No. 53 – 3 Thoughts: Cashless| Amazon|Masayoshi Son

Smaller institutions should embrace, not oppose, fintechs

I’ve been increasingly bothered by the specter of establishments going cashless. We’ve all had opportunities to give some cash to folks who don’t have money at the time for their next meal. Where do they use that cash in a world where it’s not just SweetGreen or ShakeShack going cashless, but it’s also Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and the mom-and-pop corner store going cashless?

While Nathaniel Hoopes’ piece focuses on fintech lenders and how smaller banks shouldn’t be fighting them, it brought to mind community banks and credit unions as potential good partners for fintechs in solving the access problem for folks without resources to get the tools they’ll need to navigate that world. A couple solutions that could work are debit card dispensary kiosks or Lifeline phones to have near field communications. Here’s to not boxing folks further out of society than they already are.

What is Amazon?

Fascinating piece that crystallizes one of the four or so defining companies of this technological era. The piece starts with Wal-Mart which perfected the art of putting the bounds around its marketplaces aka Wal-Mart stores and optimized everything inside of them. With the onset of the internet, Amazon didn’t need to make that optimization. It rather optimized for eliminating bottlenecks to satisfying the customer. Now, it’s gotten so big that has a growing problem of optimizing for sellers who don’t have the same incentives Amazon has internally to be hyper-focused on the customer. This is a must-read if you think about platforms and/or customers.

My job is to work with government agencies in elevating the voice of their customers into their decision-making so I did take some umbrage with Kanter’s assertion that the DMV would remain in stasis, at best. With Deloitte’s new customer strategy & applied design offering in the mix, that’s not a foregone conclusion. **Steps down from soap box**

SoftBank’s Masa Son: We’ve already invested $70B in Vision Fund

Masayoshi Son has carved out a space to shape the future of technology and it’s worth spending time understanding his worldview. This interview is helpful in that effort, though David Faber tosses a wiffle ball soft question on the Vision Fund’s relationship with the Saudi Arabian government.

One worldview I think needs examining is what the world looks like when the Singularity arrives. More than a few technological optimists including people like Kai-Fu Lee argue that the onset of mature artificial technology will enable us to focus on art or work that requires caring like nursing. I don’t see historical proof of this. With broad onset of new technologies, more often than not, policy has had to come into play to ensure folks were well taken care of. What makes us think artificial intelligence will foster all of this benevolence?

No. 21: 3 Friday PM Reads – $50M to GetYourGuide | Race and Justice in America | Bitcoin, the Blockchain and Black People

  1. Kudos to fellow Woodberry Forest Tigers Johannes, Tao Tao and the rest of the Get Your Guide team on the $50m they raised from KKR. More vim to them as they continue helping folks have enjoyable trips around the world. I would be remiss to give a shoutout to Cherae and the Tastemakers Africa team and their push to get folks to see Africa as a destination for dope experiences, not just safaris.

  2. The Atlantic and Ta-Nehisi Coates hosted an important session yesterday on the state of race and justice in America. Consider taking some time this weekend to watch some of the conversations – in particular, take a look at the conversations on incarceration, sentencing drug offenders, and hope.

  3. Bitcoin, and increasingly the blockchain, has been on my mind. I got an email earlier this week listing two venture capital firms as having made more than 40 investments in startups working on bitcoin and/or blockchain technologies since 2012. Bitcoin is a completely new digital currency. The blockchain could completely change the way we give and receive information, data, money, making all these transactions instantaneously and centralizing the recording of these transactions. I am concerned about the extent to which the conversation around these technologies is not penetrating communities that underrepresented in Silicon Valley. Some next steps for me are to keep learning about the technology and to acquire some, and connecting with minorities working on developing bitcoin or blockchain technology. I’m happy to connect with people in your networks who are working on this.