Summary of “A new theory for why Americans can’t get a raise.”

Since 1979, inflation-adjusted hourly pay is up just 3.41 percent for the middle 20 percent of Americans while labor’s overall share of national income has declined sharply since the early 2000s.
A recent study by a group of labor economists introduces an interesting theory into the mix: Workers’ pay may be lagging because the U.S. is suffering from a shortage of employers.
Studying monopsony has traditionally been tricky for economists, because they lacked good data that would let them analyze broad trends specifically in labor market concentration.
In their paper, the authors find that America’s local labor markets had a whopping average HHI score of 3,157.
According to one of their calculations, moving from the 25th percentile of labor market concentration to the 75th percentile would lower pay in a metro area by 17 percent.
In the perfectly competitive labor markets of economics textbooks, labor unions are basically dead weight that make companies less efficient.
If two health insurers merge, will Americans end up paying higher premiums? If a wireless company eats its rival, will our cellphone bills shoot up? In principle, the government’s lawyers can also consider what corporate consolidation will do to workers, but that tends to be a backburner issue.
Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz told me that he suspected the findings about market concentration and wages were directionally correct but that they may be a bit “Overstated,” because it’s simply hard to control for the health of the labor market.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.”

The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners’ knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do.
After being asked on multiple occasions what the company does with collected data, Natalie Kumaratne, a Honda spokeswoman, said that the company “Cannot provide specifics at this time.” Kumaratne instead sent a copy of an owner’s manual for a Honda Clarity that notes that the vehicle is equipped with multiple monitoring systems that transmit data at a rate determined by Honda.
What’s changed in recent years is not only the volume and precision of that data but how it’s being extracted and connected to the Internet, according to Lauren Smith, who studies big data and cars as the policy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum.
“Most people don’t realize how deeply ingrained their habits are and how where we park our car on a regular basis can tell someone many things about us,” Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said, noting that research shows that even aggregate data can be reinterpreted to track an individual’s habits.
Otonomo, which began in 2015 and calls itself the “First connected car data marketplace,” partners with major automakers that give Otonomo access to their raw driver data, the company said.
What sort of third parties use Otonomo data? A parking app developer, for example, that wants to better understand a city’s traffic patterns, or a company that wants to use those patterns to chose the location of its next billboard or business.
Though the pledge restricts automakers from selling data to an outside company without customers’ consent, experts have noted that the voluntary self-regulatory standard doesn’t stop them from using that data for their own benefit.
The more data a company collects, the more incentive the company has to monetize that data.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Anyone In Your Company Paying Attention to Strategic Alignment?”

Who in your company is paying attention to how well aligned your strategy is with your organization’s purpose and capabilities? In my research and consultancy with companies, I observe that, oftentimes, no individual or group is functionally responsible for overseeing the arrangement of their company from end to end.
Practically, who at the enterprise level in your company is responsible for ensuring it’s as strategically aligned as possible? Is their focus and behavior consistent with this responsibility, or is it merely an addition to their overriding day job? Is it the responsibility of your company’s most senior managers, or should it be a more distributed responsibility? How much and how often is time devoted in your company to revisiting its core organizing principles and discussing how to build capability for tomorrow’s customer, versus focusing on today’s business?
How is your company’s leadership making informed decisions about the arrangement of your company as a complex system of many moving and interconnected parts – including organizational capabilities, resources, and management systems – all aimed at fulfilling one overarching purpose? What frameworks and information do your leaders require to ask good questions, have better conversations, and make robust strategic and organizational choices?
What capabilities do your enterprise-level leaders require to be effective at aligning your company to ensure it is fit for its purpose? Leaders I’ve worked with who take on the challenge of strategic alignment describe themselves as needing to be “Multi-everything” in outlook and ability.
If there are no obvious answers to these questions, then there is a good chance that nobody is paying enough attention to strategic alignment in your company.
The purpose of enterprise leadership is to make strategic interventions to ensure the most important components of the company’s fundamental design align seamlessly.
Envisioning: Crafting a robust vision of what strategic alignment looks like at their company, and communicating that vision in a meaningful way to others, including investors, staff, business partners and customers.
For product-centric companies, where cost management is the strategic priority, the relatively simple, stable and closed-system hierarchy characteristic of “Bureaucratic” thinking remains in principle the best organizational design.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook Couldn’t Handle News. Maybe It Never Wanted To.”

