APIs Are The New FTEs

Facebook, Google and Twitter have to deal with outrageous amounts of spam and abuse. They hire teams of engineers to stop trolls, outwit bad actors and otherwise keep their walled gardens free of misanthropes. It’s a costly business. Pete Hunt, Josh Yudaken and Julian Tempelsman worked on anti-fraud technologies at Facebook, Instagram and Google; they dealt with phishing, hacking and other challenges on a daily basis.

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Replacing Middle Management with APIs

There’s a trend in Silicon Valley startups to create a software layer in industries that were traditionally pure human services. Uber and Lyft have created software layers in the taxi industry, 99designs Tasks in the visual design industry, Homejoy in the cleaning industry, and so on. These new software services employ armies of human workers, optimizing their output, productivity and quality while driving price down. The software layer between the company and their armies of contractors eliminates a huge amount of middle management, and creates a worrisome disconnect between jobs that will be automated, and jobs of increasing leverage and value.

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Networks and the Nature of the Firm

One of the themes we’re exploring at the Next:Economy summit is the way that networks trump traditional forms of corporate organization, and how they are changing traditional ways of managing that organization. Uber and Airbnb are textbook examples of this trend. Uber has ambitious plans to manage hundreds of thousands — eventually even millions — of independent drivers with a small core of employees building a technology platform that manages those workers. Airbnb is on track to have more rooms on offer than large hotel chains, with under a thousand employees.

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RoboCorp: Are We Ready for Companies that Run Themselves?

It is January 2014 and at least 400 people are packed into a conference hall in Miami Beach. High-profile journalists stand against the walls. Powerful venture capitalists crouch in the aisles. Banking and finance gurus crane their necks from the back of the room. They’re waiting for one of the most anticipated presentations of the 2014 North American Bitcoin Conference. A massive surge in interest from the media has just pushed the price of a single Bitcoin to around $900, up nearly 800 per cent in three months. Bitcoin Miami is the largest ever conference of its kind. In this moment, the possibilities for Bitcoin seem limitless.

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Self-Driving Companies and The Race to Build the Machine

While Uber, Airbnb and the other players in the “sharing economy” have captured public attention, the technologies underlying them continue to evolve at a rapid pace and it would be a mistake to think about the future of work in terms of “uberization.” The future direction of these technologies is highlighted by work IFTF has undertaken in collaboration with Rethinkery Labs, a spin-out venture focused on building software-defined organizational systems, to take many of these shifts to their natural conclusion:  the self-driving compan

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Organizational R&D

Organizations as we know them are a technology on the verge of disruption. In its work developing new approaches to getting things done, Rethinkery Labs has developed a number of digital prototypes that demonstrate the underlying patterns that arise as we move form industrial models to software-defined companies. Ask us about identifying the processes in your organization that could be amplified by these emerging tools, and charting the likely impacts that digital disruption will have on your industry.

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