Disintermediation Defined Disintermediation is when one party inserts itself between an interested party and its customers (see below table of “disintermediators” and “disintermediatees”). Ironically, parties that suffer disintermediation often invite it upon themselves. Google Disintermediates Yelp and OpenTable For the past several years Yelp restaurant reviews appeared on Google business listings (this appears to have…
Content Is King Content is King to quote Sumner Redstone. At CEORater we spend a fair amount of time thinking about content. Over the past 24 months we have considered the following for our platform: 1.) video streaming of earnings calls with associated analytics 2.) employee video reviews 3.) business news (original and third-party) and…
Disruption Rarely Announces Its Arrival Ask Curtis Stevens – the gentleman who was knocked on his posterior by Gennady Golovkin in our header image – if he saw the punches coming. Ask former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer if back in the early 2000’s he knew SaaS/cloud-based service delivery models would dominate the software landscape. Ask…
Personality Analytics Holds the Key as to Why Apple Was More Innovative Under Steve Jobs than Tim Cook
Apple has lost its creative mojo under Tim Cook. Incremental product enhancements have become the norm, replacing a time when revolutionary new products, space age design and landmark advertising was the standard. What changed? Look no further than the CEO chair. Apple founder, CEO and creative genius Steve Jobs prematurely passed away in October 2011. Jobs’ hand-picked successor, Tim Cook, is by experience an operator with a background steeped in supply chain experience. Cook could not be more different from Jobs from a personality standpoint (see our table below).
The importance of assessing a CEO’s personality when conducting a CEO selection process (corporate boards, executive recruiters), or investment due diligence process can not be overstated. This is especially true of industry verticals marked by rapid change where the cost of having an ineffective CEO can be extremely high. It is not so rare to find a situation where a CEO, Board and institutional investor base were slow to realize that a given company’s customers were migrating elsewhere due to product obsolescence or other factors that ought to have been recognized. Few participants want to acknowledge this type of deterioration early or mid-cycle and only do so when it’s too late.
CEOs that create “adaptable” corporate cultures are less likely to lead companies that suffer irreparable declines due to product under-investment or other negligent factors. Adaptable cultures are less likely to be caught off guard and instead lead market change.
Corporate cultures are often an extension of the CEO’s personality. Yes, CEOs influence culture and corporate strategy even in mega-cap companies. Look no further than Microsoft (MSFT) during Steve Ballmer’s tenure as compared to Satya Nadella‘s time as CEO. MSFT’s product & services strategy is dramatically different as is the firm’s approach to competing and partnering with other technology companies.
We highly value the personality trait “openness” in large part because of its relationship to adaptable cultures. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook score similarly on the openness scale – 92nd percentile and 94th percentile respectively. However, looking at the personality sub-traits under openness, Jobs scores far higher than Cook in the two most creative personality sub-traits: “artistic interests” and “imagination”.
Given that Cook lags in these areas, one would need to get comfortable with the idea that a non-creative personality like his (32nd percentile and 14th percentile as detailed below) is capable of generating massive creative output from Apple’s 120,000-plus employees. This is asking too much of Tim Cook in our view. What doesn’t come naturally doesn’t come easily and may not come at all.
Our May 2018 CEO personality analytics research piece may be found here: Personality Analytics: Technology CEOs Analyzed
Our recent podcast on the subject:
Human Capital is Key
“It’s people! Soylent Green is people!” shouted Charlton Heston’s Robert Thorn in 1973’s Soylent Green. Fast forward 45 years and people remain central to the process. Although the process we refer to isn’t recycled human foodstuff but rather the global economy where Intellectual Capital provides economic sustenance and Human Capital is the key ingredient (Intellectual Capital = Human Capital + Structural Capital + Relationship Capital).
Grist for the Mill
It’s only a matter of time before Technology giants begin to reach into public schools in an effort to identify and recruit top-tier talent in an Intellectual Capital-driven global economy.
Technology’s Four Horsemen – Alphabet, Apple, Amazon and Facebook – hired 247,714 net new employees in 2017, up 89% from the previous year’s figure of 131,196. Amazon alone accounted for 91% of 2017’s total and 84% of 2016’s total (this makes sense given the nature of Amazon’s retail-centric, distribution-heavy business model).
Technology companies require an enormous amount of human capital and brainpower. This is especially true of large technology companies that work to define new market opportunities and use cases. Waiting for the U.S. K-12 public education and university systems to produce inadequately trained professionals is both a suboptimal outcome and supply chain bottleneck. Therefore, we expect for companies such as the Four Horsemen to become increasingly aggressive and systematic in their approach to training and recruiting young people.