It’s not about time spent, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the New York Times, but “That time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” For Zuckerberg well spent means not just more rewarding interactions with friends and family, but less misinformation and fake news – and presumably less congressional scrutiny as well.
“Facebook has research showing that if the percentage of friend/family content gets too low then people don’t find Facebook valuable anymore.” It’s worth noting that this former employee is dubious of Facebook’s spin.
“Facebook has become an essential piece of infrastructure for public content, and we should be wary of anything that undermines the platform’s utility here. The media is on the frontlines of helping our society navigate the present challenges, and Facebook has an obligation to help its community connect with information as readily as with friends.”
With Facebook’s centrality in our lives and the greater culture, the company’s retreat feels less like a selfless act than an abdication of a civic responsibility that Facebook perhaps never truly wanted.
“News on Facebook has actually hurt, not helped, them,” another former senior Facebook employee told BuzzFeed.
To hear Facebook insiders tell it, it’s unclear how much the company truly wanted to be in the media game.
It’s hardly surprising that the Great News Feed Shift of 2018 has made fewer waves inside Facebook HQ. Multiple former employees told BuzzFeed News they believe the move will be popular among Facebook employees.
Still, after years of grand claims from Facebook and its top executives, it’s hard not to view the changes the company is making to its News Feed as an admission that the company overreached and ultimately failed to deliver a new way forward for news.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Improving Workplace Culture, One Review at a Time”

Any one review on Glassdoor, like any single restaurant review on Yelp or product review on Amazon, may be misleading, useless, or unhinged.
Glassdoor creates a bare-bones Web page for any company that gets a review, which will often appear at the top of a Google search.
The “Fake positive” review, apparently written by a management-appointed shill, is a common feature of the site.
Barry brought up another review, which Glassdoor had been sent by a British finance company.
Generally, if a boss merely disagrees with a review, his or her only option is to write a response on Glassdoor.
Krystle Neeb, a member of the flag team, read aloud a review that had been flagged by the management of an I.T. company, in which the reviewer had written, “Bleeding heart liberals such as myself may have issue with a few of their clients.” He or she disliked having to work on a project “For an anti-gay fundamentalist religious client.” A discussion ensued among the moderators.
In a message to Glassdoor about another review, headlined “Opportunity,” a user had written, “This looks fake as all get out.”
Boso scanned the review, which awarded the company five stars and claimed that senior leadership “Has done a great job diversifying the business model for long term growth and stability.” The only con was that the environment was “So fast paced and dynamic you have to stay focused on core responsibilities.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook’s startling new ambition is to shrink”

In theory, Facebook will make less money off us – or, at least, the rate at which it makes more and more money off us will slow.
Yet as of today, it’s the company’s stated ambition: Facebook wants to shrink.
The change may sound relatively small, but it’s likely to have significant consequences for the broad subset of Facebook users that aren’t individual people: media companies, small businesses, big brands, and everyone else who has come to see Facebook’s News Feed as an essential way to reach audiences and customers.
Facebook has announced similar changes in the past, and the News Feed is still full of news and video from big publishers.
He told The New York Times he is determined to make sure his daughters think Facebook “Was good for the world.” His statement represented an acknowledgement, however oblique, that the opposite might be true.
Facebook is a company that has always been defined by ruthless ambition.
Reading the company’s blog posts, you can feel executives longing for a time when Facebook felt smaller, and less consequential.
Even if Facebook succeeds at phasing the news media out of the News Feed, it’s not clear it will make Facebook a happier place.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Apple Finally Finds a Hit With Strange Headphones”

When Apple launched AirPods in September 2016, they were an easy target of ridicule.
Apple said the AirPods would be available in late October, but then suffered from supply-chain issues.
We all had our fun with the strange design and troubled launch only to see AirPods score a 98 percent customer satisfaction rate and dominate the market by September 2017.
Apple has made sure that the onboarding and connectivity experience work better when you’re using its proprietary products, and for some users, that’s enough of a selling point to grab AirPods when making the switch to wireless.
“I see AirPods out and about now, [which is] different than a year ago when, I think, Apple made a good effort to get AirPods into influencers’ hands. They would have had a botched rollout if they hadn’t figured out how to get them to the right people in the early weeks. even though they knew they were going to have supply problems,” says Brian Blau, a Gartner analyst who lives in the Bay Area.
“You have to think maybe Apple was leading that charge and then people got used to it and thought, ‘You know, maybe the AirPods thing wasn’t as bad as we thought it was.
A handful of similarly unusual-looking AirPod alternatives have likely helped Apple’s version seem regular, though their own successes have varied.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple develop AirPods as wearables, and the company could implement features like fitness tracking or, maybe further down the line, augmented-sound capabilities similar to Nuheara’s technology.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Rockefellers vs. Exxon”

