Greta Thunberg “Brushed Off” Need to Know Economics

(p. A7) DAVOS, Switzerland — Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, spent this week inside the halls of power at the World Economic Forum, . . .

. . .

Speaking to reporters just before the march set off, Ms. Thunberg and four youth activists from Europe and Africa rebuked business and government leaders at the World Economic Forum for not taking climate action and warned that they would continue to press them to stop investing in fossil fuels. Those demands, Ms. Thunberg noted, “have been completely ignored.”

Asked about a suggestion by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that she learn economics in college before calling for divestment, Ms. Thunberg brushed off such criticisms as irrelevant. “If we care about that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” she said.

For the full story, see:

Somini Sengupta. “Teenage Activist Joins Climate March on Last Day at Forum.” The New York Times (Saturday, January 25, 2020): A7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 24, 2020, and has the title “Greta Thunberg Joins Climate March on Her Last Day in Davos.”)

Clayton Christensen Wrote Well on Innovation

Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Solution (co-authored with Michael Raynor) was packed with insights and examples on how entrepreneurs and incumbent firms innovate. He wrote several other thought-provoking and useful books, starting with his now-famous The Innovator’s Dilemma. Just a few days ago, I told one of my students from Africa that he should read Christensen’s latest book, which gives wonderful examples of how entrepreneurial innovation in developing countries can help them prosper.

This evening (Thurs., Jan. 24, 2020) I was discouraged to receive an email alert from the Wall Street Journal saying that Christensen died today.

A year or so ago, I sent him a late draft of my Openness to Creative Destruction, which references his work several times. He never responded. Maybe he already was too ill to look at it, or maybe he didn’t like it. I’ll never know. But either way, I thank him for all that his books taught me about innovation.

Christensen’s best book is:

Christensen, Clayton M., and Michael E. Raynor. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

Christensen’s best-known book is:

Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business. New York: Harper Books, 2000.

Christensen’s most recent book is:

Christensen, Clayton M., Efosa Ojomo, and Karen Dillon. The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations out of Poverty. New York: HarperBusiness Press, 2019.

Flying Cars Face “a Long Road to Regulatory Approval”

(p. B3) Curtiss Autoplane. Fulton Airphibian. Taylor Aerocar.

Businesses and entrepreneurs have been promising a mass-produced flying car for more than a century. None have succeeded, but that hasn’t stopped Hyundai and Uber from wanting in on the action.

. . .

. . . there is a long road to regulatory approval. According to Morgan Stanley, air taxis will probably be used first in package delivery, which has fewer technical and regulatory barriers.

For the full story, see:

Niraj Chokshi. “Hail a Flying Car? Soon, Hyundai and Uber Say.” The New York Times (Wednesday, January 8, 2020): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 7, 2020, and has the title “Where’s Your Flying Car? Hyundai and Uber Say They’re Working on It.”)

Facebook’s “Lord of the Rings” Defense of Free Speech

(p. B1) On Dec. 30, [2019] Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Mr. Trump. But citing the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Mr. Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire.

“I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result,” he wrote. “So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment.

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he said, misspelling the name of the character Galadriel. “As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

For the full story, see:

Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac. “Agonizing at Facebook Over Trump.” The New York Times (Wednesday, January 8, 2020): B1 & B7.

(Note: bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Jan. 7, 2020, and has the title “Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns.”)

Entrepreneurs Dream of Transportation Breakthroughs

(p. A13) “Hop, Skip, Go” seems to be the result of an extended reporting trip, during which the authors chat with would-be game-changers from Los Angeles to Helsinki to Dubai to Guangzhou, offering futuristic punditry along the way.

. . .

The authors have tracked down entrepreneurs who are following their dreams of shaking up passenger transportation. In Shanghai, we meet Joseph Xie, whose Shanghai Quality Sensor Technology Corp. specializes in tiny semiconductors that sense light, sound and motion and have a wide application for autonomous vehicles, among other uses. In the Detroit area, R.J. Scaringe’s company, Rivian, aims to build electric cars and recently captured a $500 million investment from Ford. In Helsinki, an engineering student named Sonja Heikkilä wrote a thesis proposing a mobility app that would allow subscribers access to every sort of conveyance, from dockless scooters to rental cars. Mark Moore, a former NASA researcher now with an Uber venture called Uber Air, envisions small aircraft allowing users to fly over traffic jams within a decade.

For the full review, see:

Marc Levinson. “BOOKSHELF; Going Mobile.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, December 3, 2019): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 2, 2019, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Hop, Skip, Go’ Review: Going Mobile.”)

The book under review, is:

Rossant, John, and Stephen Baker. Hop, Skip, Go: How the Mobility Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives. New York: Harper Business, 2019.

Venture Capitalist Don Valentine Was Rare Early Backer of Apple

(p. A9) In the mid 1960s, Don Valentine had a hunch that startups using silicon semiconductors, then a new technology, would thrive. After failing to persuade his employer, Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., that it should invest in some of its more promising customers, Mr. Valentine decided to invest on his own.

His hobby became Sequoia Capital, which over the following five decades has built an unrivaled record of venture capital investing, betting early on Atari and Apple Inc. in the 1970s, Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. in the 1980s, Yahoo! and Google in the 1990s, Airbnb Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. in the 2000s, and Stripe Inc., Square Inc. and WhatsApp this decade.

Mr. Valentine handed the reins to a new generation of investors in 1996, but the firm still operates in his image—as a team of hard-nosed investors willing to butt heads inside company boardrooms and who relentlessly question each other and those seeking their capital.

. . .

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell says Mr. Valentine was by far his best board member. “We fought like cats and dogs,” recalled Mr. Bushnell. “Steel sharpens steel. Every board meeting, he would ask me a question about my company that I didn’t know but I immediately knew that I should know it.”

Mr. Bushnell introduced Mr. Valentine to a young Atari employee named Steve Jobs, who had an idea for a personal computer but whom other investors wouldn’t back, in part because of his messy appearance.

Mr. Valentine said in the 2009 interview that one of Sequoia’s secrets was its Socratic method, in which partners constantly questioned one another. He recalled in the same interview that Mr. Jobs stood out as one of the “best interrogators” he ever saw. “Somehow or other, he knew what to focus on and how to build a sequence and series of questions that were additive to the answers.”

For the full obituary, see:

Rolfe Winkler. “Venture Capitalist Gave Entrepreneurs Tough Love.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, November 2, 2019): A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Oct. 27, 2019, and has the title “Venture Capital Pioneer Kept Entrepreneurs’ Egos in Check.”)