Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

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JasonL
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by JasonL » 14 Sep 2017, 15:56

thoreau wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 14:34
And, yes, it is a shame if somebody somewhere has sympathy for a small business owner facing competition. Clearly they need to take an econ 101 class. But if you want to compete with them it would help to tell me what you will do for me, the customer.
You can have sympathy for whomever you want, and everyone should be focused on customer value, even the local guy. If a stupid narrative is "i'm new disruptor that disrupts local things", a similarly stupid narrative is "i'm local and therefore good".

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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Jennifer » 14 Sep 2017, 16:05

I read about the "Bodega" machines yesterday, and it was pretty damned eyerolly seeing how proud these guys were of reinventing the wheel -- I mean, the vending machine. These might, possibly, be viable in the sort of super-upscale neighborhoods too expensive for bodegas in the first place, but not in poorer neighborhoods. I doubt many traditional bodega customers have credit cards in the first place.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by thoreau » 14 Sep 2017, 16:07

Look, I agree that it's stupid to have sympathy for a local guy purely because he's local. I try to avoid that. But I can't really fault people if that sympathy swells a bit when a Stanford drop-out shows up in Brooklyn and declares that he's going to Disrupt the guy down the street because he's smarter than everyone else and has a brilliant new transformative innovation called a vending machine.

I imagine the sympathy is something like "Look at that stupid asshole who thinks it will be so amazing when he puts my neighbor out of business with his dumb idea! Screw him!"

Is it completely rational and wholly in accord with proper economic thought? No. Is it shocking if the human response to an arrogant asshole is not 100% informed and driven by the best available economic data? No.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by thoreau » 14 Sep 2017, 16:08

TL;DR If an arrogant asshole brags about how his dumb idea will allegedly put people out of business, I can't fault people if their response to his bullshit is not 100% in accord with neoclassical economic theory.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Jennifer » 14 Sep 2017, 16:11

thoreau wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:07
Look, I agree that it's stupid to have sympathy for a local guy purely because he's local. I try to avoid that. But I can't really fault people if that sympathy swells a bit when a Stanford drop-out shows up in Brooklyn and declares that he's going to Disrupt the guy down the street because he's smarter than everyone else and has a brilliant new transformative innovation called a vending machine.
Especially when, from what I've seen, the only thing these guys have said is "we're going to disrupt the guy down the street" -- as opposed to "Hey, we're going to offer the customer something that is somehow better than what they've currently got."

When cars came on the market, they were advertised as a convenient form of personal transportation for the masses, not "Fuck you, buggy-whip makers, we're gonna throw your asses outta business!"
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by thoreau » 14 Sep 2017, 16:14

I go to a lot of events with people from the optics industry, including people in management and marketing. I hear a lot of people talking about growing their business or developing tech that will push the industry forward. I hear people talk about making sure their products are competitive. I have never heard anyone say "I want to put this entire segment of the industry out of business." Mabye it's just because that segment is in the room, but they seem to have some humility about the possibility that when they innovate others will adapt rather than die.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by JasonL » 14 Sep 2017, 16:23

Agree the messaging is bad in this case, but it's perhaps a bit less actually shocking than what people are suggesting. I wanna put local car dealers out of business. I wanna put utilities out of business. I wanna put the hurt on emergency rooms and doctor offices. Nothing wrong with the notion at all.

