The A’s have taken advantage of those forces by quickly finding the latest inefficiency to exploit: actual major-league players

Jared Diamond:

Early in the movie “Moneyball,” Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane sits in front of a room of befuddled old-school scouts and delivers the message that has defined the real-life Oakland Athletics for nearly two decades.

“If we try to play like the Yankees in here,” Oakland’s heralded executive says, “we will lose to the Yankees out there.”

That attitude helped spark baseball’s data revolution and made the A’s the blueprint for how to thrive with a minuscule budget. Unable to compete with their big-market opponents for high-price talent, the A’s built a powerhouse in the early 2000s largely through their farm system.

But with the A’s now pushing for yet another playoff berth despite a payroll near the bottom of the major leagues, an examination of their team reveals something strange: As they begin a crucial three-game series against New York on Tuesday, the A’s are suddenly more like the Yankees than the Yankees themselves.

Oakland has just six homegrown players—those who have spent their entire North American professional career in the A’s organization—on its active 25-man roster and MLB injured and restricted lists. Only the Chicago Cubs have fewer. The deep-pocketed Los Angeles Dodgers have 18. The Boston Red Sox, the game’s highest-spending team, and the Yankees, the exact opposite of the A’s when it comes to wealth and luxury, both have 13.

“We’re zigging when everyone else is zagging,” A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty said.

Analytics are reshaping fashion’s old-school instincts

Maghan McDowell:

Key takeaways:

Department stores are increasingly using data to help predict the rise and decline of future trends.

Fashion houses like Marni and Miu Miu use data analytics to identify opportunities and weaknesses in their collections.

While data-driven tools have improved trend forecasting, human interpretation remains essential.

When Detroit-based luxury goods brand Shinola began working on its new Vinton watch, the team designed with a woman in mind, but testing the product through analytics platform MakerSights, which correlates consumer feedback with historical sales data, revealed the style appealed to all genders. As a result, the brand deepened its buy-in on those by about 70 per cent. “You never design by data, but the data, but the data provides a compass as you’re navigating a hunch,” says Shinola CEO Tom Lewand.

In other words, Shinola already had a great vision — and the data enhanced it.

SoftBank Will Let People Invest in IPOs With Less Than $10

Takahiko HyugaAugust:

“When you buy food or fuel your car, it’s easier to specify the amount of money you want to spend rather than the volume,” Uchiyama said in an interview. “The only thing investors want to know is how much they can gain from $10.”

SoftBank is going up against competition from Line Corp. and Rakuten Inc. in the race to tap individuals through financial services. Line started an online brokerage with Japan’s biggest bank, Nomura Holdings Inc., this week, while Rakuten last month announced it will start lending and issuing credit cards in the United States. All three are aiming to create and expand new markets, targeting younger and less well-off investors.

SoftBank owns 46% of One Tap BUY, while Mizuho Securities Co. holds 13%. Uchiyama, who joined the smartphone-based brokerage in 2016 after stints at the predecessors of SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. and Accenture Plc., became the CEO in July.

Changing Work Environments: Why Japan’s ‘shūkatsu’ job-seeking system is changing

Mari Shibata:

Every year beginning in early April, thousands of soon-to-be-graduates in Japan make their way around town dressed in black business attire, carrying a briefcase containing only their CVs, hoping to land jobs at the country’s most reputable companies.

This ritual is part of a year-long hiring process in their penultimate year of university: the season of ‘shūshoku katsudō’ (job-hunting activity). It’s known as ‘shūkatsu’ for short, when third-year students drop classes in order to attend career seminars organised by universities. In their last year, they submit job applications and endure a structured selection process to secure a position (called ‘naitei’) by the time they finish their degree.

Shūkatsu is the traditional, predominant recruiting practice across Japan. It is vital not just for employers and university placement numbers, but also for the students whose social status can be elevated by the outcome of their job hunt.

This system was created in 1953 by Keidanren – Japan’s leading business lobby, comprising more than 1,300 major Japanese corporations and 100 group industries. Due to labour shortages during Japan’s post-war period of rapid economic growth, the hunt for college graduates heated up. The shūkatsu system offered lifetime employment to new graduates who, in turn, provided security and status for major Japanese firms.

The Browser Monopoly


Why Chrome Exists

Google Chrome was conceived and developed for a fairly straightforward purpose: advertising. Google called this “driving innovation on the web,” and to be fair, Chrome introduced a lot of neat new features (Porn “Incognito Mode,” multithreaded memory changes, tabs and more). But what Google was really doing was laying the groundwork for the ability to deliver all sorts of new online ad formats (like video) and complicated Javascript behind them that would help track and target users more effectively. The first created new, higher-margin ad products that Google (and others) could sell; the second would give advertisers and marketers new tools to convince their companies of ROI on those ads, enabling more digital ad spending over newspapers or whatever.

In other words, it was a win-win for Google.

If, like me, you work in and with web development, you know how much more complicated webdev and the Javascript ecosystem has gotten even since then. There are approximately a billion different Javascript frameworks. Facebook is sending down 7MB in uncompressed Javascript just to run; GMail, almost 4MB. Websites have become far more interactive, but at great cost to performance for anyone without a late-model phone. On the web’s war for user attention-seconds, there’s a whole arms race going on to introduce novel new Javascript tricks based on Chrome’s V8 engine – all of which drives ad impressions.

Product/User Dislocation

In The Internet As Television, I lamented the drift of the modern web towards favoring passive consumption of “content” over all else. But we should also bemoan the gradual sacrifice of user privacy and security as well. Despite highly visible examples of how easily personal data is tracked, recorded and weaponized by the advertising-ravenous web, the harms are hard to understand and extremely opaque to most people.

Yet product needs proliferate. Ad blocking, for example, has exploded in popularity in recent years. I changed my mind on this earlier this year, and let me tell you, I am never going back. Ad blocking is both highly effective and simply a material improvement of one’s whole online experience, which its broad adoption easily demonstrates. Another example is passwords. Passwords are a technology straight out of the 1980s, an absolute lowest-common-denominator system of authentication. Password managers like LastPass and 1Password are strong, secure and reliable alternatives that live right in your browser and make a huge difference for personal security. (Seriously, if you do not use a password manager, stop reading this and go do it. I am personally a very happy LastPass customer.) It is mind-boggling that basic tools like these are not yet standard features in browsers.

That is, until you remember that classic internet maxim: you, dear user, are not the customer. You’re the product.

