TheSunnyMag: Decoding the Amazon Paradox & The End of the Web

TheSunnyMagHere goes our weekly magazine of stories curated from around the world. In this edition: How Amazon Trained Its Investors to Behave. Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof. The Forgotten Secrets Of The Enterprise Giants: Virality, Word Of Mouth, And Other Radical Experiments and more.


How Amazon Trained Its Investors to Behave: Amazon was only operating at such a high burn rate because it could. Once investors stopped giving it free money, the company quickly cut back on its investments and its losses. By the fourth quarter of 2001 — that is, within about 21 months — it was turning a profit.

That opportunistic approach to financial markets has defined Amazon since it went public in 1997. And while it has certainly burned many buyers of Amazon shares through the years — Amazon’s stock price took a decade to get back to its 1999 2009 peak — the long-run returns have been spectacular. In Morten T. Hansen, Herminia Ibarra, and Urs Peyer latest ranking of long-run CEO performance in HBR, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos now ranks No. 2, behind the late Steve Jobs, with an industry-adjusted shareholder return of 12,266% during his tenure.

So when Amazon reports below-consensus earnings, as it did Tuesday, and the share price jumps, as it did after-hours Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, the reaction isn’t quite the puzzle it seems. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias cracked that “Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers.” More here

New new world

Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof:  Not all great content goes viral, but (with the exception of awesomely terrible videos) content that does go viral is great. No one can guarantee that any piece of content will take the web by storm, but we can make sure that a piece of content has what it takes.

Long-time citizens of the web can often tell from a first-reading or viewing that a piece is going to explode, but why? Opinions about what it takes to be viral are easy to come by, but let’s look at the facts with data to prove it. Read here.


The Forgotten Secrets Of The Enterprise Giants: Virality, Word Of Mouth, And Other Radical Experiments: I would strongly encourage everybody who competes with Expensify to study Roman Stanek’s latest article, “Forget Virality, Selling Enterprise Software Is Still Old School”. To everyone else, I’d offer an opposing view: Enterprise sales is undergoing the most radical shakeup since the turn of the century, and today’s experiments will be tomorrow’s best practices, writes David Barrett, the CEO and Founder of Expensify. Indeed, we often forget that today’s “best practices” were once the radical experiments of their day. Rewind any great business and you’ll usually find a crazy, high-risk, totally radical startup. And all the things that are said about today’s startups were said about theirs, too — by people whose names we’ve long forgotten. More here.


How Apple sets its prices:  Comparison-shopping for new electronics can be fun and addictive. With a bit of patience, some luck, and an eye for good deals, you can find everything from TV sets to hard drives at a significant discount. In fact, in our economy, discounts are one of the primary mechanisms that retailers use to compete against each other.

But all bets are off if you happen to be in the market for a product made by Apple: Both iOS devices and Macs seem to be impervious to the discount game. In fact it’s so rare to find a significant price variance between retailers that, when it does happen, the event usually draws considerable press coverage.With so many laws regulating competition among retailers, how does Apple pull off this amazing feat? Find out here.

As E-Book Sales Rise, Apple iPad Bests Amazon Kindle: Nobody can predict the future, but Amazon thinks that when it comes to e-books, the writing is on the wall. “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, released Tuesday. “After five years, e-books [are] a multibillion-dollar category for us and growing fast—up approximately 70 percent last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just five percent.” Read more here.


Do we need to talk about suicide? A very popular founder named Jody Sherman died this week. He was the founder of Ecomom, and had a wonderful reputation for being relentlessly positive, driven and fun, writes Jason Calacanis. We weren’t close friends, but we were friends. I’ve received dozens of emails from him over the past two years, and he was on my podcast once. We had a 100 friends in common, as he was a human router who left an impression. But he didn’t just die, he killed himself. Read more here.

Strain, Stresses and Pressures inside the Startup Cauldron: All of these guys were relatively young, and stars in their own right. All of them probably faced different stresses, and had their own ‘reasons’ – not that anything justifies this kind of a step. But these are serious, avoidable losses in more ways than one, writes Sameer on NextBigWhat about the recent deaths in the Tech world. Why did they happen? We don’t know. We won’t even try guessing – the mind is too complex a thing for us to fathom, and we’re not equipped or qualified either. But we do see problems at the level of the individual once in a while as we interact with so many folks. More here. More here.

Big picture

The End of Web, Search and Computer as we Know it: People ask what the next web will be like, but there won’t be a next web.The space-based web we currently have will gradually be replaced by a time-based worldstream. It’s already happening, and it all began with the lifestream, a phenomenon that I (with Eric Freeman) predicted in the 1990s and shared in the pages of Wired almost exactly 16 years ago.

This lifestream — a heterogeneous, content-searchable, real-time messaging stream — arrived in the form of blog posts and RSS feeds, Twitter and other chatstreams, and Facebook walls and timelines. Its structure represented a shift beyond the “flatland known as the desktop” (where our interfaces ignored the temporal dimension) towards streams, which flow and can therefore serve as a concrete representation of time.

It’s a bit like moving from a desktop to a magic diary: Picture a diary whose pages turn automatically, tracking your life moment to moment … Until you touch it, and then, the page-turning stops. The diary becomes a sort of reference book: a complete and searchable guide to your life. Put it down, and the pages start turning again. More here.

The Bill Gates annual letter: I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition, writes Bill Gates inhis 2013 annual letter. “We can learn a lot about improving the world in the 21st century from an icon of the industrial era: the steam engine. Read the full letter here,” wrote Gates. Read the full letter here.


50 Most Innovative Countries: When you think about the most innovative countries, the U.S. and South Korea often come to mind. But what about Iceland or Iran? How do they compare? Bloomberg Rankings recently examined more than 200 countries and sovereign regions to determine their innovation quotient. The final universe was narrowed down to 96. What follows is the top 50. While the United States ranked Number 1 in the index followed by South Korea and Germany, India was no where in the list. More here.

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