Tag: Apple

It’s People! It’s People!

It’s People! It’s People!

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.

Technology's Four Horsemen.png
Employee Counts: GOOG, AAPL, AMZN and FB for Years Ended 2015, 2016 and 2017 (click to expand)

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.

Reduce Time-to-Productivity

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.

Is Apple Disney’s End Game?<span class="badge-status" style="background:red">Premium</span> 

Is Apple Disney’s End Game?Premium 

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…

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Meet Luminar Technologies – the LiDAR Company Powering Toyota’s Autonomous Vehicle Program<span class="badge-status" style="background:red">Premium</span> 

Meet Luminar Technologies – the LiDAR Company Powering Toyota’s Autonomous Vehicle ProgramPremium 

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…

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15 Minutes of Fame: The Intersection of User-Generated Video, Social Media and Mobile Devices

15 Minutes of Fame: The Intersection of User-Generated Video, Social Media and Mobile Devices

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:

Mobile Phone Pic

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?)

Hollywood “Validation”

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.


Apple Is Well-Positioned to Lead A Consumer-Driven Healthcare Revolution<span class="badge-status" style="background:red">Premium</span> 

Apple Is Well-Positioned to Lead A Consumer-Driven Healthcare RevolutionPremium 

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…

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The Content Game Has Just Begun!

The Content Game Has Just Begun!

Disney plans to acquire 21st Century Fox in order to create scale for its OTT Netflix competitor. We previously wrote about the deal announcement here. Post close, the content streaming game is effectively a two-horse race between Netflix and Disney. Game over you say? Au contraire – the game has just begun!

No, we’re not referring to bit player Hulu – which Disney will own 60% of post Fox deal close. Rather, the media/technology landscape is not static. Apple plans to invest $1 billion in original content (TV and film). Amazon is a content juggernaut and will have invested approximately $5 billion in video content during calendar year 2017 (Netflix approximately $6 billion over the same period, $8 billion in 2018).  Facebook announced a deal with the NFL in September 2017 to stream game highlights and is reportedly looking to hire executives to secure the rights to additional live sports-related content. Could TV and film be far behind for Facebook? You may have noticed that Google is pushing its YouTube subscription service if you’ve watched a YouTube video lately. However, we haven’t heard rumblings of YouTube looking to become aggressive in acquiring third-party content or investing in original content. Video content libraries are grist for the mill for these content giants. Every independent video content provider and content library (i.e. movie & TV studios) is “in-play.

A combined Disney/Fox OTT service and Netflix are the clear OTT content leaders. However, when the dust settles we suspect that both Disney/Fox and Netflix will be acquired by some combination of Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Apple and Disney have a relationship and therefore we would favor Apple as the likely Disney acquirer. It is unclear if Apple would initiate takeover talks with Disney or if Tim Cook is a counter-puncher and would wait for another company to move first on Disney before making an approach. Our view is that Apple, Amazon or Facebook could potentially move on Disney as soon as the Fox deal closes or nears close. Disney negotiations with Apple or any potential suitor would likely put Netflix in play. This time around it may be more difficult for Reed Hastings to resist.