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Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future
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Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Unscaled identifies the forces that are reshaping the global economy and turning one of the fundamental laws of business and society -- the economies of scale -- on its head.

An innovative trend combining technology with economics is unraveling behemoth industries -- including corporations, banks, farms, media conglomerates, energy systems, governments, and schools-that ha
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by PublicAffairs
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Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Taneja is a venture capitalist and invests in lots of new companies, so his insights are useful at least for 3-5 years. Previously, successful companies grow bigger and bigger, and they scale up. Through mergers, they become truly gigantic firms and have many products and are competitive because they own factors of production. The new wave of companies, on the other hand, will be nimble and rent factors of production. So an entrepreneur can rent Amazon Web service for cloud storage and computing ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that's fun to read even if the future doesn't turn out the way the author suggests. The basic insight here is that whereas economies of scale used to be the key to biz success, now the Internet and software and the cloud and so on mean that you can "rent" scale rather than having to own it, so the proverbial 2 kids in a college dorm can start the next industrial giant. Further, AI, the cloud, The Internet of Things, 3D printing, Blockchain, big data, and all the rest o ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Mixed feelings about this book. It covers an important topic with unknown long-term implications. I was expecting to go deep on these topics given the author's access to many of the key people & companies behind these changes. Instead, I felt it touched on many topics, ideas, and implications without doing deep on anything in particular.

The good:
Short, fast read surveying the technology drivers, real-world case studies, and people behind the Unscaling trend.
The last three chapters on policy, co
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book and is must reading for anyone trying to put AI, VR and AR into context. Further, while many industry influencers are speaking about how large corporations are struggling to keep up with more nimble, tech-savvy startups, this book explains WHY. During the 20th century, it was all about building scale. In the 21st century, technologies are reversing everything, hence "unscaling". Whether in medicine, education, media, CPG, etc. etc., it's about responding to niche audiences w ...more
Laura Carpenter
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Fast read, quite thought-provoking. It's difficult to give this a rating... only time will tell how accurate many of Hemant's predictions are. That said, give this book a try if you want to wrap your head around AI and why personalization in all facets of life (education, media, consumer goods, etc.) is only going to accelerate.
Akshith Rao
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Hemant does a great job in explaining his investment thesis: " the unwinding of scaled up industries into specialized firms that serve niche customers". He takes this thinking and dials it up to 11 to predict how this will effect each sector. Although he mentions the companies from his portfolio that are trying to disrupt each sector, i would have appreciated if he would have gone beyond them.

I give this book 3 stars (okay maybe 3.5) because of the lack of dialogue on how this unscaling can get
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
"The cloud is essentially the meeting point of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law -- where data, computing resources, and connectivity have merged." (page 18)

We find that hardware is butting against the limits of physics and the network effect has become a mainstream aspect of (many people's) life. This book looks at how unscaled (i.e. rent your capacity?) our world might become over six sectors (part 2 of 3 in the book).

I think I like the word untethered more than the author's choice of unscaled.
Roger Grobler
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: planned
The unique perspective of this book is that the economy is becoming unscaled. Scaling worked in the past and created the behemoth multi nationals that rule the economy. The author argues that we are moving into an age where young upstarts can do what the big companies do at a local and small scale thanks to the availability of resources previously only accessible if you had scale. It is a compelling thought, but reminded me a bit of “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. The world turned out to ...more
John Dudley
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
My wife brought this home from her work in healthcare, but I saw an education section and so I tore through that part, then I went back read the intro and the first 3 sections and the last. I skipped the other features, so this is not a rating based on a full read. I found the parts I did read to be extremely fascinating and very forward thinking. The section on Artificial Intelligence makes a lot of sense and has intrigued me to learn how I can apply it to my work in education - which is also a ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: leadership
Pros: The author does a good job of talking about the problems with scale and how these market forces came to be. The pitch of this book is ‘renting’ pieces of mass-market scale left by conglomerates could lead to a better future. There are some hopeful examples rallying the reader to consider global interests like education and medicine being served in new and agile ways.

