But there are also tons of smaller ones, and sub-units tucked into larger businesses — like AOL’s Patch and MSNBC’s EveryBlock.
Some of the businesses are publishers of local information (Patch, and YP, for instance). And others are hyper-local marketing businesses like Groupon or The Weather Channel. Google, of course is both. They all have one thing in common: They’re in the business of helping local businesses advertise themselves to local customers.
We decided to try and display them all in a chart based on size, and whether they are likely to acquire, or be acquired, by other companies. (With all due respect to LUMA Partners, let’s call this an InsiderScape.)
The result suggests that the business has organized itself into two types of companies: a small set of large, acquisitive players; and a large set of small, non-acquisitive players. (There are very few large players that don’t have acquisition histories, and very few small players that are scaling up via leveraged acquisitions.)
Crucially, this huge number of companies are all doing essentially the same thing — digitally connecting local businesses with their consumers. That suggests this is a commodity environment in which companies are likely to experience severe downward pressure on their ability command prices from merchants. And that means consolidation, through M&A, is likely.
Check it out, and let us know if we got anything wrong:
The upshot of Krugman’s argument is this: income inequality has been increasing for years in the United States, but one of the major drivers that no one talks about is the increasing use of robotics in manufacturing and other industries to do jobs traditionally done by human laborers.
One conclusion Krugman reaches is that even the highly-paid, highly-skilled workers who have dominated the share of income growth in the U.S. over the past several years will be increasingly affected going forward by the rise of the machines:
About the robots: there’s no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. For example, one of the reasons some high-technology manufacturing has lately been moving back to the United States is that these days the most valuable piece of a computer, the motherboard, is basically made by robots, so cheap Asian labor is no longer a reason to produce them abroad.
In a recent book, “Race Against the Machine,” M.I.T.’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue that similar stories are playing out in many fields, including services like translation and legal research. What’s striking about their examples is that many of the jobs being displaced are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn’t limited to menial workers.
Indeed, we’ve seen this taking shape even on Wall Street, where investment banks like UBS are laying off credit derivatives traders and replacing them with computers that trade off signals generated by internal algorithms.
That example reflects another of Krugman’s assertions: the robotics revolution may be a major driver of increasing income inequality.
Krugman writes in another post:
If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won’t do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets. Creating an “opportunity society”, or whatever it is the likes of Paul Ryan etc. are selling this week, won’t do much if the most important asset you can have in life is, well, lots of assets inherited from your parents. And so on.
I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.!
Finally, Krugman offers a few alternative explanations for the increasing shift of income distribution toward capital and away from labor that don’t feature robots so prominently. One is the idea that monopoly power – made more ubiquitous by growing business concentration in the United States which allows big producers to control prices more effectively – may be a bigger culprit.
Krugman thus concludes by writing that “the starting point is to realize that there’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear, but it’s potentially really important.”
After we published the chart, a friend emailed to say, “Hurd destroyed the company. Gutted R&D, which was the cardinal sin. It was always an engineer’s company. He financialized it. And in so doing, set in motion the wheels of doom.”
From 2010, here’s a look at how R&D as a percentage of revenue fell under Hurd’s watch.
Anything jump out in that chart?
When Hurd was pushed out, an ex-HP engineer told Joe Nocera slashes in the R&D department was, “why H.P. had no response to the iPad! . ” Apple managed to make the iPad while spending less on R&D, so we’re not sure that totally adds up.
It’s not how much you spend on R&D, it’s what comes of it.
As for the charge that Hurd “financialized” HP, well, that may be true. But, he seemed to be at least somewhat in control of where the company was going. The two CEOs since Hurd have no clue, it seems, about what to do with HP.
Zappos Labs, the research arm of the Zappos online apparel site, has been experimenting with Pinterest—and the results are not encouraging.
Will Young, director of Zappos Labs, told Bloomberg that Pinterest users are far more likely to share a purchase than Twitter or Facebook users—but that shared items generate far less revenue than Twitter or Facebook.
This is a big problem for Pinterest, because the whole idea of the site is that it’s supposed to be better at monetizing social activity than Twitter or Facebook.
Young told Bloomberg that Zappos customers were 13 times likelier to share an item they bought with friends on Pinterest than on Twitter, and 8 times likelier than on Facebook.