Product choices like these can be traced directly back to who provides the biggest web browsers, and why they’re doing it. Google is fundamentally in the business of advertising, which is why they have absolutely no interest in limiting ad impressions, or preventing the sharing of your personal data. I suspect that this is primarily why they don’t bother with password manager features, either, though it’s an open question.*

Google Is Tightening Its Grip on Your Website

Owen Williams:

AMP strips publishers of full autonomy and control over their content. Hosted AMP pages obfuscate the source of what you’re reading, removes some control over your own brand, and essentially allows Google to use your content for free under the guise of making the web better. It hides your URL in favor of a version. (Though that will soon change for developers who opt to enable a “signed exchange” that authenticates their content with Google — a complex, technical workaround for what appears to be a simple design problem.) Previous applications of AMP even threw posts into a swipeable carousel, as if all the content were on display in a shop window.

All of which is to say that AMP is a way for Google to own the browsing experience. Sure, it’s technically optional — but it’s not really an option. If developers don’t use it, they stand to miss out on important traffic. Their websites will rank significantly lower in search. Google is by far the dominant search engine, with 92% market share worldwide and 94.5% on mobile. It’s simply impossible to ignore.

I’m well aware of all these problems because I was there when AMP was born. I attended the event where Google unveiled the project and hailed it as the savior of the mobile web. It was a noble cause: Someone had to do something about how slow and horrible it was to use the web on a phone. I worked at a news company that adopted AMP as a launch partner, and I’ve used it on my own site. It’s hard to exaggerate how much impact adding AMP support to a website actually has on traffic.

Apple will soon treat online web tracking the same as a security vulnerability

Natasha Lomas:

WebKit, the open source engine that underpins Internet browsers including Apple’s Safari browser, has announced a new tracking prevention policy that takes the strictest line yet on the background and cross-site tracking practices and technologies which are used to creep on Internet users as they go about their business online.

Trackers are technologies that are invisible to the average web user, yet which are designed to keep tabs on where they go and what they look at online — typically for ad targeting but web user profiling can have much broader implications than just creepy ads, potentially impacting the services people can access or the prices they see, and so on. Trackers can also be a conduit for hackers to inject actual malware, not just adtech.

This translates to stuff like tracking pixels; browser and device fingerprinting; and navigational tracking to name just a few of the myriad methods that have sprouted like weeds from an unregulated digital adtech industry that’s poured vast resource into ‘innovations’ intended to strip web users of their privacy.

Justin Schuh (Google):

Second, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web. Many publishers have been able to continue to invest in freely accessible content because they can be confident that their advertising will fund their costs. If this funding is cut, we are concerned that we will see much less accessible content for everyone. Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52% on average1.

So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web. At I/O, we announced a plan to improve the classification of cookies, give clarity and visibility to cookie settings, as well as plans to more aggressively block fingerprinting. We are making progress on this, and today we are providing more details on our plans to restrict fingerprinting. Collectively we believe all these changes will improve transparency, choice, and control.

But, we can go further. Starting with today’s announcements, we will work with the web community to develop new standards that advance privacy, while continuing to support free access to content. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve started sharing our preliminary ideas for a Privacy Sandbox – a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy. Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy.

We are following the web standards process and seeking industry feedback on our initial ideas for the Privacy Sandbox. While Chrome can take action quickly in some areas (for instance, restrictions on fingerprinting) developing web standards is a complex process, and we know from experience that ecosystem changes of this scope take time. They require significant thought, debate, and input from many stakeholders, and generally take multiple years.

SoftBank plans to lend $20 billion to its CEO and employees amid volatile markets


Some analysts are of the view that this highly unusual move could be risky in terms of overall exposure SoftBank Group will have.

The upside is that the move can potentially fill out as much as a fifth of the $108 billion Second Vision Fund from investors with the same goal.

The Japanese company announced its second Vision Fund last month. The fund includes $38 billion from SoftBank itself, as well as commitments from investors.

The government of Kazakhstan – one of the investors, is expected to make a contribution of about $3 billion while banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Britain’s Standard Chartered PLC and Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc have also indicated they are willing to invest several hundred million dollars each, according to sources.

The WSJ reported that SoftBank also took a similar approach to its original Vision Fund, with stakes from employees provided with loans totaling $8 billion of that $100 billion commitment.

Some analysts said that the potential pay-off can be big, provided the fund has some solid winners that achieve liquidation events that offer big returns that employees can use to pay off the original loans, and walk away with profit. That could still be risky though amid volatile markets.

Softbank has

The Techlash Is Only Making Facebook Stronger

Sarah Frier:

When Facebook Inc. agreed to settle a privacy complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for $5 billion last month, both parties acted like the news was a big deal. The FTC noted it was a record federal penalty, while the company released a video of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg solemnly telling employees a new era of regulatory compliance was at hand. Leaving aside that the fine was hardly a serious blow—last year alone, Facebook’s profit topped $22 billion—the settlement is great news for Zuckerberg in another way. The fine print will likely help Facebook cement its dominant position in social media advertising, just as the FTC begins an antitrust investigation of the company.

Facebook’s most valuable resource is its data. Every click, comment, and even scroll from its 2.5 billion users is incorporated into its ideas about what people like and want. The company combines that knowledge with information from outside sources, tracking people as they browse the open web and offline through their credit card purchases and phone GPS signals, then uses that data to precisely target ads for Facebook and its other apps: Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. This unimaginable mountain of information is the bedrock of Facebook’s $70-billion-a-year ad business.

The biggest risks to TikTok

Casey Newton:

With Facebook under antitrust scrutiny around the world, the company is spending more time making the case that it is beset on all sides by competitors. There are other messaging apps, other professional networking apps, and other video apps. And when it comes to good old-fashioned social networking — public broadcasts, following influencers, and that sort of thing, there’s TikTok.

“In just three years, TikTok has become one of the world’s most popular online social network platforms,” Facebook wrote today in a letter to Rep. David Cicilline, D-RI, who has championed an antitrust inquiry into the company. “The app has been downloaded more than one billion times globally, is available in more than 150 countries, and in 2018 was installed more times than either Facebook or Instagram.”

TikTok’s ubiquity is all the more striking considering that it just celebrated its first birthday on August 2nd. That’s when the Chinese company ByteDance, which had bought an American app named in November 2017, rebranded it as TikTok. In the year since, the app has become a global hit, thanks to a core feed powered by machine learning that’s entertaining even if you never follow anyone. (TikTok’s “duets” feature, which allows you to easily remix others’ content, also skillfully married a strong creative tool with a useful engagement hack.)

