What We’re Reading

Here are a few good articles the Collaborative Fund team came across this week.

Shifts in taste

Coca-Cola is often cited as a time-tested product with predictable future sales. But things are changing:

Americans now officially drink more bottled water than soda. It’s a shift that decades ago might have seemed unthinkable — that consumers would buy a packaged version of something they could get free from a tap … Bottled-water consumption in the U.S. reached 39.3 gallons per capita last year, while carbonated soft drinks slipped to 38.5 gallons, according to industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. Soda still generated more revenue last year: $39.5 billion in retail sales compared with $21.3 billion for water.

Influence

A fascinating paper on how your colleagues influence your performance:

Using newly collected data on monthly “victory” scores of more than 5,000 German pilots during World War II, we find that status competition had important effects: After the German armed forces bulletin mentioned the accomplishments of a particular fighter pilot, his former peers performed considerably better.

Custom entertainment

This is be interesting to watch:

Netflix is experimenting with ways to allow users to decide how their stories could unfold … Actors and producers will create multiple endings — some simple and linear, some complex and and cyclical — that would allow users to engage with stories in a more custom, intimate way. With more consumption data on user preferences, Netflix is hoping to better target recommendations and content to match users’ biases and habits, similar to Facebook’s strategy online.

Automation

Legal work is being gobbled up:

At JPMorgan Chase, a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for hundreds of thousands of hours. The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, automates mind numbing task of reading and interpreting commercial loan agreements which, until it went online late last year, consumed over 360,000 hours of work each year by lawyers and loan officers. Now it’s done in seconds and with fewer errors by a system that never sleeps.

Wisdom

A great collection of investing advice from Howard Marks:

Anytime you think you know something others don’t, you should examine the basis. Ask yourself – Who doesn’t know better? Why should I be privy to exceptional information? How do I know this that nobody else knows? Am I really that smart, or am I just wrong? Am I certain that I am right and everyone else is wrong? If it’s an advice from some else, ask – Why would somebody give me potentially valuable information? And why would he give it to me? And why is he still working for a living if he knows the future so well? I am always skeptical of people who will tell you the future for five dollars.

Culture

An inspiring talk on culture from Ben Horowitz:

Have a good weekend.


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