Restaurants and food trucks are both about to be obliterated by Peach and Uber Eats. The whole restaurant industry is quaking over this; it’s why you’ve seen some big restaurants starting up food trucks. But that won’t save them. The entire food truck industry is about to go tango uniform, disrupted by food delivery just as it was getting off the ground. Trucks will never disappear completely, because they can make money in local venues in good weather. But they’re not where the real money is. The best profit for small business owners now lies in food delivery.
But fourth, last, and probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused. They’ve made a weak attempt to pivot from this, with their new internal slogan “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” But unfortunately it’s just lip service. It’s not that they don’t care. The problem is that their incentive structure isn’t aligned for focusing on their customers, so they wind up being too busy and it always gets deprioritized. A slogan isn’t good enough. It takes real effort to set aside time regularly for every employee to interact with your customers. Instead they play the dangerous but easier game of using competitor activity as a proxy for what customers really need. This is where their incentives are focused. Google incentivizes successful feature and product launches, and by far the easiest, safest way to produce those is by copying competitors.
Defining “impact” is a massive work-in-process for me, a little more abstract than I would like and perhaps more subjective than I realize. All of the companies I list above (with help from my friends) are dramatically impactful yet none of them deliver on social good in the classic “save the world” sense. They make their customers lives easier, happier, more fulfilled and/or more productive. They define categories and if their products and services were to disappear, well their customers would scream.
The reason that too many dollars are chasing too few opportunities is because the anatomy of traditional venture capital hasn’t changed in the past 30 years. Face-to-face interactions and human judgement, followed by (at best) a few thin Excel models and relationship-driven diligence creates a high propensity for bias and a low propensity for scale. This is a classic example of a sector ripe for disruption. Today, every industry is being revolutionized by the application of data: from healthcare to logistics to media and beyond. If the operative question is whether early-stage investment decisions can be better made with data than intuition, using virtually every other discipline as a guide the answer is almost certainly yes.
So get your fucking shit together once Hillary is the nominee, unless your ego and need to talk about stuff at your organic locally grown dinner parties for the next four years is greater than your respect for and compassion for the people who would suffer terribly under a GOP presidency and the Supreme Court for the next 10 to 40 years.