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Business Unusual
How disruptors deal with disruption

How disruptors deal with disruption

6 May 2020 7:36 PM

Can Uber and Airbnb survive being disrupted themselves?

Two companies that defined the creation of the sharing/trust/gig economy are Uber and Airbnb. Both were founded during the peak of innovation for this century in 2008/9.

Both grew out of real frustration to try rent something, for Uber founders it was a limousine, for Airbnb it was was a place to stay during a popular conference.

Technology made it easier to determine spare capacity for a product or service which could be rented out short term to both create supplemental income for the owner and an easier and less expensive option for those seeking to use the product or service.

They are often described as being the largest transport company with no vehicles and the largest hospitality chain without any rooms.

In the decade since their founding, they have grown rapidly, attracted fierce competition and weathered a string of scandals.

Image credit: Uber & Airbnb

More episodes from Business Unusual

It has not been a good year for rubber

12 August 2020 7:27 PM

We made a mistake with rubber that may prove difficult to erase. We make too much of it in the wrong place and don’t appreciate just how big a problem it will be if the industry collapses.

Guest: Colin Cullis/ Correspondent at money show 

Image credit: Greg Hume - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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A warning for the future, we do not think enough about our actions

5 August 2020 7:25 PM

Despite being one of the few animals that think about the future, we don’t think far enough

It seems unlikely that the world will ever forget the disruption of Covid-19, yet most did not think we would see something like this in 2020. Odds are you had not even heard of the Spanish flu of 1918 even though now you know lots about it. 

For those that lived through it, the expectation was that so much had been written and recorded about it that it would serve as a warning to never let it happen again. But it did.

Image credit: Gustavo Frazao

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How social media became a dumpster fire and what to do about it

29 July 2020 7:26 PM

The internet was funded by the US military and developed by the academic community to provide a place to openly and easily share information. It was supposed to be a place to test ideas, to contest theories and to challenge views.

Now that you can, it does not work quite as intended.

Image credit: Bill Ward - Flickr


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What the Twitter hack says about us

22 July 2020 7:24 PM

For what much have seemed like forever on Wednesday 15 July neither Twitter nor 130 verified accounts were being controlled by their owners.

The accounts had been taken over by hackers that posted a slightly tweaked crypto scam and after about four hours once the accounts had been secured, millions had seen the hacked tweets, with hundreds having sent bitcoin resulting in over R1,5 million paid to the scammers. 

Worse than the loss of money was the loss of control but rather than it being a failure of technology it was a failure of understanding how we work.

Guest: Colin Cullis/ Business Unusual correspondent on The Money Show 

Image credit: Twitter

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When business, technology and politics collide

8 July 2020 7:28 PM

A business and its staff might have an ambition to take over the world and most would think that it was a fair ambition. For a country or political party to adopt a similar ambition, it is a very different story.

What should companies and the people that work in them do when faced with political changes that don’t align with their values?

The short answer for most of history has probably been - too little too late.

Image credit: Hong Kong

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Drug profits - a neccessary evil or something that needs to change

1 July 2020 7:25 PM

Using profit to solve health issues does not work in a pandemic, perhaps at all.

This is a really complex issue. How should we fund the research for more effective drugs to treat conditions that may affect millions, knowing that many will not work and then determine how to price those that do work to cover the costs not just of the drug that did work, but the research for those that did not.

The cost to produce the drug has components that include the search for the potential candidates, the development of the tests on animals and then humans and the ongoing monitoring to determine its effect.

The mechanism to do this has been to have for profit companies get patents for their discoveries and then get a period between 5, 12 and sometimes over 20 years to be able to exclusively supply the drug and set its price.

There is no question that the system can be better. The question is how and despite many attempts by those that have practical alternatives, it does not appear enough has changed to make medicine more accessible.

Could the Covid-19 pandemic provide the public support to overcome the financial resistance that those that benefit from the status quo?

Image credit - Pexels

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Social Media - mass mobilisation and the modern mob

24 June 2020 7:25 PM

A powerful tool that everyone can access that has the ability to change the world or make it worse. Business Unusual looks at how social media has created significant movements but also spread conspiracies.

Image credit: Pexels

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How the dead can solve South Africa's inequality

17 June 2020 7:25 PM

To quote one of the richest men in the world about inheritance, Warren Buffet thinks passing on a fortune is not the right way to go. 

His advice is “You should leave your children enough so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing.”

In South Africa the challenge to addressing inequality is not a lack of willingness to address the issue, but rather an inability to overcome the gap if the status quo is not challenged.

Image credit:

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Something found in a dump may save the oceans

10 June 2020 7:26 PM

By 2050 there might be more plastic than fish in the sea

Humanity’s progress is marked by chance findings and lucky discoveries and this one might be one of the best.

In the 1950s the discovery of plastics seemed to be the solution to all our packaging and storage needs. Glass was great but heavy, expensive and fragile. Plastic was a wonder product that helped make a certain soft drink one of the most recognised brands on the planet and ensure that almost every human hand has held that plastic bottle at some point in their lives. That one brand alone revealed that they produce three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year in 2017. That would be equivalent to 200 000 bottles produced per minute or over 100 billion per year.

Some bottles do get recycled, some is reused for clothing but a big proportion is simply thrown away with a portion of that ending up in the sea.


Image credit: Wikipedia

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Banking the unbanked

3 June 2020 7:26 PM

In 2004, 54% of South Africans had no bank account, that thankfully changed significantly with the introduction of the national payment system which used a bank card which was loaded with the grant and could be used to make payments or used to withdraw cash when needed at pay points like supermarkets.

That saw the percentage unbanked fall to 33% in 2012 and could be used by 75% of the recipients.


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