The Genius of Rebranding Twitter to X, The Strategy of Seconds – Meta Threads & Uber Future Forecasting With Google Driverless Cars
30 July 2023 Newsletter
“The ability to make good decisions about people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage, since very few organisations are very good at it.” – Peter Drucker
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been a productive week! It began with a CEO who, after a few years, gained absolute clarity on their BHAG and became passionate about its execution, then helping a founder to hire a CEO with a fantastic interview.
Next was cleaning up the mess and steadying the ship after the departure of a Toxic A player, and then a quarterly workshop where we reset and realigned the entire business, rebuilding KPIs and components of the strategy. Again, a productive week.
One of the quotes I heard this week from a person who sold his business for almost half a billion dollars was:
“Recruit better & onboard better, and 90% of the work is done”.
Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google
“July 25, 2023 — As part of its second-quarter earnings announcement today, local transportation and delivery giant Uber announced its biggest bet on autonomous vehicles yet, saying it would purchase 2,500 driverless cars from Google. In addition, the two companies have agreed to a deal in which Uber will share data from its local transportation services with Google, which will use it to further improve its own autonomous car-routing algorithms.”
The above quote is from a TechCrunch article from 26th August 2013.
It was intended to predict the future ten years out (today) and imagine a future based on ideas emanating from each company.
For context, Uber is up 13% (from $41 to $47) since its listing in May 2019, and Google is up 582% (from $22 to $129) since the article was written ten years ago.
It speaks not only to the difficulty in predicting the future, but also to the confidence that silicon valley insiders had in successfully expanding successful offerings into new offerings.
Read the article here: From The Future: Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google
The Genius Of Rebranding Twitter To X
When I was growing up, my mum must have told me 10,000 times, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anyone, then don’t say anything at all.”
In the 37 years since I started my first business, I’ve learned a lot, and the more I learn, the more I understand how much more there is to learn.
And I can’t find anything genius about deleting the 26th most valuable brand in the world that had crossed the threshold to become a verb valued at $5.7 billion last year.
So in the future, I’m eager to know what I can learn about Twitter changing to X.
The Strategy of Seconds: How Meta’s Threads Capitalised on Twitter’s Vulnerability
Twitter changing its name to X might offer a new insight into the recent launch of competitor Threads by Meta. This week, I came across a fantastic article by Kaihan Krippendorf outlining the strategy Meta employed when launching Threads.
From the article:
The world usually pooh-poohs the fast follower for lack of originality. Yet in certain moments, being a follower is exactly the position where you want to be – like when Meta took advantage of a moment of instability inside Twitter (now X) to launch Threads.
Rather than hastily chasing after Twitter from the start, Meta acted at just the right time when factors aligned and reached its key threshold of 100 million users in just five days. There are great lessons here for aspiring fast followers on how to challenge dominant players – choose your entry points wisely and pounce when the time is right.
The Ancient Greeks had two distinct words for time: chronos, the “clock time” which places events in an order with specific amounts of time separating them like hours or days or years, and kairos, the qualitative, anachronistic measure of time that uses moments to determine when something will occur. Chronos says, “I will launch my new venture on July 31, 2023.”
Kairos says, “I will launch my new venture if and when X, Y, and Z prove to be true.” For a follower, using the kairotic definition of time is key.
In the Western business mindset, we often assume the world won’t change unless we act. Eastern philosophy is different—it recognises that the world is constantly changing and knows we can influence change with minimal effort.
Had Meta measured time by chronos, Threads might still be awaiting release. But when factors aligned in kairos, Meta was well-positioned to launch.
A Tale of Determination
This week I came across this short tale of determination. I hope you enjoy it.
It’s the tale of a boy named born Ma Yun in 1964 in China. His parents were music teachers, so his family wasn’t among the most affluent in a city of 10 million inhabitants. Growing up, he was a very curious boy. He was interested in music, certainly, but his real passion was with languages, particularly English. He would spend countless hours listening to his small pocket radio, teaching himself English.
At the age of 12, he would cycle about 27 kilometres to a city hotel that attracted foreign tourists, so he could practice speaking English.
He wasn’t a particularly successful academic student despite his curiosity and determination. He failed his primary school exams twice and his middle school exams thrice. Yet, his failures never deterred him.
At 18, he attempted the national Chinese college entrance exam. His score was a dismal one point in mathematics. Undeterred, he tried again the following year, scoring 19 points – a far cry from the passing score of 95. Despite his family’s opposition and discouragement, he persisted and scored 89 on his third attempt – still insufficient to pass, but reflective of his determined spirit.
Luck also wasn’t on his side, even outside academia. When KFC came to his city, they recruited 23 of the 24 student applicants – he was the one that didn’t get in. When he then applied for the police service, he was the only one among four applicants, they accepted three, and he was rejected. But regardless of these rejections, he wasn’t deterred.
Eventually, due to his excellent self-taught English skills, he got acceptance to his local university. He applied to Harvard Business School ten times, only to be rejected each time. Throughout these trials, he remained determined with his mantra: “We keep fighting, we keep changing, and we never complain.”
In 1995, he visited the United States for a government highway construction project. During this trip, he encountered a computer and the internet for the first time. Both were novelties in China at that time, being both costly and rare. Intrigued, he searched for ‘beer’ and found no search results related to China. He then searched ‘China’ with the same result – nothing.
This experience lit a spark within him to bring the internet to China and the ability to buy things online. After returning home, he assembled a group of 17 friends, fervent supporters who were willing to invest in his new e-commerce venture. That marked the birth of Alibaba.
The boy’s name was Jack Ma.
Alibaba is valued higher than Facebook and processes more goods than eBay and Amazon combined.
Eventually, Jack did return to Harvard Business School, not as a student, but as an invited guest speaker sharing his mantra: “We keep fighting, we keep changing, and we never complain.”
Marketing Vs Sales Out Of Office
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