An 11 year old future of luxury

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The Daily

I wrote the post below 11 years ago – in 2007 – for a publication called David Report. I recently found it by accident and was struck by how some of these themes have continued with me since then. The thinking about specific, yet somewhat mundane, knowledge as a currency. As something valuable to trade, store, and use – and not to waste. Information wants to be free but getting there isn’t always a straight line. The incentives for sharing can blur this force. I tried to describe this below.

What do you think? Does this thesis (still) hold water today?

When knowledge is the real luxury

In a connected world, information is the currency. Luxury, therefore, is not about the excess of anything but rather the complete opposite. Knowledge that is concise, and on point. It’s knowing how to find it which is the admirable factor.

Times are good. Money is flaunted everywhere. 28 inch rims, chain pieces, designer outfits – the whole thing. But these consequent overstatements of wealth have turned them into commodities. When the pièces de résistance can be acquired by the masses, real or fake, it devaluates its worth. The bling is officially dead.

Luxury is about desiring the best, and most exclusive, of anything. And while mainstream luxury up until now has focused on material things, the new luxury is to be found within the realms of experiences.

Imagine looking for the best cappuccino when visiting a new city. Money can not buy this information, as there is no one to pay in order to get hold of it. You either know how to find out, or you don’t. Probably, the coffee is to be found in a back alley with a barista that makes her own perfect blends. And a cup of it is probably not more expensive then a tall latte at Starbucks. Luxury is no longer a monetary matter.

The shift in wealth – from money to information – distorts the way our society is built. The current class system falls apart when the participants of it no longer recognise what is valued high and low. The new rulers are the ones with the most knowledge, or the ability to obtain the necessary information. The ones that are most connected.

Back to the cappuccino example. Imagine if everyone knew that this was the best coffee in town. The place would be packed. The coffee would taste just as good, but the complete experience wouldn’t be. Partly because it’s crowded and you have to wait in line to get your coffee, but also because it’s nothing special any more. The exclusivity is gone.

Because of the factor above, the incentives to share this new wealth outside your network, are very few. This type of networked knowledge is the complete opposite to the old saying “the more the merrier”. The fewer people in the loop the better. Assuming that it’s the right people, obviously.

Sharing this knowledge wouldn’t necessarily be appreciated anyway, as the experienced luxury will vary from each network. There is no longer an it bag, or one furniture designer. It’s all about story and context. There is luxury for everyone to be found, within the chosen framework of taste or feeling.
So if you want to experience luxury within the next few years, you better make sure that you’re connected. With the right people. For you.

New: Digital Strategy & Consumer Culture

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The Daily

It has been six months since I left Toca Boca, and it is time for my next chapter.

Today, I am starting my own practice focused on digital strategy and consumer culture. I am interested in the near future and how to develop products and services that fit within it. I think this is best done by thoroughly understanding mobile and web, and adding to that a broader understanding of culture and its impact on consumer expectations. Simply knowing one of the two is not enough any more.

I bring a unique perspective in that I have both run extensive research and strategy projects, and developed entire companies of my own. I can look at macro trends without losing touch with the realities of running a business. I’ve done, and enjoyed, both.

I want to work in an independent and flexible manner. That is when I perform best. I’m happy to form alliances – temporary or otherwise – if that makes sense.

Below are some examples of areas where I can be helpful:

  • Advise executives that want to change or expand their digital business. They may want help in doing so, or a second opinion on what is about to be done.
  • Research, write, and present reports on changes in mobile and consumer culture for executive teams.
  • Develop strategies and plan for how to best perform on mobile ecosystems such as Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • Advise funds or family offices on the fit and viability of potential investments in the consumer and mobile space.
  • Develop strategies for products and services designed for kids and families.

I’m staying in San Francisco for now, but not anchoring this business to my surroundings. I hope to find interesting work from people and companies all over the world.

If you have worked with me before, I hope you will keep me in mind for future projects.

If you haven’t worked with me before, you may want some more formal information about me and what I have done prior to this. You can find that here.

If you have an idea for a project or just want to say hello – please do!

You get the ecosystems you design for

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The Daily

A few months ago, James Bridle wrote a widely spread Medium post about all of the awful things on YouTube Kids. It started an avalanche that is still rolling. Just the other day, Business Insider wrote that the app was recommending conspiracy videos to kids.

This is of course terrible. But it is hardly a surprise. Anyone that has used the app for more than five minutes knows that it is full of material that spans from the shady to the outright inappropriate. It’s everywhere. (And it isn’t just in their kids app either).

