Here are my recommended “business articles” for the week:
Wal-Mart Teams with Uber and Lyft on Grocery Delivery
Summary: Wal-Mart is testing home delivery of groceries in Phoenix and Denver. Walmart has its own workers do the shopping and is outsourcing delivery to Uber and Lyft.
Amazon is rolling out its Prime Fresh service which comes with a standard Prime subscription, and provides free same-day and grocery delivery for $50+ orders in big metro areas with the help of its own warehouses and delivery trucks. Google Express costs $95/year and provides free same-day and overnight delivery of goods from the likes of Target, Staples, Costco, and Fry’s Electronics using Google’s own trucks.
Who will win the delivery wars? The approach taken by Wal-Mart is easier to scale. But over the long run, the approaches taken by Amazon and Google are likely to be more cost-efficient.
Localytics: An Installed App is Launched Only Once 23% of the Time
Summary: Localytics estimates an app is launched 11 or more times just 38% of the time. This shows how tough life is for smaller developers battling for attention on the App Store (over 1.5M apps) and Google Play (over 2M apps). Similarly, Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report observed three apps typically account for over 80% of a mobile user’s daily app usage.
The numbers highlight the value of Facebook’s app ads to developers to get users to “re-engage” with apps they’ve already installed. They also help explain why Apple is reportedly thinking of joining Google, Facebook, and Twitter in the app install ad market.
Why an Inevitable “Bust” of the Tech Boom Won’t be Such a Bad Thing
Summary: Silicon Valley’s extended boom has recently been showing signs of fatigue. Given an increasingly restrained funding environment, devaluations for once-hot startups, notable recent layoffs at tech companies and a challenging IPO market, many observers portend a bust similar to the early 2000s. While there are similarities between now and the dot-com boom, there are key differences that will enable Silicon Valley to continue driving forward: differences include bigger and better underlying infrastructure enabling tech companies to deliver value straight to the consumer and a much lower cost base for most tech start-ups than in 2000. However, given the tight funding environment, companies that aren’t cash-flow positive and that can’t secure funding (or an acquirer) will be forced to shut down.
Startup Spending Guide: Where to Spend Money
Summary: The article provides a practical guide to early stage start-ups (defined by MRR less than 10,000; number of recurring paying customers less than 40) on areas where the startups need to spend money in the early days. The underlying thesis is that these are not areas where you can afford to do things on the cheap.
Changes in the Venture Capital Funding Environment
Summary: In Q3/Q4 2015 the market changed noticeably for VC funds and the market started to realize this by Q1 2016. The most important shift I would characterize as the market moving from “high conviction” and thus strong follow-ons to “limited conviction” and lots of gamesmanship / games of chicken (between Angels / seed investors and late stage “growth” investors)… at your expense.
Amazon Alexa Continues to Get Smarter: Over 1,000 Third-Party Skills Now Available
Summary: Amazon’s 2015 decision to open up Alexa has allowed third parties such as Domino’s, Uber, Fitbit and Capital One to integrate “skills” with Alexa. This has given Amazon a solid ecosystem advantage for Alexa and its Alexa-powered Echo devices as rivals step up their efforts to compete.
Google recently announced both an Echo rival and a conversational assistant that allows developers to build smart assistant features into their own apps. Apple is also reportedly developing an Echo rival and is expected to open up Siri this month. Voice’s popularity as an input method looks to keep growing and for now it seems Amazon has better developer support.
Please Don’t Learn to Code
Summary: There’s an idea that’s been gaining ground in the tech community lately: Everyone should learn to code. But here’s the problem with that idea: Coding is not the new literacy. Selling coding as a ticket to economic salvation for the masses is dishonest.
The Average Level of CEO Ownership at IPO/Exit
Summary: Based on 47 companies which IPO’d between 1998 and 2015 (median was 2011), the CEO’s owned on median 8.1% of the business and on average 13.81% of the business.
Bonus Reference: Rare and Magical: The beasts of Silicon Valley
Summary: Learn about Brownies, Centaurs, Djinn, Griffin, Wyrms and more! Of course, the famous Unicorn is covered.