2019 email client marketshare

Bettina Specht:

Over the course of the past year, we’ve analyzed over 10 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “B”— email opens tracked with Litmus Email Analytics to see where subscribers read emails. And while a few things stayed the same, we saw plenty of movement this year in terms of email client popularity. In our 2019 Email Market Share infographic, we take a look at mobile, webmail, and desktop opens over the course of the year, providing insights into why these changes occurred and how they may affect your email campaigns.

How to Get a $5,000 Amazon Credit: Buy a House Through Realogy

Conor Dougherty and Karen Weise:

Over the past year, the decidedly analog business of buying and selling real estate has been upended by a flurry of new money and start-ups trying to usher in a world where homes are bought and sold online. Now, Amazon is creating a partnership that goes in the opposite direction by using its gigantic retail platform to facilitate phone calls with human real estate agents.

On Tuesday, Amazon said that it was working with Realogy, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company and owner of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and other brands, to create TurnKey, a service that will help prospective home buyers find real estate agents. To entice customers, Amazon will give buyers up to $5,000 in home services and smart-home gear when they close.

Amazon is now as much a search engine as it is a store, and the deal fits into the company’s effort to capitalize on its status as an online destination by making money on advertising and other services. It’s also a way to encourage people to adopt products like Alexa speakers and Ring doorbells and to promote its list of handymen, furniture assemblers and other home services.

For Realogy, who will pay for those benefits, the partnership is a way of using Amazon to find home buyers and help its brokers separate the closers from the lookie-loos by rebating a portion of its commission, in the form of free Amazon stuff, to anyone who actually buys a house.

Here’s how it works: Buyers who are interested in the program go to and answer four questions about who they are and where they live. They then get a phone call from a Realogy representative who tries to determine what sort of home they are looking for and how serious they are about buying.

The best prospects are sent to agents. Depending on how much buyers ultimately spend on a home, those who close with one of Realogy’s agents get a coupon for $450 to $1,500 in Amazon Home Services like unpacking, cleaning and furniture assembly, along with $500 to $3,500 in smart-home products that Amazon or some affiliate will install. To get the maximum benefit, worth $5,000 in equipment and services, a buyer would have to purchase a home for $700,000 or more.

Google, Yelp and Data Scraping

Danny in the valley podcast:

The Sunday Times’ tech correspondent Danny Fortson brings on Jeremy Stoppelman, founder of Yelp, to talk about the early days of “user-generated content” (3:50), when ‘Yelp’ became a verb (7:10), when Google took notice (9:00), becoming a resource for the search giant (11:35), when Google tried to buy Yelp (12:40), testifying in Congress (13:40), Google’s dirty deeds (16:00), Google’s unseen power (18:50), whether Trump is good for Yelp (23:20), the coming crackdown (25:50)

Related: Keller Williams’ recent Google “Data Alliance” announcement.

Oregon Just Voted to Legalize Duplexes on Almost Every City Lot

Michael Andersen:

“This is about choice,” said Rep. Tina Kotek, the Democratic speaker of Oregon’s house and the bill’s architect and lead champion, when she introduced the bill in February. “This is about allowing for different opportunities in neighborhoods that are currently extremely limited.”

“We all have an affordable housing crisis in our areas,” said Rep. Jack Zika, a Redmond Republican who supported the bill before a different committee June 11. “This is not a silver bullet, but will address some of the things that all our constituents need. … We have an opportunity now for first-time homebuyers.”

About 2.8 million Oregonians live in jurisdictions affected by the bill. Of those, about 2.5 million live in larger cities and the Portland metro area where up to four homes per lot would become legal; the rest, in mid-size cities where only duplexes would be legalized.

Cities would retain the ability to regulate building size and design, giving them leeway to ensure that change will be gradual. Cities also have flexibility to incentivize projects that create new below-market homes. (Portland, which has been working on its own fourplex legalization for the last four years, is planning to do exactly that, using a sliding scale of size bonuses that lets buildings be slightly larger for each additional home they create, and another bonus if one or more of the homes is offered below market price.)

Internet Trends: Daily Hours Spent with Digital Media, by Device

Internet Trends 2019.

Millions of Business Listings on Google Maps Are Fake—and Google Profits

Rob Copeland and Katherine Bindley:

Yet despite its powerful algorithms and first-rate software engineers, the company struggles to protect against chronic deceit on Google Maps.

Once considered a sleepy, low-margin business by the company and known mostly for giving travel directions, Google Maps in recent months has packed more ads onto its search queries. It is central to Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG 0.93% hope to recharge a cresting digital-advertising operation.

Often, Google Maps yields mirages, visible in local business searches of U.S. cities, including Mountain View, Calif., Google’s hometown. Of a dozen addresses for personal-injury attorneys on Google Maps during a recent search, only one office was real. A Viennese patisserie was among the businesses at addresses purported to house lawyers. The fakes vanished after inquiries to Google from The Wall Street Journal.

The false listings benefit businesses seeking more customer calls by sprinkling made-up branches in various corners of a city. In other cases, as Ms. Carter discovered, calls to listed phone numbers connect to unscrupulous competitors, a misdirection forbidden by Google rules but sporadically policed by the company.

Hundreds of thousands of false listings sprout on Google Maps each month, according to experts. Google says it catches many others before they appear.

Online advertising specialists identified by Google as deft fraud fighters estimated that Google Maps carries roughly 11 million falsely listed businesses on any given day, according to a Journal survey of these experts.

Facebook usage falling after privacy scandals, data suggests

Alex Hern:

The decline coincided with a series of data, privacy and hate speech scandals. In September the company discovered a breach affecting 50m accounts, in November it admitted that an executive hired a PR firm to attack the philanthropist George Soros, and it has been repeatedly criticised for allowing its platform to be used to fuel ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

Facebook’s own statistics show increases in daily and monthly active users (DAUs and MAUs), the numbers logging on to the site at least once in the respective periods, during the year ending March 2019.

In the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, published in April, it said it averaged 1.56bn DAUs in March up 8% on March 2018, and MAUs were also up 8% year on year.

The two sets of numbers can be reconciled. Anecdotal reports over the past year have suggested that while few users have deleted their Facebook accounts or stopped logging on since the scandals, many have reduced their usage.

This month a market research firm, eMarketer, reported a decline in Facebook usage in the US, saying the typical Facebook user spent 38 minutes a day on the site, down from 41 minutes in 2017.

“On top of that, Facebook has continued to lose younger users, who are spreading their time and attention across other social platforms and digital activities,” eMarketer said.

How to Design for the Web in 2019

Casper Beyer:

Chrome is moving to block ad-blockers so if the user is using a browser like Brave we’ll be able to just claim the user’s browser isn’t modern enough.

Death of the Country Club

Charles McElwee:

The country club, once a mainstay of American suburbia, faces a cloudy future, with a changing culture eroding its societal influence. Golf and tennis, the traditional club pastimes, have lost popularity. Declining marriage and fertility rates mean fewer families joining. Young professionals, many burdened with limited incomes and high debt, balk at paying dues. And a yearning for broader community makes the clubhouse’s exclusivity unappealing. The country club is increasingly a refuge for retirees—and, upon closure, a site for mixed-use development.

Country clubs once served as communal centers for social climbers. Dating to the 1880s, the clubs—modeled on the British aristocracy’s country houses—opened in the bucolic outskirts of industrial cities and towns. For a growing upper-middle-class, wealth permitted entry into this local society. Golf, dormant since the colonial era, became the favored sport for club members; in 1895 alone, more than 100 courses opened. Country clubs would help shape the development of streetcar suburbs, with stately homes lining manicured courses. By the Great Depression, nearly 4,500 country clubs existed across the country.

Brand Building: The Wrong Math

Bob Hoffman:

Sadly in the field of advertising and marketing, experts are not usually hatched based on their record of producing reliable results, but on their ability to attract attention. Consequently we should be highly dubious of their “expertise.” But we’re not. Because as Kahneman also says, “a reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition.”

One of the most frequently repeated and, in my opinion, highly dubious tropes in our industry these days is the idea that the paragon of media strategy is “mass one-to-one” communication. In non-jargonista terms, this means reaching large numbers with individualized messages.

You would expect that this assertion would be met with skepticism. For one thing, there is no record of “mass one-to-one” communication achieving anything. You might argue that no one has yet been able to engineer “mass one-to-one” and that is why there is no record. Which is exactly my point. Shouldn’t we exercise a little skepticism about a theory for which there are no examples?


First, I believe brands are far more likely to achieve big success if they are well-known. Public media (broad based media) make you well-known. Private media (one-to-one) don’t. Perhaps the best argument for this can be found outside the advertising industry. As many have noted, in their early stages Google, Facebook, and Amazon were brands that became successful without advertising. How did they become successful? One component was that news media fell in love with them and gave them zillions in free coverage. These companies became well-known without advertising, and being well-known helped them grow. The rules of probability don’t just apply to advertising, they apply across the board.

Second, I believe people are more likely to accept the legitimacy of brands that advertise in public than brands that advertise in private

Third, except for sociopaths, we all (secretly) want to fit in. Understanding what products fit with our peer culture is part of fitting in. This is why goths wear black and golfers wear plaid. Consequently, we are more likely to buy a brand about which everyone in our group knows what the brand stands for. Public media provide the framework to believe that your group has the same understanding of what the brand is about as you do. Private media do not. When advertising is customized for individuals, we have no idea if others know what we know.

Is GDPR working? Brave’s Johnny Ryan says it’s starting to, and marketers must heed the risks

Greg Sterling:

Article 7 (3) of the GDPR requires that an opt-in must be as easy to undo as it was to give in the first place, and that people can do so without detriment.

Tech Platforms

Ben Evans:

There are about 5.3bn people on earth aged over 15. Of these, around 5bn have a mobile phone. This is an estimate: I’m going with the GSMA’s but most others are in the same range. The data challenge is that mobile operators collectively know how many people have a SIM card, but a lot of people have more than one. Meanwhile, ownership starts at aged 10 or so in developed markets, whereas in some developing markets half of the population is under 15, which means that a penetration number given as a share of the total population masks a much higher penetration of the adult population.

About 4bn people have a smartphone. How do we get to this number? Well:

  • Apple gave a number of 900m active iPhones at the beginning of the year, which is consistent with the unit sales that it reported until recently.

  • Google said at this year’s IO conference that there are 2.5bn active Android devices, and the Android developer dashboard says that about 95% of these are phones.
  • Google’s number does not include Android phones in China, which do not come with any Google services (conversely Apple’s number does include iOS devices in China). The Chinese government estimates just over 800m internet-connected smartphones in China, and perhaps 20% of these are iPhones, giving a round number of 650m Android phones.

How many of these are online? These sources are all based on devices that connect to the internet regularly in order for them to be counted, but ‘connection’ is a pretty fuzzy thing. The entry price for low-end Android is now well under $50, and cellular data connectivity is relatively expensive for people earning less than $10 or $5 a day (and yes, all of these people are getting phones). Charging your phone is also expensive – if you live without grid electricity, you may need to pay the neighbor who owns a generator, solar cells or car battery to top up your battery. Hence, MTN Nigeria recently reported that 47% of its users had a smartphone but only 27% were active data users (defined as using >5 meg/month). Of course, some of these will be limiting their use to wifi, where they can get it. These issues will obviously intensify as the next billion convert to smartphones (or near-smartphones like KaiOS) in the next few years. There are lots of paths to address this, including the continuing cost efficiencies of cellular, cheaper backhaul (perhaps using LEO satellites), and cheap solar panels (and indeed more wifi). The fratricidal price wars started by Jio in India are another contributor, though you can’t really rely on that to happen globally. But this issue means that on one hand there are actually more than 4bn smartphones in use in some way, but on the other that fewer than 4bn are really online.

Facebook held talks with Winklevoss twins over new currency

Hanna Murphy and Philip Stafford:

Facebook’s vaulting ambition to create a new global digital currency has led it to hold talks with some of America’s largest trading houses and cryptocurrency exchanges, including one founded by Mark Zuckerberg’s sworn enemies — the Winklevoss twins.

A secretive unit of the social media company has been working for more than a year to create a currency that its 2bn users can use to send money to each other, and to buy things not just on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp but across the internet and in the real world.

“Payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier. I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo,” said Mr Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, at the company’s developer conference at the end of April.

But the project will be “bigger and more open” than just a way to make payments and purchases within Facebook, according to three people familiar with the project.

To make sure that its new currency, a digital coin linked to the value of the dollar, is liquid and tradeable, Facebook has talked to Jump and DRW, Chicago’s biggest high-frequency trading firms about making a market, according to two people familiar with the talks.

Both firms declined to comment. Facebook has required all parties taking part in talks to sign non-disclosure agreements.