It’s also not surprising why this keeps happening. You get the ecosystems you design for. That’s why it is disingenuous when Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, makes comments like “I’ve seen how some bad actors are exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm”. You knew it was happening long before this came up. You designed an ecosystem that encouraged it.

When you design an ecosystem that encourages viewing time as part of the ranking algorithm, you get 8 hour long videos of lullabies. When you make no distinction between Disney’s Frozen videos and the creators just using their brand for SEO purposes, you get shitty videos like this one with Elsa, Spiderman, and the Hulk playing at the beach. When you don’t mark out videos with commercial intent, you get badly hidden advertising for kids masquerading as “toy reviews”.

Creators make what the ecosystem – and the ranking algorithm – encourages them to make. If you want to change that outcome, start by redesigning the variables that determine success in your ecosystem. Everything other than that is just PR.

Edit: I just learned of the incident currently taking place at YouTube HQ. I hope everyone is okay.

2017 in review

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Years in review

2017 was the year when I left my job and decided to take a break. I’m still enjoying it actually. I needed some space to clear out the old and start priming my mind for thinking new things. I started feeling stupid and uninteresting which is something that I really, really disliked. This is gradually getting better.

I’m happy that I made the decision to take this time and think I will look back at this as the right call. But the persistent feeling of 2017 is still that it was challenging. Work is such a big part of my life that when it doesn’t flow, it has consequences all across the board. For me and for the people around me. I’m glad to say that I feel like I’m on my way to something else now. Something new.

It was also the year where I started using my phone more, and my computer less. Thus I consumed more and produced less (other than photography). I always feel like I should be writing more. I started getting into art in a more serious way. Thought less about it and felt more instead. Became a member at SFMOMA and went often. I baked a lot of bread, and found something meditative in that process. I listened to a lot of podcasts and it became the conversations that I didn’t have enough of in person.

We got our second daughter, Alexia.

Some of you have read my annual summaries before, and I have now collected them all on this new and unfinished site. Here’s 2010 (link TBD), 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. This little tradition of mine is now too long to be broken. So with that, here is my 2017.

 

Joe on a roof in New Orleans.

January

  • Started the year with a few days off. Took Miranda to some museums and took a selfie with a stuffed bear.
  • Flew to New Orleans with the whole Toca Boca crew for the annual company trip. These trips are where you really see what kind of people you have around you. An amazing group of people and an absolute delight to hang out with. It was useful, intense, fun, humid, exhilarating and much more. I’ll never forget it.
  • Trump started making executive orders that were so outrageous I felt compelled to speak out on behalf of the whole company. We wouldn’t let this happen without stating where we stood.
  • Became a monthly donor to the ACLU, which was to become the beginning of an increasingly politically coloured year.
  • Listened to Questlove on Here’s The Thing and was so impressed that I bought and read his book too.
  • Our video service Toca TV didn’t have the holiday figures that we were hoping for, and we started asking some big and difficult questions about what the real problem was. This unfortunately became the beginning of the end.
  • Got hooked on Seth Meyers´ A Closer Look series.
  • 2017 was a Migos year that started with T-Shirt.
  • Made liters of slime with Miranda throughout the whole year.
  • Bought Ottessa Moshfegh’s Homesick For Another World, but couldn’t get into the style for some reason.
  • Realized that Young Thug released an album called Jeffery which is the most rap thing that has ever happened to me. This was the best song on it.

 

Miranda drinking sparkling water at Andytown.

February

  • Discovered how great Andytown Coffee in the Outer Sunset was. Dedicated myself to become a local and went several times a week for the rest of the year.
  • Flew to New York to try to figure out how to fix Toca TV.
  • Had a huge and delayed housewarming party in our new-ish house. It was busy, primarily because everyone has kids these days.
  • Watched The Mask You Live In as a part of our ongoing diversity efforts at Toca Boca.
  • Bought a guitar because I realized that I missed having one accessible on a daily basis. Started playing a little again.
  • Started getting good at baking vegan after a few false starts.
  • Somewhere here Caroline sat me down and told me, nicely, to get my shit together at work. She was right. Things hadn’t been working well enough for a while. This is how you know you have a good colleague. However, turning it around proved to be more difficult that I first imagined.

 

Tobias in a Japanese gazebo on Mayne Island, Canada.

