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Author Archives: Kevin

  • Uber Is Headed for a Crash
    Some very good reasons why Uber will fail.

    But, but, but — you may say — Uber has established a large business in cities over the world. Yes, it’s easy to get a lot of traffic by selling at a discount. Uber is subsidizing ride costs. Across all its businesses, Uber was providing services at only roughly 74 percent of their cost in its last quarter. Uber was selling its services at only roughly 64 percent of their cost in 2017, with a GAAP profit margin of negative 57 percent. As a reference point, in its worst four quarters, Amazon lost $1.4 billion on $2.8 billion in sales, for a negative margin of 50 percent. Amazon reacted by firing over 15 percent of its workers.

  • High score, low pay: why the gig economy loves gamification
    Along the same vein, here’s a look at a Lyft driver and a discussion at what drives them to drive more.

    But one week, after completing what felt like a million rides, I opened my feedback summary to discover that my rating had plummeted from a 4.91 (“Awesome”) to a 4.79 (“OK”), without comment. Stunned, I combed through my ride history trying to recall any unusual interactions or disgruntled passengers. Nothing. What happened? What did I do? I felt sick to my stomach.

    Because driver ratings are calculated using your last 100 passenger reviews, one logical solution is to crowd out the old, bad ratings with new, presumably better ratings as fast as humanly possible. And that is exactly what I did.

  • Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complex as His Superheroes
    With the death of Stan Lee, the tributes are coming out. Here’s one that is not so flattering of him. I heard Stan Lee talk last year and he was a very entertaining and engaging speaker. I thought that that was a skill that he picked up as he got older (and out of the direct work of creating superheroes). But I guess that has been a talent of his since day 1.

    Yet Kirby’s legacy and Lee’s proved to be inextricable. Marvel fans noticed a creative malaise after Kirby defected, a period that coincided with Lee stepping back from Marvel’s creative fare and moving to California to establish what would eventually become, after many fits, starts, and incarnations, Marvel Studios. Kirby fans reading the Fourth World noticed that despite Kirby’s unparalleled visuals and creations, his dialogue and characterization just weren’t up to par with Kirby’s Lee-scripted Marvel work. Kirby ended up returning to Marvel in 1975 for a half-hearted reunion.

  • What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?
    I don’t know who Darius Miles is and I don’t know what happened to him. So I thought this article was going to be a self-written essay about how he lost all of his money. But no, it’s a somewhat behind the scenes report of his short career in the NBA and what happened after he left. Oh well, there’s 20 minutes lost

    I knew I was speeding. So I pull over, and I roll the window down, and I’m reaching over into the glove compartment to get my papers ….

    … Then I hear this voice. Big, booming voice.

    “WHERE YOU G’WAN, BOY?”

    I’m like, Damn, they got the sergeant on me or something?

    I turn to look out the window, and I can’t even see this dude’s face he’s so big. All I see is his chest.

    “I SAID WHERE YOU G’WAN BOY?”

    Then he bends down and looks in the window.

    Big, dumbass grin on his face.

    It’s Shaq.

    I’m like, “Yo! I’m going to practice! You made me late!”

    He don’t miss a beat. He taps side of my truck, turns around and says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay your fine. Just holler at me.”

    I’m looking in the rearview mirror, like, How the hell …

    Shaq’s got one of those old-school police lights that you put on the hood of your car like you see on C.O.P.S.

    He gets in, laughing his ass off, waving at me.

  • The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy

    I’m not sure I should feel sorry for this guy. He tried to rip off the company where he worked at (the article doesn’t propose any alternate rationale for his actions), and the company pursued him relentlessly from using their IP.

    Appearing without a lawyer and clutching a plastic bag full of documents, Xu cut a pitiful figure. “The defendant has already been punished once,” he told the judge, undercounting by one. “It is excessive to punish him again.” He disputed whether the trading strategies were really as valuable, years later, as the hedge fund claimed.

    While the courts processed the cases against him, Xu was granted bail. He walked out of Harmondsworth Detention Centre this March 16, three years and seven months after he was first incarcerated. His first act as a free man was to order a family bucket from Kentucky Fried Chicken. The same day, Allen & Overy wrote to British immigration authorities asking them to take “all necessary steps” to keep Xu in the country.