Self-Driving Vehicles Steer Talk of Future Economy


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Uber’s OTTO Takes Autonomous to the Assembly Line
Bringing the latest in autonomous vehicles indoors, Clearpath Robotics has put a self-driving cart in between factory assembly lines and the stacks of materials needed to manufacture today’s goods. OTTO can map its own route and recharge itself, and now an extra $30 million is set to take OTTO into many more factories, warehouses, and distribution centers — as well as develop the next generation of “profound” innovations for the global supply chain. It’s a start toward the technology that industry forecasters predict will replace 7% of American labor by 2025. Read more about self-driving vehicles in factories on Futurism.

Next:Economy Touts the Reign of Humans in a Robotic World
The gradual rise of robots in the economy of the future will enhance and empower — not eliminate — the human race, according to some of the top minds pioneering the Autonomous World. Their thoughts took center stage at the recent Next:Economy conference in San Francisco. Among the takeaways were the observation of a shift to tribal, tech-powered neighborhoods; the way ahead for social good companies as opposed to corporations that don’t return capital to the economy; the coming efficiencies of cooperation with AI; the challenges of economic depressions and authoritarian leaders; and Silicon Valley’s need to engage with regulators. Read all about the Next:Economy perspectives and Catalyst Companies’ initial take in Founder Jeremiah Owyang’s live notes.

Insiders Spy Google’s Self-Driving Minivan Prototypes
The first prototypes from the partnership between Google’s self-driving system and Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans were recently spied in a Mountain View parking garage. Google has announced plans to equip 100 Pacificas, which have an electric range of 30 miles and a “robust electrical architecture” well-suited for the integration of autonomous driving technology. The prototypes feature a roof-mounted sensor suite and fender-embedded sensors. Once fully deployed, the 100 minivans will dwarf the rest of Google’s self-driving fleet, which currently features 24 SUVs and 34 other vehicles. Read more about the prototype discovery from electrek.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

Catalyst Companies Future Events and Upcoming Research


By Carl Bohlin and Jeremiah Owyang

Technologies empower customers faster than companies can adapt. To help businesses keep up with that pace of change, we host thought-provoking events, bring in the right speakers, and publish relevant research. In everything we do, Catalyst Companies connects corporate leaders to the right innovation resources, thus enabling timely and effective action.

Catalyst Companies provides members with up-to-date information on the technologies and customer behaviors that are driving business model changes. We do this by staying abreast of trends, conducting and providing member-directed research, involving thought leaders and startups in the ongoing conversations, and providing our members with the ability to learn and share in confidential, in-person meetings and teleconferences.

Catalyst Companies is hosting two physical events coming up in October 2016 at which we plan to hear from Council members and thought leaders. It is always inspiring to gather at these events and share in a private setting some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities we face as a Council. And in the midst of new business model changes, it’s great to validate initial thoughts, share collective learning, and discuss with peers promising strategies to address common internal challenges.


October 6th, 2016, in San Francisco: Join us for our Meet, Learn, and Tour event, one of the few opportunities for those outside the Council to experience what interactions in Council settings can be like. We will highlight the corporate innovation research initiatives that Catalyst Companies currently has underway, as well as hear from the cutting-edge experience of Nestle, and take a tour of its Innovation Outpost.


October 25th and 26th, 2016, in NYC: Our Main Event, hosted by MasterCard, will be the highlight of the year, featuring presentations by MasterCard, Statoil, Wells Fargo, Migros, Sparks and Honey, General Assembly, Robert Scoble, and more, along with the findings of proprietary member research.

What’s up for 2017? We are adding more!

Council members love the in-person engagements and networking. Therefore, Catalyst Companies will be providing more opportunities to foster discussions and increase knowledge and awareness. We are adding gatherings at top industry events and expanding our European events. To date, our 2017 lineup includes:

January 5th: Member Gathering in conjunction with CES, Las Vegas

March 11th: Member Gathering in conjunction with SXSW, Austin, Texas

April 26th: European Summit, hosted by Philips, Amsterdam

June 15th: Spring Summit, hosted by AARP, Washington, D.C.

September: The Main Event, San Francisco

October: European Summit, TBD

**Plus more under consideration

Catalyst Companies also continues to grow and expand our research. The Catalyst Companies Corporate Innovation Report is underway, with previews of the research scheduled to be delivered on October 6th at the San Francisco Meet, Learn, and Tour, and full delivery to our membership planned for our October 25th Main Event in NYC.
What’s next for research? After we complete the Corporate Innovation Report this fall, we’ll begin research on the Business Models of Blockchain to find out how all industries and verticals are impacted by cryptocurrencies.