March

  • Flew to Vancouver to meet up with Tobias. Together we borrowed a cabin on Mayne Island and spent the weekend there. Just talking. It was fantastic. Well needed.
  • Miriam released her first radio show for SR P1. She is so far ahead in her understanding of technology compared to 99% of all Swedish journalists. It was cool to hear this come out in a different medium.
  • Spent a weekend outside Petaluma with Peter, Matthew, Madeleine, Emil, Miriam + the kids. Had intense discussions about whether the world was going to hell or not. I was in the “no” camp, but the rest of the year made me doubt my position somewhat.
  • Decided what to do with Toca TV and made the difficult decision to let some great people go. Flew to New York for a day to tell them that, and how to go forward from this point. Worst part of the job.
  • Kept listening to Desert Island Discs on BBC and rarely missed a single episode. Arundhati Roy stood out.
  • Found Leon Bridges´River in the outro credits of a Girls episode.
  • Got invited to guest lecture at UC Berkeley Haas about mobile ecosystems and Toca Boca in particular. An honor.
  • Outed my Starbucks name as “Jeff”.
  • Fell in love with the Twitter account Limericking who is a genius. I mean, look at this.
  • Finished listening to S-town which was the most elegant, touching, suggestive, and well-crafted piece of storytelling and journalism I came across all year. Can’t recommend it enough.

 

Miranda and Zingo the cat in Resteröd, Sweden.

April

  • Went to EdFoo in Mountain View. Saw a guy control another woman’s hand simply by touch and electrodes. Blew my mind in a way that nothing had for a long time. I think this started some sort of ball rolling. I needed new things to think about.
  • Flew to Sweden with Miriam and Miranda. Didn’t repeat the same mistake as last time and divided work and play. Got to hang out with my parents and sister for a week together with Miranda. Their interactions are so lovely to see.
  • Went to Copenhagen for a break together with Tomas and Martin. Always a delight. It also started a Messenger thread conversation that is still going to this day.
  • Toca Life Hospital came out with some real life inspiration, which was covered in HuffPo.
  • Silicon Valley S04 started on HBO. Hit close to home.
  • Read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It was to become a start of a more conscious approach to food, without making radical changes. Started buying pasture raised eggs which can’t even be compared to the regular ones.
  • Jacques Lu Cont could still bash out a remix.
  • Turned 36 on a plane, because that seems to be what I do.
  • Read and was impressed by something as rare as a well-informed and nuanced critique of the new statue on Wall Street. This was pretty much the opposite of everything else during the year that became polarized and reduced to talking points.
  • Listened to a lot of radio in the car, and Shazam found me Nef The Pharaoh and his tribute to Big Tymers.

 

Three girls in Cambria.

May

  • Flew to New York to let the rest of the team from Toca TV go. This was a horrible experience, and one that I did not agree with at all. This isn’t how these things are done, and this isn’t how you treat people. But this call was out of my hands. It became the final nail in the coffin for me. It was time to leave.
  • The Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons exhibit at the Met had lines around multiple blocks in the rain, so I missed it. Did get to go to the Met Breuer for the first time instead.
  • Flew to Stockholm and went straight to Moderna Museet to see the Marina Abramovic exhibit. It was good, but it is challenging proposition to convey performances after they’ve passed.
  • Watched all of Master of None S02 and still thought it was really special.
  • Found Frank Ocean’s Lens and listened to it a lot.
  • Laughed at Ivanka Trump’s book that got an amazing review. Samantha Bee absolutely destroyed her on the same theme.
  • Flew back to SF and took Miranda to Maker Faire in San Mateo. She liked the robots best.
  • Caroline was named one of the Future Female Leaders in Sweden. Was very happy for her.
  • Took a few days off and went to Cambria with Miriam and Miranda. This was our last trip together before the new family addition that was coming in August. We didn’t go to Sweden for the summer for this reason.
  • Listened to Nicki Minaj kill Remy Ma in an entertaining beef.
  • Watched all of Billions S02. Absolutely loved it in every possible way. S02E11 was unbelievably good TV.
  • Dreamt myself away with Adieu by Tchami.

 

A quick stop to Paris.

