What We’re Reading

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

Air travel

This is a ways out, but is exciting for an industry where the basic technology hasn’t changed much in decades:

A new start-up says it intends to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years.

Its plane, yet to go into development, would carry 150 people on journeys of less than 300 miles.

Wright Electric said by removing the need for jet fuel, the price of travel could drop dramatically.

Bear case

This is an interesting and amusing bear argument for Uber (we take no position on its merit):

Uber has only managed to stay ahead of Lyft by undercutting Lyft’s prices, incurring severe losses in the hope that as soon as they have self-driving cars they will be able to become profitable by eliminating one of their main expenses

I think someone should pause to note that, if true, this is one of the dumbest long term business strategies in the history of high finance.

This idea, apparently, is a bet on a technology that not only doesn’t exist, but is extremely highly regulated, that the company has literally no demonstrated core competencies in, hasn’t been even successfully prototyped, that represents the hardest most complex use case of the technology, and is obviously years away at best, but yet it justifies a policy of losing billions of dollars in the present just to get market share when the costs of switching brands are literally so non-existant that a typical customer often does it several times in a single evening out.

Accounting

Seth Godin on cutting quality to make the numbers:

When we add up lots of little compromises, we get to celebrate the big win. But overlooked are the unknown costs over time, the erosion in brand, the loss in quality, the subtraction from something that took years to add up.

In a competitive environment, the key question is: What would happen if we did a little better?

Organizations that add just a little bit every day always defeat those that are in the subtraction business.

Personal touch

A good piece on why disrupting realtors has been so difficult:

While the Internet has pummeled the middlemen in many industries — decimating travel agents, stomping stock-trading fees, cracking open the heavily regulated taxi industry — the average commission paid to real estate agents has gone up slightly since 2005, according to Real Trends. In 2016, it stood at 5.12 percent.

“There’s not a shred of evidence that the Internet is having an impact,” Murray said, sounding like he almost can’t believe it himself.

Quality of life

I’m always a little skeptical of these studies but they generally point in the same direction:

A new report shows Norway is the happiest country on Earth, Americans are getting sadder, and it takes more than just money to be happy.

Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.

Relaxing

Michael Lewis says laziness is the key to success:

“People waste years of their lives not being willing to waste hours of their lives. If you mistake busyness for importance–which we do a lot–you’re not able to see what really is important.”

Have a good weekend.


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