A New Vision for Hospitality, Infrastructure, and Business


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

A World Without Drivers Changes the Game for Businesses
As new technologies reshape how we collaborate and move, the entire foundation of traditional business models will be reconfigured. Catalyst Companies’ research into the coming Autonomous World points to a society where autonomous vehicles give way to radical reductions in costs for logistics and transportation, followed by a revolutionary paradigm shift for businesses. Beyond auto companies, airlines and hotels will adjust to mobile offices and entertainment experiences, insurance companies will be forced to reinvent product offerings, predictive inventory management and distribution will dominate logistics and delivery, retail storefronts will become showrooms or warehouses, and communities will gravitate toward designing for walkability. Learn more about Catalyst Companies’ research by watching Founder Jeremiah Owyang’s speech at Analytics Experience 2016.

Airbnb Welcomes the World’s Hosts to Re-Envision Hospitality
A celebration of hospitality and innovation in hosting is bringing some of the friendliest people from more than 100 countries to Los Angeles Nov. 17-19 to inspire, enlighten, and re-envision the future of hospitality at Airbnb Open LA. The three-day festival and conference aims to “explore unique neighborhoods, spark lasting friendships, and exchange best practices with fellow hosts” and a blockbuster lineup of speakers from all facets of the industry, including the Airbnb co-founders, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Corden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, author Elizabeth Gilbert, futurist Jason Silva, and many more. Get more info on Airbnb Open LA.

Lyft Imagines a World Built for People, Not Cars
Take a look around at the immense waste of space that’s dedicated to a world which revolves around the automobile. Empty, parked cars everywhere. Now join Lyft in re-imagining what that space could be if all those vehicles were gone. Such is the epiphany of Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer, who believes a new transportation revolution will lead to the demise of private car ownership by 2025, thereby removing the burden of parked vehicles, streamlining the nation’s infrastructure, and transforming the space in which we live. Read much more of Zimmer’s thoughts via Medium.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Catalyst Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from IDG Communications

Startups Test the Throttle of Market Leaders’ Innovation


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Established Corporations Striving to Keep Up With Startups
Lightweight and nimble, startups across America and the globe are taking the business world to exciting new places — in hopes of augmenting their brands and products into the daily lives of customers, much like what established companies have already done. Catalyst Companies has identified the ways startups differ most from their market leaders, thereby distilling the necessary ingredients for an agile modern corporation to most effectively foster a culture of innovation that keeps its brand at the forefront. Read all 11 ways that startups are known to outrun established corporations and weigh in on the discussion on our blog.

A Robot Takeover on the Horizon
Fearing a robotic takeover of the workplace in the coming years, the White House assembled its economists and concluded that the rise of industrial technology provides an 83 percent likelihood that workers who make $20 an hour or less will be replaced by robots, along with a 31 percent chance that those making $20 to $40 per hour will lose their jobs and a scant 4 percent risk to those earning more than $40 an hour. Those economists also credit technology with further polarizing the gap between the rich and the poor, and though new technologies no doubt present unprecedented opportunities and efficiencies, they may just displace more jobs than they create by 2025. Read more about the White House’s economic forecast from the Huffington Post that published a few months ago, but we felt it was timely to surface again.

Self-Driving Buses Turn the Corner in Finland
Taking advantage of laws that only require supervision of autonomous vehicles, not a physical driver, Finland’s Metropolia University of Applied Sciences has put a pair of 12-passenger electric Easymile EZ-10 buses on a fixed route through the streets of a Helsinki neighborhood for a month-long test that’s one of the world’s first. For good measure, Metropolia has included an onboard supervisor and is throttling the buses down to just 6 mph. Helsinki has made it a public goal to get rid of all personal cars and provide complete public transportation solutions within a decade. Read more about the self-driving buses on Curbed.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Catalyst Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

11 Ways Startups Outrun Established Corporations

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The purpose of this post is to list out how startups are bypassing established companies so that incumbents glean the best tactics and apply them to their own corporate innovation.

Tech startups are designed, built, and managed differently than established companies, giving them a competitive edge against incumbent corporations. This post outlines startup advantages, including cultural differences, business models, and business strategies. But, established companies aren’t sitting around idle; they’re adopting these same strategies in order to compete, emulate, or lead in their market. See how corporations are deploying ten types of innovation programs.

In our work at Catalyst Companies, we’ve observed that big, established companies possess advantages in their tremendous resources, trusted brand names, and experience in their field, they are also plagued with gears that are slow to turn.

11 Ways Startups Outrun Established Corporations:


Startups have unique cultural differences:
Herein lies the greatest difference between a startup and and an established corporation: The core ethos of the organization is built differently.