June

  • Watched the whole One Love Manchester concert with Ariana Grande + friends. Fantastic.
  • Flew to Paris for all of 36 hours to join a panel at OECD Forum about gender equality. It was such an unexpected request that I felt I had to go. The panel was introduced by the Danish Crown Princess Mary. That was a first.
  • Discovered the Swedish start Jireel and this track became my most listened song in 2017.
  • Karin and Björn visited and it was a good reminder of how much I miss good, old fashioned, conversations with smart people. Can’t have too much of that.
  • Toca Boca’s work with diversity was highlighted in USA Today which was nice recognition for the team.
  • Bought a lot of furniture and got the house in order. It was probably nesting, in some way.
  • Flew to LA for the day to do a TV interview. I need to smile more on camera. Perhaps more in general?
  • Miriam and I went to Saison as a delayed birthday present. The best meal of the year.
  • My colleagues threw me a carb-heavy baby shower which was a total surprise, and a very lovely thing of them to do.
  • Experienced Flower Piano for the first time.
  • Sara visited for midsummer and we sat in a park, ate herring, and hung out with friends. Almost like the real thing.
  • I started running and working out in a regular manner. I would keep this up all year, somewhat surprisingly. Decided to teach myself to like it, since it was inevitably going to have to be a part of my life in some capacity.
  • Calvin Harris released the perfect summer song.
  • I told my closest team and boss that I was leaving Toca Boca. It would take several months before I could actually leave and announce this to the rest of the company though. It had reached a point where I wasn’t happy and it was affecting both my family, my performance, and my overall well-being. I had tried to turn this around in the months prior to this but not been successful. It was a very, very difficult decision since I cared so deeply about both the company and my colleagues. But it had to be done, and in retrospect it was the right call. Perhaps a little late, if anything.

 

Roadtrip with Magnus.

July

  • Toca Boca finally launched our consumer products at Target. Quite a place to start. This had been in the works for several years. It was both a relief and a true sense of pride seeing it on the shelves. It was also a good reminder that progressive values are easy to list on your website, but more difficult to actually live by when push comes to shove. Partnerships are hard. I’m proud of our part.
  • Took a road trip north with Magnus for a week. Drove up through California, Oregon, and Washington State. Discovered a different side of him through music. Had a generally amazing time with both a lot of laughs and thoughtful conversations.
  • Came home and took Miranda to the zoo. She liked the frogs and the mice best.
  • Found this acoustic gem with Jesse Malin.
  • Vacation time, while waiting for the baby. Did family stuff, like taking a paddle boat(!). Always wondered who did that sort of thing. People like me, apparently.
  • Listened to Revisionist History, season 2. Not as good as the first season, but still very well produced and thought provoking.
  • If it hadn’t been time to say farewell to R Kelly earlier, it definitely was time now.
  • Visited Minnesota Street Project for the first time. Loved it and came back many times.
  • Watched The Defiant Ones and was both impressed and inspired to do better.
  • Bought an ice cream maker and a new digital scale. Good pairing.
  • Lorde almost made me cry.
  • Went to Berkeley to see Bobbi Jene, a documentary about an ex-Batsheva dancer. It really moved me. So raw, sad, beautiful, devoted; all at the same time. Drove home and listened to The Blaze in the dark.
  • Listened to a lot of How I Built This. Especially liked the one with Raegan Moya-Jones from  Aden + Anais.
  • Met two new friends through a parenting group, Yuri and Amy. It’s lovely when new great people get introduced to your life.

 

Alexia Grace Elisabeth Jeffery.

August

  • Miranda turned three. She is such a joy. I made a vegan cake.
  • Read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I usually have a hard time with fiction, but I finished this one in a day.
  • Watched Ozark with Miriam and it was eerie.
  • One of my favorite columnists in the FT, David Tang, passed away. I bought his book.
  • Loved the Kaytranada remix of Rihanna’s Kiss It Better.
  • Toca Boca crushed the kids charts, as usual. Had the whole top 10 list. An incredible accomplishment, often overlooked.
  • Started reading Sapiens but kept getting stuck. Could be that I was trying to read it on Kindle. Vainly got a little annoyed that everyone else was reading it too.
  • Made glass for the first time, with the Toca Boca team. Fun!
  • At the end of the month, our second daughter Alexia was born. Such a thing does not lend itself well to brief summaries in bullet points, so I’m not going to attempt it. It included Miriam being amazingly strong and balanced, and me running out in the street shouting at some garbage trucks blocking the road to the hospital: “MOVE YOUR TRUCK! I HAVE A PREGNANT WOMAN IN THE CAR!“. A film moment that won’t be coming back.

 

There’s always time for a carousel.