A number of family members signed letters urging Tillerson to take action on climate change, but the company’s response to one letter, Goodwin said, was, roughly, “If you don’t like the company, sell your stock.” Exxon – currently valued at $367 billion – had grown so large that, during the shareholder battle, Exxon said that the dissenting family members owned just.006 percent of its shares.
So what did Exxon know? “There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon-dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” James Black, an Exxon scientist, told company executives in 1977.
In 1989, Shell raised a natural-gas platform in the North Sea by several feet to accommodate rising sea levels, while engineers designing a pipeline owned by several companies, including Exxon, said they would have to account for the “Considerable increase of the frequency of storms as a result of climate change.” A researcher at an Exxon subsidiary even argued that climate change offered a silver lining as the company looked for oil in the Arctic: “Potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs.”
In 1988, an Exxon spokesperson wrote a memo arguing the company should “Emphasize the uncertainty in scientific conclusions.” In the decades to come, Exxon gave millions to groups that denied climate change, including the American Petroleum Institute, which waged a $6 million public-relations battle in the late ’90s against the Kyoto Protocol, one of the world’s first attempts to deal with the issue.
Exxon cited a meeting between various environmental groups at offices shared by the Brothers Fund and the Family Fund; one participant had sent an email with possible discussion topics, including how “To establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity toward climate chaos and grave harm.” When the Family Fund announced it was divesting from Exxon as a result of the company’s “Morally reprehensible” behavior, Exxon responded, “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.”
In 2015, Lee Wasserman met with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s office to discuss whether Exxon’s alleged climate deception might have violated the Martin Act, a wide-ranging New York State securities law that prohibits “All deceitful practices contrary to the plain rules of common honesty.” Schneiderman was already pursuing similar claims against Peabody Energy, the world’s largest public coal company, and shortly after the Exxon articles were published, Schneiderman announced he would investigate whether Exxon had defrauded its shareholders, and the public, by denying the impact of climate change.
Several coastal cities in California, including San Francisco and Oakland, have sued Exxon and other fossil-fuel companies over the costs of adapting to rising seas, and the SEC launched an investigation into whether Exxon has improperly valued what have come to be known as “Stranded assets” – oil reserves that companies count as potential profit on their books but that may go unused if the world makes a serious effort to regulate fossil fuels.
The academics rejected Exxon’s assertion, but the company’s supporters quickly dismissed the report as part of “The Rockefeller Family Fund cabal,” and Exxon accused the Rockefellers of seeking “Reparations.” Kaiser admitted as much – adapting to climate change will cost trillions, and someone will have to pay for it – but insisted he and his relatives weren’t interested in destroying the family business.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Rise of Bitcoin Competitor Ripple Creates Wealth to Rival Zuckerberg”

His net worth, and the ballooning value of Ripple tokens, mostly drew comments about the irrationality of the virtual currency markets, which appear to be largely driven these days by the fear of missing out, or FOMO.”This is beyond insane,” said Jeremy Gardner, an investor who previously worked at the virtual currency hedge fund Blockchain Capital, which invested in Ripple.
Mr. McCaleb designed Ripple as a faster and more efficient version of Bitcoin, without the mining process that Bitcoin uses to distribute new coins and secure the network.
Mr. McCaleb later left Ripple in an acrimonious divorce, though he retained a sizable number of Ripple tokens.
If Mr. Larsen wanted to access his wealth by selling Ripple tokens for dollars, it would likely drive down the value of Ripple tokens – and his riches.
Ripple has so far announced that one company, a Mexican money-transfer business, is planning to use the Ripple token.
Mr. Garlinghouse said he thought the rising value of Ripple tokens was justified, given the company’s growth and the size of the foreign currency markets that Ripple wants to tackle.
Ripple has attracted the ire of Bitcoin fans because Ripple has a greater degree of centralized authority in Mr. Garlinghouse’s company, even though the Ripple software is open source.
Still, even virtual currency analysts who believe in Ripple’s software have said there is a big difference between Ripple the company being successful, and Ripple the token gaining enough traction to justify current prices.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Snap’s unusual structure led to a series of breakthroughs”

On the other, the company’s struggles illustrate the challenges created by its unusual “Hub-and-spoke” organizational structure, which puts Spiegel at the center of all decision-making at the company.
The hub-and-spoke model means the company can sometimes iterate faster than its peers, cutting through internal politics to arrive at visionary breakthroughs.
Snap’s structure also usurps authority from its product managers, some of whom have left amid complaints they lacked the autonomy they would have at other large tech companies, former employees said.
The public face and chief strategist at the company has been Spiegel, an obsessive product mind who reveres Steve Jobs, former employees say.
Spiegel’s instincts have also led the company astray.
Spectacles, a high-profile move into hardware, sold far fewer units than the company projected, leaving the company with $40 million in unsold camera-augmented sunglasses.
Former employees say Spiegel’s meticulous involvement with every product proposal and risky investments in pet projects like Spectacles have cost the company time and money.
One former employee characterized Snapchat’s ideal user, in the eyes of Spiegel, as “a 16-year-old girl in the US on the newest iPhone.” Having mostly saturated that market – while losing ground to Instagram internationally – the company is now belatedly working in earnest to make itself more approachable.

The orginal article.