Here are 8 fascinating things I read this week.
In entrepreneurship, timing is everything. So we'll give [CEO Mark] Zuckerberg credit for launching his online social directory for college students just as the social-networking craze was getting underway. He also built it right, quickly making Facebook one of the most popular social-networking sites on the Net. But there's also something to be said for knowing when to take the money and run. Last spring, Facebook reportedly turned down a $750 million buyout offer, holding out instead for as much as $2 billion. Bad move. After selling itself to Rupert Murdoch's Fox for $580 million last year, MySpace is now the Web's second-most popular website. Facebook is growing too -- but given that MySpace has quickly grown into the industry's 80-million-user gorilla, it's hard to imagine who would pay billions for an also-ran.
The grass isn't greener
This guy owned a Ferrari and it made him miserable:
At every light, the guy next to you will ask what it cost. At every gas station, a guy in a Chevy pickup will come over and ask if you "wanna trade?" People will want to take pictures of it, next to it, and in it. Kids want you to rev so they can put a video on YouTube. And no matter where you drive it, everyone goes a little faster when they're near you, eager to prove that they can keep up -- whether they're driving a Subaru or a Porsche.
Same worry, different year
A popular new worry is that robots will take over our jobs. This article, from 1959, shows how old this fear is:
In this world of the future mankind has little else to be excited about. For earth has been transformed into a "paradise" where incredibly clever robots take care of things. They do the farming, the factory work, run the trains, regulate traffic, enforce the law, cook the meals, clean the houses and distribute a vast wealth of goods and services to which every human being is entitled-merely by being alive.
Almost nothing familiar on earth today will survive in this robotized world of the future.
Germany is considering making it illegal to send work email after hours:
German employees could soon have legal protection preventing them from dealing with work-related phone calls and email traffic after hours and on weekends. ... Volkswagen has capped after-work email for some employees who have been issued company-owned smartphones. For workers under wage agreements, the company's email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following morning. Weekends are also off-limits.
Jason Zweig reminds us about extreme forecasts:
Beware of extreme extrapolations. In 2008, as the price of oil brushed past $145 a barrel, analysts rushed to get out ahead of the "trend" with their predictions of where the price was headed. Goldman Sachs called for oil prices to hit $200; at least one veteran observer of the industry foresaw the price reaching $300.
Right on cue, oil went down, not up -- divebombing 77% between July and December 2008 and bottoming barely above $30 a barrel. Analysts then hastened to reverse their projections, just in time for oil prices to go right back up.
Newspapers are being kept alive by older people:
This is a great explanation of why it's hard to escape low-paying work:
These jobs are a trap. They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, you begin to experience the physical deterioration that can end your work life.
Calculated Risk, one of the smartest economic blogs out there, is bullish on our future:
The prime working age population peaked in 2007, and appears to have bottomed at the end of 2012. The good news is the prime working age group has started to grow again, and should be growing solidly by 2020 -- and this should boost economic activity in the years ahead.
These young workers are well educated and tech savvy. And they will have babies and buy homes soon. For more, see from Joe Weisenthal: The Analyst Who Nailed The Housing Crash Is Quietly Revealing The Next Big Thing
Over two years ago I said that looking forward I was the most optimistic since the '90s. And things are only getting better. The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.
Have a great weekend.
- The 3 biggest predictions about the economy that never came true
- What the Great Depression did that this recession won't
- The most important numbers of the next half century