September

  • Walter Becker from Steely Dan passed away. Steely Dan is still among my most listened artists, year after year
  • I announced to the team and to the world that I was leaving Toca Boca. People were surprised and a little sad. I got some really beautiful words from colleagues that I’ll carry with me for a long time. A day of very mixed emotions. Relief that I could move on, pride of what had been accomplished, and sadness that I had ended up here.
  • Toca Boca started selling a capsule collection at Colette in Paris, a store that I’ve been following since the late nineties. Huge.
  • Started watching Friday Night Lights with Miriam. We were very late to this series, but it lived up to the hype.
  • Throughout the year, I got increasingly fascinated by the opioid crisis in America. Watched loads of documentaries and read loads of articles. Nothing touched me more that this run-through of one week in Cincinnati. An unbelievable tragedy happening in front of our eyes.
  • Listened to a lot of Death, Sex & Money and the episode called “Why I Steal” stood out.
  • Watched Narcos S03. Fascinating and well made.
  • Magnus went to the FT Weekend Festival in London and got me a Tyler Brûlé-signed The Forecast. True to form, he didn’t write his name.
  • Discovered Sigrid and her incredible voice.

 

Sister, daughter, father, on Ocean Beach.

October

  • After a few weeks of wrapping things up, I officially left work. I flew to Sweden to say goodbye to everyone. Had a lovely dinner with the SF team when I came back too. It was all very heartfelt. Thank you.
  • Started my official break. Supposedly did nothing, at least not in terms of office work.
  • Passed through Copenhagen on the way home, and went to Noma Under the Bridge. It was a great experience, but I wouldn’t have thought it was Noma food if I hadn’t known.
  • My parents and my sister came to visit which was great. Our house lends itself well to visitors which makes a huge difference.
  • Read Black Edge about how hedge fund managers do insider trading.
  • Tomas visited and we went to the japanese Onsen.
  • Read loads and loads of articles on politics. Got angry and turned my Twitter feed from tech to politics. Should probably turn it elsewhere.
  • Fast Company profiled my then former colleague Mathilda which was great and well-deserved.
  • Goop, the pinnacle of pseudo-science and silliness, completely lost it. Ranted about them.
  • Got weirdly audio targeted with advertising for a Chinese conglomerate in a way that I really cannot explain. Super strange and a little bit creepy.
  • Silicon Valley continued being euphemistic about banal ideas. Own less to live more? You rent out furniture. Come on.
  • Discovered Rae Morris with a track that really grew on me.
  • Bought my first Apple Watch with cell connectivity. I thought this would be a game changer. It wasn’t, since I still never leave the house without my phone.
  • Went to Oakland with the family and saw the Friendswithyou piece. Loved it. Bought a print and hung it on the wall.
  • Listened to all of Dirty John which was disturbing and fascinating, but not very elegantly produced.
  • Bought some Japanese cookbooks but cooked less than I had hoped.
  • Had a generally angry and confused month as I was trying to cleanse my brain from everything that had been. Seven years of context was gone. Replacing it was painful, but necessary.

 

Alexia expressing herself.

November

  • Read The Four by Scott Galloway. Surprisingly good. Loved his tone and candor.
  • Flew to to LA for Summit17, the first conference I’ve gone to for myself in many years. Went with Sorosh which was great in itself, but there was a lot of good talks and experiences scheduled too. Seeing Esther Perel create an intimate environment with 900 people was very memorable, as was going to a dance meditation class at 1.30 in the morning.
  • Saw RY X perform live at Summit. Really strong performance. Played his album a lot after I came home. Same thing with Allen Stone and this song that I even learned how to play on the guitar.
  • Went on preschool tours with Miranda because it was getting close.
  • Read Onward by Howard Schultz but liked it more for the details about a such a familiar company as Starbucks, than for the rather flat management advice that was given.
  • Had the first early calls about what could be next for me in life, work wise.
  • Obsessed a little over Rihanna’s rap on Lemon.
  • Took Yuri to a course to learn how to make Danish rye bread. Made a few loaves during the rest of the year.
  • Got annoyed with self-serving, badly formatted, click-baitey bullshit on Linkedin. But liked the label “broetry” for it.
  • Had a very wet and fun evening with Jonas in Noe Valley.
  • Called it quits on the awful Apple Podcast app and switched to Breaker instead. Never looked back.
  • Ariana Grande again, I know, but this tribute to Whitney Houston was something else.
  • #MeToo was everywhere, and rightfully so. Encouraging to feel the beginning of a change, but so disappointing to hear about former heroes behaving inexcusably.
  • Finished Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You after seeing her speak at Summit. I love her work, both writing and art.
  • Pod Save America became mandatory listening after having dipped in and out for a while.
  • Grew increasingly frustrated over the persistent damage and societal sabotage that was taking place under the current president.
  • Miranda went skating for the first time.
  • Spent many walks listening to Esther Perel’s Where Do We Begin. Can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from hearing that series.

