Tobi Lutke on succeeding in an Amazon world

Amazon will never win all of online shopping, “even in Bezos’s wildest dreams,” Lutke said. The Seattle-based web retailer will exist for everything people need on a regular basis, like food, toilet paper and batteries, but for the stuff they desire rather than need, most people still want to shop, whether it’s in physical or online boutiques.

This is an interesting view of Amazon’s positioning in online retail, and the gap that it leaves for independents (and Shopify).

As for Facebook and Google, Shopify could be an e-commerce appendage that helps these companies keep a foothold in the space even as Amazon rolls on. Shopify has been building the operating system for independent merchants to sell online for years, and even if Instagram were to get over its hesitance to turn itself into an online mall, Shopify would still theoretically be powering all the boring, difficult stuff that comes with selling, like order tracking and logistics, Lutke said.

This is quite ambitious, and a bit too hopeful. Lutke has correctly identified the opportunity for Facebook and Google. However, his belief in F/G turning to Shopify, instead of enabling the independent merchants directly seems tenuous.

There may be an opportunity with Facebook, but Google has quietly been pursuing shopping, money, and commerce related products for a long time. Google does lack capabilities in order tracking and logistics, that it could offer merchants. But these aren’t capabilities that Google, or the merchants, couldn’t buy from other third parties. Logistics-as-a-service isn’t a category lacking in providers.

Irrespective of my qualms, I really like the thinking that Lutke has presented here. His view of the opportunity space, him using Amazon’s dominance into a selling point for Shopify both display the clarity of his mental model. I love that in a (not-anymore) startup CEO, all the more in one from a core developer background.

Twitter’s product innovation hurdle

 

Since its founding, Twitter has made a religion of listening to users. After all, they came up with some of the company’s best ideas — including the hashtag, reply and retweet. After the flow of good ideas from users stopped, Twitter was hard-pressed to come up with its own.

Bloomberg: Why Twitter Can’t Pull the Trigger on New Products

Continue reading Twitter’s product innovation hurdle

Product-market strategy & politics

“Dockless bike shares have found a niche where they don’t have powerful enemies,”

Uber for bikes: how ‘dockless’ cycles flooded China – and are heading overseas, April 24, 2017 at 10:13AM

The only people who seem to be upset by the new share bikes, however, are illegal motorbike taxi drivers – who are missing out on business from metro stations late at night – and security guards, who don’t like mess on the pavement outside their buildings. There is friction, but the groups that are upset aren’t powerful enough. So the government doesn’t care.

Anger lessons – from boxing & politics

My anger happens in bursts, but I do not exist only as an angry person. And maybe it’s because of the world I grew up in, where anger and strategy had to be balanced.

In South Africa, we had many struggle leaders who were angry, but you had to learn when to let that anger come out. These are the things that I’ve learned from some of the greatest leaders, just reading their autobiographies and their stories.

I also learned this when I used to box. I didn’t box professionally, but as a boxer you have to learn to calm down.

Trevor Noah Has a Lot to Say – Freakonomics, February 23, 2017 at 04:02 PM

Uber’s valuation – company v/s market

Its valuation is that high despite the fact that it’s not profitable, and despite the fact that it has little protection from competitors baked into what it is and does.

Uber’s valuation, in other words, is a reflection of the global marketplace and not a reflection of Uber’s own durability as a company.

What Happens If Uber Fails?, March 23, 2017 at 03:00AM