Time Machines & Species FailureNovember 15, 2019
Survival — the pursuit of more time — is the most basic instinct. Procreation is a distant number 2. But 1a, making the most of your time, is survival instinct coupled with capitalism. Communism was intended as a more noble system — economic parity that avoids the inequality bound to arise from capitalism. Only the reds failed to recognize we won’t wait in line for fish for the benefit of our comrades. A cocktail of self-interest, cooperation, the assembly line, brand, and the processor has yielded more stakeholder value, as measured by GDP, in the last 50 years than in the previous 2,000.
Religion created a lot of value — it made people feel immortal. Time post death is an asset you’d trade shame for. But the ranks of the faithful are thinning. The opium of the masses no longer provides the same high. Wealthier, more educated societies have turned their focus to time on earth.
Any company that creates more than $10 billion in shareholder value does one of two things: extend time (more time, saving time) or enhance time.
Every firm that has aspirations of creating billions in shareholder value must construct a time machine and be clear on the type of benefit — savings or enhancement. The first trillionaire will build a time machine for the healthcare industry. The T-Man, or woman, won’t reduce costs (this is where the analysts get it wrong), but give us millions of years back, in the pursuit of health, at the same or lesser cost. What’s the point of enacting medical care that extends your life a year if it costs 3 years to procure, navigate, and administrate?
I’ve had a cough for the last month. My dad and sister freaked out, as I don’t get sick. They imagined the worst and demanded I get a chest x-ray. The doctor’s visit, two trips to Diagnostic Centers of America, and a consultation cost me 8 hours. An intelligent camera, Prime Health (whenever that arrives), and AI will give me 7 hours back. The best strategy for bringing healthcare costs down is to give time back. The real innovation in healthcare will do more than save money. It will save time.
The economic titans of the 20th century got you places faster (Ford, Boeing) or made your life more enjoyable (P&G, Prada). We’ve now gone gangster. Microsoft saves you years in efficiency (extend). LVMH allows you to enjoy the finest in life and increases your selection set of mates (enhance). Apple skimmed the foam off the top of the Microsoft beer, moving from tech to the luxury sector. Apple offered both faster transactions and an enhanced experience (for a 100% premium). iProducts just worked, made you feel better about yourself, and the global affluent willingly paid.
The sector that has created more value than any other over the last 10 years is the disruptors in media (Google, Facebook, and Netflix). These firms pulled a Robin Hood on the greatest thieves of time in post-WWII America — ad-supported media. Modern Family / ABC values your time at $4.67/hr. They get .70c for reminding you that you suffer from diabetes (9 min of ads). CBS gets a buck a month per viewer for urging us to buy awful beer or cars manufactured in South Korea.
Advertising is a tax the poor and technologically illiterate pay.
Ways to extend life:
Clear: I fly 2.5x/wk. I’ll pay Clear $5,370 over 30 years to not stand in line for 46 days.
Walmart Delivery Unlimited: At $98/year, that’s $2,940 over 30 years to get 120 days of your life back.
Netflix: At $156/yr, I’ll pay Netflix $4,680 over the next 30 years to avoid over a year’s worth of ads. If you could pay $4,680 to extend your life by a year, would you?
2013 Bombardier Challenger 300: Total costs over 10 years — depreciation, operating, and financing costs minus tax benefits = $10 million. (Not that I’ve dreamt of this … every day.) A two-bedroom that can skim the surface of the atmosphere at .83 the speed of sound would give me another 13 days a year at home with my family. So, if you had the money, would you, at the end of life, rather have $10 million or 4 more months with family? Keep in mind, that’s 2.5 dawg years. What Apple is to Android, the Challenger is to JetBlue, times a thousand. People who own jets all describe their bird the same way: Time Machine.
Movies and HBO saved some time, but were relatively expensive. And then came Google, Facebook, and Netflix. I’ll get a year back (time spent not watching ads) in exchange for $4,680 spent on Netflix. How to even think of doing research without Google? Would I have to go to a library and log on to Lexis/Nexis? It’s hard to imagine how much time and life Google has created.
The search firm has violated our privacy, divided us, and hamstrung the economy via monopoly abuse. Yet it’s still likely worth it. This doesn’t mean we should shrug our shoulders and not break up big tech. The combustion engine and fossil fuels have created enormous economic growth across the world, but we should still correct the subsequent global warming.
The biggest unlock in shareholder value in the last 5 years is Walmart’s click & collect and delivery. Walmart gave us 4 days a year back — grocery shopping takes an average of 69 min a week; you grocery shop 1.6 times per week, and the average commute for grocery shopping is 12.5 min each way. That makes the largest dollar-volume category (grocery, 750 billion) less time expensive. Since the introduction of click & collect and grocery delivery, Walmart has added over $100 billion in shareholder value.
Facebook is now squarely in the red and a net negative for society. The social network held the promise of enhancing our time here, via connection, and has delivered on much of that. However, most time enhancement has been negated, as the social network is depressing our teens and endangering our most precious asset, girls. Teen suicide has skyrocketed — up 77% for older teen girls and up 151% for younger teens (research by colleague Jonathan Haidt).
There are many factors, but ground zero is the nuclear weapons we’ve put in girls’ hands to objectify them, perpetually undercut their self-esteem, and enable them to bully each other relationally, 24/7. Hospital admissions due to self-harm are up 50% for 15-19-year-old girls and up 200% for 10-14-year-old girls. At Facebook, a sociopath is wallpapered over by a 700-person corporate communications department and a $2 billion beard (Sheryl Sandberg).
The Dow, GDP, the Iowa polls. We are studying to the wrong tests. There is nothing more important for the future of the country, our society, and the planet than the health and wellbeing of girls. Think about this. The S&P is up 23% YTD, and the number of girls that decide to take their own life is up 151%. Three times more of them self-harm. The pursuit of money at the expense of girls’ wellbeing is the ultimate perversion of our society. We ignore injury to our daughters in exchange for the promise of economic growth.
Facebook is the incorporation of Jeffrey Epstein and Larry Nassar. Ok, that’s not fair. The social network is Jeffrey Epstein and Larry Nassar … times a million.
Facebook, Inc. is species failure.
Life is so rich,
P.S. Experimenting with new formats. Something new for you on our YouTube channel — let us know thoughts in the comments. #podcast