Uber’s Smart Move to Share Its API

Uber is releasing the API in two distinct ways. The first, which is open to all developers, will allow apps to send a destination address across to the Uber app – similar to the existing integration with Google Maps – as well as access Uber pick up times, fare estimates and the user’s trip history.

The second also includes the ability to actually request rides from inside other apps. To control demand and, presumably, the overall quality of the user experience in other apps, Uber says it’s releasing this ‘in a more controlled fashion,’ beginning with a select set of partners.

Uber has realized its potential not only as a product, but also as a platform. When other companies are able to use the Uber API and even integrate Uber services into their own app functions, the result will be a win-win-win — customers will appreciate the ease of the user experience, and both companies will benefit.

The idea of releasing the API, rather than guarding it as company property, probably seemed terrifying to some team members. But the potential growth that could result from it may be astounding. Competitors are likely to be left way behind, if customers won’t even have to open a separate Uber app to order a car. All kinds of companies would do well to think about their own potential as platforms, rather than straightforward products or services.

Tips for An Agile Business

The challenge for entrepreneurs whose business is growing is to find a way to stay agile while continuing to scale. However, the simple act of adding more people means communication tends to get more difficult. Companies have to work extremely hard to maintain their transparent atmosphere, keep everyone in sync, and make sure teams are moving in the same direction.

Here are 3 excellent tips for maintaining open communication as your start-up grows, from the founder/CEO of Porch:

- Transparency: Embrace the open office environment

- Accountability: Make everyone’s goals visible to everyone else

- Prioritization: Company-wide meetings

‘Burnerpreneurs’ Are A Great Example of Opportunistic Innovation

‘Even though you need no money out there, which is great, you need to do all of this shopping beforehand—all of your camping gear, food, shade, duct tape, body lights so you don’t get hit by a car,’ says Karla MacGregor, proprietor of a personal shopping service called The Burner’s Market. ‘People using my website’—mostly Burners flying in from distant locales—’spend $700, easily.’ MacGregor is part of a crop of ‘Burnerpreneurs’ who have turned their love for Burning Man into businesses that cater to like-minded customers. The Morris Burner Hotel, a new ‘member-based hotel for the Burner community’ in Reno, is another example.

Here’s a great example of how a company can create a platform on which others continue to build. Burning Man provides the festival infrastructure, and “Burnerpreneurs” take advantage of the environment to launch their own ventures, some of which make a good deal of money for themselves.

Burning Man itself is disinterested in making a profit off these spin-off businesses, just as it is disinterested in selling $10 bottles of water to festival goers. But that’s exactly what continues to make Burning Man appealing to its audience; if it tried to slap a logo on everything, it would conflict with the culture and values of its target market — and not to mention, it would take half the fun out of it.

Gladwell Talks Importance of Agility

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New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell talks to Inc.’s Issie Lapowsky about business lessons from his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

In this video, Gladwell shares important lessons about how the size of a company isn’t necessarily a great indicator of success. What is? Nimbleness and agility, says Gladwell — that’s how David can beat Goliath.

Radical Innovation in the Education Space

A brash tech entrepreneur thinks he can reinvent higher education by stripping it down to its essence, eliminating lectures and tenure along with football games, ivy-covered buildings, and research libraries. What if he’s right?

Responding to a national higher education crisis, one new university is attempting to give the people what they want: high quality college instruction for a fraction of the price of Ivy League institutions. It’s able to charge less because the classes take place on a “proprietary online platform” that’s leaner than traditional university classes, because it doesn’t require a campus.

Their model is definitely not for everyone — those students who are looking for the full “college experience” are unlikely to be happy with the bare essentials that Minerva offers — but it looks like it’s poised to compete anyhow. Classes are small and individualized, and there’s no reason to question the quality of education. Minerva may also find a strong market in international students who want the flexibility of MOOCs, but with all the credibility offered by a top-tier university.

Sharing Economy Can Be An Opportunity, Too

‘Sharing is here to stay,’ he writes.
Stephens writes that traditional retailers can adjust their businesses to acquiesce to this trend.
He cites outdoor clothing company Patagonia, which created an online marketplace where customers can resell the brand’s items.

We know that young people are less interested in owning products, and are instead more interested in whatever services allow them to use the products when they need them. But why the freak out by retailers, when this could be viewed as a great opportunity? They should all be following the lead of companies like Warby Parker and Patagonia, who have each been able to offer great “sharing economy” options in addition to their normal line-up.

Here’s Why Comcast Is Terrible

Jeffries has now heard from and interviewed around 150 current and former Comcast employees and has been publishing round-ups of excerpts. This week, however, she has published an essay that organizes all of that raw data into a story, explaining why Comcast can’t seem to get its act together and why, she concludes, the existing problems will only be exacerbated by Comcast’s pending acquisition of Time Warner, the country’s second biggest cable provider. At the most basic level, Comcast’s problem seems to be its size: Comcast has grown piecemeal, acquisition by acquisition, and that means that its product, services, pricing, and systems vary greatly region to region. Today it has 83,000 employees operating in some 80 different markets.

We’ve already written about how completely unresponsive Comcast is, but this report helps to explain the reasons why. As Comcast has grown rapidly, absorbing other companies along the way, it has held fast to antiquated and ineffective hierarchical organization. It has consistently failed to allow for intrapreneurs to create solutions to local customers’ concerns; their need for absolute adherence to rules and protocol is extremely limiting, which is further aggravated by their insistence that everyone report to division heads who are unclear on what those rules are in the first place.

Major fail, dudes.

Diversity in Silicon Valley

Following the lead of other tech executives, Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasizes in a note on the data that ‘diversity is critical to our success’ and believes ‘deeply that inclusion inspires innovation.’ He adds that he is ‘not satisfied with the numbers’ and is as committed to improving diversity as developing new products.

The public conversation about workforce diversity in Silicon Valley is picking up steam, and with good reason. Leaders in these companies are well aware of the importance of diversity to innovation — and they know that those who don’t learn to attract minority and women talent will not be able to compete. Most recently, Apple said that it would be prioritizing diversification of its workforce.

Kickstarter Campaigns Are Great Leads for Investors

Investors are keeping a close eye on the crowdfunding site–and pouring more venture capital into Kickstarter success stories.

Of course it makes perfect sense that VC firms would look to successful Kickstarter campaigns to find the next revolutionary tech products; the crowdfunders raising millions have an enthusiastic customer base already confirmed. More organizations should be using platforms like this to understand trends, because going through the sites, category by category, is an excellent way to see where industries are most ripe for disruption. Look at each idea like an invading army attacking points of weakness.