15. April 2016
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
An old management idea gets a new lease of life
APPLE and Tesla are two of the world’s most talked-about companies. They are also two of the most vertically integrated. Apple not only writes much of its own software, but designs its own chips and runs its own shops. Tesla makes 80% of its electric cars and sells them directly to its customers. It is also constructing a network of service stations and building the world’s biggest battery factory, in the Nevada desert.
A century ago this sort of vertical integration was the rule: companies integrated “backwards”, by buying sources for raw materials and suppliers, and “forwards”, by buying distributors. Standard Oil owned delivery wagons and refineries in addition to oil wells. Carnegie owned iron-ore deposits and rail carriages as well as blast furnaces. In his 1926 book “Today and Tomorrow” Henry Ford wrote that vertical integration was the key to his success: “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” He claimed he could extract ore in Minnesota from his own mines, ship it to his River Rouge facility in Detroit and have it sitting as a Model T in a Chicago driveway—in no more than 84 hours. Read the rest of this entry »
30. March 2015
Source: The New York Times
Facebook has shared designs for data storage, computer servers, and rack designs, among other hardware.
Facebook showed plans last week for drone aircraft that beam lasers conveying high-speed data to remote parts of the world.
As powerful as that sounds, Facebook already has something that could be even more potent: a huge sharing of its once-proprietary information, the kind of thing that would bring a traditional Silicon Valley patent lawyer to tears.
Facebook is not alone. Technology for big computers, electric cars and high-technology microcontrollers to operate things like power tools and engines is now given away.
These ideas used to be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. To the new generation of technologists, however, moving projects and data fast overrides the value of making everything in secret. Read the rest of this entry »
15. February 2013
Tesla CEO Elon Musk waves in front of the Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.
Late Wednesday night, Tesla Motors issued its much-anticipated response to a scathing New York Times review of its all-electric Model S sedan. In a blog post, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk used data logs gathered from the car to accuse reporter John Broder of outright lies. Broder, for example, complained about freezing inside the car, since he had to turn the heating system off to save electricity and keep driving. Balderdash, says Musk: The data show the cabin had an average temperature of 72F for the majority of the trip.
Broder, in a series of posts, has argued that he followed Tesla’s instructions and that the car simply did not handle the cold weather of the Northeast well. He also claims to have been testing not really the Model S itself, but rather the network of free, superfast charging stations Tesla has started putting up around the country. This is how Broder explains away the baffling circumstances in which he didn’t charge the car while spending the night at a hotel. Read the rest of this entry »