The Critical Path #114: Veronica’s Dilemma

We talk about the major triumphs and minor failures of the Veronica Mars campaign on Kickstarter and kick off a series on The Capitalist’s Dilemma.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #114: Veronicas Dilemma.

  • Bruce_Mc

    “… listeners who hate me and think I shouldn’t even be on the show.”

    That is taunting listeners and putting a kick me sign on your rear end at the same time. Very passive aggressive.

    I think people who listen to this podcast, and follow Horace in general, do so for the ideas, not for the emotions. The Critical Path is not Oprah.

    If you have something to add to the conversation, try to say it without all of apologies and the venting of your emotions, which seem to take up about 2/3 of your communication on any subject. When you get past that and start narrating about developments in your areas of expertise, I really appreciate what you add to the show.

    • actualbanker

      Did someone actually say this on the show?

    • realroz

      I wish he’d stop making reference to these critics. They don’t deserve repetition. He is doing a good job, can’t please everyone.

      • Bruce_Mc

        “… please, please, don’t post your kid’s photos on Facebook.” No information was given about Facebook’s licensing terms. This was strictly an appeal to emotions: believe me and do what I say.

        This is the exact opposite of what I hope to encounter when I listen. Whether he is right or wrong doesn’t matter. I use tumblr and my own website to post most of my photos. What matters is having to listen to cheerleading and demagoguery on The Critical Path.

  • neutrino23

    The capitalist’s dilemma is fascinating. Many of us have joked for decades that the four stages in the life of a company was as follows.

    1. An inventor or entrepreneur starts a company.
    2. A business man helps them get backing and grow the company.
    3. Financial types take over and drive the business into the ground.
    4. Lawyers pick over the bones.

    Clayton Christensen has formalized this gut feeling we had. I’ve often thought that one of Steve’s major accomplishments was keeping the financial types out of the executive suite.

    You can listen to Dr. Christensen introduce the topic here.

    • stefnagel

      Often as not, it’s the founder who drives the company into the ground, rather than adapt, adopt, or adios.

      • neutrino23

        It is certainly easy for any manager to ruin a company. The reason we picked on the financial people is that they were so focused on making money and not spending money that they drove the company into the ground through lack of investment. This is oversimplifying but you get the idea.

        It was incredibly awesome when Apple killed the iPod mini, the best selling iPod, and replaed it with the iPod nano. Financial guys would have tried to milk the mini for another year or two of cash flow and would have ended up losing the market.

      • stefnagel


    • Bruce_Mc

      That is an excellent talk and discussion. Thank you for posting the link. One fascinating point made was that the spreadsheet enabled businesses to be run by economic theories which everyone thought were true, but in practice they don’t seem to be true.

  • stefnagel

    Just parking CC’s definitions here as a footnote to Horace’s comments on the capitalist’s dilemma.

    “The first are “empowering” innovations. These transform complicated, costly products that previously had been available only to a few people, into simpler, cheaper products available to many. The Ford Model T was an empowering innovation, as was the Sony transistor radio. Empowering innovations create jobs for people who build, distribute, sell and service these products.

    “The second type are “sustaining” innovations. These replace old products with new. The Toyota Prius hybrid is marvelous–yet every time a customer buys a Prius, a Camry is not sold. Sustaining innovations replace yesterday’s products with today’s products. They keep our economy vibrant–and, in dollars, they account for the most innovation. But they have a zero-sum effect on jobs and capital.

    “The third type are “efficiency” innovations. These reduce the cost of making and distributing existing products and services–like Toyota’s just-in-time manufacturing in carmaking and Geico in online insurance underwriting. Efficiency innovations almost always reduce the net number of jobs in an industry, allow the same amount of work (or more) to get done using fewer people. Efficiency innovations also emancipate capital for other uses. Without them, much of an economy’s capital is held captive on balance sheets, tied up in inventory, working capital, and balance-sheet reserves.”

    • JaneDoe12

      Dr. Christensen gave a great talk about the capitalist’s dilemma in September, 2013. He began with “Why is the US having a jobless recovery?” His answer was fascinating. “The problem is that the way we calculate success [using ratios like return on net assets and internal rate of return] makes it impossible for innovators to invest in the kinds of things that create jobs.” [1]

      1. The Capitalist’s Dilemma video. Clayton Christensen. At 20 min.
      Link is on 5by5 page under “Show Notes & Links.”

  • Fran_Kostella

    Fascinating topics, both. The capitalist’s dilemma seems a plausible description of the economy at this stage. Are there any numbers about global capital and how it is being used, how much is invested in innovation and how much is “parked” and essentially doing no work?

  • realroz

    SXSW is a play on North by Northwest according to wikipedia and the film does include references to the airline.

    The title is a vague a reference to the points on a compass, though NXNW is not a real point: “Hitchcock noted, in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich in 1963, “It’s a fantasy. The whole film is epitomized in the title—there is no such thing as north-by-northwest on the compass.”[37]” wikipedia

    Does not seem like SXSW has anything to do with Southwest Airlines.