The Unbundling Of Everything

Comment

Image Credits: Tasia12 (opens in a new window) / Shutterstock (opens in a new window) (Image has been modified)

Joe McCann

Contributor

Editor’s note: Joe McCann is a co-founder and CEO of NodeSource. He is a hacker, tinkerer, builder and breaker with more than 13 years of web, mobile and software development experience.

We’ve been living in a bundled world. ESPN packaged with Nickelodeon, healthcare tied to employers, learning wrapped up in colleges and degree programs. We’ve grown up surrounded by so many bundled products and services that it’s easy to become blind to the flexibility and value presented by unbundling.

Bundling can occur for a couple of reasons. One scenario is when companies try to force consumers to buy something they don’t really want by packaging it with something they do — like albums that only contain one good song. But bundling can make sense when transaction costs for individual products or services (monetary or otherwise) are too high to justify buying those products separately.

As Internet-based technologies reduce transactional inefficiencies, we have new opportunities to abandon unnecessary bundling in favor of choice and flexibility. We’re seeing this disruptive effect everywhere — from entertainment to work to enterprise technology.

Unbundling Everywhere

Consider television; instead of shelling out for bloated cable packages, we can now handpick just the channels, just the shows, or even just the individual episodes we want. This year, we will reach a key inflection point where the number of cable television subscribers is eclipsed by the number of Internet subscribers, supporting the notion that, when given a choice, consumers prefer à la carte options.

Unbundling is also changing something very personal: the way we manage our health. In the past, losing your job usually meant losing your health insurance, but the trend of medical care unbundling from employers is clear. As this occurs, patients, rather than employers, are becoming the customers, and healthcare is morphing to resemble a consumer service — giving individuals more choice and more control.

Higher education offers a bundle of different value propositions — tuition, housing, athletics and so on — for one large comprehensive fee. But à la carte education presents a viable alternative to the traditional, and extremely expensive, college experience by streamlining learning without the cost of a full degree program. Both Khan Academy and General Assembly only require students to commit to a course at a time. Harvard and Yale now offer online certifications, suggesting that even top institutions see the value of unbundled learning.

From Monoliths to Microservices — Smaller Is Better

Unbundling is reshaping the tech world too, dismantling monolithic structures into smaller, more agile and innovative units. At a macro level, we’re in the early stages of a great unbundling taking place within technology companies. eBay and PayPal have amicably parted ways. Dell went private to be more nimble and aggressive, while Symantec split into two public companies.

In turn, this large-scale decoupling influences unbundling at much more granular levels in the enterprise, a trend that is proving critical in addressing the problems caused by the aging codebases and clunky software architecture. The difficulty maintaining legacy technology means that companies have accumulated vast amounts of technical debt, making it harder for talented developers to do their jobs, and stifling innovation as a result.

For massive enterprises, unbundling represents a key countermeasure against inertia and stagnation, as well as a valuable strategy to battle more agile competitors — innovative startups who aren’t bogged down by the same legacy technical debt and the engineering bureaucracy that comes with it.

Unbundling from monolithic legacy systems also enhances a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. Many developers would balk at the idea of maintaining a Java app with millions of lines of code soup, but this is the reality for companies that rely on legacy technologies like Java and .Net. In 2014 alone, PayPal hired more than 400 JavaScript developers, and not one of them was brought in to deal with technical debt.

Every Company Is a Tech Company

We’re seeing real, tangible value in breaking down monolithic architectures across different industries. For the consumer, unbundling is all about flexibility and choice — only paying for the products and services you actually want. But for the enterprise, unbundling is a key driver of innovation.

The reality is that today, every company is a technology company. No matter what your business is, technology is either giving an advantage to you or to your competitors. By moving away from macro-services and unwieldy legacy tech, enterprises can be as nimble and responsive as startups.

More TechCrunch

Tags

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft Build 2024: All the AI and hardware products Microsoft announced

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says