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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 16:25

How stupid is this part, btw:
“Each community tends to have relatively homogenous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place,” McDonald explains. “By studying their buying behavior, we’re hoping to eventually figure out how the needs of people in one apartment building differ from those in another. We could customize the items in one dorm versus the next.”
So, you have the same tastes as people in your building, because you live near them, but not the same tastes as people in the building next door...because...
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 16:28

thoreau wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:08
TL;DR If an arrogant asshole brags about how his dumb idea will allegedly put people out of business, I can't fault people if their response to his bullshit is not 100% in accord with neoclassical economic theory.
BTW, have you seen actual quotes where they talk about that? Because the only thing I've seen actually say that was the Fast Company headline and tweets.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Jennifer » 14 Sep 2017, 16:37

JasonL wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:23
Agree the messaging is bad in this case, but it's perhaps a bit less actually shocking than what people are suggesting.
It's not merely that the messaging is bad, but that it's so bad as to suggest these people are missing something fundamental about how The Market™ works: it's supposed to be "If customers get new, better options, the older, less-good options will not be able to compete," as opposed to simply "We're out to destroy what's already here." Destroying the old way of doing things is supposed to be a by-product of customers getting better options, not an end in itself.
I wanna put local car dealers out of business. I wanna put utilities out of business. I wanna put the hurt on emergency rooms and doctor offices. Nothing wrong with the notion at all.
I get what you're saying, but IMO those first two are bad analogies -- car dealerships as we know them only exist because of some nasty rent-seeking laws, and utilities are usually legal monopolies as well. (And if you are able to invent Star Trek-style holographic doctors that will be awesome, but I strongly advise you to advertise them as "Finally! Super-affordable medical care for the masses!" as opposed to "Fuck off, doctors and recent med school grads; I'm going to bankrupt you.")
Last edited by Jennifer on 14 Sep 2017, 16:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Highway » 14 Sep 2017, 16:37

nicole wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:25
How stupid is this part, btw:
“Each community tends to have relatively homogenous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place,” McDonald explains. “By studying their buying behavior, we’re hoping to eventually figure out how the needs of people in one apartment building differ from those in another. We could customize the items in one dorm versus the next.”
So, you have the same tastes as people in your building, because you live near them, but not the same tastes as people in the building next door...because...
How does that capture the person who really wants Item X in his building's vending machine, but has to keep going next door to the other building, because the dickweed vending machine guys say "Oh, only people in building 2 buy Item X, noone in building 1 would want it."
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by the innominate one » 14 Sep 2017, 16:42

What Highway said.

A bit different:
We have vending in our building. There's a high demand for microwavable spicy chicken sandwiches and they sell out quickly. There's no feedback that increases supply. Disrupt these motherfuckers.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 16:44

Jennifer wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:37
JasonL wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:23
Agree the messaging is bad in this case, but it's perhaps a bit less actually shocking than what people are suggesting.
It's not merely that the messaging is bad, but that it's so bad as to suggest these people are missing something fundamental about how The Market™ works: it's supposed to be "If customers get new, better options, the older, less-good options will not be able to compete," as opposed to simply "We're out to destroy what's already here." Destroying the old way of doing things is supposed to be a by-product of customers getting better options, not an end in itself.
I wanna put local car dealers out of business. I wanna put utilities out of business. I wanna put the hurt on emergency rooms and doctor offices. Nothing wrong with the notion at all.
I get what you're saying, but IMO those first two are bad analogies -- car dealerships as we know them only exist because of some nasty rent-seeking laws, and utilities are usually legal monopolies as well. (And if you are able to invent Star Trek-style holographic doctors that will be awesome, but I strongly advise you to advertise them as "Finally! Super-affordable medical care for the masses!" as opposed to "Fuck off, doctors and recent med school grads; I'm going to bankrupt you.")
Doctors and hospitals are cartels.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 16:48

Highway wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:37
nicole wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:25
How stupid is this part, btw:
“Each community tends to have relatively homogenous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place,” McDonald explains. “By studying their buying behavior, we’re hoping to eventually figure out how the needs of people in one apartment building differ from those in another. We could customize the items in one dorm versus the next.”
So, you have the same tastes as people in your building, because you live near them, but not the same tastes as people in the building next door...because...
How does that capture the person who really wants Item X in his building's vending machine, but has to keep going next door to the other building, because the dickweed vending machine guys say "Oh, only people in building 2 buy Item X, noone in building 1 would want it."
Yeah.