CrossFit, Inc. Suspends Use of Facebook and Associated Properties


Recently, Facebook deleted without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan user group. The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. While the site has subsequently been reinstated (also without warning or explanation), Facebook’s action should give any serious person reason to pause, especially those of us engaged in activities contrary to prevailing opinion.

Facebook and its properties host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought. To millions of individuals and communities across the world, Facebook and its properties remain the platforms where ideas and information are exchanged. Facebook thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform. This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process.

CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription. To this end, all activity on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was suspended as of May 22, 2019, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community.

The Rise of the Rural Creative Class (!)

Richard Florida:

One of the most persistent myths in America today is that urban areas are innovative and rural areas are not. While it is overwhelmingly clear that innovation and creativity tend to cluster in a small number of cities and metropolitan areas, it’s a big mistake to think that they somehow skip over rural America.

A series of studies from Tim Wojan and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service documents the drivers of rural innovation. Their findings draw on a variety of data sets, including a large-scale survey that compares innovation in urban and rural areas called the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS). This is based on some 11,000 business establishments with at least five paid employees in tradable industries—that is, sectors that produce goods and services that are or could be traded internationally—in rural (or non-metro) and urban (metro) areas.

The survey divides businesses into three main groups. Roughly 30 percent of firms are substantive innovators, launching new products and services, making data-driven decisions, and creating intellectual property worth protecting; another 33 percent are nominal innovators who engage in more incremental improvement of their products and processes; and 38 percent show little or no evidence of innovation, so are considered to be non-innovators.

Google to push new ads on its apps to snare shoppers

Paresh Dave:

The search giant on Tuesday announced an expansion of its advertising real estate to boost revenue from mobile shoppers. It will feature ads on the homepage of its smartphone app worldwide, show more ads in Maps and place ads with image galleries in search results.

The changes come as choppy revenue growth prompt questions from some Alphabet investors about whether services such as Inc and Facebook Inc’s Instagram are drawing online shoppers and in turn, advertisers away from Google.

Google executives told reporters on Monday the latest features were a response to how users behave, not competition.

Today’s subscription services cover toilet paper, dog toys, and furniture. But what is lost with convenience?

Amanda Mull:

A subscription, at its base, is simply a schedule of recurring fees that gives consumers continual access to goods or services. A car lease is a subscription, but so is your gym membership and the way you use Microsoft Office. Subscription creep dates to at least 2007, when Amazon launched Subscribe & Save, a service that lets shoppers pre-authorize periodic charges for thousands of consumable goods, such as sandwich bags or face wash (or toilet paper), usually at a slight discount over individual purchases. Then, in 2010, came Birchbox, which provides women with miniature portions of beauty products on a monthly basis for $15. At its peak, the company was valued at more than $500 million.

Both Amazon’s and Birchbox’s models have been widely copied, and their success underscores the appeal of subscriptions to businesses and consumers alike, according to Utpal Dholakia, a marketing professor at Rice University. “The pain of payment and the friction of how a person is going to pay is totally gone,” he says. Consumers receive things they need or want without having to make any decisions, and that creates more stable and predictable revenue streams for the businesses they patronize.

Present Your CMA, Market Stats and Buyer Presentations Online, Live! Sign documents, too.

Glenn Sanford, eXp Realty Co-Founder:

All brokerages must rethink how to engage with consumers. Real estate brokerages must embrace instant showings, qualify consumers virtually, etc. Think about the next level of consumer engagement that you can do online that you are not yet doing.

– via T360’s “Executive Summit” [Notes].

Virtual Properties’ agent app users can share, present and close with one app. In person, or remotely.

A few examples:

New Listings at a Virtual Sales Meeting

CMA and Buyer Presentation

Netsheet: Interactive Pricing

Market Analytics

Autofill documents, sign and close

Get Started:

Turn on iPhone/iPad screen sharing

Install the Zoom app App Store Play Store

iOS screen sharing can be used to record and share your screens, as well. This is very useful for rich messages along with social posts.

Contact or 608 468 6013 for a deeper dive.

US Mobile Market Highlights: Q1 2019

Chetan Sharma:

Smartphone penetration stood at 95%.

AT&T also added the most number of connected cars for the year in the history of the industry. Its total tally stands at almost 32M connected vehicles. AT&T has now added more than 1.5M cars to its network for the 9th straight quarter.

Connected wearables continued to grow at a good pace in Q1 continuing the surprisingly good run in 2018.

The internet didn’t shrink 6% real estate commissions. But this lawsuit might

Lydia DePillis:

Whether or not the lawsuits succeed, traditional brokers and the MLSes they depend on are facing challenges from all sides.

One is a crop of startups offering private listings, off the MLS, to high-net-worth clients who might pay a premium to avoid a bidding war. That allows the property to sell more quickly, even if agents take a higher cut. Then there are a group of companies known as iBuyers, like OpenDoor, which will buy homes sight unseen and hold them only as long as it takes to sell them again, which allows sellers to skip the MLS and attendant commissions altogether.
Billions of dollars of investor capital have been flowing into these startups, allowing them to gain market share without necessarily turning a profit. Some of the more established online listing portals, like Zillow, have launched their own iBuyer platforms as well. Keller Williams, the nation’s largest brokerage franchise, just got into the iBuyer game, too.

Even companies that have tried to make the real estate industry more competitive worry that will end up fragmenting the MLS, undermining a system that — while flawed in some ways — at least allowed all listings to be broadly available. Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin, describes himself as “completely unreconstructed in my ambition to make real estate better for consumers.” But he fears that if real estate agents aren’t incentivized to contribute to the MLS, the whole network could break down.

After all, the National Association of Realtors’ firm rules have created an economic contract — the prospect of earning commissions — that gives market participants a reason to collaborate and create an information commons. If that financial motivation goes away, the real estate market may turn into a collection of well-capitalized tech fiefdoms that hoard information, allowing few consumers to access all of it.

“What I feel almost protective about, in this really sad elegiac way, is the MLS,” Kelman said. “Scientists believe that the dinosaurs were living a very marginal existence when the asteroid hit. I think the ecosystem in real estate is already just extremely vulnerable.”

Small Mortgages Are Getting Harder to Come By

Ben Eisen:

Only about a quarter of homes that sold for less than $70,000 were financed with a mortgage, while almost 80% of sales between $70,000 and $150,000 had one, according to an Urban Institute analysis last year. Low-end borrowers had their applications denied at a higher rate than those taking out bigger mortgages even when comparing borrowers with similar credit quality, according to the think tank.

