Things I found interesting this week:
- I really enjoyed this fascinating and varied list of huge projects delivered quickly and successfully, curated by Stripe CEO Patrick Collison: it took six weeks to create Amazon Prime, 90 days to create the Visa card, and only nine months from Steve Jobs greenlighting the iPod to it being shipped.
- The strangest and most compelling media/tech thing I came across this week was an audio clip of the late Alec Guinness reading the Book of Genesis (actually, a synthetic project read by an AI trained on samples of his voice). There are imperfections, but it sounds remarkably close to the real thing and introduces some far-reaching questions about authenticity, ownership and consent—I’d be fascinated to know what any of the media lawyers who read this newsletter (hello, lawyers!) make of this.
- (Related: the idea that AI commentators could provide better sports coverage, tailored to the interests and knowledge of an individual spectator)
- This piece on design turned out to be the best thing I read on strategy this week: “We don’t like to think about worst-case scenarios... Hell, we don’t even like to think about not-so-great-case scenarios. Instead, we design and build systems and products that work when conditions are just right. In design, this is sometimes referred to as the “happy path”... The inability of sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to tackle fake news and curb rampant harassment is a direct result of happy-path thinking... These platforms have little to no resilience in the face of behaviors that diverge from that scenario, which means that if and when the system breaks down and people use it with ill intentions, these companies will be slow to respond or possibly incapable of recovering.” (I’d ague that Happy-Path thinking applies as much to strategy as to individual products).
- Half of corporate innovation consultants won’t survive the next five years, owing to a combination of economic downturn, commoditisation and lack of ROI/post-hype backlash.
- There’s an interesting case study here on how LVMH is looking to its staff to innovate and reinvent its customer experience.
- Alexis Madrigal has a good piece in the Atlantic on how Silicon Valley is changing: “For start-ups not on the unicorn list—and even for many that are—the chance that they will have an initial public offering and remain independent is small. That means the only way their investors will get their money out will be via an acquisition by one of the large companies.”
- Finally this week, some really interesting highlights from the App Annie State of Mobile report (the full report requires registration to download but it’s well worth it):—
- Average daily time spent on mobiles is 220 minutes, up 35% year-on-year.
- Spend on mobile games is projected to exceed $100 billion in 2020.
- Nearly a quarter of US Netflix users on iPhone also used Disney+ in the final quarter of last year.
- Over 68 billion hours were spent on TikTok in 2019.
- Usage of fintech apps grew 5% faster than traditional banks’ digital offerings.