But a post on Twitter generated far more revenue—$33.66 an order—than Facebook, at $2.08 an order, or Pinterest, at 75 cents an order.
That’s great news for Twitter, which will surely tout these figures as it makes a push for retail advertisers.
But it’s kind of bad news for Pinterest, which recently raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation on the premise that its site—which is all about sharing beautiful images of things to buy—should be good at this kind of social commerce.
It’s not great news for Facebook, either, which has ambitions to make commerce a bigger part of the site than it is today.
A Pi nterest spokesperson whom we alerted to the study promised to look into it. We’ll update if we hear more.
One note: Amazon owns Zappos and Amazon.com is a rival of Rakuten a Japanese e-commerce giant that is also is an investor in Pinterest.
There’s a reason people call Etsy the next eBay. Six years after their founding, both companies are showing eerily similar growth curves. Admittedly, Etsy is tackling a smaller slice of online retail than eBay, but that didn’t bother the investors who valued the company at an estimated $688 million in its latest round of funding.
I’m drinking coffee made by a K-Cup machine right now and it sucks. A lot. But alas, I’m too lazy to get a much better cup at the cafe around the corner. That said, after learning that all of those K-Cups are piling up in landfills—and not being recycled—I may have to reconsider.
According to CNBC, the way K-Cups are constructed, they can’t be recycled. Paper and foil are strongly adhered to the plastic capsule making so that sorting facilities can’t separate the materials. So those cups are destined for a single use and nothing more.
Image via Michael Dorausch
We love this chart from Dan Frommer at SplatF.
He calls it the “Eggs In One Basket” index, because it charts out the largest source of revenue as a percentage for all the major tech companies. (Profits would be a different story altogether.)
Google gets over 90% of its revenue from one source: Advertising. The next closest is Amazon with product sales. But, Amazon’s product sales are a mix of goods, so it’s not exactly the same as relying on just advertising.
For now, this isn’t a big problem for Google. The online ad market is still growing, and Google can capture a lot of the market. But, if things were to change, or advertising were to slow down, then look out.
What’s incredible about this chart is how diverse Microsoft is from a sales perspective. Its most dominant business group, Office, only accounts for 30% of sales. Read more on the chart from Frommer here →
A Leak From The USA TODAY Shows How The Kindle Fire Is Blowing Away Other Android Tablets (AMZN, APPL)
Here’s an interesting look at how the platform wars are playing out across smartphones and tablets.
GeekWire landed an internal slide from USA Today that lists how many times its application has been downloaded. USA Today has a wider, more geographically diverse readership than most other newspapers, giving us insights into the ecosystem that we might not get from the typical measurement companies.
If USA Today’s internal statistics are any indication, the Kindle Fire is blowing other Android tablets out of the water. The slide shows 260,000 downloads of its app for Kindle Fire compared with only 130,000 for other Android tablets. That’s a two-to-one ratio.
The Kindle Fire still trails the iPad by some ~2.6 million downloads, but that’s unsurprising. What’s more impressive is how much headway the Kindle Fire has made in the short time since its release.
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If you have a brilliant new idea for an mobile app, a handy gadget, a smartphone case that does something cool, an album you want to produce, or even a comic book you want to publish, it’s never been easier to get your idea in front of a lot of people and raise money to make it a reality. There are dozens of free and cheap sites designed to boost new ideas, but not all of them are best for your idea. Here’s how to pick the best one for you.
Sites like Kickstarter and many others all cater to people with ideas they believe can make it big, but who need money to get them off the ground. The community supports the idea, everyone chips in, and with luck and enough interest and the right amount of money, the product gets made and the contributors usually get first cut or a special perk. Still, even though Kickstarter gets a lot of press, it’s not necessarily the best one for your idea.
Photo remixed with an original by dinadesign/Shutterstock.
