Ben Perreira

My head's dropbox.

Month: September, 2012

Retail Discount

For about four years I worked in small retail stores for between $8 and $13 per hour. My paychecks were almost insulting, customers could be terrible and I hated standing on my feet all day.

But there is something that cannot be discounted in one’s education as a marketer – the experience one gets from having been on the ground floor of where consumers consume. This was not before ecommerce, but these stores didn’t have ecommerce platforms built out yet and access to attendant analytics. The only insight we had into our customers came from rudimentary software and what we saw, heard and felt on the sales floor.

Retail isn’t flashy and won’t buy you a badass car, but it’s a cheap lesson in what makes people tick.

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Incentives and Inverted Corruption

I was introduced to the movie Runaway Jury during a business law course two years ago and have seen it a couple more times since. It’s a great story. The protagonists hijack a jury to convince them to award a massive judgement for a shooting victim’s family from the gun company defendant.

Bloomberg ran an article today that details how the IRS awarded $104 million to a corporate whistleblower who exposed a UBS tax evasion scam. The gentleman in question worked for UBS, was complicit in the scam for years, and has served time in prison for his involvement. 

These stories have a lot in common. In Runaway Jury the payment goes to a victim who cannot possibly be compensated enough for the loss of her husband (plus a tidy extorted sum for the protagonists), and in the IRS case the money goes to one man who sold out his former lifestyle. The gun company is paying to dissuade other gun companies from making dangerous products, whereas the IRS is paying to incentivize those connected to scams to come forward.

Sure, the whistleblower’s actions may net much more than $104 million in tax revenue for the United States government, but what kind of message does this send vis-a-vis ethics in business? Are we only supposed to do the right thing when a nine-figure payoff is dangled in front of us? Or as a business, are we only supposed to create safe products when we know a jury may bring down the hammer with a crippling judgement?

For the whistleblower case, if corruption is businesspeople paying the government for favors, is this simply the inverse of corruption? And is the inverse of corruption any more desirable than traditional corruption?

Internet Strategy

I follow almost eight hundred people/ organizations on Twitter, many of whom are in the digital media business. I read several articles a day on the state of the business, new technologies, where current leaders are going, who is going to pull ahead, etc. It’s easy to get lost in the hype of technology as world changer and be-all-end-all.

The technology is a vehicle. A phenomenal and powerful vehicle, but one that requires context. Michael Porter knew this in 2001 when the bubble was about to burst. People have to know how to use the tools. They need to immediately see how they will impact their days, which are becoming increasingly pulled in different directions by ways to “save them time.” At the same time, management looks after the bottom line. As internet technology evolves and develops nuance, it is up to users, buyers, managers, entrepreneurs, consumers and investors to optimize how tools fit into our daily lives, not the other way around.