The most Apple-ish things

WWDC14 keynote was today. New software, no new hardware. The voice messaging via text is something that I’ve wanted for a long time. Interested to see how it affects texting-while-driving habits, and the resulting effect on accident rates. Will iPhone users get in less car crashes?

I wanted to put an idea out there. It’s something that I’ve thought about for a while with mobile phones, and I’m hoping for in the new iPhone.

The most natural way to hold a phone is vertical (portrait). The most natural image format to us is horizontal (landscape).

Why not allow people to take landscape pictures while holding the phone vertically? Why must I hold the phone awkwardly (and risk dropping it) anytime I want a decent picture?

There are a few ways of solving this.

The first is to simply take the existing image sensor, rotate it 90 degrees, and call it a day. This would work, but it’s not Apple-ish. It means you would have to hold the phone sideways if you actually wanted a portrait shot.

The other option (that I like) is to put a bigger image sensor in the camera, and downsample the image taken via software. That way you could have a massive picture (if you want), but easily get the type of picture most people want from a camera.

Service people’s defaults as the default case. This seems the most Apple way to do things.


Real Problems vs Manageable Problems

Last month, during the height of the backlash against Uber over fares reported at seven times the usual during a New York snowstorm, Kalanick told WIRED that the bad publicity his company faced over surge pricing would pale compared to the impact of Uber not being able to offer a ride at all.

“If you are unreliable, customers just disappear,” he said. “The thing is that nowhere in any of the press are you hearing about us being unreliable.”

Such stubbornness is often seen as arrogance: the hotshot, elitist startup that believes it’s above the rules. But Uber has made the choice that getting bashed on Twitter — or by City Hall — isn’t as bad as customers opening up the app and seeing no rides on the map. The first threat is manageable. The second is existential — customers just open up another ride-sharing app to see if an Uber competitor has cars instead.

Dropbox and Uber: Worth Billions, But Still Inches From Disaster, by Marcus Wohlsen

Russian roulette is boring

Google Ventures put +$200 million into Uber. Google is also working on a self-driving car.

The self-driving car is really good. I saw one on the road a while ago, and the safety person behind the wheel looked AMAZINGLY bored. Said another way: the person whose life was in the hands of a robot was bored of making sure the robot wouldn’t kill them. That kind of trust only comes from consistent results.

It’s reasonable to think that in the not-too-distant future we’re going to have driverless Ubers.

of the people, by the people, for the people

Key to any worthwhile public relations effort, Mr. Werner believes, is getting to facts about what people actually think about an organization, product or cause. “They are ingredients which are far more important to an organization’s standing with the public than all of the tactical stunts of publicity that stick out and create attention as a program.

“The north star of your course should be other people’s opinions. Walk across the street and look at your store as other people see it. Instead of thinking about a broad, hazy public, think rather in terms of the many different publics your organization meets and serves, their differing needs, likes and dislikes.

“Good public relations thinking – two-way thinking – digs up the reasons why the public feels as it does about a business.”

GigaOm Roadmap

I went to GigaOm’s Roadmap conference last week on the 10th, and I was very impressed. Great crowd (lots of visitors from Finland), the speakers were very open and available, and I was one of the lucky winners that got a new Jawbone Up.

The talks were interesting, and one of the things that stuck with me is a discussion with Matt MacInnisand Richard Nash about the publishing industry. Obviously both of these guys have a vested interest in seeing the publishing industry change, and almost everyone knows that the publishing industry is going to change.

One of the things they said was that the publishing industry is a US$40 billion industry — their point being that the industry may change and profits may go down, but there’s a long way to go, if it happens that way. Normal retail book sales are changing thanks to e-books (although there are claims that people who use e-book readers buy more books — definitely my experience), but the college textbook publishing industry is definitely going to see some major changes ahead.

I worked at the UCF Barnes & Noble while in school, and it happened to be B&N’s most profitable college store. Seeing the cost breakdowns on textbooks is remarkable, but the used textbook industry is the most interesting.

Textbooks are bought and resold over and over. Ebooks don’t have the same resale market, so the used textbook market is going to dry up. The thing is, it is actually an advantage for publishers, even though the price per book is going down. Since used textbooks tend to be resold 2-3x, it turns out that the price of a new book can be cut 60% and still allow publishers the same profit (ignoring the fact that printing, shipping, and other costs will be removed).

Personally I’m most interested in the all-you-can-read type of thing. Yes, I know what a library is. I want an ebook library. It’s coming.

I also loved the talk from Tony Fadell about the Nest thermostat — literally the iPhone of thermostats. he was very open about a lot of the design issues involved, and I especially liked a side comment that Tony made. He joked about the manufacturing side of things, and how he got used to premium treatment at Apple, where the factories would bend over backwards to accomodate their needs. With his new gig, they started talking to him with the same “oh yeah, anything you need!” attitude, until they realized how small of a production run he was going to get — then they apparently backed off slightly. To me, there’s something there about the experience that entrepreneurs have when they have been in big companies and then make a move to the startup world — if you want it done, it’s often on you.

Investing: Unilife ($UNIS)

Unilife 2010 Annual Report –

Competitors Include:

also BD (major), Gerresheimer Bunde GmbH, MGlas AG, SCHOTT forma vitrum AG, and Nuova Ompi

They’ve actually got a great market opportunity since it seems that insulin is a big deal for them. with the number of fat people and diet issues in the US (and eventually around the world), people aren’t going to want to have to leave exposed needles lying around for kids in the house to get hurt with. This is actually an investment that benefits from the fattening of the world.

