Rifles and Shotguns

Jargon makes you special. Biologists call it R-selected v.s. K-selected, and I see that investors call them shotgun and rifle strategies (“happiness is a warm gun”), and I’ve called it weeds and tubers. I’m surprised though that I’d not made the connection before that these are like two sides of the power-law curve. One edge spending it’s energies on a quantity of connections and the other in the quality of the connection.

Are there really investment houses that are run on an R-selected model. Scattering as numerous investment seeds as the Norway maple in my back yard? Of course an investment house is different from a maple tree. The investor hopes to capture a disproportional share of the value created by it’s offspring. The a maple tree is only striving to reproduce it’s self in the next generation.

It’s obvious there are businesses who’s customer relationships are analogous to a R-selected strategy. It’s a subset of those companies with millions of customers. Not of all of these are actually structured to execute on an R-selected strategy. It’s one thing to have a million relationships, to scatter a million seeds, to draw a huge sample. It’s another thing to be setup to capture value from the few that grow large.

A bank might manage this. If they can avoid losing customers that grow large.

Developer network based platform companies manage this. Scattering a lot of low cost options into their developer community and then capturing value by selling the platform to the resulting success stories. Works if the developer splices the platform deep into his DNA, locking him in.

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