Value, Happened

1/6 - What's Next

Hey there, happy new year! Hope you have had a great start to 2020.

We have ~ 2000 subscribers right now. Thanks to all who read it every week!

Enjoy the newsletter.


Articles to Read.

What Is the Most Valuable Thing You Can Learn in One Hour?

This article will give you a list of the most valuable things you can learn in just an hour. There are many basic and valuable skills you can acquire in a very short amount of time, not only in technology but also in general life. Cooking, first aid & CPR, setting up a Raspberry Pi, cable management, or even learning to learn. These are all things that you can learn in under 60 minutes and will make a remarkable impact on your life. Obviously, learning is not mastering. Practice makes perfect, and you will have to practice over time to perfect your newly acquired skills.

What Happened In The 2010s

Here are the big things that happened in tech, startups, business, and more in the decade that is ending today, in no particular order of importance.

1/ The emergence of the big four web/mobile monopolies; Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. A decade ago, Google dominated search, Apple had a mega hit on their hand with the iPhone, Amazon was way ahead of everyone in e-commerce, and Facebook was emerging as the dominant social media platform. Today, these four companies own monopolies or duopolies in their core markets and are using the power of those market positions to extend their reach into tangential markets and beyond. Google continues to own a monopoly position in search in many parts of the world, has a duopoly position in mobile operating systems, and controls a number of other market leading assets (email, video, etc). Apple owns the other duopoly position in mobile operating systems. Amazon has amassed a dominant position in e-commerce in many parts of the world and has used that position to extend its reach into private label products, logistics, and cloud infrastructure. Facebook built and acquired its way into owning four of the most strategic social media properties in the world; Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Most importantly, outside of China, these four companies own more data about what we do online and also control many of the important channels to reach us in the digital world. What society does about this situation stands as the most important issue in tech at the start of the 2020s.

2/ The massive experiment in using capital as a moat to build startups into sustainable businesses has now played out and we can call it a failure for the most part. Uber popularized this strategy and got very far with it, but sitting here at the end of the 2010s, Uber has not yet proven that it can build a profitable business, is struggling as a public company, and will need something more than capital to sustain its business. WeWork was a fast follower with this strategy and failed to get to the public markets and is undergoing a massive restructuring that will determine the fate of that business. Many other experiments with this model have failed or are failing right now. When I look back at the 2010s, I see a decade during which massive capital flowed into startups and much of it was wasted chasing the “capital as a moat” model.

Don’t Shave That Yak!

The single best term I’ve learned this year.

Apparently turned into a computer term by the MIT media lab five years ago, yak shaving was recently referenced by my pal Joi Ito. (Link: Joi Ito’s Web: Yak Shaving)

I want to give you the non-technical definition, and as is my wont, broaden it a bit. Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do.

This yak shaving phenomenon tends to hit some people more than others, but what makes it particularly perverse is when groups of people get involved. It’s bad enough when one person gets all up in arms yak shaving, but when you try to get a group of people together, you’re just as likely to end up giving the yak a manicure.

Thoughts about my free iphone app - WhatsApp

(published in 2009 by founder of WhatsApp)

hi there…i hate shameless self promotion, but i couldn't resist posting here because i wrote this app with people like us in mind (those who travel a lot)…

problem found - problem solved. so i spent a couple of months and developed a little tool called WhatsApp - it can let you set a status like "On the flight to munich, send email instead of calling me" or "In Japan for two weeks, my cell there is +81 829 282718"

our site with screenshots and faq is: http://www.whatsapp.com and direct itunes link is: http://itunes.com/app/whatsapp

i would like to hear your feedback and suggestions on the idea. hit or miss?

(of course app is useless 'til your contacts begin to use it also)

P.S. - i know a lot of you are BlackBerry users, and we are working on a BlackBerry version already (wish there was more hours in the day)

From The Big Short to Normal People: the books that defined the decade

The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay (2015), with from left, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Steve Carell, Jeffry Griffin and Ryan Gosling.

It began with the fallout from the global financial meltdown and ended with two women sharing the Booker. Which titles shaped the last 10 years?

Zero-to-100 Million in 3 Years

They say startup years are like dog years, by which logic we launched 21 years ago! Now that we’re all grown up we thought we’d take stock, give an update, and maybe get a beer.

We’ve never spelled out our strategy in public before, but 3 years in we finally have enough data to substantiate its component parts, and anyway, what are Transparency Chronicles for?

So here it is: our strategy is to delight consumers.

That’s not a strategy, you say? Well, given how we’ve architected Lemonade, it really is. You see, delighted customers fuel growth, growth spawns predictive data, data powers the machine learning that improves our performance, to the delight of consumers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I wasted $40k on a fantastic startup idea

When good ideas make bad business

You have a mind-shattering headache. You’re standing in the aisle of your local CVS, massaging your temples while scanning the shelves for something—anything—to make make the pain stop.

What do you reach for? Tylenol? Advil? Aleve?

In the year of our lord 2017 I had a Brilliant Startup Idea: use a structured database of clinical trials to provide simple, practical answers to common medical questions.

Over the next nine months I would quit my job, write over 200,000 lines of code, hire five contractors, create a Delware C-Corp, add four doctors to my advisory board, and demo GlacierMD for twelve Bay Area medical practices. I would spend $40K of my own savings buying clinical trials and paying contractors to enter said trials into the GlacierMD database.

Choirs of angels sang in my ears. Here I was, living the Silicon Valley dream: making the world a better place through technology.

Two weeks later it was dead.

More to Check Out: 
- Did the Emptying of Mental Hospitals Contribute to Homelessness?
My 2019 Year in Review
- Google’s Monopoly is Stifling Free Software
I Was Wrong About Speed Reading: Here are the Facts
- What technology to learn in 2020?

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Cool companies:

Interesting people:

I had a random idea!

By now, you have likely seen things like the Breakout List or the Career Launching List or the Signal — they are all basically a list of interesting companies to start your career with.

While the company you work for matters, I also believe “who you work for” (i.e your manager) matters a ton.

What if there was a list of the best managers to work for?

I tweeted this over a year ago.

Are any companies doing this?

Books I read:

  • Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment by David Swensen

My bookshelf

My Update:

  • Just got back to SF from NY. Spending New Years in NY catching up with old friends was really great.

  • Still hiring for all kinds of roles. Email me if you have any interest.

If you enjoy the newsletter, you can Venmo me a tip: @jordangonen or on the web here. Really appreciate the support! - Jordan