 

New glasses.

December

  • The documentary “App: The Human Story” came out and the hours of interviews that I had done were reduced to a cameo that lasted about two seconds. Should have been more interesting.
  • Bought new glasses which is always a long process for me. Went for a completely different look this time. I kind of mark phases of my life based on what glasses I was wearing at the time, so this signifies something new.
  • Saw Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. I had always loved Man on the Moon, but this documentary really added a layer to it. Saw Jim Carrey very differently.
  • Got invited to a gathering of British people in SF. Realized that this was the first time I have ever been identified as a Brit like this.
  • Had a great dinner with Caroline, whom I hadn’t seen for possibly the longest time since we started to work together. It could have gone on all night.
  • Read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Well written, but difficult to read due to the subject matter.
  • Went to Napa with Miriam and Alexia to eat at Morimoto. It was good, but I had much higher expectations.
  • Got two fantastic Linkedin recommendations which meant a lot to me, as they summarized two working relationships that I really valued.
  • Nancy left a hole in our family when she went home.
  • Bought a lot of Christmas presents for Miranda and did my Santa debut.
  • Booked our first trip to Hawaii for the beginning of 2018.
  • Started reading Principles by Ray Dalio. Felt more like a reference book than something to read front to back.
  • Went for xiao long bao with Yuri and Amy.
  • Martin and Emma visited us and wrapped the year in the best possible way.

 

That was 2017 for me. Thanks for reading.

The time has come

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Medium

After a lot of consideration, I have decided to step down as CEO of Toca Boca. I told the team this morning. It has been seven years since I co-founded the company together with Emil Ovemar. And to be perfectly honest, I need a bit of a break to recharge and figure out what I should be doing next. My own family has also recently expanded so I look forward to spending more time with them.

I feel very grateful for the opportunity that this has been. It is — by far — the most successful venture I have ever been part of creating. Together we have created a kids brand that stands for inclusion, play, and the quality that kids deserve. We’ve reached kids all over the world with over 150 million downloads. We have extended the brand to incorporate consumer products with an apparel and accessories line at Target. We’ve won basically every industry award imaginable. The list of accomplishments is too long to list.

What’s next for me? I’m going to take a few months off to think about what my next step will be. I’m going to try to keep an open mind and see what catches my attention. If you have any suggestions, then feel free to reach out and let me know.

Target Debuts An All-Gender Product Line For Kids

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One of the pieces in Toca Boca’s lively new line of kids’ clothes—debuting in 1,700 Target stores nationwide later this month—is a coral-colored T-shirt of a mean-mugging sloth donning a baseball cap, with the word “Fast” printed underneath. It’s a piece that the company has found tested well across ages and genders, from younger girls to those harder-to-engage 9- and 10-year-old boys. As Mathilda Engman, Toca Boca’s design director, puts it, “It’s a silly humor and quirkiness that resonates with both girls and boys, and doesn’t fall into gender stereotypes.”

Target Debuts An All-Gender Product Line For Kids

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Outlines How He Tries to Keep Retail Giant in Startup Mode

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Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says he recently thought a new show the Amazon Studios team was considering was too boring and complicated to produce. But he gave it the green light anyway because the team thought it had potential.Mr. Bezos told his team, “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made,” he wrote in a shareholder letter published Wednesday. “Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Outlines How He Tries to Keep Retail Giant in Startup Mode

“When we draw lines and build walls between people everyone loses”

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Medium

I promised a second post about the App Store charts and that is coming. But over the past days it has become clear that standing up this madness can’t wait.

I wrote a statement about it at Toca Boca because it goes against so much of what we believe in. Quoted below:

From Toca Boca’s founding and forward we have made digital toys for kids all over the world. We intentionally design products that work in many different countries and cultures. The context for playing may differ, but the underlying principle is the same: Play is universal, it’s something kids around the world have in common. It is with this in mind I feel compelled to write something about the events that happened over the last few days in the U.S.

I am an immigrant to the U.S. myself. I came from a peaceful country and have the option to return at any time. Many other immigrants don’t have this luxury. For me, a strength of the U.S. is its inclusive view of nationality — you can be born in another country, have a different background or opposing political views, but you can still be an American. It’s a unique view of nationality that is something to be proud of. However, executive orders in the last few days have taken a different approach.

