Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Tony Hsieh, former Zappos CEO and ‘tremendous visionary,’ dies at 46

Anne says: You may have seen the news about this already – Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”), former CEO and founder of Zappos, passed away last week. There are many tributes from other entrepreneurs and people who knew Tony, but I think one of the key business impacts he created has been eloquently captured by Gaping Void and the work they did with Zappos, led by Tony, on culture. Their ten insights from their work:

  1. Business is about human potential.
  2. The end result of building a great culture is a magnetic brand.
  3. A quiet determination, a fearlessness to do things differently, and without regard for convention…
  4. Transparency.
  5. Try anything.
  6. Insatiable curiosity.
  7. Forcing change.
  8. Generosity.
  9. The power of thoughtful introverts.
  10. Quirk and Language.

In our current disruptive times, I find these insights even more relevant than in what used to be normal business, pre-COVID19. Meanwhile, get an expanded perspective on culture and business from the Gaping Void range they have generously have shared from their images developed for Zappos. It’s a further insight into the culture and business attitude at Zappos, a credit to Tony and his team.
There’s plenty of other obituaries and reviews of Tony’s contributions to not just Zappos but his life before Zappos.

Readhttps://mailchi.mp/gapingvoid/thank-you-for-delivering-wow?e=34fbbe54ac

How Microsoft crushed Slack (and why the era of worker-driven tools may be over)

This headline of this piece from Casey Newton caught my eye immediately, and I just had to read Casey’s analysis – and now, I’m sharing it with you!

Last week in our Friday Fives we shared the rumour that Salesforce was in talks to buy Slack. Fast forward to this week, and the rumour of talks was not only confirmed, but they’ve now sealed the deal: Salesforce is officially acquiring Slack for US$27.7B. The analysis positions the sale against the background of Microsoft’s launch of Teams in 2016. Unsurprisingly, with the scale of Microsoft and their inclusion of Teams within their Microsoft 365 suite at no additional cost, in the four years since Teams launched Microsoft has increased users from 0 to 115 Million. In the same period, Slack went from 4M to 12M users.

What stood out for me in this piece though was not so much the how Microsoft could have ‘crushed’ Slack, but rather the suggestion from the subheading that perhaps what we’re seeing is the end of the era of work-driven tools. Newton says:

But it also feels like the end of an era — one where workers gained new power to bring their own tools to the office, and decide for themselves how they wanted to get work done. Slack first succeeded with small teams who wanted to accelerate their work, and was often dragged into organizations by early adopters. But today, waves of consolidation are leaving people with fewer real choices.

The piece goes on to consider the kind of almost idealism behind – to paraphrase Slack’s open letter to Microsoft back in 2016 – “doing it with love”, versus the practical reality of competing in a marketplace dominated by companies at the scale of Microsoft and, indeed, Salesforce. I think it’s also true to say, though the analysis doesn’t delve into this aspect, that sometimes great products don’t necessarily have great business minds behind them, or at least, maybe not the ones they need, the right minds at the right time. There are countless examples of great products being swallowed up by bigger businesses, and all too many of them have gone on to be lesser versions of themselves instead of greater.

The idea that workers would someday choose all their own tools was always a fantasy, [Box CEO Aaron Levie told me, in part because most workers don’t event want to think about their tools. In such a world, the winning app will almost always be one with a giant, er, salesforce behind it.

The analysis concludes with questions, not answers, but it’s great fodder for further reflection, making the whole piece worth a read (don’t worry, it’s not a long one).

Readhttps://www.platformer.news/p/how-microsoft-crushed-slack

Around the house

Jakkii says: Happy December, everyone! It’s only 3 short weeks to Christmas now, so I hope you’ve started your Christmas shopping! Aside from making lists (and checking them twice), here’s a few things you can watch, read and do from home this week while you’re staying safe, and staying healthy.

Friday Funnies

Misinformation Friday Five

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Bonus: Homeland Security watchdog to probe department’s use of phone location data

Social Media Friday Five

Bonus: (Podcast) Anti-social media

Corona Business Insights Podcast

Working from home and big tech gains spark debate about taxes and taxation as we look to tackle the economic effects of the pandemic.

As COVID-19 sets out to change the world forever, join Sandra Peter and Kai Riemer as they think about what’s to come in the future of business.

Shownotes

Deutsche Bank proposes a 5% tax for people still working from home after the pandemic

Deutsche Bank’s “What we must do to rebuild” research

There should be a windfall tax on big tech in the 2020s

Anyone moving to Greece in 2021 might not have to pay income tax on half of their salary for the next seven years

COVID-19 is increasing poverty – but also support for tax rises to tackle it

Our previous discussion of universal basic income on Corona Business Insights

Listenhttps://sbi.sydney.edu.au/taxes-and-taxation-on-corona-business-insights/


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