Cons: The approach In Unscaled is venture capital centric with a focus on cloud tech and entrepreneurship renting their busi
Shaka Mitchell
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots to think about in this book and I lack the expertise to comment on all of it. A few thoughts however: at times the book felt like a puff piece for Hemant's VC fund and its investment decisions. I.e., of course he thinks the business he's invested in will be wildly successful and lead their respective industries.

That being said, the idea that the 20th century was all about "scaling up" and the 21st will be more personalized, etc., resonated with me. While I think some of the ideas are still
Elisa Feola
Hurry and read as all of what it predicts is already underway. The book explains how smaller, unscaled innovation is what has challenged the large scaled organizations. Quick read with impressive insight. Coincidentally, this was recommended by a successful, innovative CEO from a scaled institution. I highly recommend the read, he specifically states some of the innovation will take longer i.e. self driving vehicles for delivery - as you may know during the pandemic lock down in Florida, the sel ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
1. Great book and makes some great arguments on how AI is going to take over the world.
2. Covers examples from sectors such as Energy, Healthcare, Finance, Education, Media and Consumer products
3. The next generation of entrepreneurs will work on startups in AI who would unscale by way of personalization.
4. The era of build to scale is over...

1. The writing is very dry and did not grip me.
2. It felt like reading a huge paper or sitting in a classroom vs reading a book.
3. The examples
John Lam
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful but lack of concrete suggestions

This book is insightful reading about how AI will change the world. The author goes through different areas like energy, education, health, etc and provide examples of how AI is already changing those domains. The conclusion is that AI will change the way we live and the best way to prepare is to be curious, adaptive, and become a life long learners. Those advice are good but lack specific steps to guide readers how to understand and work with AI.
Andrea Galvez
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Insightful, thought-provoking and - in some ways deeply unsettling - this is a book for today's and tomorrow's business leaders, in whatever shape those take. Unfortunately, this book is incredibly repetitive . I found that in some places the author literally repeats himself word-for-word, as if it were written to be referenced rather than read. This made it tempting to skim and potentially miss an important point.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Oof- this started out really interesting but began to drag on and feel repetitive. It makes some good points about the opportunities of the unscaled economy, while addressing none of the complications and opportunities for manipulation and vulnerability. It would have been much more enjoyable if they had cut out at least a third of the rambling content. I had to force myself to finish it.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent read, very repetitive

There are a lot of examples that I found very interesting and reading the authors take help me formulate some of my expectations and ideas of the future - not always because I agree with the author.

At times it feels like the writer is trying to hard to put everything in context with the main theme of the book - unscaling.
Ravi Mikkelsen
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How will AI and personalization of services and goods affect our lives in the coming decade? The author covers a broad introduction and then goes into just enough detail on several topics like energy, finance, medicine, and education to give someone a better idea of how to think about how unscaling in these industries will affect them.
Joshua Napoli
Rif on Long Tail

The book refreshes the "Long Tail" concept with a good list of up-to-date examples. I wish that the book looked at the changing structure of Long Tail marketplaces that evolved over the past 15 years or so. Are niche ideas supporting any creators? Or is the benefit only to the platforms that distribute the niche ideas?
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have no hesitations in giving this book a five star rating. This is a great book.
Theodore Kinni
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Economies of scale are anchors that are making large companies less and less competitive, argues VC Taneja. This forthcoming book explains how to transform them.
Christopher Hellstrom
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Paper, NYPL
Arya Taneja
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Racha Gh
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The booked irked me out on the healthcare section in it's oversimplification and equating to general AI trends. Otherwise a good read.
I delved into the healthcare bit more here:
Craig Calhoun
rated it it was amazing
May 25, 2018
rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2018
Andrew Lim
rated it really liked it
Sep 10, 2020
john b. snazelle
rated it it was amazing
Apr 07, 2019
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Dec 16, 2018
Louis Cottle
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Jun 06, 2019
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