Banning people of a certain faith is unacceptable. Banning people of a certain ethnic background is unacceptable. Banning people from specific countries is unacceptable. It’s 2017 and I feel statements like these should be redundant by now. But in the light of recent news it is clear that this is not the case. It further emphasizes the importance for both individuals and companies to speak up. When we start drawing lines and building walls between people everyone loses.

One of our guiding principles is that no kid should feel excluded by Toca Boca. This inclusive view sets the ambition for everything we do and also how we look at the world around us. We stand with families and those in our community affected by this. We will continue to do our part in supporting a global understanding of each other and focus on the things that unite rather than what divides.

Björn Jeffery

CEO & Co-Founder of Toca Boca

8 out of 10 top apps make no money through the app stores

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Just before the new year, Nielsen published a list of the top smartphone apps of 2016. The list is based on average unique users which is a way of measuring, although it would have a hard time scaling to a longer list due to the lack of data (the sample is 9,000 panelists).

Nielsen image, with my highlighting on the right.

More interesting is the ownership of the apps and their respective business models. There are only four companies represented on the list: Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. Two of which own their own app ecosystems (Also, Google Play is for some reason listed as an app in this chart, whereas Apple’s App Store is not). This highlights the difficulty of distribution in the app stores and what scale on other platforms — web primarily — can do for you in terms of mobile discovery.

The business models of mobile, in this context, are simple. You either:

  1. Sell apps, subscriptions or in-app purchases through the app stores. This counts towards the Top Grossing lists. You utilize the billing and payment mechanisms in the app stores.
  2. Sell advertising or other products or services with separate billing. This does not show up on the Top Grossing lists.

Out of the 10 apps on the list, only two of them actually make money through the app stores themselves — category 1 above. Apple Music runs their subscriptions through the App Store (not through Google Play), but it doesn’t rank on Apple’s grossing lists. Not for the lack of subscribers though. I’m assuming Apple don’t want to share that data publicly. The second one is YouTube that sells some of their YouTube Red subscriptions through the app stores. This revenue is of course dwarfed by their ad revenues, so I’m being generous by including them here.

The rest of the list make money from mobile — lots of money from mobile even — but the billing is elsewhere. It is either advertising (Facebook, Google) or purchases with credit cards stored separately (Amazon). This is very significant and often overlooked. There’s a common misconception that the app stores are the main way of monetizing this potential. Generally speaking, it’s not (I’ll list some exceptions in my next post). The app stores are, however, a great way of gaining distribution on mobile. And that, in turn, can make you a lot of money if you play your cards right.

Apps in red boxes make money outside of the app stores.

The snapshot above is the US iPhone Top 20 Free as of January 4th, 2017. I marked the icons with red boxes that don’t bill a single dime though the app stores themselves. Big companies like Uber, Snapchat and Pinterest. They make millions of revenue from mobile, but not in the way you might think.

This wasn’t always the case. In the early days of the App Store, the three lists — Top Paid, Top Free, and Top Grossing — had many more similarities than they do today. I’ll do a deeper dive into these three distinctively different top lists in my next post.

Some Predictions, 2017

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stoweboyd:

I’ve been late to the prediction game, but I will riff on some ideas inspired by recent events. Some of these are a bit fabulous, but bear with me: what is coming could wind up being much more strange than these vignettes. (Numbered but not ordered in any particular way.)