For The Most Attention: Kickstarter
Kickstarter is the major player in this space, and for good reason. The service gets a lot of media attention, and even though the majority of Kickstarter projects don’t go anywhere, it’s become the go-to destination for anyone looking to crowd-fund their projects thanks to a few high-profile projects that managed to raise a lot of money. It’s not the biggest crowd-funding community, and it’s not even the one with the best track record, but it’s incredibly easy to use, popular with angel investors and people looking for the next big idea to invest in and get behind, and well organized. Idea creators can set up their profiles for free, founders can pledge as much or as little as they choose, and no money changes hands until time runs out or the project is fully-funded. If the project is fully funded, Kickstarter takes 5% off the top, and the rest goes to the inventor or creator to make their idea happen.
For App-Builders, Game Designers, and Developers: IndieGoGo
IndieGoGo is actually larger than Kickstarter, and more people there use it for more types of projects. The site takes 4% off the top of your fundraising if you reach your funding goal, and encourages creators and developers to offer perks to the community for funding their projects. Unlike some of its competition, IndieGoGo also has its doors open to charities and non-profits. The site is particularly popular with software and app developers, although all sorts of creative projects are up on the site for funding, including documentary and independant films, education projects, and international aid projects. IndieGoGo also has the benefit of being a global site, available to users around the world.
For Inventors and Gadget Creators: Quirky
Quirky has an excellent track record, and some of our favorite gadgets started as Quirky ideas. The process of getting your idea in front of the Quirky community is a bit more involved than at other sites. You submit your idea, the community weighs in first on whether or not it’s an idea that could be made into an actual product before it goes in front of the world for fundraising. That’s the key, while other sites focus on creative endeavors, most Quirky projects are tangible products that can be manufactured and sold. The Quirky community is active and engaged in idea building and product design and development, and a lot goes on long before the idea ever gets on the site for presale fundraising. Pricing is on a sliding scale—people who get in early can get lower prices than people who get in later, and once the product is made, Quirky can work to manufacture it themselves, or work with a major retail partner to get it on store shelves everywhere.
For Musicians: Bandcamp
We touched on this topic a bit in our previous story on how to release music online so music-lovers can get to it, but while SoundCloud was one of our favorite options for releasing your music for free, allowing people to remix it, and comment on it, Bandcamp is another great solution for musicians looking to set up a free storefront on the web to allow people to buy and download their music directly. Artists and fans both love Bandcamp, and the service handles the entire payment platform, from set-your-own-price albums and songs to artists with a mix of free and paid songs in their discography. Artists can also sell merchandise through their stores, and Bandcamp takes a slice off the top depending on the artist’s sales. Fans and music lovers on the other hand get a social platform where they can follow and interact with their favorite artists, get alerts when new music is released, and discover new artists through their friends.
For Crafty Types: Etsy
Crafty types are already well aware of Etsy and how the platform works. When people who made their own hand-made goods, arts, and custom crafts wanted an online storefront that catered more to their needs than a general auction site like eBay, Etsy was born. The site has dozens of categories, including clothing, art, jewelry, household accessories, and more. While most people know Etsy as a craft-lovers haven, the site is also home to a number of stores that manufacture products you wouldn’t associate with “arts and crafts,” like wall decals, custom motorcycle helmets, and even edible crafts like homemade cookies and beef jerky. Where other similar sites help you get seed money for an idea, Etsy is more of a traditional store, meaning you have to have your idea off the ground and your product ready for sale—even if it’s a single item—before you can sell it.
For Global Users: RocketHub
Many of these sites limit their membership to users in the United States, but RocketHub is one of the largest global communities dedicated to crowd-funding new ideas. RocketHub combines a traditional crowd-funding site where individuals can promote and raise money for their own ideas and pet projects with a funding bank where people with inspired ideas can connect with sponsors, non-profits, and funding groups who are willing to share some cash with a particularly motivated or passionate individual. The service works much like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo—sign-ups are free, and the site takes a 4% cut.
Different crowd-funding sites have different goals and different audiences. Depending on the type of idea you have and the audience you want to reach, you have an array of sites to choose from, and this is just the beginning. For example, if you have a random request or want to get the crowd’s help in funding a life event like a wedding or a vacation, you can try GoGetFunding, and if you’re an industrial designer, Yanko Design is a great resource for like-minded designers.
Whichever site you choose to get your ideas off the ground, make sure it’s one where the community is aligned with and supportive of your ideas, and you’ll have no trouble raising the funds needed to make it a reality. Have you used any of these sites to crowd-fund a project or idea? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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