Classics

Is Detroit Moving to Silicon Valley?

As the value of an automobile moves to its electronics and cars become networked, self-driving computers, will the car industry move to the west coast? Consider: Google now logs more than 10,000 miles weekly with self-driving cars — more than a million miles to date. Most of this is Mountain View (also Austin). Nobody […]

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On a City Bike, all Traffic Lights are Yellow

In both the US and in Europe, the use of bicycles in cities has shot up. According to the League of American Bicyclists (which endorses none of what follows), bike use has gone up 39 percent nationally since 2001. In the seventy largest US cities, commuter bike use is up 63 percent. Leading the pack is […]

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Denial is Bigger than Amazon

Talk to a book author, publisher, or retailer about the future of their business and the denials begin. “Never before have there been so many good books to read”. “Books are the backbone of civilization”. “Life without books is unimaginable”. As a cultural argument, this may be true, but as an economic one, this is […]

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Store Closing: the Death of Brick and Mortar Retail

In 1997, I had an idea: if I could aggregate millions of used, rare, and out of print books from around the world on a single website, I could enable people to find and buy books that were otherwise impossible to locate. Like hundreds of others with similar ideas for selling things online, I started […]

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Is Amazon Inside Apple’s OODA Loop?

John Boyd was a legendary US fighter pilot during the Korean War who later became a fighter pilot instructor. He had a standing bet with his students: he would meet you in the air at 30,000 feet and you would get on his tail. He would reverse the positions and get you in his guns in […]

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Whatever Happened to the United Farmworkers?

On New Year’s Day, a friend mentioned that Frank Bardacke had published his long-anticipated history of the rise and fall of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers. It was worth the wait, he assured me and “completely stunning. Just get it and read it. You won’t put it down.” He was right. Bardacke, a respected […]

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What Lives After: Remembering Five Who Died This Week

Shakespeare’s immortal eulogy delivered by Mark Anthony for Julius Caesar resonates this week: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” We lost five remarkable men from different parts of the world. Four of them made the planet an immeasurably better place. One devoted his life to […]

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Seven Forces that Doom Bookstores and Publishers

During the past few years, the music industry has been hammered. As music went digital, it was pirated, deconstructed, and mashed. As music stores and labels disappeared, their lobby, the RIAA, screamed bloody murder. But amidst the carnage, a funny thing happened: the music industry grew larger even though it had fewer labels and far fewer retailers. Revenue […]

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“We are Going to Pass” -10 Reasons VCs Turn Down Startups

Every few years, Silicon Valley grows strong, flies high, makes beautiful music and then, like the Phoenix of ancient myth, burns to ashes and starts the cycle again. At the moment, the Valley is a frenzy of startups. The rest of the country may be in the economic doldrums, but dozens of technology companies are being […]

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Toujour L’Audace

In early 1997, Steve Jobs spoke at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. At the time, he was an advisor to Apple CEO Gil Amelio, who had just bought Next from Jobs. (That July, Jobs pushed Amelio out in a boardroom coup and regained control of the company he had founded). I embed Jobs’ fascinating talk […]

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Inside Job: Charles Ferguson Brings his Camera Home

Charles Ferguson has done it again. His second film, Inside Job is a good movie and an extremely important one. Whether you enter the theater Democrat or Republican, you will leave it ready to man the barricades against Wall Street. You will also leave the theater much smarter: despite an MBA and more than a […]

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Tax Cars, Not Gas

If, like many people, you think that we are burning more carbon than is healthy for the planet, you are likely of the view that we need to put a price on carbon. You would assert that like any other kind of pollution, our carbon output represents what economists like to term an externality:  the market […]

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Ben Horowitz: High Tech’s New Andy Grove

If Silicon Valley is rich, how come it ain’t smart? How is it that we consistently generate innovative companies but rarely produce management thinkers of consequence? Part of the problem is that many technology leaders are neurotic. They need to be: nobody really knows what is going to work and your idea will most likely […]

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Atul Gawande: America’s Doctor

Who is Atul Gawande and why is he having a bigger impact on your life than any physician in America who is not treating you?Gawwande is a cancer surgeon in Boston. A Rhodes Scholar and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant”, he trained at Harvard, and Stanford and grabbed a Masters in Public Health […]

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The Hamilton Mixtape: “Cause I’m the damned genius that shot him”

One of the cool things about being President is that talented people of all sorts are happy to drop by and perform for you. Last May, the White House sponsored “Poetry, Music, and Spoken Word”, an opportunity to let people most of us have never heard of get their 15 minutes.   In the Heights […]

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“Dream bicycles that change and grow”

One of my favorite cycling blogs, Eco Velo, ran this photo some time back. I am slightly obsessed with bicycles and business, so I noticed not just four sweet rides, but a nice illustration about how competition and business innovation are changing even the bike business.  THE ROMANCE OF BICYCLES Most bikes sold in most […]

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Grading College Admissions Essay Questions.

The Jam Kid is applying to college. He will do fine, but his applications have exposed me once again to the college admissions racket. College applications are now standardized and online, which means that to apply to lots of colleges, a kid clicks a bit and send along a few more $50 dollar bills. He […]

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The Thriller is Gone

I was down two Ouzos in a country taverna when a snappy kick, snare, and hi-hat commanded my attention. A repetitive bass followed by a four note synth and shaker hooked me before the vocals had even begun. And not only me. The banter in the crowded Greek bar hushed as people began to dance. […]

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Redesigning California

Update: our local public radio station broadcast the two minute version of this post. Listen to it here.Most clichés about California are true: we are both America’s most urban state and its most agricultural. We are home to more national parks, more immigrants, and a better public university than any other state. We have Silicon […]

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The US Auto Hospice

Today the White House issued its assessment of the GM and Chrysler turnaround plans. To summarize: Chrysler has 30 days to live. It is being given palliative care only and physicians are under medical directive to not revive the patient. Fiat, it’s slightly less dead companion, will either marry Chrysler or let it slip into […]

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