Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet

Alexis Madrigal:

All these people are trying to kill email.
 “E-mail is dead, or at least that’s what Silicon Valley is banking on,” wrote Businessweek tech reporter Ashlee Vance.
 There’s the co-founder of Asana, the work software startup. Email has “become a counter-productivity tool,” Justin Rosenstein likes to say.
 Slack, the superhot work chat tool, likes to brag that they’ve “saved the world from over 70,000,000 emails” (if you assume that every five Slack messages prevent one email from getting its wings).

Will wildly expensive housing devour the economies of wealthy countries?

Tim Fernholz:

There’s a dearth of cheap living space in the US: the supply of homes costing less than $198,000 fell 17% in June compared to 2013, leaving first-time buyers hung out to dry.
 It’s not that inventory for sale isn’t growing—it is, but only on the high-end side. Cheaper homes are being snapped up by deep-pocketed investors to rent, or their current owners are still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and don’t want to take a loss on a sale. Meanwhile, home prices are still increasing—which isn’t an accident, thanks to subsidies to homeowners and restrictive building regulations:

Study: Young adults increasingly use smartphones to shop for cars

Michael Martinez:

Young people are increasingly buying cars on their smartphones, and have done extensive research before stepping onto dealer lots, a new study says.
 In its third-annual automotive buyer influence study released Tuesday, car-shopping website said 95 percent of those in their 20s and early 30s do their car shopping online — and 50 percent use their smartphones, up significantly from previous years. While researching, the would-be buyers visit third-party sites — like AutoTrader,TrueCaror Edmunds — 51 percent of the time, and are going to dealerships less and less.
 These new trends have prompted traditional dealerships and other car-buying websites to invest in mobile technology and hire new workers to keep up with the changing buying patterns.
 “Millennials are driving a lot of that change,” Isabelle Helms, AutoTrader’s vice president of research and market intelligence, said in an interview. “The declines and rises in trends are being led by this generation of car-shoppers.”

This Is the Biggest Threat Facing Google Right Now

Jacob Davidson:

That Google allows Xiaomi to sell both standard and non-standard Android products may indicate Google recognizes the danger it faces, and is prepared to make concessions to device makers in certain markets to keep its services available. Generally, hardware vendors are forced to choose between shipping Google apps on all of their Android phones, or being denied Google services entirely. Ron Amadeo, a journalist who has previously written on Google’s attempts to control Android, says Xiaomi’s unique arrangement appears to be a special exception.

Mobile OS Paradigm: Where the Tech Investments are Going

Steven Sinofsky:

Once one internalizes all these moving parts, it becomes clear why the emphasis on the newly architected OS and the break from past software and hardware is essential to deliver the benefits. These benefits are now what has come to be expected from a computing device.

While a person new to computing this year might totally understand a large screen device with a keyboard for some tasks, it is not likely that it would make much sense to have to reboot, re-image, or edit the registry to remove malware, or why a device goes from x hours of battery life to 1/2 x hours just because some new app was installed. At some point the base expectations of a device change.

The mobile OS platforms we see today represent a new paradigm. This new paradigm is why you can have a super computer in your pocket or access to millions of apps that together “just work”.

Sinofsky worked for Microsoft for years and ran Windows 8….. He is now a vc and lecturer and is old enough to have seen past transitions, which he references in the post.

One thing that I keep an eye on: technical and vc investements: nothing is going into the now 21 year old browser infrastructure (sure there are aesthetic changes like expensive and not very successful responsive tools), it’s all going to real mobile apps.

Looming health tools will add to the investment explosion along with ambient awareness (ibeacons) and home automation.

Learn more about Virtual Properties’ 5th generation iPhone, iPad and Google Play apps along with our new Agent App.

Related: 74 seconds: compare a real app with a “responsive website”.

Record income gap fuels US housing weakness

Anji Raval:

The income gap between America’s richest and poorest metropolitan regions has reached its widest on record, shaping an uneven housing recovery that threatens to hold back the broader revival of the world’s largest economy.

The gap has narrowed and widened in past cycles, but the rebound from the most recent financial crisis has seen the ratio hit its most unequal since data collection began 45 years ago, fuelling policy makers’ concerns.

