WeWork, Ronald Coase theory and safe social network for women
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep11 - 2019.09.16
The most fascinating subject in Tech this past month: WeWork’s expected IPO. With all the ingredients to be this season’s blockbuster: is it a Tech company or not? What should be the valuation of this B2B platform? Is IPO the best option for a startup in its late rounds of fundraising? Is there a fate for a post-Uber champion to be led by a megalomaniac founder? This is the most comprehensive read on WeWork I had so far. (S)
A book WeWork’s founders and investors should have read before… Mike Isaac, a reporter at The New York Times, chronicled what went really wrong at Uber in his new book, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. Here is his interview for The Hustle. (S)
7-year-old Le Tote, a fashion subscription startup, acquired the venerable department store chain Lord & Taylor. The oldest in the US, born in 1826. Link (T)
A fascinating dive into one of the most popular shopping apps for the Gen Z: UK-based, P2P-driven Depop. What its young users crave: clothes and accessories from the 90s and early 2000s. If you’re looking for a unique look, nostalgia is as useful as avant-garde. Link (T)
Rebel without a Coase
(sorry for including this link, just wanted to make sure everyone got my pun)
Why aren’t we all independent contractors transacting on an open market and coordinating through prices? This question has long puzzled economists focused on the power of the “invisible hand”.
In 1937, Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase put forward a compelling answer in a famous article entitled “The Nature of the Firm”. The gist of his thinking: transaction costs are too high to make a market-organized production efficient – you’d need to hire workers, negotiate contracts etc. on a permanent basis, never fully capitalizing on your experience.
But here comes the (nowadays) obvious game-changer: digital technologies, expected to bring about a fall of these transaction costs. For instance marketplaces that help you get referenced, rated and paid. As a consequence, tomorrow we should all be freelance workers! Or so goes the argument.
However, for all the talks about the “uberization” of work (which hasn’t successfully spread out of transportation / delivery), such a massive shift in the structure of our economy has yet to happen. For what this argument misses is that information and transaction costs decrease for everyone, within economic entities just as between them.
A good example is the rise of remote work: sure it enables you to work as a freelance out of Costa Rica – just as it allows companies to tap into new talent pools.
What’s more, receding information and transaction costs for both individuals and companies make the freelance-based vs. firm-based production modes less of an opposition and more of a continuum: start fast and small, iterate easily, and scale quickly if successful.
In addition, I’d even argue that the digital era increases the importance of firms. Because there is a substantial weakness in Coase’s theory: it misses the distinct advantages that come with a structured collective (e.g. corporate culture, a shared purpose) – it’s far more than just limiting costs! Now, with the necessity to break silos and the emphasis on speed of execution so as to create seamless digital experiences, firms’ foundations look as… firm as ever.
Destructive creation at work: a French startup specializes in recovering scooters and bikes from the Seine. Link (T)
There is a rising case against landlords: in this new tech goldrush, are the picks and shovels office spaces and square meters? Landlords are taking $1 of every $8 in venture capital in San Francisco, explains Steven Buss, inclusive housing activist and software engineer. Link (S)
Could an app finally succeed in creating a safe social network for women? So far, Squad has reached “450,000 registered users in eight months, 70% of which are teenage girls”, with an experience focused on screen-sharing. Link (T)
The first Implant Party I attended back in 2015 is still one of my most mind-boggling experiences ever. So what is the state of biohackerism? How is it to live with 26 implants, chips and magnets in your body? Link (S)
They sold an AI-generated portrait for $432,500 at a Christie’s auction last year. The Obvious collective strikes again with a series of AI-generated “Japanese” artworks. Link (T)
When history gets cyclical: in the US, all-you-can-eat streaming options à la Netflix were supposed to shatter the cable subscriptions stack. But when you end up paying for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+ etc. you go back to the starting point. Link (T)
Why, oh why, scientists have been underestimating the pace of climate change? Link (S)
This is such a clever question: how do people learn to cook a poisonous plant safely? But the answer may sound disappointing as the safe recipe has for a long time been better served with superstitions. (S)
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