10 Observations from Last Week 

Recovering from CES? Missed some of the hottest tech news? No worries, we have you covered.

1. The competition for Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in finance is stiff – but Ted Gonder, cofounder and CEO of Moneythink (a group we proudly support), certainly deserves the recognition. Moneythink started on the University of Chicago’s campus and has developed into a nationwide organization where college students teach financial literacy in urban high schools. Already, Moneythink mentors have helped more than 10,000 teens establish a foundation for long-term financial and professional success.

If you’re wondering about the next generation of 30 Under 30, The New Yorker has you covered.

2. Selfie stick aside, CES was dominated by the confluence of two trends: wearables and the Internet of Things. If you missed all of the wearables announcements, Harrison Weber from VentureBeat detailed all 56 of them. But, perhaps the best insight he got came from a Vegas cab driver who called out CES for not having useful products, and questioned why so many smart people weren’t focused on bigger problems.

3. Speaking of wearables, a new report from Baird’s William Power found that 85% of consumers surveyed weren’t in the market for a fitness device. That comes as no surprise to our client, 4D Healthware founder Star Cunningham, who noted in Medical Device Daily back in December that wearables would have to move away from fitness alone and into helping people manage their overall health.

4. Customers will continue to move to online shopping, but independent retailers often struggle to make those experiences strong. David Kalt, the CEO of Reverb.com, told the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky that the answer is in content – in-depth and engaging – featuring the company, its products and its people. And in those departments, Reverb.com and sister company Chicago Music Exchange are setting the standard.

5. Propllr has always hated the term “sharing economy” – if you are paying someone for a service, it’s not sharing – it’s just the economy. It seems that the Associated Press Stylebook is catching on. This week, the publication killed “ride-sharing,” noting that services like Uber and Lyft are better described as ride-hailing or ride-booking services.

6. What can marketers learn from a Vegas brothel? Social media skills. Re/code has the story from Vegas – which is all about how Sheri’s Ranch relies on social media to market itself, since it’s illegal to advertise.

7. It’s easy to take things for granted, like the prevalence of a dominant player in the market. And while disruption is an overused term, you know it when you see it. Fritz-Kola is a German cola brand that has displaced Coca-Cola in Germany and beyond. Here’s their story.

8. An overused term: pivot. Good tech companies are always iterating new products – but it can be hard to recreate the wheel with a flagship product with established revenues. Is it going to be like New Coke and flounder – or succeed like Doritos Locos Tacos did? OptionsCity’s Victor Glava details seven ways to make sure a reinvention succeeds.

9. We maintain a healthy level of skepticism about Illinois’ plan to force-feed retirement savings down our throats with mandatory 3% payroll deductions. The deductions aren’t part of a government program, but would instead be controlled by workers who don’t have access to a retirement account at work. A fee of 75 basis points seems steep, and there’d be no choice over where the money went, so here’s hoping that Vanguard’s Jack Bogle can talk some sense into the state before the plan takes effect in 2017. However, whatever the pitfalls, this type of state-by-state experimentation is what makes federalism great.

10. Vice President Joe Biden is a good Delawarean (just like Mark). Last week, he swore in the new Senate – and he’s been known to issue a complement or two while doing it. The Washington Post just put together a random complement generator from prior comments. Good stuff.

Onward and Upward!

The Propllr Team