Top articles of the week | March 14

March 14, 2020

Every week, we put together a list of our top 5 articles of the past week. Happy reading!

The End of Pay-TV Matthew Ball (reading time: 17 minutes)

If you are interested in traditional media and particularly television, this is a brillant piece by Matthew Ball. He explores the economics of the traditional pay-tv model and its coming decline. Most of the large players have largely given up on this channel and are trying to optimize for profitability rather than investment.

Amazon is selling its cashierless technology to other vendors, starting with airports Vox (reading time: 3 minutes)

Although this is more of a news item than in-depth strategy article, it has important implications. Contrary to what many believed, Amazon will license its cashierless technology to retailers. Rather than try to build their own stores, they will follow the AWS playbook; sell it as a platform to anyone. This might dramatically accelerate the advent of this technology.

Why All the Warby Parker Clones Are Now Imploding Maya Kosoff (reading time: 14 minutes)

This is a cautionary tale of all the Direct to Consumer (DTC) startups. It’s never been as easy to start a DTC company but darn expensive to scale one as well. This post highlights the challenge these startups face, particularly in a more difficult fund raising environments. For every few successes like Warby Parker, there are many more that didn’t make it.

Putting Innovation on a Breakthrough Path Niko Canner (reading time: 4 minutes)

I’ve really been enjoying Niko Canner’s writing. He writes about strategy and innovation generally. In this post, he highlights the challenges of innovation efforts. He provides some great guidelines on how companies can pursue these unpredictable projects without falling into common traps.

2019 Annual Letter Social Capital (reading time: 25 minutes)

We covered last year’s Social Capital annual letter and this one does not disappoint. Chamath Palihapitiya is not known to hold back his punches. He goes after Big Tech in a big way in this letter calling for regulation and anti-trust interventions. He calls out their “talent hoarding” for paying people exorbitant salaries to work on already mature products versus working for competitors or themselves. It’s a fantastic letter that covers markets, VC bias, compensation/ownership and purpose.