The End Of The Level Playing Field

February 5, 2017

This is an important post by Fred Wilson, a top VC…

When the Internet came along in the early 90s, we saw something completely different. Here was a level playing field where anyone could launch a business without permission from anyone. 

We had a great run over the last 25 years but I fear it’s coming to an end, brought on by the growing consolidation of market power in the big consumer facing tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc, by the constricted distribution mechanisms on mobile devices, and by new leadership at the FCC that is going to tear down the notion that ISPs can’t play the same game cable companies played.

It is certainly true that consumers, particularly low-income consumers, like getting free or subsidized data plans. There is no doubt about that. But when the subsidies are coming from the big tech companies, who can easily pay them, to buy competitive advantage over that nimble startup that is scaring them, well we know how that movie ends


Citi Bike + Blaze

January 12, 2017

This is an interesting bike safety approach. Apparently this already exists for the bike share program in London. NYC is following suit and adding a laser light image of a bicycle on the ground about 20 feet ahead of the bike rider.

Watch the video…


Amazon the Goliath

January 12, 2017

Via Visual Capitalist, click to make bigger:


Prince Ruperts Drop

January 6, 2017

You probably have to be geeky to enjoy this, but damn…

And this is the equally awesome follow up:


Medium RIP?

January 5, 2017

So Medium is laying off 1/3 of it’s staff. It’s a popular blogging site (I considered moving) so many tech folks are commenting about it.

One of the founders of Basecamp wrote a fairly brutal post, Venture capital is going to murder Medium. You have to understand that Basecamp (formerly 37signals) is an uncommon tech proponent of the radical concept of charging for things and actually making a profit. I’ll put my biases on the table. Our company Origami Risk is 100% bootstrapped and profitable. We get to make decisions entirely based on what we think is best. There’s nothing wrong with VC money, but you have to know what you are signing up for. From the blog post:

I don’t think we’ll grow old together, Medium and I. I suspect it’ll end quite tragic, actually. $132,000,000 is a lot of money after all, and that’s how much venture capital Medium has been dipped in. Before having a prayer or a song about how to turn into that multi-billion-dollar business it must to satisfy the required rate of return.

The clock started running three years ago when $25,000,000 of Series A growth dynamite was rigged. That means they’re about half ways until the bomb explodes, and so far the company doesn’t seem much luck finding the code that’ll disarm.

That’s the thing about taking VC money. They expect a nice return on investment, generally in about 5 years.


Amazon’s Operating System

January 5, 2017

This is a very interesting article about operating systems and the lock-in benefits they can create. It argues that Alexa (Amazon Echo) is becoming Amazon’s operating system.

In short, Amazon is building the operating system of the home — its name is Alexa — and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect:

  • All kinds of hardware manufacturers are lining up to build Alexa-enabled devices, and will inevitably compete with each other to improve quality and lower prices.
  • Even more devices and appliances are plugging into Alexa’s easy-to-use and flexible framework, creating the conditions for a moat: appliances are a lot more expensive than software, and lot longer lasting, which means everyone who buys something that works with Alexa is much less likely to switch

We were very early adopters of the Echo, pre-ordering it when only Prime members could get it, so we’ve had it for three years. It’s mostly just for music, but it has become a natural part of the house.


The Calm Company

January 4, 2017

I’ve read every book produced by Basecamp (all three of them), so I’m looking forward to their next book, The Calm Company.

If it’s constantly crazy at work, we have two words for you: Fuck that. And two more: Enough already.

Chaos should not be the natural state at work. Anxiety isn’t a prerequisite for progress. Sitting in meetings all day isn’t required for success. These are all perversions of work — side effects of broken models and follow-the-lemming-off-the-cliff worst practices. Step aside and let the suckers jump.

Calm is profitability.
Calm is protecting people’s time and attention.
Calm is reasonable expectations.
Calm is about 40 hours of work a week.
Calm is ample time off.
Calm is smaller.
Calm is a visible horizon.
Calm is meetings as a last resort.
Calm is contextual communication.
Calm is asynchronous first, real-time second.
Calm is more independence, less interdependence.
Calm is about sustainable practices that can run for the long-term.