Housing experts say small mortgages have become rarer because lenders have trouble making profits on smaller loans. Lenders typically have a fixed cost to extend a mortgage, and the smaller the loan, the smaller the profits.

“The whole system incentivizes high[-balance] loans,” said Michael Bright, the president of the Structured Finance Industry Group.

Instead, many lenders are catering to more high-end borrowers. Jumbo loans—those too large to sell to government-sponsored guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —have been a bright spot for banks. Financial institutions have grown increasingly competitive when trying to attract these customers, in part because they are seen as prime targets for selling additional services.

The dearth of smaller mortgages is becoming an impediment to home buying in regions where prices are otherwise affordable, especially in Midwestern and Southern cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Youngstown, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, according to local housing advocates and attorneys.

For many home buyers, the difficulty of obtaining small mortgages represents another rung sawed off the ladder to upward mobility.

“Like everything else in our economy, the housing market has become less equitable,” said Julia Gordon, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, a nonprofit whose work focuses on neighborhoods with low-price homes.

The Hidden Air Pollution in Our Homes

Nicola Twilley:

Food magazines typically celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-July, bronzing turkeys and crimping piecrust four months in advance. By that time last year, Marina Vance, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, had already prepared two full Thanksgiving dinners for more than a dozen people. Vance studies air quality, and, last June, she was one of two scientists in charge of Homechem, a four-week orgy of cooking, cleaning, and emissions measurement, which brought sixty scientists and four and a half million dollars’ worth of high-tech instrumentation to a ranch house on the engineering campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The two Thanksgiving dinners were the climax of the project and represented what Vance called a “worst-case scenario.” She suspected that the Pilgrims’ harvest celebration, as it is observed in twenty-first-century America, qualified as an airborne toxic event.

The morning of the second simulated Thanksgiving began simply enough, with the researchers making themselves breakfast. Vance and three helpers arrived at the house at half past eight. The kitchen was open plan and modest, with peeling laminate surfaces and flimsy cabinets, but its countertops were crammed with instruments for monitoring airborne particles: a condensation-nucleus counter, a differential-mobility analyzer, and so on. Wires threaded all around the room, and stainless-steel hoses led to four trailers outside, which contained equipment too big to fit in the kitchen.

Andrew Abeleira, a postdoctoral researcher, cracked eight eggs on the edge of the countertop and whisked them; Vance chopped tomatoes while heating oil to fry sausage patties. The banality of the activities was belied by the precision with which the team carried them out: a rigid protocol dictated when each gas burner could be lit, how hot the frying pan should be, and at what setting to toast the bread. The aim was to turn Thanksgiving into a reproducible, scientifically valid experiment.

The Mighty U.S. Consumer Is Struggling

Danielle DiMartino-Booth:

Digging into March’s personal spending data, the headline once again belied strength. On the surface, spending of 0.9 percent was as robust as it gets even after adjusting for inflation, which took it to 0.7 percent. Net out the biggest savings drawdown in six years, however, and you arrive at a decline of 0.2 percent for March.

As for what’s pushing households to tap into their rainy-day funds, Deutsche Bank recently pointed to the 15 percent year-on-year increase in household interest payments. Levels of payments rising at a similar pace preceded the onsets of the last two recessions.

Is it any wonder credit-card issuers are bolstering their cushions to absorb future losses? And it’s not just Capital One that caters to lower-credit quality borrowers. All seven of the largest U.S. card issuers boosted their charge-off rates in the first quarter to an average of 3.82 percent, an almost seven-year high.

Analysis: Does Google’s $1B revenue miss reveal a flawed business model?

Tom Foremski:

Every quarter Google reports a drop in revenues per click — compared with the prior year — of around 20%. This has been going on for years. Google always manages to outpace its falling per click revenues by selling more ads in more places. But is this a sustainable business model?

The recent financial report could be a sign of cracks in the company’s growth strategy.

Google said that the largest drivers of revenue growth in Q1 included mobile ads. But how many ads can Google show on a mobile screen? Is Google running out of places to sell and show more ads?

The company has been trying to hedge its future by building other business outside of advertising such as its Cloud IT services. These non-advertising businesses reported Q1 revenues of $5.4 billion — missing Wall Street estimates of $5.67 billion. And “Other bets” such as the Waymo self- driving cars venture reported a loss of $868 million

A survey of the Real Estate Brokerage Space: Threats and Opportunities

Steve Murray:

Industry Opportunities
In every new iteration of our industry, there are bright spots. Here are a few:

The use of agents by consumers hit an 18-year high in 2018 at 90 percent. Even millennials used agents to buy and sell at a 92 percent level (Harris Insights/REAL Trends 2018).

Nearly two-thirds of all consumers still found and chose an agent because of a relationship of some kind.
Millennials and Gen Z have the same appetite for homeownership as all previous generations, and they will become the largest, most prosperous and most educated generations in American history.

Gross commission incomes came in at just over $72 billion in 2018. The average commission rate remained above 5 percent during the year. Total commission revenues were flat in 2017 even though unit sales were down.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, private investors are investing in brokerage. All past purchasers were involved in building their brokerage firms—trying for scale. Investors today think there are new and creative ways to build brokerage firms and take advantage of the proven cross-marketing activities of related core services.

Technology is driving fewer agents to do more of the business. For the top 10 percent of agents and teams, productivity is rising. The real promise of technology to equip agents and brokerage firms so they all benefit from increased productivity has not been fully developed yet but it will be.

As the Classic Department Store Falters, These 4 Challengers Want to Upend the Retail Model

Ann-Marie Alacantara:

Don’t call it a comeback—call it a renaissance, a golden age of retail. Contrary to headlines bemoaning the death of merchandising, the so-called “retail apocalypse,” it’s still alive and kicking and was all anyone talked about at this year’s Shoptalk retail/commerce conference.

The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors

Rani Molla:

Violent crime in the US is at its lowest rate in decades. But you wouldn’t know that from a crop of increasingly popular social media apps that are forming around crime.

Apps like Nextdoor, Citizen, and Amazon Ring’s Neighbors — all of which allow users to view local crime in real time and discuss it with people nearby — are some of the most downloaded social and news apps in the US, according to rankings from the App Store and Google Play.

Nextdoor bills itself as the “world’s largest social network for the neighborhood,” where you can ask for nearby restaurant recommendations, buy used furniture, or report a stolen bike. In practice, its “crime and safety” section has been a hotbed for racial stereotyping that’s forced the company to rewrite its software and policies.

