a spotter’s guide to the revolution

“i don’t make this claim lightly,” [mary barra, ceo of general motors] said. “i believe we are on the verge of a revolution in personal transportation.”
porsche announces new sports car and suv subscription program
porsche passport provides members flexible access to porsche vehicles via a mobile app. and… the mythical porsche mission e has been sighted! the most obvious competitor to tesla in the high end market and “one of the most exciting electric cars in the works,” the mission e is slated for 2019 release.
lexus gets dibs on toyota’s self-driving features
the luxury brand will offer “level 4” self-driving technology in the first half of the 2020s. (lexus also canceled its sponsorship deals with weinstein tv and film projects.)
daimler owned car-sharing company car2go is replacing all its smart cars in seattle with mercedes-benz.
they plan to do the same in portland, denver, and austin, citing better smartphone app integration with mercedes, resulting in a smoother experience for users.
bmw reports uptick in electric vehicle sales
sales in the first 9 month of 2017 have exceeded sales for all of 2016 (they sold more than 10,000 vehicles in september alone) and the company is confidently on track to deliver target of 100,000 by year-end.
you can’t buy a self-driving bmw until 2021 (and that’s a good thing)
“right now a lot of that strategy hinges on its partners while the automaker maintains the bmw brand.”
tesla may run out of cash
what?! even though they’re currently valued at more than gm and ford combined, the uncertainty that apple and google present undermines that valuation.
yeah, i think mary barra has it right…

the era that prides itself on disruption

when people start talking about disruption, my mind can’t help but look at what, if anything, is actually changing. 

every brand will come up against the hard edge of the new at some point, because our world is changing, in almost every way. and rapidly.

which is why, three years ago i wrote “in order to survive, let alone succeed, brands must be able to adapt, to accelerate through the turns.”

i have long been a proponent of adaptability as a means of not just surviving, but thriving.

but adaptable does not mean chameleon-like. it means responsive. agile. able to pivot when the success of the play requires it. the interesting thing about a pivot is that, while it can represent a total about-face, it’s often just a tactical shift, with no real objective or vision shift.

the big pivots that are capturing my curiosity are happening within the auto industry. car makers are still car makers, but they’re pivoting on the kinds of engines they manufacture as they look towards an all electric future.

and things like rideshare and car memberships will require a big pivot in their distribution models. exciting.

and then there’s AI. if the proliferation of transportation startups is a sign that we’re entering a new era, then hold onto your hats.

 

the web will kill you

It’s just so easy to break. recently hal and i went on a trip to meet our friend marie watt, a sculptor who was artist-in-residence for a corning museum installation. there we observed glass artists in process. it struck hal how, in working with a medium that is so difficult to control, their work becomes coaxing it just beyond the most majestic thing that, in its true nature, it’s apt to do: end up in a puddle.

“you always end up at the question of ‘what is this thing’s intrinsic nature’…,” he muttered a bit and then finished, “part of anything’s intrinsic nature is its limitations.”

we talked about how the limitations of web-based media often hit these two hurdles: the deeply entrenched internet business model that leaves little opportunity for digital artists to make money with their art, and the not-quite-simple matter of access and fluidity with the tools themselves.

“there’s plenty of tactile involvement in digital media that’s just not allowed in the interfaces given to the audiences. what we’re doing is exploring the nature of reading versus watching — are those two necessarily mutually exclusive?”

positano creates an argument for long-form digital — an art form that’s very involving in the sense that you’re entering a world and sort of hanging out the way you do in film, but with some way of moving through it, a tactile side like turning the page of the book.

it’s on our minds. I’m sure there will be more.

it’s electric

what will the world sound like when combustion engines are gone?

what happens in the absence of traffic’s steady thrum*?

does the sound of nothing sound like something?

a recent reuters article claimed electric cars may cause “the biggest disruption since the iphone.”

if it’s true, imagine how cool it could be… a disruption, a leap, an opportunity.

for instance, imagine car manufacturers collaborating to create street soundscapes from a palette of brand tones. instead of the rumble of idling engines at a traffic light, there could be symphonies and grooves… the roar of a freeway becomes a deeply layered, high-speed dance track.

the sound of an electric future could be as intentional and life-enhancing as the technology itself. a thrilling disruption.


*gm announces their plan and #hal wonders about composing with the wind

moral leadership

sometimes change happens so slowly, you can barely tell it’s happening. other times it happens so quickly you can hardly keep up. earlier this year we saw ethics begin to reshape luxury and television. this week we watched as ceos not only spoke truth to power, they gave a resolute ‘no’ to power.

“in this maelstrom, the most clarifying voice has been the voice of business,” [darren walker, president of the ford foundation] said to the ny times.

in our time it has been revealed that business has a more direct and immediate relationship with the populace than does our government. the people are speaking consistently, loudly, and clearly. business is listening, and taking action.

will the next big change we witness be that our elected officials begin to listen, and take action upon, what we the people are saying?

watching, agog.

in praise of the transparent conversation

recently facebook changed its corporate mission to emphasize the role of private groups. in response a new york times reporter spent a month exploring these private groups, to see what they could tell him about the company’s future.

“after all, if facebook is our global town square, then groups are its gated subdivisions, the private spaces where people gather to share information they might not be willing to broadcast publicly, or behave in ways they might not want their friends to know about.”

i’m curious about this seeking of privacy in an always-on world. my first reaction is that facebook is nurturing caves where people can go out of shame or fear, to seek the information they really want, to say the things they really want to say, with a fair degree of certainty they won’t be challenged. But…

And here’s what triggers my curiosity: Are we losing the civility that is required to have a good, meaningful discussion? are we losing our ability to have an open conversation with people who disagree with us? Are we losing our ability to learn, and change our minds?

this back channel style isn’t just happening on facebook. it’s happening on wall street, in hollywood, and in national government here and abroad as well.

In a different ny times article the implication of what seems to me to be the business equivalent of snapchat is explored. Encrypted and self destructing texts. Cool. but what happens when regulations that have been put into place for the protection of the people are gone around?  “whether they are trying to evade the law, arrange fragile deals or just talk candidly without fear of being snooped on, business executives and other leaders have many reasons for wanting a private back channel.”

at a time when consumers are putting their money where their values are, transparency is a powerful business tool.

when collaboration and common cause are our greatest hope for a world we want to occupy, perhaps civil, transparent conversation is our greatest tool.

live.

i write often about brands, rebrands, launches… and i’m not shy with my opinion. but i am shy about this particular launch. the trailer and gallery that i just moved over to the live portion of the site are the first step in launching a multi media novel that hal and i have been working on for years, it’s called positano

hal and i have worked together for many, many years most of them as some sort of corporate-type entity. i remember quite vividly when we started our business, sitting across the desk from an authoritative-type lawyer that explained the benefits of the corporate veil, and the risks that one ran if that veil was pieced. i’ve imagined it often, and it always seems to be a gossamer affair. there is a veil, too, between the corporate and personal work that many of us do. one of the most interesting aspects of this project has been exploring the value and the cost of that particular veil.