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Thursday 20 February 2020

Weekend Reading

Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.

Augmented reality comes to car workshops
Porsche Cars North America is completing the rollout of its Tech Live Look program at its 189 U.S. dealerships. The effort uses online augmented-reality technology to enable dealership techs to communicate directly with Porsche's Atlanta-based technical support team about thorny repair issues in real-time in such a way that the factory experts see what the tech sees.
The new technology enables a precise recalibration of cameras to specific distances and heights to capture needed images. It also permits precise measurement of high-voltage batteries on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Union in a tech firm
Employees at crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted Tuesday to form a union, the first of it's kind in the technology industry, after an 18-month battle with the company’s management.
Kickstarter United will now be formally recognized by the management after a vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, in which workers voted 36 to 47 in favour of unionizing. It is the first union comprised of white-collar, full-time employees in the technology industry. Toward the end of the dot-com bubble in 2001, customer service workers at a website called etown.com successfully voted to unionize with the Communications Workers of America, which was reported by The New York Times as the first dot-com union, but the company folded the next month after it failed to secure more venture capital funding.

A brief history of advertising
In the 1830s, New York City’s most popular newspaper was just 4 pages and circulated to fewer than 3,000 people in a city with a population fast-approaching 300,000. News was a luxury item, costing 6 cents an issue, which was too expensive for most people at the time.
Then 20-something Benjamin Day had an idea. He would sell his own newspaper for just a penny, undercutting the competition. To make up for a lower price, he would sell advertisements. The idea, which was novel at the time, was not just to sell newspapers to his readers, but to sell the attention of his readers.
It may be harder than ever to get people’s attention these days because our entertainment options are now seemingly unlimited.
But the leaps forward in technology have given advertisers more avenues to reach us than ever before. And they have the ability to personalize to the end-user because so much of our lives are now available for everyone to see online.
The avenues will change and things will become more personalized. The advertisers understand human nature as well as any other industry.

When the security guard is the thief
Avast, the multibillion-dollar Czech security company doesn’t just make money from protecting its 400 million users’ information. It also profits in part because of sales of users’ Web browsing habits and has been doing so since at least 2013.
That’s led to some labelling its tools “spyware,” the very thing Avast is supposed to be protecting users from. Avast claims it recognizes customers use Avast to protect their information and so it can’t do anything that might “circumvent the security of privacy of the data including targeting by advertisers.”

The rise and reign of Jeff Bezos
The last one today is not an article, but a documentary. I have always been fascinated by Amazon and Jeff Bezos. He is a person who has shaped how today's generation view shopping. He has even changed our behaviour patterns. Very few people I know of, who do not check amazon while making a buying decision. His next big ambition of space expedition is another big and audacious goal. The recent donation of $10 billion dollars to combat climate change is another remarkable gesture. On the other hand, he also has his detractors. Those who paint him and Amazon as the villain. The documentary explores some of these aspects. Worth a watch for those who love documentaries.

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