Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

4th August 2017

It looks like Uber have gone with a big change in direction (from Travis Kalanick) with regards to the appointment of a new senior executive. This from Glamour Magazine – ‘Bozoma Saint John’s new role as chief brand officer for Uber makes her a unicorn in Silicon Valley: She’s one of the very few black female C-suite executives in tech. But to earn her place in the pantheon, Saint John has overcome challenges that would have stymied most mortals.’

And of course Saint John has her work cut out in her new role. One of the big challenges, is highlighted by this fine article in Campaign – ‘Uber is everything that is wring with disruption’ – ‘Kalanick was clearly responsible for the company’s decisions and practices. But now he is gone, Uber can install a more ethical chief executive and things can go back to normal. Hey, maybe it can even appoint a woman this time and then things would be much better, right? Wrong. The company’s cultural dysfunction isn’t a bug, it’s a feature: it is baked into the business model. Uber’s business model is predicated not on technological disruption but on breaking rules. The New York Times has called the battle between Uber and London cabbies “less about the disruptive power of an app, or a new business model, than about the disruption of Britain”.

‘Amazon has played a critical role in the rapid transformation of the buying journey. Last week, the brand continued to innovate, with the launch of Amazon Spark in its mobile app. This offers users a stream of shoppable photos taken by other users, which lead to featured items that are in-stock and on sale at Amazon. The play is consistent with the rise of distributed and social commerce, as consumers are now finding inspiration across all relevant channels and expecting the ability to make purchases.’ This is what Amazon Spark means for the future of distributed commerce. 

‘In 2010, Patrick and John Collison, brothers from rural Ireland, created Stripe Inc., a software that businesses could plug into websites and apps to instantly connect with credit card and banking systems and receive payments.’ This is how two brothers turned seven lines of codeinto a $9.2 Billion Startup.

Sobering, but important piece from The Atlantic. ‘More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis. ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?’

I am often quite down on the quality of some advertising in the travel and tourism sector, so it is great to see some examples of brands in this category, getting it right. From @econsultancy, here are examples of high quality copywriting from travel brands.

Instagram Stories is one year old, and has been part of their rapid recent growth. ‘Instagram’s Snapchat clone hits its first anniversary today, and the Facebook-owned app has spent much of 2017 heavily investing in bringing vertical video and augmented reality filters to the format. As a result, Instagram is growing rapidly, adding 50 million daily users in just two months, to hit 250 million daily users in June.

I sometimes think that the view through the bottom of a glass can provide one of the most illuminating perspectives available …This is from a while back, but this book is a great idea and worth another glance –  ‘From Beer to Coca Cola, here is a History Of The World in 6 Glasses’. 

On the subject of interesting reads, this looks like a good one for the summer holiday sun lounger.  ‘Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside-down?’ From Tim Harford : 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy. 

From @wired. There are three types of smile – reward, affiliation and dominance. Learning a bit more about the three types, could help you to win games and negotiations

Apple’s latest Augmented Reality operating system (ARKit) may still be working through a phase of developer betas, but there are already some great examples of what it can do. Here, A.R. has been used to recreate A-ha’s Take On Me video for the 21st century. Take a look here. 

Finally, there will be no newsletter for a few weeks due to the summer break. We will be back on the 1st September. Best wishes, Nick.