🔥 #1 Meta View: World of Risk, Tragedy, Platforms & Short-Term Gratitude
Bi-weekly digest at the intersection of business, technology, finance and society.
Happy Sunday folks!
You haven’t received a message from CryptoDash for a while now and the reason is that I personally felt it doesn’t really provide much value anymore considering other resources such as Token Economy, Messari, Proof of Work and others.
However I loved doing some curation and write-ups, therefore I am launching a “new new” thing called MetaView - a curated newsletter about all things business, tech, finance and society. As usual, I promise not to spam your folder without your permission so if you hoped to only get crypto news, feel free to unsubscribe (however I am still retaining a section for crypto with a bunch of other goodies inside).
Who am I writing for? The easy answer is for intellectually curious, for the ones who are trying to improve their careers, health and life for the better but overall for professionals in the 21st century who are seeing radical change in our society and are aiming to increase their edge and adaptability.
Without further ado, lets dig into issue #1.
For this issue I have compiled Jeff Bezos’s letters to shareholders from 1997 to 2018 in a TL;DR tweetstorm format.
8 minutes via New York Times
As Amazon aims to cut delivery time to a single day, the company is encouraging its employees to quit and start their own delivery businesses. Under a new incentive program, announced on Monday, Amazon said that it would fund up to $10,000 in start-up costs and provide three months of pay to any employee who decides to make the jump. In seeding the delivery start-ups, the company is making a small investment in the distribution network that will make one day delivery possible, while letting the business owners grow from there.
7 minutes via New York Times
Reid has been on my radar for years now. As a successful founder of LinkedIn and coming from a non-traditional environment he has some smart things to say:
In an increasingly hyper-connected world, competition comes from everywhere, and so the importance of being able to build your business at speed is now more important than it’s ever been before.
5 minutes via New York Times
Seems like every other company these days is focusing on co-living as an extension to what WeWork has built for co-working. However another huge trend is ISA’s - income share agreements. The principle is pretty simple, you pay nothing upfront and when completed a service (such as going through code school or re-skilling program), you share a percentage of your income with an institution that provided that particular service up to a specific cap amount. The good part is now you don’t have to put a huge chunk of cash with a risk of not finding the job and going broke. Nonetheless, if something is too good to be true, it probably is?
1:20 minutes via YouTube
Investing is not necessarily what you know but how people behave. Morgan shares 5 stories which have nothing to do with finance, but teach us how to be more productive when thinking about risk and psychology. Here is one story to get you started:
What nuclear energy can teach us about investing?
A nuclear plant which took 7 years to build with costs north of $1B was subject to a referendum by Austrian citizens. In the end, it didn’t produce a single watt of electricity due to safety considerations. Despite the fact that other countries like US, UK, France, Japan, all using nuclear power.
Risk is not universally perceived the same way by all people.
Individual investors’ willingness to bear risk depends on their personal history. As Nobel laureate and psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out: We explain the past with ease, but we are terrible at predicting the future.
There are 3 ways to overcome this:
Talk to as many people as you can - this helps to broaden one’s horizons
Talk to people you disagree with - this helps to avoid confirmation bias
Talk to people in different emotional states - especially important for financial advisers to regard clients without emotion
15 minutes via Elmfunds.com
From NYU Professor Aswath Damodaran:
The world is shifting under us.
There is a point to make about mean reversion: mean reversion works until it doesn’t. And much of what we do in investing now, we learned in the US on data from the second half of the 20th century. And in that time period the US market was a unique market. If you look at the history of markets over time, it was the most mean reverting, stable market of all time. And when you take the most mean-reverting, stable market of all time, all kinds of mean reversion are going to work for you.
So my concern is that maybe we’re taking rules that were developed for the most mean-reverting, stable market of all time and trying to apply them in a new world order where markets might be reverting, but we don’t know to what. And so, I have a concern with any kind of tilted approach where you’re tilting based on past data.
For me, 2008 was the dividing line where I think there was a structural break in the global markets. I am less and less trusting of mean reversion on a daily basis.”
25 minutes via ARK Investment Management Research
A few months ago I have subscribed to ARK Research and it was one of the best research I can find on the state of emerging tech and innovation. As an example they looked into economics of booming e-scooter businesses (spoiler alert: margin economics are tight), energy storage overview, genome sequencing analysis and much more. Their last research looks into the most disruptive tech and its impact in the future:
According to our estimates, the five technology platforms (artificial intelligence, DNA sequencing, robotics, energy storage, and blockchain technology) should generate more than $50 trillion in business value and wealth creation over the next 10-15 years.
3 minutes via Wall Street Journal
New study came out, claiming behavioral targeting is overhyped and marketers are overpaying publishers for something that hasn’t been proven to work. Advertising space is incredibly fragmented and complex which brings us to the next major issue, the so-called “adtech tax”, which accounts for 60 cents of every 1$ spent on advertising.
Publishers only get about 4% more revenue for an ad impression that has a cookie enabled than for one that doesn’t. The study tracked millions of ad transactions at a large U.S. media company over the course of one week.
6 minutes via Harvard Business Review
Platforms have become one of the most important business models of the 21st century. The study divides them into two groups:
Innovation platforms - iOS, Android, AWS etc.
Transactional platforms - AirBnB, Uber, eBay etc.
Five of the six most valuable firms in the world are built around these types of platforms. However, a study of 252 platform companies showed that 209 of them failed. The most common mistakes fall into four categories:
Bad pricing on one side of the market
Failure to develop trust with users and partners
Prematurely dismissing competition
Entering too late
Researchers have extensively studied pricing decisions, yet managers still get them wrong. A platform often requires underwriting one side of the market to encourage the other side to participate. But knowing which side should get charged and which side should get subsidized may be the single most important strategic decision for any platform.
