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#126 - WeWork Deep Dive, Business Ideas, Links

QUOTE OF THE WEEK


"Perhaps it is one secret of their [bankers'] power that, having studied the fluctuations of prices, they know that history is inflationary, and that money is the last thing a wise man will hoard." - Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History



FOOD FOR THOUGHT


WeWork - Deep Dive Pt. II


This week, I published a piece I've been working on with Capital Technologies' Quant Team and my friend Neil O'Donnell where we explore and speculate on WeWork's current financial outlook and what it might take to salvage the business. Give it a read if you're interested in the WeWork saga, the business of real estate, and a case study on how not to allocate capital!


Interesting Business Ideas


I've started asking a new question during the final section of my podcast that has yielded several interesting answers. The question is "What business doesn't exist, but needs to?"


This week, I wanted to share two answers in particular that I thought were amazing, and that deserve some attention from the entrepreneurs out there:


1) Arbitration for online small business reviews (via Trish Higgins, upcoming episode)


Problem: small businesses don't have a lot of control over how they are portrayed online besides simply trying to perform their service or deliver their products as effectively as possible. After the ball leaves their court per se, they have no control over what their customers can or can't say online. According to Trish, her portfolio companies have been wrongly accused of bad service or bad products, and even outright blackmailed by customers who just wanted their money back - 'or else they'd leave a terrible review.' This is a large problem for small businesses who have neither 1) the time or 2) the money to pay someone to arbitrate customer disputes all day. At some point, it just makes sense to refund the money to keep brand equity in tact and avoid negative reviews, but this doesn't seem to be an optimal solution for small business owners.


Solution: a platform that somehow incentivizes 3rd party arbiters to arbitrate between an unsatisfied customer and a business that claims to have performed its service or produced its good to its expected standards. I'm honestly unsure how you would incentivize this type of outsourced arbitration and customer service, but it is a massive problem in small business, where most business owners don't get much of a say in how customers portray their experiences online.


2) Concierge service platform for nonprofits (via Brent Beshore, upcoming episode)


Problem: it is incredibly hard to know what non-profits do, how effective they are, and what non-profits are even out there addressing certain problem areas.


Solution: a platform that grades and tracks non-profits nationally in various categories, and uses its database to steward large donors towards the most productive use of their capital based on the donor's objectives, geography, and capital availability.


Do these companies exist? If so, shoot me a note! If not, someone should take their shot!



LINKS


Investing


Ray Dalio on declining interest rates (Masters in Business)


Reflections on 100 baggers (Chris Mayer)


How to hire a CEO to run your company (Andrew Wilkinson)


How Yeti survived the pandemic (Cheryl Wischhover)


Buy now pay later - the business of credit cards (Net Interest)


Technology


Uber Founder Turns Real-Estate Mogul for Ghost Kitchen Startup (Wall Street Journal)


United States vs. Google (Stratechery)


Early work (Paul Graham)


Waymo is opening its driverless taxi service to the public (Waymo)


The rise of the canonical stack in machine learning (Towards Data Science)


Audiotech's opportunity and who will capture it (Matthew Ball)


E-commerce is a bear (Andy Dunn)


Real Estate


The WeWork Arc (The Diff)


Why category leading brick and mortar retailers are likely the biggest long term Covid beneficiaries (Gavin Baker)


Blackstone's BioMed recap (Pitchbook)


The future of real estate in NYC (Curbed)


Chris Powers interviews Barry Davis of Enlink (The Fort Podcast)


3.7M may lose their home due to evictions according to the Census Bureau (The Real Deal)


Geopolitics and Economics


How pandemics extinguished an empire (New Statesman)


A constitutional crisis in the making? (Absolute Return Partners)


The end of monetary and fiscal policy as we know it (Raoul Pal)


A more sensible approach to fixing healthcare (Dan Crenshaw)


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