest news since our previous issue. According to its father David Marcus, the Facebook cryptocurrency is doomed if it becomes the Zuck-buck or Face-coin. Link (S)
I’ve often heard the question “How can WeWork be valued so highly?” – most recently at $47bn. In one of two recent profiles of the company, its co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann offers an answer: “valuation and size today are much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue” – re-read that if need be. Their IPO is in the works, so I’ll guess we’ll see soon if public markets share that cult-like perception.
In any case, I find their journey reminiscent of Uber’s: an unconventional (on the negative side) CEO, a corporate culture that sounds toxic, sustained losses ($1.9bn last year) but also an exceptional growth curve (going from 0 to $1.8bn in revenue, roughly 500 locations and 500,000 members in 8 years is no small feat). (T)
How much should you pay engineers for a good piece of software? At Fabernovel we think you should pay more… and just look what happens if you think $9-an-hour is the price. (S)
Taken on my son’s primary school last week. Are startups leaving the counter-culture to become its counter-model? Remember the Gilets Jaunes called startuppers their number one enemy... (S)
For long, I had been patronizing my colleagues scootering to work: the only thing I could agree with Michel Onfray is that adults driving scooters were just ridiculous. That was before that night a few days after Xmas last year. I was alone with my younger son and wanted to have fun and impress him. I downloaded the Lime app (self-described as the Tesla of scooters) and I can count on one hand the days I haven’t been using it or one of its competitors since then.
After Notre-Dame and before the current heat wave, there was only one hot topic in Paris: scooters. The mobility phenomenon was blamed for everything: danger, pollution, incivility, inhuman working conditions for their juicers… uberism at its worse.
The City of Paris, after paving the way for disruption with the successive irruptions of Velib’ and Autolib’ and the following success of tens of different free-floating operators (Ofo, Mobike, Coup, Cityscoot to name a few from the previous waves) got upset after the scooters. Actually, everyone did.
Just like the neighbors trying to push their advantage hazing you when you move in a new place, pedestrians, drivers of any vehicle and especially bicyclists went mad after the new mobility kids in towns - bicyclists are now the Übermensch of our streets, something I first experienced in Amsterdam when I had to yield to bikes with a baby in a stroller on a pedestrian crossing, and I really can’t admit it as progress. There should not be any king of road for freedom mobility.
Of course there were misuses, excesses and breaches. But, if we were thinking from scratch of the perfect urban mobility service, what would it look like? Way more resource-effective than a car, way smaller by itself but for street-parking too, suitable for a solo driver, running on electricity rather than on fossil fuels, with no emissions, ready to use the latest urban infrastructures such as bike lanes, and last but not least accessible from a mobile app and delivered through a free-floating fleet…
And here it is, on our streets and under our noses: a scooter.
Paris just regulated scooters, forbidding their use and parking on sidewalks, locking the speed at 12 mph (and killing the thrill and fun of the previous 15 mph speed limit). And you know where they are now allowed to park? On the bike parking spots and not on the car parking lots, making them opponents and not partners.
Scooters are just the best opportunity for a real disruption in urban mobility. We should imagine public policies and services to better control the dangers and excesses of free-floating scooter services (and interoperate them) but certainly help them thrive in a car-free and new mobilities-friendly city, and not throw so much sand into their wheels.
The Navy adds some good points to the case against specialists. At Fabernovel, as a Talent Company, we also firmly believe our crews need to be prepared to new ships and learn in a way to enjoy and move smoothly from one area of expertise to the next one. Link (S)
China is not only the biggest market on earth. It is the biggest living laboratory for the digital economy. Here are a few Alibaba’s experimentations using the gamification of social values. (S)
Teens playing video games a lot may get some bad rap, but the rise of sandbox games (Minecraft of course, but also Roblox and Fortnite Creative) is a positive trend: players become creators too. Google just launched a free project aptly named Game Builder. No code required and nice features: “Multiple users can build (or play) simultaneously. You can even have friends play the game as you work on it.” Link (T)
Consent Tracker is an app that aims for a “safer dating experience”... through the blockchain – users build consent gradually and that’s recorded on it. Real problem for sure, but the solution looks like another Black Mirror episode. Link (T)
With Tom, you know we are strong supporters of academic research and social studies as the best way to challenge disruption and the way software is eating our world. Better late than never, more and more people acknowledge that to really disrupt, tech needs to listen to actual researchers. Link (S)
Hacker video games are making a come-back, because the first generation of computer users is getting nostalgic. Link (T)
Why we should seek old-fashioned boredom: a few studies demonstrated that “Compared to a control group, the people who were forced to perform the boring task [such as reading numbers from a phone book] showed much more inventiveness in a subsequent, more creative exercise.” Link (T)
Jonathan Ive left Apple last week. While the Tech scene and design pundits will remember his 23 years long reign on Apple’s products as the company’s platinum age (the company had already a golden age and this is even more), history may recall Ive as the most effective accomplice to planned obsolescence. Link (S)
If you still wonder why the conquest of the Moon was so important to science and not only a Cold War escalation, the Apollo moon rocks are still revealing the epic story of the cosmos. Link (S)
Did you enjoy this newsletter?
Copyright © 2019 Fabernovel, All rights reserved.
Edited by Stéphane Distinguin & Tom Morisse
Fabernovel is a talent company that creates digital products and services to support companies in their transformation and innovation trajectory.
Congratulations! You've reached the bottom of the page. Here's your reward.