a16z Podcast: The Macro and the Micro of Parenting

We tend to talk about tech and parenting through devices and artifacts — screen time, to code or not to code — but actually, there’s a bigger, macro picture at play there: game theory, economic incentives, culture, and more. So …

Driverless Will Affect Everything

A while ago, Benedict Evans had a really great blogpost about driverless cars and their effects on different things that you might not think about.  He is a VC for a16z and a great follow on Twitter.  For example, a lot of snack purchases are impulse purchases at a gas station.  What happens to Frito Lay when there aren’t any gas stations?  On our way home from Grand Marais yesterday, we listened to Russ Roberts interview Benedict Evans about his blogpost.  It’s really great.  The discussion went a lot deeper than the blogpost.

There are a lot of things that they didn’t cover-but I am sure each of them has thought about it.  My mind is attuned to both the urban existence and interaction with cars, and the rural existence and interaction with cars.  For example, I think it would be pretty simple to live with an electric car that Continue reading "Driverless Will Affect Everything"

Why Can’t A Country Do an ICO?

Yesterday I saw where Burger King issued it’s own cryptocurrency in Russia, WhopperCoin.  It didn’t surprise me.  When I first started thinking about cryptocurrency, I hypothesized that big companies would use it for their supply chain management and to lock in customer loyalty.

It got me thinking about other processes where you’d want to keep track but pay for things.

One thing that clearly is broken in America is immigration policy.  It’s been broken for a long time. It’s highly politicized.  The way to fix it is a marketplace that can keep track.  That’s why a blockchain solution might be a pretty elegant way to fix it.

Professor Gary Becker correctly said, “There is demand for immigration by both citizens of other countries and by employers.  There is certainly a supply of immigrants that would like to come here.  Where you have supply and demand, you can draw Continue reading "Why Can’t A Country Do an ICO?"

50 Years Ago an Economist Worried About Unchecked Corporate Power. Here’s What His Theory Got Wrong

Tim Evans for HBR

This summer marks 50 years since the publication of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The New Industrial State and its quick rise to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. The book was one of the rare instances where an economist was able to capture public imagination and focus debate on big-picture economic issues. We have only rarely seen its like since — although Thomas Piketty gave it a great go in 2014, with Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Galbraith’s book is worth revisiting, since its subject is back in the news. Like many people today, he was worried about unchecked corporate power. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, we can see his worries were largely wrong. And therein lies a lesson for economists and policy makers today.

Of course, you would be hard-pressed to find an economist today who has read the book, and you might even find some who

Continue reading "50 Years Ago an Economist Worried About Unchecked Corporate Power. Here’s What His Theory Got Wrong"

Attention on Digital Monopolies

The dominant position of companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon is sure receiving a lot more attention these days. There is critical media coverage, including in traditionally pro business publications such as the Wall Street Journal “Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped?” and Bloomberg “Should America’s Tech Giants Be Broken Up?”  There is also the Democratic Party’s “Better Deal” memo which focuses more broadly on the negative effects of corporate power. And then of course there is the European Union, which already fined Google 2.4 Billion Euros for manipulating search results and is considering another fine for Google’s alleged forced bundling of Google services with Android. While I am happy to see the attention on the issue, I am concerned that regulators are missing the fundamental source of monopoly power in the digital world: network effects arising from the control of data. This will continue to lead Continue reading "Attention on Digital Monopolies"

Something to Remember on the 4th

The 4th of July is an auspicious day in human history.  For the first time, a society was organized around the principle that the rights of humans came before the rights of the government, monarchy or ruler that administered them. President John Adams always said the day should be remembered with the proper pomp and circumstance.  Fireworks are perfect.  The explosion of human freedom that happened because of what the Founding Fathers did is simply amazing. When I read the story of Paul Revere, I was surprised at the level of fervor for individual liberty that was ingrained in every single American.  Property rights were paramount.  Markets organized society, not governments.  Revere and his peers would not be happy with the way America is today. Across the country, many of our governments have forgotten it’s not about them.  It’s about the citizens.  Both Democratic and Republican legislators have forgotten.  The Continue reading "Something to Remember on the 4th"