Loyalty first: Why tech companies are clamoring to give you credit cards

Shakeel Hashim:

The battle to own your wallet is on as tech companies find new ways to make more money from their users. In the process, they could reshape the banking industry.

Shopify wants businesses to use its warehouses. Venmo wants to embed itself in everyday life. Razer wants to use its diehard fanbase to grow even more.

Those are among the justifications that tech companies described to Protocol for trying to fill a coveted spot in your wallet with credit and debit cards. All are working to the same end: To make more money per user while also growing those ranks. But as they do so, they’re also embarking on a line of business that stands to reshape the banking sector as we know it.

After Apple kicked off this trend with its titanium Apple Card last year, a flood of other companies have followed suit. Venmo and Razer recently launched cards, and Samsung and Shopify are set to release theirs later this year. EBay told Protocol it’s considering something similar, and Google is also rumored to be making its own plans.

For these tech companies, payments are a “means to an end,” said Jorn Lambert, Mastercard’s chief digital officer. At the heart of it, he says, is consumer fickleness toward digital platforms: While people may swap apps or phones all the time, they tend to be much more loyal to their financial institutions. When a tech company introduces a card or bank account, Lambert said, they get “much more stickiness” with their customers.

“There’s something about being able to build a financial relationship with the customer that allows you to streamline the … transactional activity that you have on the customer,” Marqeta Chief Product Officer Kevin Doerr said. “Once you’ve been able to secure that,” he added, “the ability to stack products on that, to stack services on that … just becomes easier and easier.”

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The WeWork Arc

The Diff:

WeWork is an ideal company for a business book. Per my general theory of business books, the ideal recipe for a satisfying narrative about business is:

  1. A classic Greek tragedy, where the hero is undone by his own hubris, and

  2. Lots of people with free time to talk to an author, who have a vested interest in telling their side of the story.

WeWork has both. The company’s financial history sounds like an extended roulette session: every year, the company doubled in size, until 2019, when it shrank to almost zero. And the story is tied to the ambition of a single founder, Adam Neumann, whose sales ability and indifference to risk propelled the company to a $47bn valuation and then led to its near-collapse.

WeWork got a lot of media coverage, slowly on the way up and then much more frequently on the way down, and now the story has been told in the just-published Billion Dollar Loser.

One thing the book’s narrative makes clear is that WeWork was not just a creation of the venture capital market of the late 2010s. It was also a creation of the labor and real estate markets of the early 2010s. WeWork’s founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, started a predecessor company called Green Desk in early 2008, leasing office space in a building in Brooklyn and subleasing smaller units. (In a memorable exchange, Neumann pitched this idea as a way for his landlord to get some use out of vacant space. The landlord said “You know nothing about real estate,” and Neumann replied “Your building is empty. What do you know about real estate.”)

How to hide from a drone – the subtle art of ‘ghosting’ in the age of surveillance

Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick:

The first thing you can do to hide from a drone is to take advantage of the natural and built environment. It’s possible to wait for bad weather, since smaller devices like those used by local police have a hard time flying in high winds, dense fogs and heavy rains.

Trees, walls, alcoves and tunnels are more reliable than the weather, and they offer shelter from the high-flying drones used by the Department of Homeland Security.

The World Henry Ford Made

Justin Vassallo:

Forging Global Fordism: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest over the Industrial Order

Stefan J. Link

Princeton University Press, $39.95 (cloth)

The utopian ideal of globalization has imploded over the past decade. Rising demand in Western countries for greater state control over the economy reflects a range of grievances, from a chronic shortage of well-compensated work to a sense of national decline. In the United States, the dearth of domestic supply chains exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened alarm over the acute infrastructural weaknesses decades of outsourced production have created. Post-industrial society, rather than an advanced stage of shared affluence, is not only more unequal but fundamentally insecure. Rich but increasingly oligarchic countries are experiencing what we might call, following scholars of democratization, a dramatic “de-consolidation” of development.

Civics: Judge & Jury: Stifling Dissent on Youtube (Google), etc.

Olina Banerji:

The Byju’s-WhiteHat Jr duo have weaponised opaque yet stringent copyright infringement rules on social media to their own benefit

One of Pradeep Poonia’s YouTube videos criticising WhiteHat Jr was taken down; Aniruddha Malpani was booted out of LinkedIn

Poonia, Malpani claim Byju’s is targeting their critical posts through third-party anti-piracy firms, taking down posts they deem unviable

Platform rules have made entities judge and jury, despite claims of neutrality; legal complaints, a shift to other channels seem to be only recourse

Two individuals from two different walks of life have challenged the prowess of edtech giants Byju’s and WhiteHat Jr. But a system of strategic social media takedowns—of posts and people—threatens their right to dissent and criticise

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Google Services, including Madison.

Posted in Uncategorized.

86% of U.S. teens own an iPhone, 89% want one


Both the 86% iPhone ownership and 89% intention to purchase an iPhone metrics are record highs for our Teen Survey, up from 85% and 88%, respectively, in Spring-20. We believe the increased penetration and intention are incredibly important for a maturing premium smartphone market. In addition, these trends are encouraging ahead of Apple’s 5G iPhone launch, which could provide a significant product cycle refresh.

Also, the Apple Watch continues to be the top smartwatch among teens. The Apple Watch ownership was 25%, flat from the Spring-20 survey. We view the market share consistency as a great example of the company’s ability to drive hardware sales in the wearables/accessories market. Finally, we think these positive hardware trends can be a catalyst for further services growth, as the hardware installed based for Apple continues to grow.

Author Ivan Margolius on a chilling personal connection to classic Tatra cars

Radio Prague International, via Roman Meliška:

Tatra’s futuristic-looking, aerodynamic cars, which first appeared on the roads in the 1930s, represent some of the most distinctive designs ever produced in Czechoslovakia. These now classic cars were not the only thing Tatra made; as well as their well-known trucks, the company based in Kop?ivnice, Moravia also turned out planes, military vehicles and even the stunning Slovak Arrow train.

However, cars are the main focus of the book Tatra: The Legacy of Hans Ledwinka by Ivan Margolius and John G. Henry, which has just come out in Czech for the first time. Margolius’s father Rudolf Margolius was executed in the notorious Slánsky show trial when Ivan was a small boy and in the 1960s he moved to London, where he became an architect.

He shared a startling family connection to Tatra, and lots of fascinating information on the company’s history, in this interview from his home in the UK.

The title of the book is Tatra: The Legacy of Hans Ledwinka. Who was Hans Ledwinka?