Monday, October 20, 2008

A good post by Steve Waldman on financial innovation:
(e.g. good)
* Exchange-traded funds
* The growth of venture capital and angel investing
* The democratization of access to financial information (e.g. Yahoo! finance)
* The democratization of participation in financial markets (e.g. the growth of internet and discount brokerages that offer easy access to a wide variety of stocks, bonds, and exchange-traded derivatives, both domestic and international).

(and bad)
[*] CDOs, and etc.
* 401-K plans with limited investment menus
* The conventional wisdom that long-term savings ought by default be placed in passive stock funds
* The conflation of ordinary saving and financial return seeking
* The tolerance, advocacy, and subsidy of financial leverage throughout the economy
* The move towards large-scale, delegated, and professionalized of money management
* The growth of investment vehicles accessible primarily or solely to professional and institutional investors

I'll come back to discuss it in more detail.

Dilemma of the Day

As an inventor you want to create a snob effect, i.e. to find an exclusive path (solution) in a problem space.

As an innovator you want to create a bandwagon effect, i.e. to find a most common path in the problem space.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

on October 1, 1908, to be exact--that Ford Motor built the very first of the iconic gasoline-powered automobiles to be sold. By the time formal production halted in May 1927, more than 15 million had been built, and American lives and landscapes had been set on a very new road.

One of the few instances in the history of technology when product and process innovation went hand in hand. ( a shift to the left on the graph below).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cloud computing: emerging trade-off

Pew Research issued a research note on cloud computing.

So far, web-based e-mail has emerged as a dominant application. 77% among 18-29 year-olds use it on a regular basis. Personal photos is a close second.

I am surprised, though, that gaming is not on the radar. It's not clear whether this is a gap in the study, or a sign of low demand. In general, my impression is that "cloud computing" is not about computing. Rather, the cloud plays the role of a convenient remote storage for "communicatable" information ( e-mail, photos, common files).
In addition to that, a clear trade trade-off between convenience and privacy shows up in the data.


On the other hand, people do use online banking extensively, which means that privacy concerns are probably based on an unclear business model ( why there's free lunch in the cloud?), rather than a technology issue.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I find this optical illusion - young girl or old hag - a good metaphor for inventive thinking. As an inventor you've got to be able to see both, old and new, in the technology you are trying to improve, disrupt, or displace. You need to understand how a recipe for success in the old world picture became a recipe for disaster in the new world. What are the useful features that you need to preserve in your future solution? What are the harmful factors that have to be overcome? If you don't the both sides of the innovation equation, the path to creative destruction can rather quickly become a road to self-destruction.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CNet reports on the dire financial situation for startups and VCs:

High-tech innovation in the US will decrease dramatically during the next two years.