We have experienced early green shoots of this phenomenon with Peter Thiel’s “Thiel Fellowship” a foundation that awards $100,000 grants to high potential young people. Those accepted (104 fellows and alumni, 2,800 application last year), to the two-year program learn how to write code and build companies. Young people skip or step out of college to become Thiel Fellows where in addition to grant proceeds, Fellows receive support from the foundation’s network of entrepreneurs, investors and operators.
Another example comes from my personal experience in China 2006-2011 where a number of the large China-based IT Services companies set up company-owned “universities” to train recent college graduates in an effort to better prepare them for the type of work that they would perform on behalf of clients. My view is that these companies will reach further back into the student supply chain and begin to recruit and train students during their junior high and high school years.
A misconception that many have is that an engineer fresh out of college can hit the ground running at optimal efficiency and drive massive value for companies. That’s hardly the case. Universities do a poor job of preparing students for life in the real world. It makes enormous sense for companies to actively invest in the U.S educational system both at the K-12 and university levels. Short-term operating profit margin dilution will pay dividends over the long-term in the form of new differentiated products and services. To ensure a worthwhile outcome it is paramount that companies take a systematic approach to execution. If nothing else Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook excel in measuring outcomes and re-calibrating where necessary.
No Teachers Required
Given what we have posited it would make sense for the Four Horsemen and others to get involved in public education early in students’ academic careers. Further, it would be logical for companies to seek to influence the academic experience as much as is necessary to maximize the probability of optimal outcomes for both students and companies. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect that the Four Horsemen and a few select others will eventually shape student curriculum — particularly in Math and Science. This may range from content creation to teaching methodologies to the act of teaching itself. Teachers’ Unions ought to be concerned. From a technology standpoint it would not be difficult to replace public school teachers nor college professors with machine learning platforms wrapped in friendly AI skins. AmazonGo is already doing this with retail checkout lines. It’s less a question of “how?” and more a question of public will.
Yes if You Ask Us While AT&T moving to acquire Time Warner and Disney (and Comcast?) moving to acquire Fox are interesting deals, it’s more interesting to us what the next chess move may be in a world that increasingly values content (live sports and premium original content in particular). We recently wrote about and…
What Is A LiDAR System? Light Detection And Ranging (“LiDAR”) sensors are detection and survey systems to estimate the proximity of a target object. LiDAR sensor systems consist of four primary elements: 1.) Lasers 2.) Scanners 3.) Photodetector receivers 4.) GPS navigation systems. LiDAR systems enable autonomous vehicles (or robots), to observe the world with: a.) Continuous 360…
Everyone Wants Their 15 Minutes of Fame
It’s a primary reason why Instagram “Stories” are so popular. That and the feature’s ease-of-use. Instagram has created an engaging, almost frictionless user experience that enables anyone to vlog their life in a series of micro videos with a 24-hour shelf life – i.e “Stories”. Stories is the platform feature that single-handedly kneecapped Snap before its March 2017 IPO (we reviewed in our piece about CEO overreach). We covered the “Stories” topic in episodes 58 and 67 of our CEORater Podcast.
Snap recently countered by opening its Stories feature to platforms outside of snapchat whereas Instagram remains within Facebook’s walled garden. Were the two platforms equal, Snap’s counter move likely would have provided an advantage. However, the two platforms are not equal. Instagram continues to enjoy the ease-of-use advantage over snapchat (a powerful advantage) and Facebook’s walled garden is an expansive one with 2 billion-plus monthly active users (“MAUs”).
Mobile Devices that Best Leverage Social Media Platforms Will Win
The “Stories” feature matters not only for social media companies but also for mobile phone OEMs as consumers increasingly record and consume mobile video. Therefore, mobile phone camera features, in-phone storage (external storage devices add friction to the user experience) and battery life will increasingly matter.
Here’s a look at four mobile phones across attributes:
Platform Cloud Vendors Also Win
Facebook stores Instagram videos. Google stores Snap’s content. Expect cloud service leader AWS (Netflix on AWS) to make its mark as companies that were built on top of AWS roll out video content (Amazon/Open Tube?)
The mobile video phenomenon extends beyond user-generated content to professional content. For example, Steven Soderbergh’s forthcoming theatrical feature – “UNSANE” – was recorded entirely on an iPhone.
We published CEORater Podcast episode 120 subsequent to posting this article.
Welcome to Apple Health Apple recently announced that this spring it will release an update to its iOS for iPhones and iPads that will include a new “Health Records” feature that will provide access to personal medical records covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals. Given the ubiquity of the iPhone we…
Listen to CEORater Podcast Ep. 106 to learn more.