On motors, wallets, and Lincoln

Electric motors v2

I have never heard of the element Dysprosium. Neodymium, yes. These two elements are part of the rare earths cluster that China seems to have in abundance (?!). As the very name suggests rare earth elements are rare. An opportunity for China to wield its power.

Electric motors require both these elements for their magnetic properties. Sounds like the perfect time for some innovators to get started? Yes. This is the beginning of v2 of the ubiquitous electric motor. Inverto, an R&D firm in Belgium is on it. Mazda, Cummins, and TATA Steel are involved in various stages of this value chain.

The new motors work on the magnetic ‘reluctance’ principle which is similar to electrical resistance. Iron is used as a substitute for the rare earths. I’ll watch this space!

Digital wallets

This is an absolutely exciting territory. Such an intertwined story I have never seen. There are newbies leveraging existing platforms, consortia trying to build an end-to-end system, developing world hawks, and a host of incumbents with paws across the spectrum. I think mobile is the next big thing in e-commerce and its a question of not how but when. Here’s a sample of the firms vying for your digital wallet

  • Incumbents – Visa (V.me), MasterCard, AmEx
  • Rivals – Square, PayPal, Monitise, Google, iZettle
  • Opportunists – M-Pesa, Wanda, Fundamo
  • Consortium – ISIS


Hats off to Spielberg for magically taking all of us back to the last four months in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Here was a man who fought against half the nation to abolish slavery. Lincoln knew he had to embrace both sides of the aisle to get the job done.

A scene that stuck in my head is the one where Lincoln thinks out loud about that telegram and talks about Euclid. I was reminded of a book which came out a couple of years ago ‘Team of Rivals’. Might just be time to read it.


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