Jeremy Hurst: Value, Improvement & Curiosity — Issue #64

Unbundling vs rebundling. Skins on skins on skins. Talking shit. The pedagogy of conflict. Are you in the job loop or the knowledge loop?

Business & Money

The internet has enabled what many refer to as “the great unbundling.” That is, previously bundled services have been broken down into constituent parts. Take newspapers for example. These outlets used to consist of news, entertainment, classifieds and advertising. Now we have media firms still handling news and entertainment, but the classifieds and advertising have been syphoned off by digital upstarts. Craigslist has swallowed up much of the classified, sites like Zillow & Redfin handle real estate listings, job postings are handled by Monster & Linkedin, and digital ads have been taken over by Google & Facebook. Because distribution costs have basically gone to zero on the internet, consumers can circumnavigate the large incumbents and seek out exactly what they’re looking for at any given time.

What’s interesting, though, is that I’d say we’re now in an era of re-bundling. In music for example, we saw the unbundling era when consumers stopped purchasing full albums in favor of single tracks via Napster, Limewire, Kazaa and more legitimately Apple’s iTunes. But now we have the “all-you-can-eat” models of Spotify and Apple Music. We haven’t returned to full albums, but instead now get the entire catalogue of all music in existence for a low monthly fee. As it turns out, the modern bundle is far bigger than the bundle of yesteryear.

And bundles are a great thing. Let’s take a quick moment to look at bundle economics to understand why. Let’s pretend we operating a lemonade stand. We sell lemonade and sugar cookies (I know, not your run of the mill lemonade stand 😉 ). Customer A is willing to pay $1 for lemonade and $3 for a cookie, while customer B is willing to pay $1 for a cookie and $3 for lemonade. If we sell items a la carte, we maximize revenue by pricing both lemonade and cookies at $3 each. If both customers visit our stand today, we’ll pocket $6 (we sell one of each item) and both leave slightly unsatisfied. However, if we create a cookie + lemonade bundle for $4, both customers will gladly buy the bundle, allowing us realize $8 of revenue. Both people are happier and we make more money.

So bundles are a great thing, as long as they are driving significant value. And I’d say that the bundles of today are getting more and more valuable to drive customer loyalty. Amazon Prime is a great example. It started as a free shipping service, and has now grown to include streaming video, music, free ebooks and who knows what else. And while many of these services that are not obviously complementary, they add value to the overall bundle none the less.

Human Progress

What do my fingernail,


and an impala

have in common? They all share a brownish/tan coloration…

That, and the fact that my fingernail, Dutch’s beautiful coat and the horns of an Impala are all made up a protein called keratin. Here’s a great example of how nature restructures and repackages molecules for use in different ways.

If nature can do it, why can’t we? Of course we do employ this strategy on a massive scale already if you think about materials like plastics and metals. But what I’m talking about here is reusing purely natural molecules and compounds for new purposes. James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences, has taken this idea to heart. Apeel takes all of our plant scraps (think peels, stems, leaves, etc), blends them up, and finally extracts certain molecules from this organic milkshake. They then dip fresh produce in this extract and allows it to dry, leaving a thin imperceptible layer of plant material on the surface of the produce. This process slows down the rate that water evaporates out and stops oxygen from getting in, ultimately increasing shelf life up to 5x.

In other words, use old skins, to create new skins to protect the current skins of plants… Kind of meta, but I like it. 😎


I think it’s perfectly ok not to like someone. There’s no rule saying that you have to like everyone you deal with. That said, speaking negatively about other people at length does not seem like a valuable activity. I write this because I spent a considerable amount of time over the last week speaking negatively about some one. If I had to add up the time, it was perhaps 30 minutes in total. 30 minutes?!?! I feel a bit disgusted with myself when I think about it. That’s 30 minutes that could have been devoted to just about anything else. 30 minutes I won’t get back.

And let’s not pretend like any of us is perfect. It’s normal to get irritated or frustrated with other people. But when this momentary response turns into 30 minutes of shit talking, something’s not right.

As someone who has made a concerted effort to to be more present and mindful via meditation and regular reflection, this was a serious lapse. Clearly much work remains to be done.

My Latest Discovery

Do you ever get the feeling from a work of art where you are stopped cold in your tracks and immediately want to experience it again? That’s what happened to me while listening to a podcast on Saturday morning during breakfast. The art in this instance came in the form of a poem from Pádraig Ó Tuama. When I heard it, I dropped my fork and sat back on couch not sure whether to keep eating or morn the fallen from some tragedy unbeknownst to me.

After a few moments I felt it was mandatory to understand a bit of the context. Pádraig hails from northern Ireland and witnessed first hand the violent conflict that existed in the twentieth century in that region regarding the status of Northern Ireland. In short, there were Irish nationalists on one side, mostly Catholics, that wanted Northern Ireland to be rejoined with the rest of the country for one united nation. In opposition were the Protestant Irish that were loyal to Britain and wanted to maintain a political union with the UK. No need for a ton of detail here, but that quick backdrop helps to color the context for this poignant composition. Here it is (I intentionally put the link so that you can hear his voice as plain text does not do it justice):

Question Of The Week

Are you stuck in the job loop

or the knowledge loop?

Check out Albert Wenger’s blog post for more context on the question.

It’s A Wrap!

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