In November: @Vontz about Strava, @RosabethKanter about Strategy & @WarrenBarguil about Life


Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 18 from Briançon to Izoard, 179.50 km - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

November’s digest contains 6 articles: 2 about product strategy (Strava & Facebook), 1 about debunking fake viral stories (Facebook), 1 about management, 1 about a prominent cyclist’s outlook on life, and 1 about a really cool photography project. Let me wish you – reader – a great, loving and fulfilling month of December.

How do you monetize an audience, beyond being a cool app for athletes ? Sell hardware (think Garmin) ? Introduce paid plans (think Tractive…) ? Build an advertising engine based on high-quality user data (think Waze) ? This post describes another, complementary, strategy for turning user data into money: “[Strava’s] “commutes count” comprises about nine full-time employees compared to Strava’s 140 employees [and] was created to help cities make use of its massive trove of data about the way cyclists and walkers navigate streets.

This post by HBS Professor Rosabeth Kanter resonated with me, because I am particularly picky on execution. I learn to let go sometimes, because managing projects and teams requires releasing control, but I must admit that it is not always easy. Kanter writes: “Strategy can be viewed as a literary effort to craft a complete script and then hand it over to actors who enact it word by word. I prefer to think of it as resembling improvisational theater. A strategy takes shape from what actors do in front of audiences that provide feedback.

No, Facebook doesn’t listen at your every conversation to target ads to what you say. It’s theoretically possible, but technically not feasible, andnot planned neither. This is basically what Antonio García Martínez, 1st first ads targeting product manager on the Facebook Ads team, writes in WIRED. “Feasibility (Is it possible?), ubiquity (Is it common?), and efficacy (Does it work?): Those filters demolish almost every Facebook conspiracy theory you’ll ever hear.” It’s so easy to rack up views with fake stories… and it’s good to have people rationally discussing them (“it’s all bullshit“).

Cycling champion Warren Barguil delivers a refreshing interview to Cyclingnews here. He explains why he changed teams, signing up for a lower-tier pro team based out of Brittany, his home region. And he outlines his new ambitions, winning stages (rather than go for the GC) because he simply enjoys this type of racing. I believe that this type of outlook on life should be more present in today’s world, from sport to career-building. Just do what you enjoy most and not what the mainstream logic would expect of you.

I actually discovered this story through Creapills, the excellent creative inspiration website. Princeton-educated photographer Josephine Sittenfeld was a junior when she took photos of her friends, and all she did here, for the “Reunion” project, was take the (often) exact same photos with (some of the) exact same people 17 years later. A very simple idea, but you’ll see how captivating the photos are. Why are some people missing? Would one have expected such an evolution? Are they still friends? See for yourself.

To me, the product & strategy discussion is interesting here, not the political one. Fast Company’s Ainsley Harris writes about the future of Facebook Messaging applications, looking back on the flaws of the platform’s News Feed. The latter now has less users than the former, which is significant, and investors are now pounding for revenue! Can Zuckerberg bring the same value to Messenger (“get people communicating directly with brands & small businesses”) than he did with the ageaing News Feed (“the quality of the experience is starting to suffer“)?

Thanks for reading!

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