Citizen — whose previous form was called Vigilante and which appeared to encourage users to stop crimes in action — sends users 9-1-1 alerts for crimes happening nearby. It also allows users to livestream footage they record of the crime scene, “chat with other Citizen users as situations develop” and “build out your Inner Circle of family and friends to create your own personal safety network, and receive alerts whenever they’re close to danger.”

Now Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring — with Ring. It recently advertised an editorial position that would coordinate news coverage on crime, specifically based around its Ring video doorbell and Neighbors, its attendant social media app. Neighbors alerts users to local crime news from “unconfirmed sources” and is full of Amazon Ring videos of people stealing Amazon packages and “suspicious” brown people on porches. “Neighbors is more than an app, it’s the power of your community coming together to keep you safe and informed,” it boasts.

“the shift from information scarcity to information abundance”

David Perell:

The reason is simple: brands are about trust and signaling. They’re a substitute for incomplete information. When information is scarce and asymmetric, consumers flock to trusted brands. But in many parts of the economy, when consumers have reviews at their fingertips, they no longer defer to brands when they make a purchasing decision.

To be sure, the internet has made some brands stronger, particularly in domains of incomplete information where people don’t know each other very well. The more an industry is about signaling, the more brand matters. That’s why brands matter so much in industries like fashion and beauty. Signaling brands are context-dependent. Signaling brands thrive in environments with high geographic and social mobility. When mobility is high, information asymmetry is the norm. As a result, we use heuristics such as brand associations to gauge strangers. Just consider the differences in behavior between big cities and small towns. Big cities are full of strangers, but small towns are brightened by hugs and handshakes all the way down. In small cities, where everybody already knows each other, the utility of signaling brands is diminished.

The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops

Xan Rice:

But today, the boasts of Tesco and Sainsbury’s read like a classic example of business hubris. While the major supermarkets dozed, convinced that many people would not be seen dead in a discount store, the German chains quietly turned the sector on its head. Nearly two-thirds of households now visit an Aldi or Lidl branch at least once every 12 weeks, according to the research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

In 2017, Aldi overtook the Co-op to become the UK’s fifth largest retailer; today it has a 7.5% market share, closing in on fourth-place Morrisons, with 10.6%. Lidl has 5.3%, more than Waitrose. What’s more, the two discounters are still growing quickly – opening an average of one new store every week, often in more affluent towns.

By sucking in shoppers and, as former Aldi UK CEO Paul Foley puts it, “sucking the profitability out of the industry” – profit margins of 2-3% are now the norm – the two German-owned companies have forced the “big four” supermarkets to take drastic measures. Morrisons has closed stores and laid off workers, while Sainsbury’s and Asda, desperate to cut costs and stop losing market share, announced a proposed £13bn merger in May, which the UK competition watchdog now appears likely to block. Tesco, meanwhile, has slashed its product range and bought the discount wholesaler Booker. In September, in a belated acknowledgement that the major threat to its business comes from Aldi and Lidl, Tesco launched its own discount chain, called Jack’s.

These industry shifts often lead the news, because supermarkets are so important to the economy: with more than 300,000 staff, Tesco is the UK’s biggest private-sector employer and the biggest retailer of any sort. But we also follow these stories closely for a more sentimental reason: grocery shopping is an intimate part of our lives. We don’t need to buy books or fancy trainers, but we do need to eat.

Home Sellers’ Doctored Photos Challenge Buyers’ Bots

Ryan Dezember:

Real-estate listing photos have always accentuated the positive, but computer-generated imagery of the sort Hollywood uses has now become so cheap and prolific that home sellers are taking out walls, removing ugly paneling and even adding digital swimming pools.

At the same time, photos are more important than ever: Nearly every home search begins online and deals are often struck without in-person showings, particularly among investors who are putting photos through their own algorithms to price homes as they make an unprecedented move into the U.S. housing market.

The technology allows sellers to green browned lawns, stage rooms with virtual furniture like digital dollhouses and even perform full-blown HGTV-style makeovers with clicks of a mouse.

The hazards to buyers range from disappointment when they arrive for in-person showings to blown renovation budgets. That could prove an especially thorny issue for investors, who may need to retrain computer models they use to comb through listings for houses that are good candidates to turn into rentals or flips.

Risks associated with doctored listing photos could spread beyond sight-unseen buyers. Federal rule makers are considering a proposal to open up more of the home-appraisal business to computers that generate property values partly by scraping online listing photos to gauge condition and finishes.

Redfin Corp. , the discount online real-estate broker, said that 20% of 1,463 recent home buyers it surveyed in May said they had made offers on houses they had never visited. In 2017, when the market was hotter, as many as 35% of the individuals who responded to a similar study said they had made offers sight unseen, Redfin says.

Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life

Wolfie Christl:

In recent years, a wide range of companies has started to monitor, track and follow people in virtually every aspect of their lives. The behaviors, movements, social relationships, interests, weaknesses and most private moments of billions are now constantly recorded, evaluated and analyzed in real-time. The exploitation of personal information has become a multi-billion industry. Yet only the tip of the iceberg of today’s pervasive digital tracking is visible; much of it occurs in the background and remains opaque to most of us.

This report by Cracked Labs examines the actual practices and inner workings of this personal data industry. Based on years of research and a previous 2016 report, the investigation shines light on the hidden data flows between companies. It maps the structure and scope of today’s digital tracking and profiling ecosystems and explores relevant technologies, platforms and devices, as well as key recent developments.

While the full report is available as PDF download, this web publication presents a ten part overview.

Compare Keller Williams’ Command

Keller Williams Chairman and CEO Gary Keller recently declared victory in the real estate tech platform wars.

Command, according to KW “streamlines agents’ jobs, allowing them to automate tasks, create customized marketing campaigns, and manage databases and contacts all in one place, among other things”.

Let’s compare Virtual Properties single entry platform, in production…..

1. “All in One Place”

Listings Leads CMA Buyers CRM Showings Markets “To Do” Documents Transactions Reports Training Class Registration Mailers Brochures Websites Apps

Desktop and Agent App

2. Automate Tasks

3. Customized Marketing Campaigns

4. Manage Databases

> 1.5m contacts in this client’s system, adding 75 to 110K annually.

5. Manage Contacts

iOS and Android agent app onboard experience. iOS CRM sync service….

