Top articles of the week | September 21

September 21, 2019

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

Why Agile’s Future Is Bright Steve Denning, Forbes (reading time: 10 minutes)

Agile has become more than just a way of working; it is a mindset. I can be accused of over sharing articles on this topic but it’s still so darn important. This post is a great refresher on the topic’s importance and how it transcends software agility or business agility. The core principles are important to every organization:

  • obsession with delivering value to customers as the be-all and end-all of the organization.
  • a presumption that all work be carried out by small self -organizing teams, working in short cycles and focused on delivering value to customers—and
  • a continuing effort to obliterate bureaucracy and top-down hierarchy so that the firm operates as an interacting network of teams, all focused on working together to deliver increasing value to customers.

Platforms vs Verticals and the Next Great Unbundling a16z (reading time: 7 minutes)

The bundling/unbundling cycle is fascinating. The rise of digital platforms enabled a whole new form of marketplaces to arise like Craiglist for instance. New competitors disrupted these platforms. The competitors zeroed in on specific segments within that marketplace.

The moral of the story is this: In all but a few circumstances, the broad horizontal verticals eventually break. They become a victim of their own success. As the platforms grow, their submarkets grow too; their product gets pulled in a million different directions

Apple, services and moats Benedict Evans (reading time: 12 minutes)

A lot of ink has been spilled about Apple’s recent launch event. As usual, Ben Evans provides an analysis using a different lens; Apple’s competitive advantage. By bundling services around the iPhone, the company is making it more challenging for consumers to switch platforms, thus creating lock in. The analysis extends beyond that point to look at their recent foray into TV.

What I Wish Silicon Valley Understood About Alibaba Brian Wong (reading time: 7 minutes)

Alibaba has created more than 40 million jobs and generated over $830 billion in gross merchandise value in the last full fiscal year. Yet, I have a sense that the company is still misunderstood or not recognized as a global tech leader. This article from an early employee celebrating the 20th anniversary of the company highlights just how important the company has become. And for some Black Mirror level entertainment; check out Jack Ma’s message to the company for its milestone.

Dawn Ostroff’s plan to turn Spotify into the ultimate podcast hub LA Times (reading time: 9 minutes)

Spotify has been aggressively expanding into podcasts over the past year. Dawn Ostroff is at the helm of those efforts. Her ambitious drive has already generated great results for the streaming giant. The number of podcasts has grown exponentially on the platform. If you’re curious about the medium’s potential future, this is a worthwhile read.