Crowdsourced Terror, Hyper-Competition and the Acceleration of Acceleration

I’m not quite yet in my old-man-phase, where I’ll point at every fresh societal development as evidence of a world gone crazy. I figure I’ve got at least two more decades before I get there.

That being said, I can’t help but point out the fact that everything seems to be moving much faster now, that the second-derivative rate of change – the acceleration of acceleration – has become more readily noticeable. These days I feel as though I’m bent backwards, watching a speeding bullet pass over my shoulder in slow-motion, Matrix-style. It’s flying fast, but somehow I can tell. Am I slower or is the pace quickening – and if it is quickening, how is it that I am able to see that so clearly?

There is a new terror movement on the other side of the world that is crowdsourcing social misfits from every corner of the globe, recruiting via interactive marketing and social media in a manner befitting a Fortune 500 company rolling out a new product. Just yesterday, terrorists were sneaking video cassettes of their rants to the mainstream media via elaborate networks of shadowy operatives and untraceable handoffs in the dark. Today they’re uploading videos of murder directly to Youtube, on Google-owned servers. They’re posting selfies to Instagram, propaganda to Facebook and keeping the world updated about their exploits on Twitter. They’re branding and thought-leadering. They’re communicating with the White House over the World Wide Web. They’re doing what a top-flight consultant might recommend to Tide detergent or TIME Magazine – “Join the conversation!”

None of this would have been possible just a short time ago. Osama’s gang could never have taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times, even if they’d paid in cash. The reach they’d have gotten by doing so, by today’s standards, would be quaint. In 2014, a millennial terrorist (yes, that’s what they are) with a laptop and a modicum of social media savvy could easily amplify a message like that by several orders of magnitude without even getting out of bed.

Obama doesn’t have a strategy. How can he? In 2003, we wondered what could possibly be worse than Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad? Now you know. Syria has a population of 22 million and an estimated 10 million of them are classified as refugees. Mass murderers now control a territory with a landmass the size of Great Britain. Overnight.

There’s a burgeoning realization that what we’re watching is a region-wide, religious civil war – something that has to be fought out, with oceans of blood an inevitability rather than merely a bad option. There are no options for us, we can’t help. It’s 1300 years in the making, even if the Western intervention in Iraq sped it up. “Let the animals kill each other,” is a common refrain in bars and coffee shops across America.

In the last year, everyone I know added the Uber app to their phones. All of a sudden, town cars on demand became an attainable thing for the upper middle class – not cheap, but easily gotten. Lyft came along shortly after and gave Uber a run for its money. Competition became brutal overnight. Uber decided the world was only big enough for one of them and unleashed an army of well-trained saboteurs to wreck Lyft’s business and tie up its drivers. Apparatchiks across the country set about requesting fake rides to jam up the system. They hailed Lyft drivers from the app with dummy credit cards and burner phones with the sole intention of luring them over to Uber, according to media reports. Nobody even blinked at this new kind of extremist campaign  – “Let the animals kills each other.” You couldn’t find a single Uber user who stopped using the service as reports of this came to light. If anything, we’re cheering it on.

This week, a third competitor entered the mix. It’s a Tel Aviv-based company called Gett and they’ve taken the ride war to its logical endpoint: Gett is now offering customers a ride from any part of Manhattan to any other part, at any time of day or night, for just ten dollars. For the non-New Yorkers among my readership, allow me to explain that ten dollars is the Manhattan equivalent of free, no charge.

App-assisted on-demand transportation is an “industry” that, for all intents and purposes, is less than three years old. And, already, its two largest players are medievally maiming each other on the battlefield. This as a third warrior enters the arena offering the same service they’re fighting to provide for free. What will Uber and Lyft do to deal with this new competitor? Kidnappings? Car bombs?

In a prior era, this kind of thing would’ve played out over years and decades – think Coke versus Pepsi or Ford versus Chevrolet. Generations of executives and marketers fighting for the upper hand in this category or that. Now we go from zero-to-free in minutes. Minutes!

Market share matters more than money in an environment where the only thing that counts is the valuation at which you can sell stock. Stock seems to sell quicker based on total addressable market (TAM) and your size within that market these days. The town car landgrab is old school – something from a time before time. The tactics and savagery are a throwback but the motivation behind it is thoroughly modern, an artifact of now. Uber is worth $20 billion dollars and it’s nowhere near any kind of public offering. How can this be, the company was only founded in 2009? They’re in 200 cities across more than 40 countries. They claim the ability to offer a ride to 43 percent of Americans within 8 seconds. That’s how this can be. Overnight.

If the world seems to be turning ’round faster than ever, you’re not alone. Grab hold of something, it shows no sign of abating.


This content, which contains security-related opinions and/or information, is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner as professional advice, or an endorsement of any practices, products or services. There can be no guarantees or assurances that the views expressed here will be applicable for any particular facts or circumstances, and should not be relied upon in any manner. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment.

The commentary in this “post” (including any related blog, podcasts, videos, and social media) reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Ritholtz Wealth Management employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded the views of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. or its respective affiliates or as a description of advisory services provided by Ritholtz Wealth Management or performance returns of any Ritholtz Wealth Management Investments client.

References to any securities or digital assets, or performance data, are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

Wealthcast Media, an affiliate of Ritholtz Wealth Management, receives payment from various entities for advertisements in affiliated podcasts, blogs and emails. Inclusion of such advertisements does not constitute or imply endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation thereof, or any affiliation therewith, by the Content Creator or by Ritholtz Wealth Management or any of its employees. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. For additional advertisement disclaimers see here:

Please see disclosures here.

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web
  1. fake watches commented on Dec 17

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More Information here to that Topic: […]

  2. Przejdź tutaj commented on Jan 14

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More to that Topic: […]

  3. Regression Testing commented on Jan 18

    … [Trackback]

    […] Here you can find 39038 more Info to that Topic: […]

  4. replique montre commented on Jan 22

    … [Trackback]

    […] Here you will find 76944 more Information on that Topic: […]