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Category Archives: Business

Sell Driving Cars – Business Trips

One subject has monopolized my thoughts since the CES 2015: using Sell Driving Cars (“SDC”) to enhance business trips.

The energy in Vegas during the CES 2015 was truly inspiring, firstly I strongly felt that SDC were in many minds – getting closer to consumers -, and secondly I got to discuss about Business Trips in general as friends and their clients were attending the CES.

By thinking about SDC and discussing business trips logistics, I had a “ah-ha!” moment about how SDC could reshape the way business trips are done.

From the top of my head, the recent SDC announcements that should reshape habits / products / logistics / services / businesses / industries / sectors / cities, are:

  • Redefining habits for commutes and long car travels: Mercedes showing off a SDC “Living room car”, Audi travelling by SDC to the CES from SF to LV, and a Delphi SDC used from coast to coast in the US
  • Enhancing products: Tesla developing software updates Over The Air for its Model S to give it semi SDC capabilities
  • Reshaping services by developing Self Driving Cabs / Taxis: Uber getting into SDC by opening a Research Facility in Pittsburgh and hiring the former head of Google Maps
  • Revolutionizing the transport and delivery industries: Amazon pushing hard on prepping its delivery drones; SDC can deliver goods (e.g. automated pizzas delivery, drones delivery, etc…)
  • Reinventing and improving cities: The University of Michigan developing a research test facility for SDC – among others to enhance interactions with pedestrians

However, the topic that I have not read articles about is: SDC applied to Business Trips. Therefore, I thought I would take a crack at it and think aloud on this blog post.

When I discuss business trips with friends and colleagues, the recurring main question is: “How do I make sure, whatever the mean of transportation, to have mobile reception and data access to get calls and emails done while away from the office?” Therefore, I believe this is the order of preference for transportation: cab or black car > train > flight (although now most have Wi-Fi) > driving (as you are not supposed to drive and use a phone / internet device at the same time).

While getting a black car or a cab to bring you across town make sense, does it make sense to get a cab to drive you across a county or a state, where most likely the same driver will have to wait for you to bring you back to your far away point of origin? I do not believe so; actually, neither do my friends or colleagues that end up renting cars to drive to their meetings and then back home.

That back and forth driving, behind the wheel, therefore almost entirely “offline’, for 1h / 1h30+ a way, do not make much sense to me. It is very inefficient in many ways. I am very hopeful that SDC will fix that.

The most obvious inefficiencies are:

  • Aren’t employees supposed to add value while on the job? Being behind the wheel stuck in traffic jam or for a while on a high way is not adding value to the employee nor to the employer
  • Insurance wise, it can be very risky and expensive for companies if something were to happen to an employee while driving on a business trip

As soon as SDC will be a reality, I believe SDC will completely redefine business trips, potentially having employees choosing SDC over rail. Instead of ordering a black car or renting a car, employees will order a SDC that will come pick them up to drive them to their destination, close or far.

The benefits are as follows:

  • SDC are considered safer than human maneuvered cars, therefore they could lower insurance premiums
  • Employees can be on the phone or online at all times as they are not driving
  • Non-public / confidential data will not be leaked when passengers on planes or trains overhear private conversations or oversea your work on your computer / tablet or phone
  • Driving can be tiring and stressful; employees could rest and relax ahead of a long day with counterparts
  • If planning a “no need to fly” business trip, there should not be a need to use 3 different forms of transportation as when you take a cab / car service or your own car to the train station, then hop on a train, to then again at the arrival train station most likely take again a cab / car service; this twice considering the return trip – therefore with an SDC, no transportation changes, no waiting time at a train station, etc…
  • A driver does not need to be stuck waiting to drive the employee(s) back to their point of origin(s)
  • The means of transportation can be optimized (e.g. a SDC can do the first leg while another can do the return) by algorithms taking into account multi factors: fuel / battery range, demand / offer, storage needed for the business trip (bringing goods in, leaving without them), overnight stays, etc…
  • If a SDC breaks down during a business trip, say flat tire, another one could be dispatched right away if it would arrive before the flat tire would be fixed, hence saving time on the unexpected delay
  • People that do not have a driver’s license could consider business trips by themselves; the same applies to 18 to 25 year old working young adults, old enough to work yet too young to be allowed to rent a car while on a business trip
  • Employees with jobs relying heavily on transportation and driving, would not be penalized anymore at work for having their driving license suspended while driving during their private time
  • Added supervision for corporations as it will deter employees from misusing company benefits as well as it would translate into cost savings

Some concerns could be:

  • Employers could potentially track their employees every moves during business trips made by SDC, hence a loss of privacy for employees
  • Employees driving a lot for a living might almost not be scared anymore to lose their driving licenses for a while as a SDC would take care of the driving

Over the past few months if not few years, when we have read that Google X was working on SDC, we all got curious. When few months ago, news broke that Uber wants to develop SDC to no longer just get their fee of ~30% of a black car fare but the whole 100%, we all thought it does make sense for the future development of the company. Now that recent reports have put the spotlight on Apple SDC push, as they seem to have poached many engineers from Auto Makers and from battery manufacturers specialized in electric vehicles, we all got a reality check from the $700bn+ company! SDCs are posed to arrive sooner rather than later and in a big fashion, as Tech giants are all over it!

Business trips could be changed in a big way, all for the better.


Interesting readings:

– RE/Code “Automakers in the Driver’s Seat as Car Tech Dominates CES” (

– IEEE Spectrum “Self-driving Cars Will Be $87 Billion Market by 2030” (





Amazon’s Army of Robots.

