“Think In Ways Other People Are Not”

Jessica Pressler’s profile of Washio and Silicon Valley’s laundry wars features this gem:


Salama did a small inner fist pump. This was just the kind of inefficiency he’d sought to exploit as a trader at SAC Capital, the notoriously hypercompetitive Greenwich hedge fund where he’d worked after college. He’d left the job in 2008 after the market crashed and the atmosphere took a turn for the worse. “When times are good, it’s semi-­poisonous,” says Salama, now 31. “When times are bad, it’s just outright hostile.” But just as he can’t shake his Brooklyn accent, he retains a certain amount of SAC muscle memory. “You’re trying to beat a market,” he says. “So you realize the importance of trying to think in ways other people are not.” [Emphasis added; for examples read Michael Mauboussin‘s investment work.]


Also this anecdote:


While their competitors were elbowing one another in Silicon Valley, FlyCleaners had been scouring Silicon Alley for a team as tough and experienced as the founders themselves. Among its recruits was Brian Tiemann, a software engineer from Bridgewater Capital, the world’s largest hedge fund. “You were expecting laundry machines,” Tiemann intones from behind the Star Trek–like array of screens, when I enter FlyCleaners’ Flatiron offices on a recent visit. Blond and bespectacled, Tiemann is that rare breed of tech nerd who took a job at a hedge fund not for the money but because of the technological opportunities it afforded. From the looks of him, he doesn’t know from fabric softener, but he enjoys the logistics of getting laundry and dry-cleaning all the places it needs to go. Squinting at the screen, Tiemann types in a command, enabling a driver to avoid a traffic jam on North 6th Street in Williamsburg.

In New York, hiring drivers on Washio’s Uber-inspired model wasn’t an option. FlyCleaners had to use trucks, and because of the traffic and narrow streets, the trucks had to be efficient. They built racks for laundry bags, and Tiemann, whose hobby is pimping out cars for the Bullrun, the annual race in which billionaires in souped-up vehicles race each other cross-country, outfitted each one with a tablet that provides drivers with order details, alternate traffic routes, selective streaming from accident-mapping services, and direct communication with headquarters. With guys like this at the controls, mom-and-pops don’t stand a chance. “That’s the idea,” Tiemann says grimly, sinking back into his screens. [emphasis added]