The Incentive Game

My friend Bob Litan, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is worried about COVID-19 herd immunity. Specifically, Bob worries that the only way our population can reach the 60-70 percent immunity rate required to protect us all from the novel coronavirus is if some people are paid to take the shot. And Bob may be correct: a Gallup poll last month concluded that 35 percent of Americans would refuse to be vaccinated.

Uh-oh.

Bob thinks the way around this problem is to pay people, giving them an economic incentive to do the right thing. This got me thinking about the whole concept of […]

Prediction #4 — Bitcoin stays crazy until traders learn it is not a currency

2017 was a wild ride for cryptocurrencies and for Bitcoin in particular, rising in price at one point above $19,000 only to drop back to a bit over half of that number now. But which number is correct? If only the market can tell for sure — and these numbers are coming straight from the market, remember — what the heck does it all mean? It means Bitcoin isn’t a currency at all but traders are pretending that it is. 2018 will see investors finally figure this out.

Confusion abounds, so let’s cut through the crap with an analogy. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and a ton […]

Apple and Didi is about foreign cash and the future of motoring

DidiAppApple this week invested $1 billion in Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., known as Didi — by far the dominant car-hailing service in China with 300 million customers. While Apple has long admitted being interested in car technology and has deals to put Apple technology into many car lines, this particular investment seems to have been a surprise to most everyone. Analysts and pundits are seeing the investment as a way for Apple to get automotive metadata or even to please the Chinese government. I think it’s more than that. I think it is a potential answer to Apple’s huge problem of foreign cash and a grab for leadership in what may well be […]

Equity crowdfunding finally arrives May 15th: curb your enthusiasm

equitycrowdfundingBack in the spring of 2012 Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act) to make it easier for small companies to raise capital. The Act recognized that nearly all job creation in the U.S. economy comes from new businesses and attempted to accelerate startups by creating whole new ways to fund them. The Act required the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by the end of 2012 to come up with regulations to enable the centerpiece of the Act, equity crowd funding, which would allow any legal U.S. resident to become a venture capitalist. But the regulations weren’t finished by the end of 2012. They weren’t […]

Autodesk’s John Walker explained HP and IBM in 1991

autodeskcoverOne reader of this column in particular has been urging me to abandon for a moment my obsession with IBM and look, instead, at his employer — Hewlett Packard. HP, he tells me, suffers from all the same problems as IBM while lacking IBM’s depth and resources. And he’s correct: HP is a shadow of its former self and probably doomed if it continues to follow its current course. I’ve explained some of this before in an earlier column, and another, and another you might want to re-read. More of HP’s problems are covered in a very fine presentation you can read here. Were […]