Also I just read the post at H&R about this and my personal situation is basically identical to Scott Schackford's: there isn't anywhere in my neighborhood where I would have access to a machine like this, since my building is too small. Honestly it seems more geared toward suburbs than toward anyplace where it'd be replacing actual bodegas. As I said upthread, your most likely bodega problem is not having one, and it seems perhaps that is indeed the one this would fix.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Jennifer » 14 Sep 2017, 16:50

nicole wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:44
Jennifer wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:37
JasonL wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:23
Agree the messaging is bad in this case, but it's perhaps a bit less actually shocking than what people are suggesting.
It's not merely that the messaging is bad, but that it's so bad as to suggest these people are missing something fundamental about how The Market™ works: it's supposed to be "If customers get new, better options, the older, less-good options will not be able to compete," as opposed to simply "We're out to destroy what's already here." Destroying the old way of doing things is supposed to be a by-product of customers getting better options, not an end in itself.
I wanna put local car dealers out of business. I wanna put utilities out of business. I wanna put the hurt on emergency rooms and doctor offices. Nothing wrong with the notion at all.
I get what you're saying, but IMO those first two are bad analogies -- car dealerships as we know them only exist because of some nasty rent-seeking laws, and utilities are usually legal monopolies as well. (And if you are able to invent Star Trek-style holographic doctors that will be awesome, but I strongly advise you to advertise them as "Finally! Super-affordable medical care for the masses!" as opposed to "Fuck off, doctors and recent med school grads; I'm going to bankrupt you.")
Doctors and hospitals are cartels.
Agreed, but where messaging is concerned, there's a big difference between "I want to destroy the cartels which make it harder for people to afford medical care" and "I want to put doctors out of business."
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by MJGreen » 14 Sep 2017, 17:17

How much of this is complaining about what these guys actually said in pitching their little idea, and how much of it is spin by Internet media or your own assumptions of how SV dudebros think?

The owner of a business said he hoped his business would be really, really successful and become the standard in the future. I don't know if that's crawling up his own ass, or putting his thumb in the eye of hardworking folk.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 17:22

Yeah. And the line I saw from their "apology" about bringing commerce to places with no commerce actually rings a lot more true to my visions of SV dudebros and their VC enablers.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by thoreau » 14 Sep 2017, 17:35

MJGreen wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 17:17
How much of this is complaining about what these guys actually said in pitching their little idea, and how much of it is spin by Internet media or your own assumptions of how SV dudebros think?

The owner of a business said he hoped his business would be really, really successful and become the standard in the future. I don't know if that's crawling up his own ass, or putting his thumb in the eye of hardworking folk.
True. I guess I read the hubris from their hope that vending machines could replace other stores.
“Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.”
https://www.fastcompany.com/40466047/tw ... s-obsolete

To me that reads as a prediction that they can do more than just exert some competitive pressure on larger stores (there's surely competitive pressure exerted when in the same strip mall I can buy power bars at the gym, drug store, or gas station) but actually replace them. Um, really? I somehow doubt that vending machines are going to hit the Achilles heel of retail stores.

I think a lot of it comes from Uber. I respect Uber for having a well-run taxi company, but when they tried to say "No, see, we aren't just a more efficient taxi service, we're a SHARING service, it's totally different because it's SHARING" I was like "Um, yeah."

Pre-emptive: There's nothing anti-market about rolling your eyes at people who try to insist that it's not business, it's "sharing".
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by nicole » 14 Sep 2017, 18:04

thoreau wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 17:35
MJGreen wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 17:17
How much of this is complaining about what these guys actually said in pitching their little idea, and how much of it is spin by Internet media or your own assumptions of how SV dudebros think?

