First and Best Customer

June 20, 2017

This is an excellent article discussing Amazon’s strategy with the Whole Foods purchase and why most people aren’t looking at it the right way.

The Amazon fulfillment centers for product distribution and AWS for cloud computing are large scale projects. They have huge initial costs but benefit tremendously from scale. One reason they succeeded is that Amazon itself was the “first and best customer” of those services, guaranteeing large scale.

Amazon is building out a delivery network with itself as the first-and-best customer; in the long run it seems obvious said logistics services will be exposed as a platform.

This, though, is what was missing from Amazon’s grocery efforts: there was no first-and-best customer. Absent that, and given all the limitations of groceries, AmazonFresh was doomed to be eternally sub-scale.

That’s where Whole Foods makes sense. If Amazon wants to build Amazon Grocery Services, they need a first and best customer. You don’t normally think of an acquisition in terms of buying your customer, but that’s what just happened.



Urban Recycling

June 19, 2017

My oldest daughter just finished 8th grade at Brooklyn Friends School. She’s been there since pre-K and one thing I found interesting was that in Lower School (K-4) they have woodworking class. And it’s for real woodworking. They have very young kids using very sharp tools, including power versions, and no one gets hurt (at least to my knowledge). Both my daughters loved woodworking and neither are particularly into that sort of thing, so the teacher must be doing something right.

One year (3rd grade?) the project was to build a chair with whatever creative thing you wanted to add to it, so my daughter build a bench like chair with a cow head that swiveled. Imagine a very sturdy small bench with a carved cow head, painted white with black spots. And it was really sturdy. Pretty good for a 3rd grader.

We have a regular homeless person on our block. An older Asian woman who is clearly not all there, but crazy in a mostly harmless sort of way. She camps out in front of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church on the corner (doesn’t everyone have one of those?). She does some clean up and other stuff for the church and the church clearly looks out for her as do the other local businesses and most folks. Crazy but our crazy. Welcome to Brooklyn.

My daughter is leaving for sleep-away camp for four weeks. I know people do this all the time at earlier ages and for longer, but this is a big deal for us. Four weeks without her will be really strange. While she’s out we want to paint her room. We want to push all the furniture to the middle of the room and throw a big drop cloth over it. But it’s not that big a room, so we needed her to get rid of a bunch of old stuff.

She did great and threw out a ton of stuff. The cow bench got pitched.

In Brooklyn garbage goes out front. We are in a large building with 58 units, so it’s a bunch of garbage. It goes out in the evening and is picked up early in the morning.

Our homeless lady now has the cow bench.

The swivel head is gone, but without that it’s basically a very sturdy small bench. Ideal for her during the day. It’s just hard not to chuckle as I walk past.

Urban recycling.

Bike Share Around The World

June 11, 2017

Not sure why, but I find this fascinating. Real time map of bike share activity around the world.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

May 31, 2017

Once again, Origami Risk has been named one of the Best and Brightest companies to work for in Chicago and Atlanta (our two largest offices). Nationwide awards will be announced soon.

Chicago winners

Atlanta winners

I don’t see any of our competitors, all of whom have big offices in Chicago and/or Atlanta, on these lists. Hmm…

AlphaGo Go

May 25, 2017

Google’s AlphaGo software just beat the world #1 Go player. And it’s getting better:

“Last year, it was still quite humanlike when it played,” Mr. Ke said after the game. “But this year, it became like a god of Go.”

Nothing Matters

May 24, 2017

I enjoy reading Dr. Aaron Carroll on Twitter, the blog The Incidental Economist or the excellent YouTube series Healthcare Triage. You should at least follow the last one. When he’s frustrated (which seems to be often these days) he tends to tweet “nothing matters”.

That came to mind today. I’ve been avoid political posts because, well, nothing matters. But these two items leaped out:


We’d be fine with schools discriminating against women and blacks if it weren’t for those pesky Title IX and Civil Rights laws…

Happy Birthday Brooklyn Bridge

May 24, 2017

My favorite bridge is 134 today. Brownstoner has a post with their ten most popular Instagram pictures of the bridge. Click the link for all of them, but this was #1:

Perfect timing. #bk #Brooklyn #brooklynbridge #photography #photooftheday photo by @golden2dew

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