THE A16Z MARKETPLACE 100

Over the past few decades, marketplaces like eBay, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, Alibaba, and Instacart, have become some of the most impactful companies in the world economy. Collectively, millions of individuals and small businesses make a living operating on these platforms, where hundreds of billions of dollars of goods and services trade hands each year. The Marketplace 100 is a ranking of the largest and fastest-growing consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies. One key takeaway from this is that a handful of companies dominate. The fastest growing categories exemplify why marketplaces can be so powerful for consumers and suppliers: they create new channels in markets with pent-up demand, unlocking new transaction behaviors. The fastest-growing startups reveal emergent consumer categories. Some categories are competitive and fragmented, while others have a clear winner. Scaling the mountain is much harder than one would think.  Read More >>

HOW TO DESIGN FINANCIAL INCENTIVES IN PROFESSIONS THAT ARE HIGHLY TERRITORIAL

A study of doctors shows that the best incentive schemes harness a desire to expand and protect professional turf. If one would like employees to more consistently fill out tedious paperwork or be more attentive to customer needs, the solution is usually quite simple: pay them more to do it. Little is known about whether financial incentives like this work for professionals such as doctors, who have high autonomy and esoteric expertise, and often feel a dedication to “duty” over mere self-interest. Such professionals are infamously hard to manage by any means. They don’t want to be told how to do their jobs. And throwing more money at them isn’t likely to make them budge. In a study performed by Jillian Chown, doctors responded to financial incentives attached to tasks where they had low jurisdictional dominance.   Read More >>

THE PERILS OF SURVIVORSHIP BIAS

Many aspiring entrepreneurs believe that dropping out of college to start a company is the key to success. Many successful CEO’s well-known stories give the impression that to triumph in business, all you need is a big idea in college and the will to quit school to pursue it. The problem is that college dropouts do not usually become billionaires. There are many more budding entrepreneurs who dropped out of college to start companies and failed than those who succeeded. To focus on the people who left school and made it big is to ignore the far larger set of dropouts who never got anywhere. This is what is known as “survivorship bias.” Survivorship bias is an error that arises because we look at the data we have but ignore the selection process that led us to have that data.  Read More >>

LOSING SLEEP OVER THE QUEST FOR A PERFECT NIGHT’S REST

Sleep trackers worn on the wrist can actually be causing people to lose sleep. Sleep trackers have become increasingly popular. They come in the form of watches, wristbands, rings and even mattresses. The gadgets measure and crunch data on how one breathes, how fast one’s heart is beating, how much one is tossing and turning. An irony of the digital lifestyle, for some people, is that perfecting a sleep schedule becomes an end unto itself, so much so that people can lose sleep over it. This particular type of insomnia is called orthosomnia. It’s when one really becomes fixated on having this perfect sleep via tracker, and then start worrying about it, giving oneself insomnia.   Read More >>

HOW LEADERS SHOULD NAVIGATE LONG-TERM UNCERTAINTY

Entrepreneurs and change managers may ultimately be selling a dream, but that’s not what stakeholders are buying. To obtain the money to build their dreams, founders must solicit the very people who can least afford the luxury of dreaming: high-stakes investors. Investors are not the sole stakeholders who require continual convincing. Founders must repeatedly replenish their employees’ faith in the future value of stock options or risk losing top talent to competitors offering more money and job security. In new ventures, the general psychological tendency toward emotional contagion does not apply. Founders may believe they are selling a dream, but that’s not what their investors are buying. Ultimately, these patterns of behavior serve as a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop. Innovative managers use emotional self-regulation to curate their attention and maintain emotional equanimity. As a result, they won points for being, “very, very tough in business dealings”.  Read More >>

THE BEST AND WORST STATES FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN 2020

78 percent of small businesses are reporting profits, with both confidence and happiness indices ranking among the highest in recent years.  The overall small business climate looks favorable for an enterprising entrepreneur. However, one fundamental factor that can change business climate is geography. Depending on the state and city where you want to start a business, these overall conducive conditions can change dramatically.  Seek Capital conducted a study of all 50 U.S. states to determine which ones were the best and which ones were the worst for entrepreneurs wanting to start and maintain a successful business. There are definitely some geographic patterns that emerged from the results of the study. Each of the top-rated states saw sizable injections of venture capital into new companies in 2018.   Read More >>

 

HOW PREDICTIVE ADVERTISING IS CHANGING THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL MARKETING

Predictive advertising is a subset of predictive analytics that uses historical data, ML techniques, and algorithms to accurately target audiences and optimize ad copy and media spends.  Tools like Google’s Lookalike Audience and Facebook Similar Audiences use predictive advertising to study audience behavior, anticipate customer needs, increase click-through rates, and drive business profits. They also provide additional information regarding location, age range, interests, and more.  Using cluster models and content automation with AI to produce high-quality content tailored to a specific audience or persona type. Businesses can use real-time data and optimize their ad placement strategy to deliver appropriate advertising and cash-in on the micro-moments.   Read More >>

3 WAYS THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT SUCKING EXTRA CARBON FROM THE AIR

Transforming the entire economy to get to net zero emissions is something that scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It will require massive and complicated transformations of nearly-every aspect of society. Acting on climate change as an individual requires pressuring the government and companies to make systemic changes. It is possible to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into a rock that can be stored underground. Reducing emissions is not enough; “negative emissions” solutions, which can remove carbon that’s already in the atmosphere, are also critical to get to a safe CO2 level. Firms from around the world are making innovative products to solve this wicked problem.  Read More >>

LEAKED DOCUMENTS EXPOSE THE SECRETIVE MARKET FOR YOUR WEB BROWSING DATA

Motherboard and PCMag have found something incredibly terrifying.  An antivirus program used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world’s biggest companies.  The Avast antivirus program installed on a person’s computer collects data, and that Jumpshot repackages it into various different products that are then sold to many of the largest companies in the world.  Avast claims to have more than 435 million active users per month, and Jumpshot says it has data from 100 million devices. Avast collects data from users that opt-in and then provides that to Jumpshot, but multiple Avast users told Motherboard they were not aware Avast sold browsing data, raising questions about how informed that consent is.  The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies’ LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites.  Read More >>

3 WAYS YOU’RE MESSING UP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

A great elevator pitch can go a long way, but many people make common mistakes. Elevator pitches last about ten seconds, and it is crucial to make a good impression. The first mistake people make is that their elevator pitch is too vague. Adding compelling adjectives can make the pitch more engaging. The second mistake is that people tend to focus on themselves instead of how they can help a client. Potential clients care about what someone can do for them to help them achieve their goals. It is important during an elevator pitch to share what can benefit the client, to give one the best choice of gaining their business. The third mistake people make is that they make their elevator pitch too long. It is important to leave the listener wanting to hear more.  Read More >>