Why we will end up piercing the corporate veil


The internet is one big reason why we will find it increasingly difficult to separate out the assets of a company from the assets of its founders or CEOs, as I discuss in my latest Bloomberg column:

More important, social media personalizes agency — in effect, making it easier to accuse particular individuals of wrongdoing. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and the Koch brothers all have images or iconic photos that can be put into a social media post, amplifying any attack on their respective companies. It is harder to vilify Exxon, in part because hardly anyone can name its CEO (Darren Woods, since 2017), who in any case did not create the current version of the company. Putting the Exxon logo on your vituperative social media post just doesn’t have the same impact. With Bill Gates having stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000, it is harder to vilify that company as well.

This personalization of corporate evil has become a bigger issue in part because many prominent tech companies are currently led by their founders, and also because the number of publicly traded companies has been falling, which means there are fewer truly anonymous corporations. It’s not hard to imagine a future in which the most important decision a new company makes is how personalized it wants to be. A well-known founder can spark interest in the company and its products, and help to attract talent. At the same time, a personalized company is potentially a much greater target.

The more human identities and feelings are part of the equation, however, the harder it will be to keep the classic distinction between a corporation and its owners. As the era of personalization evolves, it will inevitably engulf that most impersonal of entities — the corporation.

Do read the whole thing. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-16/purdue-pharma-bankruptcy-how-much-will-the-sackler-family-pay

The man who gave us brainstorming meetings did his best thinking alone


Some companies have a serious addiction to brainstorming. Whenever a problem arises, the team is called to gather and shout out possible solutions, with at least one notetaker scrambling to get everything down. It’s as if this were the only known way out of a pickle, or into a new project—and it can feel like a supreme waste of time, especially when the same few dominating personalities ruin the mood.

Yet the value of brainstorming is rarely questioned. (A notable exception is a 2012 New Yorker story arguing that research cannot scientifically validate the effectiveness of the process, but even that did little to get in the way of the ubiquity of brainstorming.) Perhaps that’s because the idea of brainstorming seemingly has always existed; it’s as much a part of workplace culture as pizza parties or sales reports.

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Why you should never tell the boss you have food poisoning

by Sarah Todd via Quartz

Whenever I have to stay home sick from work, I’m always uncertain about how much detail to give. Do I let my boss know that I have the stomach flu, specifically? Or would she prefer the simple elegance of “feeling under the weather?”

I mentioned this conundrum at a recent dinner with three friends, all of whom are managers. For the most part, they agreed they would not want to know the particulars of an employee’s reasons for missing work. They trust the people they manage and are troubled by the idea that workers would feel pressured to disclose the minutiae of their bodily ailments. The exception, they said, is when an employee has a chronic illness or condition, in which case it’s helpful to have a bit of context for regular absences.

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What Buddhism Taught Me About Product Management


Taken at one of my all-time favorite Airbnb’s in Joshua Tree

The Buddha would have made an excellent product manager 🤩. He was obsessed with solving people’s problems, he summarized his ideas into handy lists, and he developed simple frameworks for achieving his vision. He was also one of the earliest practitioners of working from first principles, famously sitting under a Bodhi tree for forty nine days straight in order to “see things as they truly were.” 🧘‍♂️

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Aggregators and trust


  • The ability to match demand and supply (allowing for mutual discoverability) thanks to their ownership of demand is only one of the two advantages of aggregators, the other being the ability to allow counterparts who do not know each other to transact with each other.
  • In the markets where the supply of aggregators operate, centralization was caused by the demand using popularity of suppliers as a proxy for their trustworthiness.
  • As a consequence of the fact that aggregators can provide the otherwise missing trust element between a customer and a product or service provider who do not know each other, and thus popularity becomes a negligible factor in the users’ choice of a provider, the distribution of profits in markets in which the supply of aggregators operate flattens over time, whereas the market at the above layer (the aggregators’) centralizes.
  • The importance of the trust element opens up the possibility of a new threat to aggregators: whereas their self-reinforcing dominant position on the match-making side is hard to be disrupted, this isn’t true for their position on the trust-enablers one. In particular, the share of their profits that come from replacing costs to act in trust-less environments is open for disruption from any new entrant with an innovative trust-minimization technology, such as dry technologies.
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The London Stock Exchange is one of the best-performing financial stocks since the Brexit vote


Britain’s decision to leave the EU risks damaging the UK economy, especially its vital financial sector. But surprisingly, one of the best-performing European financial stocks since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 is a pillar of the UK’s financial sector: the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

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How to start a company with your best friend (and survive to tell about it)


Ten years ago, I started a business with my best friend. Naturally, I was told by many people that co-founding a company with a close friend was a bad idea.

The truth is that many companies start among friends. Former Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman (now at the University of Southern California) studied 10,000 tech startups and learned that 40% of founders were friends before they went into business. His research, summarized in his book The Founder’s Dilemmas, also revealed that when founders are friends, it increases the likelihood of startup failure—and each friend on the founding team increases the likelihood of founder turnover by almost 30%.

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How could China develop so many high-value software (Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, Ant Financial) and Hardware (Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, DJI) companies creating lots of high paying Jobs while India can’t?


Um you mean like Tata and Reliance?

It turns out that India is better at creating outsourcing enterprise IT companies than China is.

There are things that India is better at, and stuff that China is better at. China turns out to have gotten into hardware because of Indian laws on manufacturing that killed the industry there. As far as “pure software” I’d say that India is better than China, but the Chinese companies exist to fill a niche. In the case of Tencent and Baidu, it was because Chinese internet laws meant that Western companies couldn’t enter. Ant Financial was because you had a pre-existing P2P loan system that went onto the internet,

If you ask why did X happen, you’ll find lots of random events that happen to just put something in place X.

Also just like people have crazy and outdated ideas about China. People have crazy and outdated ideas about India.