?? what is pricing? how does it compare to the alternative syringes, factoring in shipping costs due to bigger needles & extra risk.

“The options will vest as follows: 250,000 options will vest upon our share price reaching $9.45 or more for a minimum of 20 out of any 30 consecutive trading days, 250,000 options will vest upon our share price reaching $12.15 or more for a minimum of 20 out of any 30 consecutive trading days and 334,000 options will vest upon our share price reaching $17.82 or more for a minimum of 20 out of any 30 consecutive trading days”

^^^ the stock is currently 4.46/share. Their FIRST share price goal is 9.45/share. Why do they think that their share price is going to be up around there?

There’s only one analyst covering Unilife right now. – competitor? what’s the difference?

what about — Retractable Technologies (they make Vanishing Point) syringes. 2011 annual report says they’re having problems getting into markets because BD is blocking them with long-term distribution contracts.

2011 Annual Report –

Retractable Technologies seems like a bunch of bitches. I thought Texans were supposed to be tough. In their Annual Report, they whine about BD being bigger and having access to markets, they’re suing in order to make money and fight their way in, and they’ve only got one supplier for their international sales — Double Dove. ?? This seems weird. Why are they buying the different types of syringes on page 8? Why aren’t they just buying glass tubes like Unilife? Why do they only have a single supplier lined up?

Esp given that they’ve been going around suing people, Unilife might be a better candidate for acquisition than Double Dove. If they have an incrementally better product, and they’re not assholes, it’s easier to justify a purchase.

* I did notice they seem to have a 30% profit margin, even though they’re all down about having a shitty position. If they can get 30% gross margins (with apparently a less desirable product than Unilife),

The Unilife people also seem committed enough to move their biz to the US (presumably taking time and being a pain in their asses). They’re obv committed (and are apparently putting decent amounts of their own money into the company). CEO put $500k in recently.

The real issues seem to be the costs in licensing the tech from the inventor, the ability to produce them, and the ability to sell & distribute it. Also highly relevant is the cost of production, etc.

Unilife has a clever strategy for getting around licensing issues. They’re going to prefill the syringes and get them distributed by the companies making the meds (and this also has the effect of making those drugs more valuable longer, even if those drugs come off-patent).

??? How much medication is lost due to the overhead of having to fill needles manually, does it drip out or evaporate, where prefilled syringes are widely known to be better? That seems to be more relevant when it comes to non-prefilled syringes

Prefilled syringes are probably valuable when it comes to the insulin & use at home.

BD might buy these guys, yes?

How big of a market is the prefilled syringe market? – damn the unilife syringe looks easy to use

it gives me hope that they have the sense to make a youtube account

also gives hope that their meeting room wasn’t ostentatious, unlike the CEO’s gold watch.

I really like their comp plans, which are spelled out very clearly in their annual report. They have aggressive and specific goals for comp.

OK, what’s the company worth?

pricing on syringes is hard to pin down. Plastic syringes are commodity, figure $.25 per standard syringe is a fair ballpark for a fair-quality product. I saw 19 cents, 40 cents, etc.

BD safety syringe at 69 cents/syringe

This single data point suggests a more than 100% premium is fair for a quality name and safety feature

I’m getting the idea that glass syringes are $1.50/piece. !!! Can’t prove this yet, should make a few calls on a weekday and see what prices I can get quoted.

OK, assuming that glass syringes are typically $1.50 each. Assume a 25% price premium, to be very conservative and allow for volume discounts and all that sort of such. 37.5 cents premium, so we’re talking 1.875 dollars income per unit.

Assume Unilife can get the same gross margins as the bitch-ass Texan company, and we’re talking $.5625 gross profit per syringe

Unilife is prepping to manufacture 400 million in their current factory, and have the ability to upgrade the factory to a billion.

per hundred million..

100,000,000 * $.5625 = $56.25 million dollars gross profit

Even if they only sell 100 million syringes per year, they’re at 50 million gross profit.

current factory with no mods can get them 200 million gross profit/year.

current market cap is slightly under 300 million.

assume a rough p/e of 10 is fair, they’re a 2 billion dollar company in their current factory, and at least a 500 million company (assuming only 100 million sold/year; 25% factory utilization; implicitly, their own estimates on capacity were roughly validated by the implementers and others, including their close relationship with sanofi-aventis, and they only need to be around 25% capacity on average for them to be worthwhile).

So they’re worth a lot and they are a good business. How likely are they to be able to sell hundreds of millions…what’s the market?

They’re looking internationally, so we’re talking global market.

Assume there’s 2 billion people in wealthy parts of the world, and 30% of them are at a stage where they’re roughly getting stuck by a needle once per year. that’s 600 million people getting stuck once per year for something like vaccine (flu?), or something else. If they get 1/6th of this market, they’re over a 500 million company.

their launch partner…check their site for stats on rough market numbers

Sanofi says 500 million people are immunized with their vaccines every year. 500 million injections. 20% of those going through unilife syringes equals the 500 million company threshold. That sounds reasonable.

Unilife’s COO used to be VP & GM of BD, one of the biggest competitors, until 2010. He knows all about their shit, and might be a conduit for acquisition.

16 billion preventative & curative injections in *developing & transitional* countries. Not even first world.

in 2000, persons received an average of 3.4 injections per year,

Call their distributors:

? Do they sell a lot of these things?

? Do they get any complaints about them?

? What’s the best-selling syringe?

More risk:

the “going concern” note. But, that was issued a year ago, and they still seem to be chugging alone fine.