Julia Cagé’s Kolkhoz Media Dream



French economist Julia Cagé has built an intellectual contraption that made her the wonder child of French media elite. While she opens interesting avenues to explore innovative media business models, her work is unfortunately filled with flaws and sometimes willfully disconnected from reality.

Julia Cagé embodies the new French elite. At 32, she is the offspring of the most selective segment of both French and American educational systems: Ecole Normale Supérieure and Harvard where she got her PhD in economics in 2014. She is the kind of gifted person who speaks with the magisterial infallibility French culture grants to a alumni of such major institutions. She openly adheres to the most traditional ideas of the French Left, more pre-World War II Jaurès than 21st Century Emmanuel Macron. This is what frames her media industry work. Armed with her glowing academic record and her political affiliation, she enjoys open access

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Tesla: 3 Model 3 Questions



Silicon Valley’s one and only car company (so far) just announced a low-cost vehicle. Today, we look at the key challenges Tesla will face on its way to the pinnacle.

Elon Musk is on a roll. Last week, Space X, Musk’s space exploration and transport company, managed the feat of putting a NASA payload into orbit and getting the rocket’s first stage to come back and gracefully land upright on a barge at sea.

A week earlier, Musk announced the Tesla Model 3: Five seats, 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, a range of 215 miles, and, of course, the company’s advanced electronics inside and elegant trademark style outside…all for a reasonable $35,000.

325,000 people paid $1,000 each for a place in the delivery queue:

412_queueCustomers wait in line to be the first to sign a wait list to own the new Tesla Model 3

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Paid Or Ad-Supported: Pick One Model, And Stick With It



Playing both sides of digital models is becoming increasingly perilous. Legacy media struggle to combine ads and subscriptions, but pure players entering the game tend to be way more decisive in their choices.

The digital media sector has become unforgiving for unclear business models. Publishers of legacy media often like to play on both sides of the game: They want to imitate pure players natively designed to collect ads while preserving their legacy paid-for model.

Problem is: compromise breeds weakness, no choice is often the worst choice.

This trend is rooted in memories of the ancient print press revenue system. Twenty years ago, 8 dollars out of 10 came from commercial and classifieds ads; the rest was drawn from subscriptions and newsstand sales. In America, national or metro newspapers were picked-up at street-corner metal boxes for just a quarter (in Europe, the revenue structure was more balanced.)


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Early Apple Retail Adventures



This week, as we contemplate Apple’s first 40 years, we’ll take an early eighties dive into the company’s counter-intuitive retail development in France. 

I’ve always loved retail, and retail has loved me back – in unusual ways, as we shall see.

Born, raised, and living in France for the first 41 years of my life, I witnessed the rise of large retail chains and how Distribution became all powerful, oppressively so. I saw how Carrefour, the chain that coined the word hypermarché, treated a respected yoghourt maker: We’ll tell you the flavors and quantities we want you to make, we’ll set the delivery schedule, dictate the marketing and branding arrangements, define the return privileges and, of course, we’ll let you know what we want to pay for your product — and when we want to pay it.

As a kid in boarding school, I couldn’t stomach

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Clickbait Obsession Devours Journalism

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Collecting eyeballs is a diversion of publisher resources. As the ad model loses steam, focusing on page views generates less and less value and leads to commoditized, lowest common denominator news content. It’s time to look for alternate models.

Whether you read tech or media news through a RSS reader, or by directly accessing websites, you end up flipping through the same headlines. In the news business,  duplication and commoditization have reached unprecedented levels.

As an example, take Techmeme’s aggregation of Microsoft’s A.I. Twitter Bot snafu shown in the image above. For this subject, Techmeme harvested no less than 70 specifics URLs (as measured Sunday at about 2:30am PDT). And this is just a small slice of total coverage, for a story which certainly isn’t this year’s biggest. This explains the traction of a service like Nuzzel which, among other things, de-deduplicates similar treatments thanks to a clever

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40 Years Later: Apple 3.0

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Maturity doesn’t have to be boring. The 40-year old Apple doesn’t lack the challenges it needs, both external and internal, to stay interesting.

I’ll begin with a bit of the personal history that colors my views of Apple.

I was born a geek. In 1955, I salivated while looking at the first OC 71 transistor in the Prefect of Discipline’s office at the very Breton boarding school where I was sent to quell my agitation. In June 1968, many clandestine radios and other electronics projects later, I got the biggest break of my business life: HP put an end to years of psychological moratorium by taking me off the streets and giving me the dream job of launching their first desktop computer on the French market. I saw HP’s rise to dominance in two personal computing genres: pre-microprocessor desktop machines (the 16-bit 9800 series), and  mobile, pocketable devices

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DeepMind Could Bring The Best News Recommendation Engine

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Reinforcement Learning, a key Google DeepMind algorithm, could overhaul news recommendation engines and greatly improve users stickiness. After beating a Go Grand Master, the algorithm could become the engine of choice for true personalization.

My interest for DeepMind goes back to its acquisition by Google, in January 2014, for about half a billion dollars. Later in California, I had conversations with Artificial Intelligence and deep learning experts; they said Google had in fact captured about half of the world’s best A.I. minds, snatching several years of Stanford A.I. classes, and paying top dollar for talent. Acquiring London startup Deep Mind was a key move in a strategy aimed at cornering the A.I. field. My interlocutors at Google and Stanford told me it could lead to major new iterations of the company, with A.I. percolating in every branch of Google (now Alphabet), from improving search to better

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