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Bad Competition and Good Competition

March 24, 2015

Uber has done something utterly amazing, and I haven’t seen it given this credit before.

Private taxi drivers and firms have always had to compete for business. But how they compete has changed dramatically in the last couple of years.

Remember these, handed out at the bar at 2am?

The barrier and profit determinant were not: how good a taxi driver are you. It was: how good are you at SEO, designing cards, radio ads, convincing bars, hotels, etc to promote you. i.e. Bullshit Work.

That misalignment, the creation of Bullshit Work, has been utterly destroyed by Travis Kalanick. Instead, drivers’ objective is now to be a great taxi driver: to know your way around, to be amicable/silent, to offer conveniences, etc.

I think of bullshit work as Bad Competition.

When competition however is aligned with being good at what you do, that’s Good Competition, and it makes a more productive society.

Agents are naturally selected on productivityrather than bullshit.

If you look around at where else there is significant Bad Competition, one fundamental thing stands above all others. The creation of value from insight and skill.

The person who can come up with the best algorithm in the world at weather prediction probably doesn’t work at the National Weather Service. The person who can come up with the best asset-backed security trading algorithm probably doesn’t work at Goldman Sachs. But most unfortunately, they probably don’t have the large cluster, access to data, and ability to compute that they would need to learn on and ultimately to realise their potential.

Enabling anyone to stand on the shoulders of giants and a large cluster is a lofty goal. At Domini, it is one of our aims. We are building, from the ground up out of necessity, big data tools that actually work. Big data tools not written on top of a clunky, massively complex, horrific mess of a codebase. Solid, precise, predictable, known, easy to reason about. And most importantly, we are building a platform that enables anyone to express business logic and run computation. So they can realise their potential as the best at creating X algorithm in the world.

If you can help us, email me @

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