Each month more than 11 million people–mostly 35- to 65-year-old women–visit Wayfair.com to browse its massive housewares catalog, an online directory hundreds of times larger than any Sears, Roebuck ever produced. Shipping is free for orders over $49; assembly is usually up to you. Wayfair doesn’t make anything. Many of its goods are produced by mom-and-pop operations, and the site will carry a product even if it sells it only once.
The key to this enterprise is a series of algorithms that fulfills orders–with a 98% success rate that’s improving all the time. Deployed to manage 7,000 vendors and a head-spinningly convoluted supply chain, that secret sauce makes shopping a virtually frictionless experience. Wayfair is as much a data miner as it is a retailer.
“They are landscape architects, environmentalists, urban farmers, soil scientists, and horticultural visionaries who have turned their personal passions into pursuits that collectively reshape our homes, gardens, neighborhoods, and public spaces.”
Nice data visualization in Popular Science of 20 scientific fields with most published articles - click image to enlarge
“Every scientific idea has its day. Theories are born and experiments are designed; results are put to the test, then disproved or accepted as canon. As scientists discuss an idea, they cite the paper that proposed it in their own work. Then, as the conversation moves on, references to the paper drop off. The rise and fall of citations serves to measure the lifespan of a paper’s underlying ideas. Popular Science visualized that pattern across disciplines. Generally, citations peak more quickly today than they did 50 years ago. According to Jevin West, an information scientist at the University of Washington, that trend could be because there are more scientists tackling problems, or because technology has connected them better, accelerating the conversation.”
Marchetti sought to bring the exclusive world of luxury and the highly accessible world of e-commerce together. Before his plan could succeed, he had to achieve the impossible: Convince tech-averse luxury designers to trust him with their storied brands.
You could say that he has succeeded. Today, Yoox is a $605 million business. The Italian company designs and operates online stores for 37 luxury brands, including Armani, Alexander McQueen, and Brunello Cucinelli. Yoox handles merchandising, digital production, packaging, and delivery on behalf of its clients, in essence becoming a one-stop-shop for luxury brands just now trying to understand online sales.
One of the treats during my visit to Chicago this week was a visit to the Field Museum – in particular an archive of the 1893 Worlds Fair in the town.
The world was introduced to Wrigley’s gum and the Ferris Wheel at the fair. It was also a major showpiece for electricity – Tesla’s alternating current had its moment in the sun.
Darwin’s writings about various species and the importance then of mining, forestry, whaling and other fishing were particularly prominent in the exhibits. Photo above shows minerals - amethyst, tourmaline and fluorite and below of other natural resources - Oils, resins, grains, wood chippings and fibers from the exhibit.
Later walking around the museum and seeing other exhibits about today’s protection of the Amazon forests, the impact of fracking on our prairieland and about asteroid mining and DNA analysis was poignant.
We have come so far in 120 years, and yet in some ways we are still so primitive.
Manit, a freelance yoga instructor and personal trainer, signed up in August 2012 as a driver for Lyft, the then-nascent ride-sharing company that lets anyone turn their car into an ad hoc taxi. Today the company has thousands of drivers, has raised $333 million in venture funding, and is considered one of the leading participants in the so-called sharing economy, in which businesses provide marketplaces for individuals to rent out their stuff or labor. Over the past few years, the sharing economy has matured from a fringe movement into a legitimate economic force, with companies like Airbnb and Uber the constant subject of IPO rumors. (One of these startups may well have filed an S-1 by the time you read this.) No less an authority than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has declared this the age of the sharing economy, which is “producing both new entrepreneurs and a new concept of ownership.”
I find myself in Grand Rapids, MI this week where I first saw a Chihuly at the Steelcase campus almost a decade ago. I have seen his work since in Vegas, in St Petersburg and elsewhere and I am glad the whole family wanted to go see his showcase center in Seattle on our recent trip (he was born in nearby Tacoma).
If you find yourself in the vicinity, the art and his Collections Café there are worth a visit. The café has all kinds of his collections from his global travel since – bottle openers, accordions etc.
His work has led me to be a lot more inquisitive about glass as art form – a trip to glassworks in Murano near Venice, Tiffany’s work at the Met, stained glass in several European churches.
It also led me to profile Corning’s Gorilla Glass in The New Technology Elite.
Corning, of course, has an expansive view of glass in the future as the video below shows.
Makes you wonder what the next-gen Chihuly’s will be creating.
MediaCrossing buys and sells digital ads, ranging from display ads to social media, on behalf of marketers and online publishers, using proprietary computer systems and algorithms to find the best ad space at the best price on behalf of its clients. Like financial trading outfits, it makes money by assuming some of the risk of buying and selling ads for clients and profits by finding more attractive prices to trade the online ads. It also offers a service for online publishers, finding buyers for hard-to-sell ad space.