The owner of a business said he hoped his business would be really, really successful and become the standard in the future. I don't know if that's crawling up his own ass, or putting his thumb in the eye of hardworking folk.
True. I guess I read the hubris from their hope that vending machines could replace other stores.
“Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.”
https://www.fastcompany.com/40466047/tw ... s-obsolete

To me that reads as a prediction that they can do more than just exert some competitive pressure on larger stores (there's surely competitive pressure exerted when in the same strip mall I can buy power bars at the gym, drug store, or gas station) but actually replace them. Um, really? I somehow doubt that vending machines are going to hit the Achilles heel of retail stores.

I think a lot of it comes from Uber. I respect Uber for having a well-run taxi company, but when they tried to say "No, see, we aren't just a more efficient taxi service, we're a SHARING service, it's totally different because it's SHARING" I was like "Um, yeah."

Pre-emptive: There's nothing anti-market about rolling your eyes at people who try to insist that it's not business, it's "sharing".
Doesn't even that last quote just sound sort of suburban-oriented though as well? I mean, if the Bodega machine doesn't count as a "centralized shopping location," an actual bodega wouldn't really be one either. It sounds more like "you won't have to drive to the commercial-zoned area and visit a strip mall" to me.

I mean, the nearest bodega is, if not 100 feet, say 100 yards away from me already. I don't have to go to a centralized shopping area as it is, at least not in the way my parents do.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by lunchstealer » 14 Sep 2017, 18:43

thoreau wrote:
14 Sep 2017, 16:08
TL;DR If an arrogant asshole brags about how his dumb idea will allegedly put people out of business, I can't fault people if their response to his bullshit is not 100% in accord with neoclassical economic theory.
I would say that properly understood, it does. Because now the corner bodega sells the service of saying fuck you to those pricks at Bodega.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by MJGreen » 14 Sep 2017, 22:42

I get that there exists the SV attitude of, "using technology to accomplish this mundane task is revolutionary!" But at this point it seems like the joke has overtaken the reality. If a start-up puts out a press release announcing their service, they're immediately mocked as claiming their one product is new and brilliant and world-changing. That can be what they say, but often it reads more like snarky projection by the critics. In this case, the founders are being portrayed as super-aggressive Randians itching to put all these poor families out of work, because of an interview answer in a business magazine equivalent to, "Soon, landlines won't be necessary because everyone will have an iPhone!" Of course it's a ridiculous statement, but they're trying to sell their product and hype up their ability to expand.

I also don't get mocking nerds for being excited about data analytics and junk. Let them be proud about their adaptable vending machines.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by the innominate one » 14 Sep 2017, 23:12

A lot of the hype is reminiscent of the medical doctor who published a paper in a peer reviewed journal about his new method for approximating the area under a curve by summing the areas of triangles under the curve.
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by JasonL » 15 Sep 2017, 08:58

My whole thing is more like I think tons of people should be trying to disrupt everything all the time. Some things are way harder to revolutionize because reasons but fuck it let's see what you've got. I'm fine with the criticism being "that's terrible marketing" or "that's a terrible product", but I don't get things that sound like "we don't need new things in that space".

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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Kolohe » 15 Sep 2017, 09:21

Even Uber never came out and said 'Hey, we're starting up a corporate gypsy cab thing to disrupt the taxi industry'. Their party lion was always ' oh, we're a "ridesharing" app and whatever happens is just happening on its own.'
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Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass

Post by Warren » 15 Sep 2017, 11:01

STOP IT!
Just stop it.
They never intended to market their product as a means of putting stores out of business. It's just the name and the one quote that sent the internet fauxrage machine against them.
Bodega's Paul McDonald responded in detail on Medium. "Challenging the urban corner store is not and has never been our goal," he writes. They admit the backlash took them by surprise. "We did some homework — speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause. But it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people. Despite our best intentions and our admiration for traditional bodegas, we clearly hit a nerve this morning. And we apologize to anyone we’ve offended. Rather than disrespect to traditional corner stores — or worse yet, a threat — we intended only admiration."
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