Robots are trending nowadays. Google acquires Boston Dynamics a few months back and Apple is said to be using robots to build the upcoming iPhone 6. This is just the tip of the iceberg, to name the most well known companies in tech using robots.

Regarding robots, something that really strikes me is not the Hollywood picture of how robots will replace humans (I, Robot?) but the way that robots can assist humans to perform better. Think a GPS device in your car, helping you turn by turn; it is not a robot, but it is a tech tool that does the mapping and guiding for you or instead of your passengers.

Now, to go back to what struck me regarding robots, was the announcement by Amazon that it acquires Kiva Systems in 2012. to Acquire Manufacturer of Robotics (NYT) is buying an army of robots.

The online retailer announced on Monday that it is acquiring Kiva Systems, a maker of robots that service warehouses, for $775 million in cash. Amazon, a customer of Kiva’s, is buying the robotics company as it builds out its vast network of warehouses and tries to improve its margins.

By then, 2012, the explanation of what was Kiva, was interesting. If I remember well, at the time there were a few videos online that got me really curious about what Amazon was doing in its warehouses. However, this blog post is to show the video below that I stumbled upon recently (even though it is a 2011 video):

I find this fascinating. It looks like an hanthill at work, such a hive of activity! Robots are there, very active, working alongside humans.

Music Streaming

For a while, I have been using Deezer while in France, Spotify while in the UK, and Pandora while in the US. Each time, I used each related free version with ads every {x} songs.

I did not mind the ads unless I was studying or working.

For a few months now, I have been looking into subscribing to a music streaming service. I am into music but I do not need to own albums or songs, I am more a “mood” listener. Depending on my mood, on the time of the day, or on the context of the day (working, chilling, ready to party…), I will just start a playlist or a radio channel. Therefore streaming services are perfect for me.

I have been looking at subscribing at either Spotify or Google Play Music All Access (oh my, that’s a longggg name!), given that they are priced at the same level and work in many countries, therefore ideal while travelling. As I have many Nexus devices and use almost all Google services, I thought GPMAA would make more sense.

While GPMAA has a standard 30 days free offer, I saw on my Google Play Store an ad for 60 days free. After contacting Google, this seems like a bug, therefore I would not be able to get 60 days free. Disappointing. However, this week Google started offering 90 days free of GPMAA to Google Chromecast owners. Guess what, I have a Google Chromecast, of course. The product is about $35/£30 while the offer is for 90 days free or a $29.97 / £29.97 saving; pretty sweet deal!

I have started my 90 days free GPMAA 2 days ago. It works great. No complain so far. I am using it as I did Deezer, Spotify or Pandora.


Now, the thing is, I recalled a 6 months old article about artists and how they get paid now that music streaming services are so big and powerful. See below:

What Musicians Actually Get Paid By iTunes, Pandora And Spotify Is Truly Pathetic” by Business Insider

What Musicians Actually Get Paid By iTunes, Pandora And Spotify Is Truly Pathetic


My take on Startups’ Long Roadmaps

Back in November 2011, Fred Wilson wrote an interesting post on “Long roadmaps”. Good insight, good comments discussion too. Interesting to read about Foursquare development plans by the way.
A month later, I visited a friend in Lille (France) who is building a startup, Biztoo. It is a web service to build relations between local businesses and their customers. For a few months now my friend Guillaume and I, we have been discussing his ideas, what he is building, what he has in mind. Now that the v1.1 is out, he explained to me his vision for Biztoo’s roadmap and where he is heading. V1.2 is around the corner and a text file on his PC has every ideas listed for v2.0: xxx, v3.0: yyy… Step by Step developments and requirements based on the previous additions. 

I was impressed by his ideas defined so early in the creation of the young web service (not even a year old). However, I believe it is hard to stick to the one ideal path founders have in mind. Take the example of great business with successful story today, but it faced a bumpy road a few months back (Fab Forward: How Found a Niche in a Design Deal Social Hub). 

Through a random usage of Shazam, I thought about the “Long Roadmap” blog post mentioned above: recently I used Shazam to find the song below as I am bad at knowing song’s titles and authors!


So now regarding this post, what’s the connection between Fred Wilson “Long Roadmaps” post, my friend’s development plans for its growing website, and Shazam? 

As mentioned above, I used Shazam to know the tittle of “Boney M – Rasputin”. That’s when I discovered LyricPlay:


I always thought Shazam was great, had a huge potential, was loved by everyone, and generated an enormous positive word of mouth. However, I was never sure how they would turn that great idea into a profitable service considering that I expected most users not being willing to pay for the service (Recently Shazam announced it was bringing back unlimited free music tagging after trying a freemium strategy). 

When I used Shazam’s LyricPlay for the first time, it started to display the lyrics on my smartphone’s screen, scrolling up StarWars Intro style, synchronized to the music, I was excited about the discovery. That’s when it stroked me: when the makers of the Shazam smartphone App created it, they started doing the basic: just the tagging. I would bet they already had in mind all the potential ramifications: iTunes links, social friends’ tags, Artist Tour info, Youtube Videos, and synchronised Lyrics! 

I think LyricPlay is a great experience. Shazam was a good utility to have in his pocket 24/7 but now it is also becoming fun. I guess adding some fun to a business model is never a bad thing to attract new customers and make them have a good time while using the service. 

There are great entrepreneurs out there, they have great ideas and are building great things. We are just at the beginning of some good stuff coming our way; Entrepreneurs minds are flourishing with exciting stuffs we can’t imagine yet! 

Ps: I personally started using Shazam in August 2009. I thought it was a brand new service however it has been running since 2002! Would have you thought?!