  1. Work chat will continue to dominate the market for enterprise ‘collaboration’, and AI-based ‘team members’ with deep learning skill sets will become commonplace, building on chatbot models of interaction but assuming larger roles in project management, development, marketing, and HR. Slack is acquired by Amazon for $35 billion, and loosely integrated into AWS.
  2. The hottest business trend of 2017 will be AI-based ‘driverless management’, displacing Holocracy and other management ‘business operating systems’ fads. AI will play a significantly larger role in areas that human cognitive biases are most problematic, like hiring and promotion, decision support, and ensuring diversity, equality, and well-being in the workplace. (Daemon (via Daniel Saurez) meets the workplace.) Several unknown start-ups will lead this new exploding sector.
  3. Following Trump’s proposed withdrawal of US supporting NATO troops in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, Vladimir Putin’s Russia will occupy some part of the Baltics, like the Latgale region of Latvia, which is ~40% ethnic Russian. Mike Pence resigns as Vice President following major disagreements with Trump on the Baltics and NATO. Trump nominates Elaine Chao as Vice President, his Secretary of Transportation, and she is appointed in October, the first woman and first Asian American to serve in that role.
  4. North Korea will fire a rocket that hits Kodiak Island in Alaska, although it carries only a conventional warhead. Kim Jong-un says the rocket was supposed to have crashed in the ocean before landfall, but many believe it was on track to hit Anchorage. 
  5. Trump raises massive trade barriers to Chinese goods, sparking a trade war that damages both countries’ economies. This is in part because of an inability to get China to – in effect – take control of North Korea, but also as part of an attempt by US and European companies to make China’s markets more open: a second Opium War. 
  6. Britain begins that actual process of Brexit in mid 2017, leading Scotland to a referendum in favor of leaving the UK and applying to the EU for membership.
  7. The US Congress will pass legislation in early 2017 to repeal Obamacare, but defers any implementation until 2018 at the earliest, because they can’t agree on how it will be replaced or by what approach. Trump proposes a single payer system as a companion to a radical restructuring of the tax code, as he had hinted in his campaign, and falls into open discord with the establishment wing of the GOP. 
  8. Driverless car fleets are rolled out by various car companies (Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, etc.) and car hailing platforms (Uber, Lyft, etc.). Car ownership in major urban areas continues to decline, and many municipalities create partnerships with fleet owners to augment conventional mass transportation solutions. The value of New York City taxi medallions drops over 75%.
  9. Amazon will buy Snapchat, and announce a new take on augmented reality glasses, picking up where Google dropped the ball years ago. Building on the success of Alexa-based Echo devices, Kindle, Fire TV, Amazon Prime, and the growing popularity of Snapchat, Amazon Eyes are the hit of Christmas 2017, with over 50 million ordered in November and December.
  10. The war in Syria comes to a Korean War-like end, with a partition of the country into various regions, and a unceasing belligerence on all parts. It is clearly a shadow war between factions backed by the West, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Russia. The stalemate here is a reflection of the reappraisal of loyalties and goals of the shadow players, more than the aims of the Syrian government and the insurgents. Bashar al-Assad rules a rump state of western Syrian, with much of the rest of ‘Syria’ in shambles.
  11. Hillary Clinton files for divorce from Bill Clinton in March 2017, and assumes the role of president of Harvard University, two weeks later.
  12. Marine Le Pen loses an unexpectedly close run-off with François Fillon, but the close election pulled Fillon and his Republicans farther right than in recent decades.
  13. Oprah announces that she intends to run for President in the next election.
  14. Angela Merkel narrowly wins reelection, after wide-spread controversy of scandals uncovered by leaks generally attributed to Putin’s brigade of hackers.
  15. Barack Obama joins Andreessen Horowitz as a partner, and leads a round funding AdjectiveNoun (fictitious, note), one of the most promising ‘driverless management’ startups. He also comes out in support of Oprah Winfrey’s candidacy.
  16. Microsoft acquires Salesforce for $75 billion. Marc Benioff leaves to run philanthropy (amid discussions of political ambitions).
  17. Apple acquires Tesla for $75 billion. Tim Cook announces retirement, Elon Musk becomes CEO.
  18. Despite inaction by the US Federal Government, and chaos in the EPA and Energy Department, CO2 levels continue to fall worldwide. Environmental groups suggest that we may have turned the corner on energy in 2017, because solar is now cheaper than other energy sources in most places in the world. However, global temperatures continues to rise, and many models show that it might take 1000 years to reduce global temperatures.
  19. California and San Francisco, with support from Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and other platform companies, announced a project to convert increasingly unneeded parking lots to small ‘park villages’ with dense, micro-apartment developments, for low-income and homeless residents. Trump-sponsored infrastructure funds are directed to US micro-building factories and a new California Construction Corps, which is strongly supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The state’s program is seen as a blueprint for the rest of the country.
  20. Michael Bloomberg announces plans to create a third ‘Pragmatist’ party, based on economic conservatism and social liberalism, and rapidly attracts a large minority of GOP and Democratic legislators in Washington who have been whipsawed by the 2016 elections, and by the growing discord in both major parties over the future of their platforms. Some project that the Pragmatists could gain as many as 30% of the seats in the House, and as many as 10 governorships in coming years. Bloomberg announces his plans to run for President.

This is how you write predictions.

Edit: I did not write these predictions – it is a reblog of Stowe Boyd. Seems to be some confusion around this. I just liked them!