18. February 2015

Date: 17-02-2015
Source: Fast Company

If Uber, Lyft, and others don’t stop relying on contract workers, business could crumble. Is it time for a new definition of employee?

When Vilma and Greta Zenelaj came across a Craigslist job ad that promised they could make as much as $22 an hour and get paid fast, it seemed like a good deal. The Albanian sisters had moved to Santa Monica to get a foothold in the film industry, and though they had produced a few independent features, they had run out of savings before they could also make a living. Now they were desperate to pay their bills.

Handy (then Handybook), the company that posted the Craigslist ad, is best known as a cleaning service. But unlike Merry Maids or your local cleaning franchise, it doesn’t actually employ any cleaners. Instead, it relies on an army of independent contractors to complete jobs, taking a 15% to 20% commission of every hour worked. It’s part of the “gig economy,” a much-hyped new class of the service industry where workers are expected to operate like mini-businesses. The influence of these companies is growing: according to an analysis by Greylock Partners, the value of transactions over platforms such as car services Lyft and Uber, grocery delivery service Instacart, courier service Postmates, and others could grow as large as $10 billion this year.


Go Big Or Go Home

17. February 2015

Date: 17-02-2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal

A tome full of techno-optimism suggests the Silicon Valley elite really are different from the rest of us.

Just when you think the Silicon Valley technology crowd is like the rest of us, only richer and more into writing code, you read a book like“Bold” and are reminded that, no, these people are different. Not just superficially different, but profoundly so. As different as the silent Maine lobsterman from the loquacious Californian Reiki healer. A favorable spin is that, if you view the world as a technologist, its potential seems boundless. Science advances quickly; technology is fundamentally benign. No problems seem insuperable, and you don’t hear voices in your head yelling “Whoa!” in response to all yourhelter-skelter techno-optimism.

Peter H. Diamandis is a scientist who created the X Prize to stoke innovations in space flight and has also founded ventures in genomics, cell therapy and asteroid mining. Steven Kotler is a writer who has a business trying to explain “flow,” that satisfying feeling he describes as “the complete merger between action and awareness.” Their last book, “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think,” was a giddy ride through all the ways we are making life better—from clean water to better health care and more accessible education. “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” is a similar booster shot of tech-think vitamin C. Read the rest of this entry »

For successful bosses the end is almost as important as the beginning

7. February 2015

Date: 07-02-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: The last 90 days

BUSINESS leaders are obsessed with how to begin new assignments. One of the bestselling business books of all time is “The First 90 Days”, by Michael Watkins, which provides a template for newly appointed managers to start with a bang. When Mitt Romney, a private-equity tycoon, ran for the American presidency in 2012 he had a 200-day action plan for turning round the free world, replete with floor plans and flow diagrams. Far less thought has gone into how bosses should leave successfully.

Lord Browne, who ran BP for 12 years, wrote in his memoirs that, as he pondered retirement from the oil giant: “My emotional self prevailed over reason. I did not know how to leave.” Niccolo Machiavelli bungled his exit from the government of 16th-century Florence. “I am rotting away,” he said after being fired. He went on to write a masterpiece on manipulation. But “The Prince” mainly dwells on how to acquire and retain power, not how to relinquish it. To fill the void, Schumpeter has drafted six rules to govern bosses’ departures.

First, the wise executive is neither tardy nor rushed. Sometimes he has no choice in the matter. Hopeless bosses may be forced out fast. Great leaders may be ambushed by fate. Lord Browne left after a newspaper delved into his private life. Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony, suffered a stroke and Emilio Botín, the patriarch of Santander, a bank, a heart attack. But for those with the luxury of choosing when to go, timing is everything. Read the rest of this entry »