  • 1) Smaller, faster. Smaller in size, startups can quickly redirect employees in nearly any direction; there are fewer minds to change and fewer levels of management to get through. Additionally, startups hire innovators who are focused on new ways of doing business, which also enables them to quickly shift in unorthodox directions.
  • 2) Embraces failure. Because startups have less at stake, they foster a culture that’s not afraid to fail. You’ll hear mantras that encourage “Fail Fast” or “Fail Forward” risk-taking in exchange for the potential of innovation. Meanwhile, established companies can be hesitant to pivot and disrupt their existing revenue streams.
  • 3) Attracts high-risk/reward workers. Unlike stable career positions, entrepreneurial minded professionals are attracted to the startup lifestyle. This encourages wilder career moves in long shot startups, with the equity promise for high financial gain and industry fame.
  • 4) Attracts skilled talent. Startups often attract top talent due to their sense of purpose and passion, quality of work life, perks, and promise of making it rich through equity packages rather than a salaried job at an established company.
  • 5) They’re younger. As a whole, startup employees and founders, at least in tech, tend to be younger; they can afford to take more career risk, often with fewer family, health and financial commitments. Although controversial, Mark Zuckerberg claims they’re just “smarter” than older cohorts as they may have the latest skills, or can be easier molded.

Startup business models are setup differently:
Startups are set up differently as business entities than established corporations, giving them additional advantages to take down their target markets.

  • 6) VC funded. Ample VC funding enables radical innovation and encourages high-risk business models, often designed to disrupt incumbents through the use of networks, technology, and new methods of going to market.
  • 7) Privately held. Startups have more freedom to disrupt an existing market, as they’re not exposed to the scrutiny over quarterly earnings like public companies are. As a result, these startups answer only to their executives and board, and they can plan beyond the next quarter.
  • 8) Growth over revenue. Startups are not held to the same standards as publicly traded corporations. Startups are often focused on market penetration and adoption rather than just revenue. To avoid upsetting users, Facebook didn’t turn on its “mobile advertising” engines until post-IPO.

Startups have an unorthodox business strategy:
The way startups deploy their day-to-day businesses is different than established companies; they move faster, with greater risk, and are able to quickly ship product.

  • 9) Tackle niche, then grow. Startups can attack small markets, then grow them to compete with established companies. Established corporations often don’t have the appetite to defend smaller markets, giving startups the ability to gain footholds as they expand.
  • 10) Faster than the law. Startups often challenge existing rules, laws, and regulations. They’re able to move faster than regulators, then reshape the discussion to their benefit, like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft have.
  • 11) Quickly ship product. Startups are known for the practice of “shipping fast” in their product releases: releasing versions daily if not hourly, and are taught that shipping a product when it’s 90% or even 80% finished is acceptable — rather than perfecting it like an established corporation would.

Looking at across these 11 different ways that startups are able to outrun established corporations, you can see that the very core makeup of the culture, business setup, and their strategies are often different than older established companies.

Established companies aren’t standing still, waiting to be disrupted, they are either weighing whether they should build similar features or purchase the startups outright, or emulating the same characteristics of startups. Established companies who don’t move faster, run the risk of being blind sided from a young market competitor.

We’ll build on this in an upcoming report on corporate innovation and explain how established companies are starting to act more like startups and make their corporations more agile.

(Credits: I shared a short list on Twitter, and received some insightful suggestions, including from: Serena Ehlich, Julian, and Caleb Parker. Image from Pexel)

Catalyst Companies Members Receive Forbes Top Innovation Honors

Forbes List 2016

By Carl Bohlin, Member Success

Five Catalyst Companies members and one of its founding members were included in Forbes’ 2016 World’s Most Innovative Companies list, released in mid-August. We’re happy to congratulate council members from the following companies:

  • Visa, #27
  • MasterCard, #30
  • Adobe Systems, #36
  • Dassault Systèmes, #57
  • Colgate-Palmolive, #72
  • Autodesk (former founding member), #47

According to Forbes, companies are ranked by their “innovation premium”: the difference between their market capitalization and a net present value of cash flows from existing businesses. More information on the ranking process and criteria can be found here.

At Catalyst Companies, we’re excited to work with leaders from all of our member organizations, helping them overcome innovation challenges by sharing expertise and moving to action with each other’s help. When members come together, it’s gratifying to hear their validation of thoughts and concepts, and all the “a-ha!” moments that require additional discussion post-event. I’m already looking forward to seeing next year’s list, wherein I’m certain we’ll see even more members represented. Congratulations, all!