4 minutes via WIRED
The odds of randomly guessing a private key on Ethereum are 1 in 115 quattuorvigintillion. Yet, somebody decided to run permutations on less secure keys. They call him (or them) a “bandit”:
In this paper we examine how, even when faced with this statistical improbability, ISE discovered 732 private keys as well as their corresponding public keys that committed 49,060 transactions to the Ethereum blockchain. Additionally, we identified 13,319 Ethereum that was transferred to either invalid destination addresses, or wallets derived from weak keys that at the height of the Ethereum market had a combined total value of $18,899,969. In the process, we discovered that funds from these weak-key addresses are being pilfered and sent to a destination address belonging to an individual or group that is running active campaigns to compromise/gather private keys and obtain these funds. On January 13, 2018, this “blockchain bandit” held a balance of 37,926 ETH valued at $54,343,407.
4 minutes via The Block
Facebook is about to reveal their project Libra and official whitepaper. The coin is supposed to be pegged to a basket of currencies and might be used for the following use-cases:
Messaging app payments - faster, trackable and secured transaction.
Facebook marketplace implementation - the implication here is that it can entice new users into crypto and help adoption.
One thing we can say for sure is that if something is going on at Facebook, the guys are going full-steam ahead. The leaked partners seem to back the high expectations of the project ranging from non-profit to music and travel.
27 minutes via Texas Monthly
Sabika Sheikh, a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan with dreams of changing the world, struck up an unlikely friendship with an evangelical Christian girl. The two became inseparable—until the day a fellow student opened fire in their high school art classroom – killing Sabika. Throughout South Asia, Sabika’s death was front-page news. Reporters described her as Pakistan’s martyred daughter: an idealistic, promising young woman who had traveled to America with a message of peace, eager to experience the best of its culture, only to suffer its worst.
15 minutes via Wall Street Journal
New set of data shows that millennials are in worse financial shape than every preceding living generation and may never recover. The numbers are coming from US but I personally feel the socio-economic changes are touching pretty much everyone in the developed world (and well even more in the underdeveloped countries with wealth gap). It seems like older generations are wondering why people are marrying less, having less kids, cars, houses but are also more depressed and burned-out than any preceding generation. Well, some say it is because of capitalism. We work more and earn less, which creates a disparity between expectations and financial status.
Another side to it is that a lot of articles started attacking millenials for being lazy and killing industries which were thriving a few decades back. However it all comes down to the current economic situation and the state of the world which has changed so radically for the past 2 decades that we have no other choice than to adapt.
8 minutes via New York Times
An interesting opinion piece on how the times of great adversity and suffering help us re-evaluate our priorities and go against the grain of what the system prepares us for (climbing mountains of achievements).
Over the past few decades the individual, the self, has been at the center. The second-mountain people are leading us toward a culture that puts relationships at the center. They ask us to measure our lives by the quality of our attachments, to see that life is a qualitative endeavor, not a quantitative one. They ask us to see others at their full depths, and not just as a stereotype, and to have the courage to lead with vulnerability. These second-mountain people are leading us into a new culture. Culture change happens when a small group of people find a better way to live and the rest of us copy them. These second-mountain people have found it.
7 minutes via Wall Street Journal
It’s true. Life is a series of leaps and educated guesses. Sometimes, uneducated guesses. We can practice, prepare, and read all the instruction manuals, but we’re really all making this up as we go along.
Even the people who seem like they know what they’re doing—they don’t know what they’re doing all the time.
In life, there’s a lot of chaos, a lot of time when absolutely everything’s in the air.
7 minutes via Gates Notes
In Bill Gates words from his last chilling session with Warren:
Every time I get to see Warren, I’m struck by his surprising, insightful, “upside-down” view of the world. He thinks differently—about almost everything. For starters, he credits his amazing success to something anyone could do. "I just sit in my office and read all day,” he explained.
In a time when instant gratification is craved in all aspects of life, Warren is one of the most patient people I know, willing to wait to get the results he wants. As he once said, “Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Jawad provides a short overview of what is happening with Silicon Valley. The world of inflated valuations, Saudi money and potentially lost hopes.
71 minutes via The Knowledge Project
Thomas deployed AI, machine learning, and data analytics to determine how funds would best be used to market his films in a way that was new and innovative. After selling Legendary Entertainment in 2016, Thomas founded Tulco, a holding company that is using similar technology to identify and support businesses with high growth potential.
Kevin Systrom of Instagram
An amazing interview with Kevin about the humble beginnings of Instagram and focus on the most simple things from the product development perspective. First instagram release only included taking photos and feed which caught consumer attention and mobile-first social network effects. Other golden nuggets include some book recommendations and general tips on business and life.
Feeling like procrastinating lately? Not to worry, everyone does. Here is a huge list of various productivity products, software, hacks and guidelines to make your better. A lot of the things are a complete overkill however there are a few useful ones like:
fl.ux - allows to tame down colors on your monitor in the evening in order to make it easier on your eyes.
Toby - this one is not included but a personal recommendation from me. If you are maintaining 50 tabs in your chrome like me at the time of the writing, this one helps you organize, tag and maintain your reading, projects and 2DOs in a very user friendly interface.
A poem about Silicon Valley constructed of Quora questions:
Below the fold
Thanks for reading the first issue! This will be a section for shoutouts and other short blurbs (ICYM, Jobs, Projects etc.)
Happy weekend and cheerio!
I am always happy to get feedback and suggestions from the readers. There are plenty amazing folks in this newsletter including entrepreneurs, investors, artists, designers, developers and others!
Ping me with your projects and thoughts at email@example.com and I am happy to shoutout here and add more sections in the future.