6. AVM Lead Generation and CRM Integration

7. Document auto-fill & Transactions: Desktop and Agent App

Interested in a detailed comparison and live demo? Email or call 1 608 468 6013.

Creativity and Advertising


Each one is built on a single-minded thought.

Each one demands our attention.

Each one communicates persuasively with economy, wit, and confidence.

And, of course, each one has a look, an attitude and a personality that’s theirs and theirs alone – you’d be hard-pressed to mistake a VW ad for a Volvo or Citroen for a Porsche.

These ads built on one another. They accumulated value and incrementally raised expectations and properties around the brand over time. Today’s ads do none of these things. Bereft of any conceptual merit or sense of longevity, they merely piss away a tidy budget down a hole of invisibility.

Where the responsibility lies for the whole Mazda CX-5 debacle is anyone’s guess. Who knows, maybe everyone’s chuffed with it, and sales are through the roof.

Somehow I doubt it.

More Elephant Advertising

Bob Hoffman:

But if you’re asking the appropriate question — “Are you willing to trade private, personal information about yourself and your family, and have your movements tracked and catalogued both online and offline, and have your emails and texts read and archived, and have files about you sold to anyone who wants to buy them, in order to get more relevant advertising?”– I don’t think you need to be a Harvard-billionaire-semi-clever-operator to know that you better be wearing a cup.

A psychologist explains how Trader Joe’s gets you to spend more money

Jack Houston:

Narrator: Okay, so imagine yourself at the grocery store. You’re hungry but you don’t really feel like cooking. I guess pasta’s pretty easy. Suddenly you’re faced with this. That’s so many choices. Do you go for the classic tomato basil? How ’bout creamy alfredo? But what exactly is the difference between these two or these three? Wait. Why is this so hard?

Trader Joe’s is the surfy, laid back grocery chain know for it’s cheap prices and floral print clad staff. Data science professionals have ranked it number one in customer preference for two years running. The brand has held off on going high tech. They keep it simple with no online store, no loyalty programs, and no sales. When you break it down to square footage, Trader Joe’s is actually selling more than double its competitors like Whole Foods. But how much money you spend at Trade Joe’s ultimately comes down to what you are choosing to buy. But what about Trader Joe’s makes it so easy to choose?

Barry Schwartz: I spent, I’ve spent the last 25 years studying how people make decisions.

Narrator: That’s Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, a professor, and a Trader Joe’s enthusiast himself.

Schwartz: I think Trader Joe’s is the best example of how the world should be constructed.

Narrator: Whoa, take it easy there Barry. Barry coined the term the paradox of choice and quite literally wrote the book on it and it basically describes how you would think that the more–

Schwartz: Choice we have, the better off we are. That turns out empirically not to be true. When you give people too many options, they get paralyzed instead of liberated.

Compare KW: Announcements vs Shipping

Keller Williams Chairman and CEO Gary Keller recently declared victory in the real estate tech platform wars.

Brokers, agents and teams might find the following brief video worthwhile in their listing, selling and recruiting presentations vis a vis KW announcements.

Call or email for a more detailed comparison. or 1 608 468 6013.

Improve Your Privacy in the Age of Mass Surveillance

today we’ll reclaim our privacy and improve browsing experience step-by-step. There is a difference between protecting your grandma sharing cake recipes, and a human rights activists in a hostile country. Your granny might not be the right person to sell a prepaid SIM & burner-phone to. An activist might consider the below steps entry-level basics, even dangerous if not tailored to the individual. But we all need protection. Even more so if you assume that «you got nothing to hide».

«Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.» – Edward Snowden

Those with nothing to hide still like curtains in their bedroom, and prefer public restrooms equipped with locks minus the CCTV cameras. If you need further convincing the movie Nothing to Hide released earlier this year is available free online.

This site my dear reader has plenty info on the pitfalls of technology, so please do come back often. You may notice I don’t use cookies to track you, or provide share buttons, or ask you for your email. You can subscribe to new articles via RSS feed from the comfort of a browser. I encourage you to copy/paste anything you see here and publish however you see fit. There is no need to give credit either.

The below steps start off very easy. Once half-way through the list you’ll notice things pick up speed. Stop at any point and come back later -or not at all. Everyone should manage to complete the first 4 or 5 steps. This will already make a huge difference to the ability of corporations to track you! Please also help others, less technology-savvy people, in learning some of these methods.

Opendoor files to raise another $200M at a $3.7B valuation, documents show

Ingrid Lunden:

The housing market is predicted to cool this year, but the market for startups selling houses? It seems to be heating up. Opendoor, the company that aims to bypass real estate agents and brokers by providing an online platform — by way of a mobile app — for people to buy and sell properties direct, has filed papers in Delaware indicating that it would like to raise around $200 million more, at a valuation of about $3.7 billion.

The Delaware documents (embedded below, and provided to us by Prime Unicorn Index) do not make it clear if this would come in the form of an outside round, or a conversion — secondary transactions would not be disclosed in public domain documents, or a combination of the two; nor is it clear if the funding has closed already. The documents are dated February 8th of this year.

The raise comes just one month after Knock, an Opendoor competitor, raised $400 million.

Facts & Advertising

Bob Hoffman:

Of course, this turned out to be completely wrong. Millennial income did not overtake baby boomers in 2017. According to Business Insider, in 2018 in the US baby boomers out-earned millennials in every state in the union. “In all 50 states and Washington, DC, the median millennial made less money than the median Gen Xer or baby boomer…The gap in median income between millennials and baby boomers ranged from the older generation making about 25% more than millennials in Iowa to 65% more than millennials in Alaska.”

The average millennial income is about $35,000. The average baby boomer income is about $46,000. There are about 9% more millennials than baby boomers, but their income is about 24% less. So even though there are substantially more of them, in aggregate their income is way behind baby boomers.

What to know before you check your Zestimate (again)

Amy Scott:

Getting that asking price wrong can have real consequences.

“Statistics show that if you overprice your home and take even one price reduction, the final price that you will settle for is usually 5-7 percent lower than you would have gotten if you had priced the home properly to begin with,” Ciancio said, citing sales data from the multiple listing service REcolorado.

Though David Romer and Amber Wilson got less than they wanted for their old house, they said got a good deal on the new one, a four-bedroom ranch they bought for $469,000. Sitting by the fire on a recent evening, Romer dared to pull up the old app on his phone.

“The Zestimate shows at [$515,000],” he said.

“Yay, winning,” Wilson said, relieved. Even though they were well aware how off that number can be, for the moment they could feel a little richer.