Autonomous Cars are coming to a street near you — changing the rules of the road


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Ready to Hit the Streets
Capitalizing on the information-rich 100 million miles per day logged by current Uber drivers, the leading ride-sharing company is teaching its cars to drive themselves, and the first “student” drivers are ready to pick up regular customers in downtown Pittsburgh — for free. The bold experiment is expected to hit the streets in late August with safety “drivers” watching from behind the wheel, ready to take over at the sound of a warning tone. Uber plans to put 100 self-driving Volvo SUVs into service by the end of the year, and it is racing to full automation as soon as possible. Its $300 million Volvo partnership aims to deploy a fully autonomous car by 2021, and driverless trucks are in the works with the pending acquisition of Otto. Read more about the latest developments in self-driving cars on Bloomberg.

Ford Building Self-Driving Fleet With No Human Controls
Wary of the pitfalls of driver re-engagement (or lack thereof) in semi-autonomous vehicles, Ford is taking human error out of the equation. Showcasing confidence in its autonomous technology, the automaker just announced it is designing a fleet of self-driving taxis without steering wheels and pedals for use beginning in 2021. But without the human fallback option, Ford’s autonomous cars will only drive in geofenced urban areas and in favorable weather conditions. En route to that fully-automated day in 2021, Ford is revving up its test vehicle numbers this year to attain the largest fleet of any automaker. Read more about Ford’s 2021 self-driving taxi project on Business Insider.

Self-Driving Cars Steering Their Way to Your Business Model
While the first stop for driverless technology may be a ride-sharing or taxi service, the next stop might be much closer to your business model. Self-driving cars are speeding up the advent of the Autonomous World, which would make inroads to industries as diverse as travel and hospitality, insurance, logistics, retail and municipal government. Catalyst Companies has analyzed the implications of intelligent technology on the rest of the business world and integrated them into an insightful infographic and a members-only full report focused on the role of humans and robots as well as the business strategies required to compete in this coming Autonomous World. Check out the infographic on our blog.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Catalyst Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Uber via Bloomberg

Corporate Innovation Impacts Customers in Four Ways

Rather than arbitrarily throw around the “innovation” word, understand how it impacts your customers, and be specific. Innovation comes in four flavors: product innovation, operational innovation, customer experience innovation, and business model innovation.

Corporate innovation isn’t easy. Stefan Petzov, an innovation professional at Swisscom, a Catalyst Companies member, has outlined the many challenges that innovation programs inherently face. In particular, the first challenge he lists out is that companies struggle because “the expected outcome is not clearly defined.” Clarity is paramount.

One way to solve this top-level challenge is to ensure your company and innovation partners have a standard nomenclature for how innovation is used. We looked at structuring this language around products, business units, or functions, but found it would be most helpful to structure it around customer benefit.

First, some qualifications on the scope of this discussion: The following is focused on how innovation is done within a company, not about external activities like partnerships, investment, acquisition, accelerators, and more. In a recent post, we identified the ten types of innovation programs, which goes into a bit more detail.


Corporate Innovation Impacts Customers in Four Ways:

Innovation Categories Description Examples Benefits to Customers
1) Product Innovation Often led by R&D, product features are enhanced, or new products are developed based on the product roadmap. Nike evolved beyond shoes to Nike Plus, expanding its offerings. Also, new product lines like Nestle’s launch of Nespresso grew a loyal customer base. Continued improvements on product features and benefits, as well as new product lines.
2) Operational Innovation Often led by operations, new processes increase productivity and efficiency, or reduce costs associated with employees, partners, and the supply chain. In the ‘70s, Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda increased the efficiency of auto production and reduced overall costs through kaizen. Products emerge faster, with more consistency, and often at a lower cost.
3) Customer Experience Innovation Often led by marketing and customer care, new services, interfaces, and channels are developed to improve customer interactions, while the product often stays the same. Hugo Boss partnered with Uber for product delivery, transportation, and concierge. Swisscom launched “Friends” so customers can self-support. New services beyond the core product offering, including supportive media, communications in new channels and mediums, and white-glove service.
4) Business Model Innovation Often led by innovators or strategists, companies identify complete new revenue streams from existing core capabilities. BMW launched ReachNow, enabling customers to rent vehicles on demand — rather than buy — packaged with parking services, insurance, and more. Core product and service offerings are provided in new ways that meet shifting customer expectations –reframing customer relationships in the face of disruptive technologies.


With new technologies emerging at a rapid pace (who knew Pokemon Go would be a top app within just a few days), companies have no choice but to accelerate their rate of innovation. Unfortunately, most companies focus exclusively on only one or two forms of corporate innovation, forgetting others that could be a key competitive advantage to satisfying the ever-changing expectations of customers.

