Amazon’s Achilles heel

Brand. Brand is the key differentiating factor when it comes to influencing purchase decisions in a mature market. And Amazon's marketplace is a race to the bottom cesspool that's antithetical to customer loyalty.

Consider this search for "tablet arm":

Which of these should I choose?

  • Three of the four have relatively similar ratings.
  • All of them are within the same price point.
  • None of them are from a name brand I know I can trust.

Such indecision! I could spend 20 minutes scouring through the reviews, but who knows which are real and which are fake these days. Or, I could buy them all and return the ones I don't want. But packaging stuff back up and taking to UPS is a hassle.

For exactly this reason, I went to Best Buy yesterday (for the first time in decades), looked at video cameras, and bought a nice Canon for a cheaper price than it was listed on Amazon.

I like brands. Brands mean I can form trusting, long-term customer relationships with companies. The Amazon marketplace is overrun with knock-off products from generic drop shippers — bad and getting worse.

Startup life

Two former Uber employees, both of whom left the company in 2016, told Quartz that Uber gave them just 30 days after departing to exercise their options. One of those former employees paid about $100,000 to exercise more than 20,000 incentive stock options (ISOs), plus a tax bill of over $200,000. The other paid about $70,000 to exercise about 5,000 ISOs, and then about $160,000 in taxes. Both former employees took out loans from family members to make the payments, and requested anonymity to discuss their personal financial situations.

Building the Perfect Bootstrapped Business on WordPress

Building the Perfect Bootstrapped Business on WordPress. Inspiring talk on so many levels. Where to find recurring value: business cycles; ongoing, value-generating costs; highly dynamic environments.

RethinkDB: why we failed

And our users clearly thought of us as an open-source developer tools company, because that’s what we really were. Which turned out to be very unfortunate, because the open-source developer tools market is one of the worst markets one could possibly end up in. Thousands of people used RethinkDB, often in business contexts, but most were willing to pay less for the lifetime of usage than the price of a single Starbucks coffee (which is to say, they weren’t willing to pay anything at all).

This wasn’t because the product was so good people didn’t need to pay for support, or because developers don’t control budgets, or because of failure of capitalism. The answer is basic microeconomics. Developers love building developer tools, often for free. So while there is massive demand, the supply vastly outstrips it. This drives the number of alternatives up, and the prices down to zero.

Slava Akhmechet – RethinkDB: why we failed

Essays from Peter Thiel’s Stanford class on startups

Essays from Peter Thiel’s Stanford class on startups. In a nutshell, freely available material like this is why I am a college dropout. Every essay is worth reading — queue up your Pocket. I particularly appreciated this one on markets, competition, and monopolies. (via Spittle)