Fast Company March 2017

Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company inspires readers to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business.

United States
Mansueto Ventures LLC
6 Issues

in this issue

7 min
lessons of innovation for 2017

On September 4, 1921, my grandfather arrived in the United States, 17 years old, with just $25 in his pocket. He became a dressmaker, and in 1937 received a patent for what he called “a new, original, and ornamental design for a Dress Ensemble.” While my grandfather has been gone for many years, I recently asked my uncle about the patent. He claimed that the actress Elizabeth Taylor once wore the dress it describes in a photo shoot for Seventeen. In many ways, my grandfather was an innovator. He launched his own business, and thrived in the teeth of the Great Depression. But beyond our family, his impact was modest. His business closed when he retired. It never achieved scale or left a mark on our culture. This personal story underscores just…

6 min
out of the big box

Target The idea of a massive store that looks the same in every region is a thing of the past, at least for Target. In its place is a highly curated version tailored for dense urban areas. “How do we keep our store experience relevant?” asks Mark Schindele, Target’s SVP of properties. “We customize, we evolve, and we understand our guests.” In 2017, Target will roll out 28 new flexible-format stores, double the number it opened in 2016. The company’s first small-store effort, City Target, which launched in six locations in 2012, averaged about 100,000 square feet, still too big a footprint for major cities. The company faced a challenge: how to condense even more while providing customers with a total Target experience. Flex formats shrink the size to as little as…

13 min
01 amazon for of fering even more, even faster and smarter

Picture your ideal neighborhood. What does it look like? Is it manicured, with buildings set in a pattern so that everything flows together, designed for perfection? Or is it gritty and spontaneous, the kind of place where a restaurant might move into the space that used to house a dry cleaner? Boxes bearing the Amazon logo can arrive at doorsteps in either of these environments, of course, but Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, prefers the second type. “I think neighborhoods, cities, and towns that have evolved are more interesting and delightful than ones that have been carefully top-down planned,” he tells me when I meet him at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in November. “There’s just something very human” about them, he says. It’s a surprising answer from a man known for his…

2 min
amazon gets physical

TECH HARDWARE Kindle: Popular for a decade and currently in its eighth generation, the e-reader continues to have few rivals (mainly Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Kobo). Fire OS devices: The company’s Fire TV settop boxes and Fire sticks (cheaper, pared-down versions of the boxes) made up 22% of the streaming-media device market in 2015, beating out Apple TV. The $50 Fire tablet has become a popular competitor to the much pricier iPad. Dash button: These small, internetconnected tabs that users can push to instantly reorder products are finally catching on: Amazon now carries Dash buttons for more than 200 brands. Echo: The Alexa-embedded smart speaker, which can respond to certain voice commands and integrate with other devices, has given Amazon a healthy head start in the connected-home category (to Google’s chagrin) with an…

1 min
02 |google for developing a photographic memory

At its best, Google marries awesome computing resources with algorithmic intelligence to create popular services that no one else can match: Search, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube have been massive hits because they centralize content and make it easy to find what you want. With an estimated 1 trillion–plus images now taken annually, storing and presenting photos has become Google’s next big project—and a powerful way to pull users even further into its orbit. “We thought we could apply machine intelligence in an impactful way around photos and videos to make it easier [for users] to enjoy what they create,” says VP of Google Photos Anil Subharwal. Launched in May 2015, Google Photos coalesces a user’s images across hard drives and devices, as well as closet shoeboxes, thanks to the PhotoScan…

1 min
03 uber

While experts debated whether self-driving cars would be commercially available in 5 or 10 years, Uber raced ahead and put vehicles on the road. Last August, it launched a program in Pittsburgh that allowed people to summon a self-driving car from their phones. At the same time, Uber acquired autonomous-trucking startup Otto. Together, these moves put the company, valued at $68 billion, at the forefront of transportation’s next wave. “The biggest asset and advantage [of our self-driving efforts] is being part of the larger Uber network,” says Raffi Krikorian, engineering director at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. 1 A smart pilot Uber deliberately chose Pittsburgh for its first fleet because of the city’s erratic weather and winding roads. “If we can drive in Pittsburgh, we [know we] have the features…