The Itchy Trigger Finger of the Long-Term Investor

Razors and Lasers

Suppose you’re comparing two companies: a legacy razor blade business with an established brand name, phenomenal distribution, and economics so good people use “give away the razor, sell the blades” as an analogy for other businesses. And, on the other end, let’s imagine a wild tech company that’s competing with them. Maybe somebody has designed an autonomous drone that uses tiny lasers to slice off your hair while you sleep, and continuously scrapes Tinder to determine exactly what kind of facial hair is most appealing to the people you find most appealing.

  • Drones start out expensive and get cheap at scale. But what if they scale too slowly and the company runs out of money? What if “cheap” isn’t cheap enough?
  • Implemetation is hard. The razor industry has several millennia of experience safely swinging large blades close to important veins, but even then there are risks — Thoreau’s brother died from tetanus after he cut himself shaving. The drone company will be on the risky end of the spectrum for a long time, and its failures will make the news.
  • Scraping everybody’s dating profiles to figure out their darkest desires might strike some people as a privacy violation.
A symposium of futurists gathers to discuss the long-term implications of recent technological developments



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Byrne Hobart

Byrne Hobart

I write about technology (more logos than techne) and economics. Newsletter: