What we've been reading: Profit, crashes, lawbreakers and Earth

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Here at BusinessZone, we spend our lives talking about the many complexities of founding, running and sometimes exiting a business.
 
It’s a fascinating world to be a part of. I’m consistently awestruck by the way people handle immense pressure with consummate grace. But there’s also a few times where it’s nice to be a little pessimistic.
 
It pays to learn from others’ misdeeds and mismanagement. So, in that spirit, here’s this week’s What we’ve been reading.

The worrying tale of how my business made $515m more than Snapchat last year

Meet Leon Emirali. He is the founder of the digital media company Crest. Last year, his business has made £500m more than Evan Spiegel’s mighty SnapChat.
 
Remarkable, right? Not really.
 
As the man himself write in City AM: “We just stuck to the basic business principle that it’s better to make money than lose it. Yet these tech 'unicorns' are lauded as success stories despite the fact they’re yet to make a single penny in profit. In fact, they’re a long way from it.”
 
Emirali’s criticism is worth reading in full. It’s one of the most lucid takedowns of the new startup mentality yet.

How Uber could end up as Silicon Valley’s most spectacular crash

All is not well in the house of Uber. Travis Kalanick’s ride-hailing app had revolutionised (if not basically created) the on-demand transport economy.
 
And now, a raft of sexual harassment claims later, the company’s once beautiful edifice is crumbling. Throw in a lawsuit from Google’s parent company Alphabet and you’ve got yourself a company in crisis.
 
And what’s Kalanick doing? He’s berating his drivers on camera.

What do Uber, Volkswagen and Zenefits have in common? They all used hidden code to break the law

“Coding is a superpower,” writes CodeCamp’s Quincy Larson. “With it, you can bend reality to your will. You can make the world a better place. Or you can destroy it.”
 
Increasingly, says Larson, companies using code to subvert laws. From Uber’s (frankly genius) Greyball programme all the way through to Volkswagen’s emissions test dodging. 

Think twice about escaping Earth to an exoplanet

There’s been an awful amount of hand-wringing about humanity’s increasing fickleness. We abandon things the second they become too difficult, running from placebo to placebo, never tackling the issue at hand.
 
And with the discovery of seven new Earth-like exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a dwarf star only 40 light years from us, we have discovered our collective masterpiece. As soon as the discovery was announced the tweets rolled in: when can we leave?
 
But, as Sam Kriss points out in this wonderful, thoughtful piece, problems must be dealt with. As any entrepreneur knows, you can’t run away forever. “Our problems have to be solved, not fed, before we risk spreading the blight to rot away the entire sky." 

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

Francois is the deputy editor of BusinessZone and UK Business Forums.

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