Startups and Uncertainty

I’m trying to write something longer than a blog post (‘longer?’ you say, ‘oh dear.’) and to keep myself motivated I’m breaking it up into smaller pieces and publishing them here. So this should be read in conjunction with Schumpeter on Strategy and A Taxonomy of Moats. I expect that at some point the three […]

A Taxonomy of Moats

Value is created through innovation, but how much of that value accrues to the innovator depends partly on how quickly their competitors imitate the innovation. Innovators must deter competition to get some of the value they created. These ways of deterring competition are called, in various contexts, barriers to entry, sustainable competitive advantages, or, colloquially, moats. […]

The Mathematical Cost of Winning

I submitted the grades for my class, and suddenly found myself a bit idle. So it’s time for more things you already knew proven with math you long-ago forgot. This was supposed to be a mere bagatelle of a post, something to occupy an idle Friday afternoon. And it would have been if the distribution […]

Boiling Frogs

I was responding to a pitch this week. Stellar team, big market, demonstrated customer need. I wasn’t going to invest, despite all that. I wrote: “not the kind of thing I invest in.” I’ve written this thousands of times in my life. But I knew that wasn’t really the reason, so I erased it. I […]

Managing Technological Innovation: Industry Analysis

My short post a few weeks ago on one of Schumpeter’s ideas lightly suggested you could derive most of modern business strategy from that one idea. I suppose this might technically be true if you are a genius with a lot of extra time, but why reinvent the wheel? Last week I taught my class at […]

Managing Technological Innovation, Spring 2019 Syllabus

Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research IEOR 4998                                                                                                      Jerry Neumann Spring 2019                                                                  […]

Schumpeter on Strategy

It’s Friday and I’m procrastinating, so here you go. Let’s talk about Joseph Schumpeter. Good old John Joseph Jingleheimer Schumpeter, as he wasn’t called. Schumpeter once wrote in his diary that he aspired to be the greatest economist, horseman, and lover in the world1. I can imagine the women and horses edging away nervously. Luckily […]

Why do VCs insist on only investing in high-risk, high-return companies?

Sorry this is so short. It’s an interesting topic that I don’t have time right now to do justice. Last week I updated my “am I going to run out of money before I die” spreadsheet, as I’ve been doing every January for ten years. I need to do this because, aside from the paltry […]

iTunes Case: Technological Innovation

Ralph Waldo Emerson reportedly once said “If a man can…make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”1 Every engineer fervently wishes this were true. It is not. The success of any interesting product is not just a function of […]

iTunes and the Basis of Competition in the MP3 Player Market

CC-BY. PDF here. iTunes and the Basis of Competition in the MP3 Player Market “It’s official: the only thing more popular than MP3 is sex.” So said Rolling Stone magazine in 19991: Virtually unheard of a year ago, MP3—short for MPEG 1 Layer 3—is an audio-coding technology that allows digital music files from CDs or other […]