Most companies focus on Product Innovation, which can quickly escalate into a race amongst competitors towards a commoditization that churns out less-than-useful new products rather than true innovation that revolutionizes the way customers live. In recent periods, I’ve also observed companies redeploy attention on Customer Experience Innovation as they scramble to reach customers in a multitude of digital and in-person channels.

An area we focus heavily on at Catalyst Companies is how companies tap into the power of people and technology to unlock new revenues by serving customers in new ways through Business Model Innovation, whether that’s in the Collaborative Economy or the Autonomous World, where robots take the wheel, and whatever comes next.

To maximize customer satisfaction — and ultimately competitive edge companies must innovate in all four of these areas, as well as ensure that the innovation management team is coordinating all efforts toward a single goal.

In closing, when you’re using the word innovation, be clear about which of the four types you’re referring to, as it impacts your company, employees, and customers in significant ways.

(Credit to Jairo Venegas for the focus on operational innovation, and Jamie Sandford for the link to the Science of Innovation.)

The “Enabling a Platform” Use Case Playbook Helps Companies Deploy Collaborative Economy Programs

Catalyst Companies is pleased to deliver the final installment of the Collaborative Economy Use Case Playbook series: the “Enabling a Platform” business model. The playbook assists council members in establishing Collaborative Economy initiatives by outlining resources required, recommended vendors, an implementation process, pitfalls to avoid, starter metrics, and more.

Get a sneak peek at the playbook below!


Within the Enabling a Platform model, Catalyst Companies has identified six use cases for Collaborative Economy program development. These are outlined within the playbook:

  • Crowdfunding: Funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically through an online platform. Can be used externally and internally.
  • Co-Innovation of Ideas: Turning to internal (employees) or external (customers, public) crowds to submit ideas for innovation, solve problems, create products and services, and identify new opportunities for your business.
  • Makers Partner: Partnering with “Makers” – individuals and groups that physically or digitally make craft goods – to produce new, interesting, and/or authentic products that complement your brand’s existing product or service line.
  • Crowd-Based Supply Chain: Using crowd-based workers to improve and/or bring efficiencies to your supply chain in delivery and shipping, storage, risk management, and product innovation.
  • Crowd-Based Marketing: Seeking input from your followers and customers to efficiently create and ideate new, diverse content campaigns and initiatives.
  • Crowd-Based Customer Care: Harness informed customers and experts to field support questions and tasks for your products and services in place of, or in addition to, an internal customer service department. Crowd-based customer care is often cheaper and more efficient.

This is part three of three playbooks delivered in 2016, covering the Collaborative Economy business models: Brand as a Service; Marketplace Model, and Enable a Platform (see below).

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Members can access the Enabling a Platform playbook, and the other playbooks, in full. To become a Catalyst Companies member, please contact Jeremiah Owyang.

The 10 Routes to Corporate Innovation


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Know the 10 forms of Corporate Innovation
Under pressure from nimble startups and fast-moving disrupters, larger corporations are trying just about anything they can to foster groundbreaking innovations and outside-the-box ideas that can keep up with the market trends. Having observed these efforts first-hand from some of the best teams out there, Catalyst Companies recently identified and detailed 10 different types of corporate innovation programs. From in-house departments to outposts and accelerators to acquisitions, there are success stories to be had and a good fit to be found. Check out the research on Founder Jeremiah Owyang’s blog.

Consolidation: Ride-Sharing Heavyweights Sort Out the Global Market
Strategies among the global ride-sharing elite continue to navigate sharp twists and turns as they race for a greater share of the road. With news of Uber calling off its fight for China and selling assets there to Didi Chuxing comes a reinvigorated rush to the streets of India, where Uber will rev up its activities while Didi focuses on its home territory. The Didi-Uber deal complicates a previous alliance between Didi and India’s predominant ride-sharing company, Ola. More growing pains are sure to come as the industry continues to consolidate and mature. Read more about the implications of Uber shifting its crosshairs to India on VentureBeat.

Caution Washes Over Intrigue After Bitcoin Hack
The curiosity and intrigue surrounding bitcoin, the new digital currency making waves in the financial world in recent years, was recently tempered with a dose of reality when hackers stole $70 million worth of bitcoins from Bitfinex accounts in Hong Kong. The development is one to watch, as the Bitfinex exchange has set an interesting precedent by siphoning 36% out of all customers’ accounts in order to compensate for the loss. Account holders will receive a new token in place of their losses, which Bitfinex hopes to someday redeem. The news comes as a warning of bitcoin’s instability, even as its popularity continues to grow. Learn more about the hack on TechCrunch.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Catalyst Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.


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