US Commerce and Labor Department data for the 100 largest metropolitan areas by population, analysed for the Financial Times by property website Trulia, found the income disparity between the 10th most expensive region and the 90th by home prices in 2013 hit its widest since records began in 1969.

The research shows Boston – ranked at 10 – reporting a per-capita income 1.61 times that of Cincinnati ranked at 90. At its low point in 1976, the gap was 1.36 times, between San Francisco and El Paso.

The “Growing” American Dream: An Analysis of Historic Trends in Housing

Erin Cammel:

The purpose of this paper is to compare data found in Small Homes of Architectural Distinction by the Architects’ Small House Service Bureau in 1929 to U.S. Census data from 1930 and 1980 through 2010. In an attempt to explain the expansion of the American household, average square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms are correlated to average household size and income (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d., a.). All of these statistical categories have been impacted by the fluctuation of the American economy and cultural influences.
 The American household has seen many changes through the past century. Although the household has seen fluctuation, there is a general trend of larger homes. At the turn of the 20th century, the average single-family house was quite small by contemporary standards given that the average family size was more than four persons. Through the years, houses have become larger in square footage, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms while family size has been shrinking (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d., b).
 American social and cultural views have changed over the years, sparking this phenomenon. Chung (2012) provided insight into the social and cultural changes that have precipitated American society. The growth in the size of single-family homes has had significant negative impacts on our sense of community among members of society. Homes are becoming a statement of household wealth. Homes of substantial size have become so excessive that they have to be built as commercial construction because regular residential construction cannot support them (Chung, 2012). A comparative analysis of historical housing trend data from 1929 to 2012 will reveal how housing designs indicate shifts in societal expectations for standards of living across generations.

Zillow Shares Could Fall By Half

Bill Alpert:

Some major Internet stocks have stumbled this year, but shares of residential real estate Website Zillow have soared about 70%. And thanks in part to a merger announcement on July 28, so have those of its former rival, Trulia. Tens of millions of Americans regularly tour the two sites hunting for the perfect home or keeping tabs on what their neighbors’ houses are worth. Bulls have dubbed the planned combination Godzulia, imagining that the two sites will grab a big piece of the $10 billion that realtors spend annually on advertising. Zillow’s all-stock deal reflected this optimism, valuing Trulia at $3.5 billion, a 25% premium to its previous closing price.

Godzulia, however, may not be as awesome as feared. Neither company is expected to make a profit this year under generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, nor produce much free cash flow. Shares of Trulia (ticker: TRLA), at $58, trade at 10 times this year’s expected sales, while Zillow’s (Z) $140 share price works out to 20 times—rivaling the multiples of other up-market Internet stocks like Yelp (YELP) and LinkedIn (LNKD) that boast solid cash flow and expansive markets.

Stocks of both Zillow and Trulia, which have a combined market value near $8 billion, have come off their initial postdeal highs by almost 15%, possibly reflecting some worry that Godzulia’s heft might be computer-generated imagery. Though the market capitalization of both companies almost equals the marketing budget for all U.S. realtors, the pair haven’t monetized much of their Web traffic: They get just a sliver of real estate advertising dollars. Realtors say that’s because the Websites draw far more lookers than buyers. While mergers-and-acquisitions enthusiasts imagine a combined Zillow-Trulia as an advertising “must buy,” both have been quietly offering deep advertising discounts to real estate chains such as Realogy Holdings (RLGY),

Mobile now 2/3 of Facebook’s Ad Revenue

Facebook’s Quarterly Slides (PDF).

Related: SEO Oxymoron.

SEO oxymoron: Google’s declining per click ad revenue

A few items worth reading:

@counternotions: In case dots between Google’s mobile ad problems & Nikesh Arora’s boot-off aren’t connected, he was their highest paid exec in 2012 at $51M.

Michael Lidtke:

The report released Thursday also showed that Google’s advertising prices are still dropping to extend a nearly three-year slump.
 Meanwhile, the company’s expenses are steadily rising as it hires more workers, promotes products and ventures into new technological frontiers such as Internet-connected eyewear, driverless cars and robots.

Joshua Brustein: