What Dan's Talking About
September 8, 2020
🖥️ What an interesting website - Here’s a curated list of websites that mimic desktop user interfaces. I love that someone maintains this. I especially liked itsbritneybot.com, emuOS, and GeekPrank (good COVID prank!)
❄️ “Too old to work with new people” - Snowflake will be “professional CEO” Frank Slootman’s third IPO. This profile digs into his obsession with winning and how he’s different than the typical tech CEO
🦹♂️ The New Silk Road - American Kingpin is a great book about Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road, a $1B+ dark web marketplace. Here’s a great story about the founder of the next-gen Silk Road, Telegrass
🏛️ Gov Decisions - This is cool. The UK government has a public Github repo where they record all of their AWS architecture decisions. Here’s the page on why they switched from MongoDB to AWS DocumentDB
August 31, 2020
📷 Q2 snapshot - WSJ graphic showing YoY growth for every company in the S&P 500. Furthest left are Norwegian Cruise Lines (-99%) and LiveNation (-98%). Furthest right are L3Harris (+138%) and TakeTwo (+136%)
🧒 “I was nine and drunk on power…” - Great Twitter thread about a young Neopets kingpin who made himself “filthy rich” selling Neopets but whose hubris eventually led to him getting triple-crossed by his business partners
💉 COVID recovery - I’ve been checking the superforecaster site every few weeks to see how their predictions are changing on a COVID vaccine. Looks like they are getting more bullish on a vaccine before April 2021!
August 24, 2020
🏋️ Speakeasy gyms - “Welcome to the COVID-19 Prohibition era, when gym rats have gone underground.” Fun NPR investigation on the economics and effects of prohibition on prices and quality of goods
😡 So cheap it’s illegal - While Epic is mad at Apple for their 30% App Store cut, Sonos is mad at Amazon for selling Echos below cost. Seriously though, an Echo with a 5" screen is cheaper than a Macbook adapter (w/o the cable!)
💁♂️ “One of the best investments” - Because of tech’s obsession with youth, SF/NY plastic surgeons say their male clientele is 95% CEOs looking for an edge in the board room. Apparently, clients want the Elon Musk look 🤔
August 17, 2020
🗺️ “Chart your own course” - Interesting profile on the mysterious Tim Cook and how he runs Apple. My favorite part was Apple gave the WSJ four people to talk to about Tim Cook, but two of them had never met him before
💼 Best remote work perk - How about $500/month to spend on freelancers on Upwork to do whatever you want? Other good ideas? Please share!
✍️ #Goals? - Here is Google’s internal doc on how to talk about yourself like you’re not a monopoly. Bad: “Get ahead of competitors.” Good: “Improve our product.” Bad: “Barriers to entry.” Good: “Challenges.”
August 10, 2020
🔒 Public to Private Equity - PE and VC firms are taking over the investment world. One stat: <1% of Amazon’s value was built in the private market, 3% of Google’s, 17% of Facebook’s, and >100% of Uber’s
📈 How High Frequency Trading Works - Great blog post from the winner of a UChicago Trading Competition on how the code behind trading bots works and how “market makers” make money
☠️ Harbinger Zip Codes - Apparently, there are zip codes where people systematically buy new products that fail, donate to losing political candidates, and pick bad investments. Wish I could buy the list of zip codes!
🔥 How to Ignite Viral Growth - Fantastic interview with Alex Zhu (founder of Musical.ly). Love this bit at 10:22 when he compares building a new community to founding a new country and creating a thriving economy
August 3, 2020
🤖 GPT-3 demos - Not enough people clicked this link last week, so I’m including it again. Check out these demos, and read through these “interviews” with GPT-3. Also, if you want to try it out, I think the most accessible way to access it right now is signing up for AI Dungeon
📚 High Output Founders’ Library - Amazing set of curated resources and advice for startup founders on every topic from hiring to investor relations, product, wellness, effective meetings, and more
📅 10 years in 3 months - In April, Satya said “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” Now McKinsey is saying we’ve seen 10 years of e-commerce adoption in 3 months (and has data to back it up)
🍞 Medieval breadmaking - Fantastic blog post (from the guy who analyzed the Battle of Helm’s Deep) on medieval farming and why profit maximization and savings accounts don’t make sense for subsistence farmers
July 27, 2020
💭 Show your thinking - I could use these kids to write investment memos for me! Love this quote: “I answered the question and moved on with my life”
🐦 Best thread ever - This Twitter thread is so good. People post a topic, and the author responds with a profile of a person that relates to the topic. SO many great stories and links to read
👨👩👦👦 Sibling rivalry - After SPACs, the hottest investment this year is Jio, which has raised $20B from literally everyone. This is an awesome profile (from that Twitter thread) on the Ambani brothers and the history of Jio
🤖 GPT-3 demos - If you haven’t read about GPT-3 yet, you should check out these AI demos. Designing an app, building a functional app, replacing VCs, creating quizzes and evaluating answers, and a bunch more
July 20, 2020
🤓 Superforecasters on COVID - Here are predictions on COVID from the elite group of “superforecasters” (people who make better predictions than experts). Make sure to click “analysis” to see their commentary as well
📖 New Eden - Haven’t recommended a book on here in a while, but I really enjoyed this sci-fi book about first contact with extraterrestrial life. It’s a super interesting premise and story, so please read, so we can discuss!
📽️ Top 10 - Last week Netflix released earnings, announced a new co-CEO, and put together a list of their 10 most popular movies. Also, if you’re looking for a new reality show, Sarah and I love Indian Matchmaking!
July 13, 2020
📝 New YC Terms - Ok, so everyone is hating on Harvard for moving to remote classes but charging full tuition. But what about YC moving to fully remote AND lowering the valuation of all of its startups? Thoughts?
🍲 “Soup Tube” - Hilarious Reddit post from r/relationships from someone who is looking for advice on how to tell her boyfriend she doesn’t want to invest in his idea - Soup Tube. Not easy being a startup investor! 😝
July 6, 2020
🔟 Top 10 GTM Takeaways - Great deck from Redpoint with GTM benchmarks for SaaS companies. Lots of great data, but if you just want the highlights, skip to the last 10 slides
🤖 NVIDIA AI Demos - Here is an “AI Playground” to turn your Chihuahua into a German Shepard, produce beautiful paintings, and erase people from your photos! Very cool demos
📺 TV Ads as Stock Tips - According to this Columbia Law School research, every $1 of TV ad spend drives $0.40 cents of additional trading volume in the advertiser’s stock
June 29, 2020
🚗 Try it out! - After leaving his job as an engineer at Google, Dustin Carlino spent two years building this super cool traffic simulation “game” to help people understand the impact of street planning on traffic in Seattle
🐦 How to crush it on Twitter - Great thread on how to grow your Twitter following and engagement from the guy who runs the Morning Brew’s Twitter account
✈️ Flight insurance - This woman developed a system to analyze weather and online reviews to book flights that were likely to get cancelled and collected $400K of flight insurance. Startup idea…?
👩🏽🚀 Randonauts - Here’s what the youths are up to these days… an app that gives you a random location to visit based on your “intention” and a quantum random number generator. Lots of crazy experiences shared on Reddit
June 22, 2020
🧒 Only 90s kids will understand - Neopets is launching a mobile site! While kids today have Robinhood, Neopets’ stock market was my first exposure to “investing.” (The secret was stocks in Neopets could not go lower than $6. Too bad this doesn’t work in the real world lol)
💭 Chamath’s favorite interview question - Last week, the most-clicked link in The DL was this profile of Chamath Palihapitiya. This week, he shared his favorite question to ask candidates in job interviews
🥅 #Goals - Good reference doc on “good retention” for businesses focused on consumers, SMBs, and enterprises. Has benchmarks for both customer/logo retention and net revenue retention
June 15, 2020
😄 Happy / Unhappy Apps - What do Grindr, Candy Crush, and Facebook have in common? They make people unhappy. Delete them and get Calm, Headspace, and Google Calendar instead. Wait… Google Calendar??
🎼 Dryer music - OK, I know that list would suggest TikTok and Twitter are “unhappy” apps, but this is a JK Rowling-certified video. It’s only 33 seconds long, so watch the whole thing because the ending is the best part
👨🏽 Chamath Palihapitiya - “He speaks the truth. He says the stuff people are thinking but no one has the balls to say out loud.” Really interesting profile on a great technology investor
♟️ Genius - Thirteen months ago, 8-year-old Tani Adewumi was a homeless refugee who had never played chess before. Today, he is on track to become the youngest chess grandmaster of all time
June 8, 2020
⚔️ A historian’s look at LOTR - Lol this is a pretty awesome blog analyzing the battle strategies employed at The Battle of Helm’s Deep. I knew setting up ladders to climb those walls was dumbass work…
💡 KKR’s lessons from 2008 - KKR thought they didn’t deploy enough capital in 2008, so they learned their lesson, and now they are the most active PE firm since COVID started, with $12.7B of new investments
June 1, 2020
💬 dude that would be awesome - Love this screenshot showing the first incarnation of a $50M ARR business idea. The article is great, too
⛰️ NW Innovation Ecosystem - Very thorough 63 page report on the PNW startup ecosystem with a directory of all the people and organizations that work with local startups
🥋 Ninja Warrior for Squirrels - Great video from a YouTuber who set up a “Ninja Warrior” course for squirrels in his backyard
May 26, 2020
💸 How generous are Americans? - Most households give ~1.6% of their income, and higher-earning groups tend to donate more (except for the richest 5%). Good reminder to check in on Jack Dorsey’s $1B Google Sheet
📝 Notes from the Times - Fun set of Google Docs that the NY Times editors put together with recommendations, advice, diaries, and other thoughts from quarantine
➰ Knots - In case you want to feel like an idiot today… Here’s one of those stories about an unsolved math problem that a grad student accidentally solved as homework. Props to this article for trying to explain the problem, but I still don’t get it 😅
May 18, 2020
📊 BCG Travel Insights - Holy crap, is this what slides look like now?! Check out this very thorough analysis from BCG on what the COVID recovery in travel looks like – make sure you switch the tabs at the top to go through all of the data (h/t to Sunil for sharing!)
🕰️ How Time Works Now - The product managers working on time wrote some great update notes on how it works differently now
😊 Advice from Happy People - Great Reddit thread asking… “People who are 40+ and happy with their life, what is your advice to people in their 20s?”
💰 Wealth, show to scale - Nope, the site’s not broken. Just keep scrolling to the right on this crazy data visualization
May 11, 2020
🥔 Unicorn potatoes - WA produces a quarter of the US’s potatoes, and now farmers are sitting on a billion pounds of potatoes that they can’t sell. Visit the Potato Commission’s Facebook to get info on potato giveaways
🤩 Demo Days - Last week, Techstars posted all of the pitch videos from their companies online. Take a look at the Seattle class here! Also, this week the Seattle Angel Conference is going to stream their event. Sign up here to see how angel investors choose which startups to invest in
🎥 The Promise of a Career in TikTok - Gen Z is learning that influencing is a tough career path… “Despite her success on TikTok, Keondra has earned almost no money through her content.”
May 4, 2020
⚛️ Quantum Computing - This quantum computing explainer is so cool. It’s a “new kind of book” that is supposed to make it easier to remember what you read. Let’s see if it works!
🎵 Jukebox - So AI can write lyrics and sing now. Pretty mindblowing. Check out the sample explorer and type in your favorite artists. And scroll down to the timeline to see/hear how the system has improved since August
👩⚕️ Amish Health Care - As we debate who is going to pay for coronavirus testing, here’s an interesting read on how the Amish pay for healthcare and why their healthcare costs are lower
April 27, 2020
🎨 Museums in quarantine - If you’re lucky enough to own a Nintendo Switch, check out this very cool art generator from the Getty that allows you import any of their collection into your Animal Crossing game
🎧 50x return on AirPods - AirPods are getting so much free air-time on these at-home TV shows like SGN. Here’s a Forbes story on the guy that owns the company that makes the batteries. He bought it in distress for $40M thirteen years ago, and it’s worth $3B today
🤖 Good business models are harder to build than good robots - The CEO of iRobot posted a fascinating LinkedIn article on the 14 (!) failed businesses that iRobot tried before finally landing on the Roomba
April 20, 2020
🔨 TIME TO BUILD - Marc Andreesen dropped a 🔥 blog post over the weekend, and you should read it! Really inspirational call to arms to not be satisfied with the status quo and instead invest in building the future
😷 Rt: the effective reproduction number - The most important metric for managing COVID, according to Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram
🏋️ Looking for dumbbells? - I’ve been looking for weights since quarantine started. These $2,700+ dumbbells from LV are the first ones I’ve seen in stock! (and they come with free shipping!)
April 13, 2020
🎉 PowerPoint parties - This actually sounds fun. If you have a good presentation topic, please let me know, and I’ll invite you to my PowerPoint party! 🥳
🧾 Start Small - What you name your Google sheet when you decide to donate $1.2B (28% of your net worth) to fighting COVID-19. Here’s the sheet where Jack Dorsey is tracking those funds (he’s donated $2.2M so far)
📉 “I would say 15” - Masayoshi Son’s prediction on how many of Softbank’s 90 portfolio companies will go bankrupt over the next few years
🎥 A paramedic’s photo diary - A week in the life of a photographer / parademic who works at a hospital in New York. Powerful, chilling photos
April 6, 2020
📊 COVID data: What people want (DIY haircuts), VC and founder sentiment (founders more optimistic), every company with a hiring freeze (4K+ companies tracked), Google data on mobility by country/state
🕵️ Spies working from home - Turns out spies still have to take meetings in person, and it’s hard to avoid attracting attention when you’re walking around a city on lockdown
😍 GIF range of celebs - Fantastic resource while working from home. Here’s an Elmo GIF for every emotion, along with a bunch of every celebrities. Based on data from Google’s GIF keyboard
🎤 One Day More! - Fantastic quarantine activity… for families who can sing. Check out this awesome lockdown-themed version of One Day More
March 30, 2020
💼 Retirement - As millennials wonder if quarantine is what retirement will be like, here’s are the words that people of different ages use to describe retirement. Lonely, boring, and tired? Hope not!
🎓 Graduation videos - Emoji graduation (funniest), Minecraft graduation, another Minecraft graduation, and Roblox graduation (craziest. the HS is actually asking all parents and kids to install Roblox in order to attend)
📈 Superforecasters on COVID-19 - Remember that book Superforecasting? (It’s about ordinary people who make better predictions than the experts in various fields). Turns out that project is still active, and you can go read the superforecasters’ predictions and comments on COVID-19
📺 What to watch - Crowdsourced list of the best TV shows to watch while you’re stuck at home (Tiger King is most recommended). Or 450 Ivy League classes you can take online if you’d rather be productive
March 23, 2020
📊 Cool data sources - TomTom Wuhan traffic data, OpenTable restaurant data by country, Foursquare data on foot traffic by city, Instagram for coronavirus tracking, Singapore’s COVID-19 data (check out the network graph tab to see what best-in-class testing and tracking looks like)
👰 Divorce rates - Chinese cities are hitting divorce “circuit breakers” as the number of divorces skyrockets after couples spend too much time together
🌟 Path to fame - Visualization of how quickly different celebrities became famous using Wikipedia page view data
March 16, 2020
🎮 Saving the youths - “Fortnite: the anti-weed, anti-sex, anti-TV, anti-alcohol, anti-smoking solution parents have been seeking for decades.” 😂
💑 America’s hottest new dating sites - …cost $111K per year! Business school weddings are becoming more common now that 40% of students are women. Apparently, one-third of female HBS alums are married to HBS grads, and Booth’s MBA program has yielded nearly 1,500 alumni couples
📉 Bitcoin drops 50% in a day - In addition to the stock, bond, and oil markets plummeting last week, crypto also went crazy. Bitcoins traded as low as $3,867 vs. $8,000-10,000 for the first two months of the year
🚫 PSA: Don’t get ripped off! - Ordering food while you stay home? Make sure to check a few different apps first. NYT did a study where they found that Uber Eats marks up orders by 90%+
March 9, 2020
❓ Questions - An insanely nerdy and fascinating list of questions from Patrick Collison (CEO of Stripe). My favorite one is the strangely smooth growth of US GDP - maybe coronavirus really doesn’t matter at all
🏥 Life Care - KUOW published a good investigation on the days leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak at Life Care. Also, in case you’re interested, here are a website and doc detailing every company’s response to COVID-19
📵 Bad guys - SPOILER ALERT (if you like mystery movies). Apparently, Apple lets productions companies use Apple products in movies and TV shows, but they don’t let villains use iPhones. So what about Thanos? 🤔
😴 My Pillow - What a crazy story. The guy who runs those My Pillow ads on the radio is actually a former crack-addict who went clean in 2009 and since then has grown My Pillow to $280M+ revenue and 1500 employees
March 2, 2020
🎢 Buy the dip? - A historical analysis of whether it’s better to buy on dips, dollar cost average into the market, or both
🍚 One grain at a time - Ever wonder what it looks like if you count out Jeff Bezos’s fortune in rice where each grain of rice counts as $100K? Well, look no further! (Hint: It’s a lot of rice)
🎁 $100K perk - Cool perk: if you start a new company within 12 months of leaving Lattice, an HR SaaS startup, they will offer to invest $100K (that’s one whole grain of rice) in your company at pre-set terms
📞 Twilio’s board deck - Jeff Lawson (CEO of Twilio) shared his February 2010 board deck on Twitter, and it’s amazing to see 10 years of startup growth. Back then, Twilio had $68K of monthly sales with 1K accounts, and last year, they did $1.1B of revenue with 179K customers
February 24, 2020
🥕 Peak vegan? - Sarah and I watched Game Changers last month and decided to be vegetarian for a week - turns out we weren't the only ones! Interest in veganism spikes every January, but it looks like it might be plateauing in the US
💰 How to be in the top 1% around the world - What it takes to be in the richest 1% of earners in the US, China, Brazil, Australia, UAE, etc., and how much 1%-ers in each country spend on housing, education, and child care
🚍 2:30am tech shuttles - Tech shuttles move 10M people around the Bay Area every day, and they go as far out as Salida, CA, where there are so many people that the Tesla shuttle lot is "gridlocked" by 3:30am
⭐ 11 reasons to not be famous - Tim Ferriss on why it's hard to be famous: death threats, harassment of loved ones, dating woes, extortion, pleas for help, identity theft, and more. Better to have 1,000 "True Fans" -- like my DL subscribers (❤️ you all!)
February 18, 2020
*GUEST ALERT* Last week, someone told me that he had 1,181 apps and websites sharing his activity with Facebook (check your # here), so I knew he would have some good articles to share with the DL community…
Hi everyone! My name is Xiao Wang, and I’m the CEO of Boundless Immigration, a Series A startup helping immigrants and their families navigate the complex government process at 1/5 the cost of traditional lawyers.
Besides maintaining our 100% government approval rate and figuring out how to scale a fast-growing company, I love reading. Business, tech, outdoors, life, policy… my reading list is truly boundless (I’ll show myself out now). And here are some of favorite articles from the last few weeks:
- Innovations in diamond mining - a woman-led company disrupting DeBeers by finding massive diamonds through new technology? Take my money!
- Integrity of new technology in running shoes - how differences in how runners respond to new shoes will shift running away from the “purity” and “equity” that used to be at its core.
- Discovery of phosphorus - urine, a late 17th century pivot story.
- Why immigrants are good for the economy - sometimes we need reminding these days…
- Superb owls - start your week off with a smile!
Fascinating? Complete waste of time? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 10, 2020
🚗 DIY Tesla model - In case you want to figure out what Tesla is worth, an NYU finance professor wrote a fantastic blog post that guides you through a step-by-step valuation for Tesla based on your belief in the various pieces of their story. Great example of tying a story to the numbers
💑 Amazon Dating - Lol. This site is awesome 🤣
👩🏫 Front Series C deck - I love when startups publish their pitch decks - especially when they raise $60M from the founders of Atlassian, Okta, Qualtrics, and Zoom. Here is Front’s Series C deck, along with links to their Series B and Series A decks, so you can see their progress
February 3, 2020
🤖 An AI on AI - The Economist interviewed an AI about its views on AI, and it’s (unsurprisingly?) pretty good. Fun to read the answers - especially when it says we shouldn’t worry about AI destroying our lives… 🤔
📵 “I asked my students to turn in their cell phones and write about living without them” - Here are a bunch of thoughts from teenagers on what it’s like to live without a phone for nine days, so you don’t have to! 😝
🗄️ Off-Facebook activity - Facebook now lets you see all of the apps and websites that collect your data and send it back to Facebook. Check your list, and let me know how many you get (I had 388. Sarah had 823!).
January 27, 2020
🙂 Which face is real? - This is fun. A couple UW professors set up a website that shows you two faces, and you have to guess which one is a real human (vs. AI-generated). My best run was 7 in a row. Let me know what you get!
👨🏫 Scott Galloway - An NYU marketing professor has been dropping a bunch of hot takes on companies like Casper, Oyo, FedEx, and Twitter. They’re good - my favorite part of his Casper analysis was the “economics work better if Casper sent you a mattress for free, stuffed with $300.” 🤣
👶 Tough job - A Silicon Valley CEO (who is clearly great at writing very detailed job descriptions) posted an ad for a nanny that went viral on Twitter last week. She also did a great follow-up interview on the ad.
☕ Volunteer Park Cafe - Is for sale! If you’re shopping for a house but also want a great cafe downstairs, it’s a pretty good deal. $1.7M for the cafe plus a three bedroom apartment upstairs. Check out the listing here.
January 21, 2020
📉📈 All downhill (or uphill) from here - A Dartmouth economist who studies happiness analyzed data from 132 countries to come up with the age when people reach peak unhappiness: 47 years old. Is it a coincidence that the average founding age of successful Silicon Valley founders is also 47?
✈️ How to beat jet lag (according to esports pros) - I just got back from Australia and did a bunch of googling on how to beat jet lag. Thanks to Reddit, I found this great article on how world-class esports players manage jet lag while competing in tournaments all over the world
🤖 AI Index 2019 - Stanford publishes an annual report on AI, looking at data like the number of AI papers, number of AI jobs, investment in AI, top ethical challenges with AI, etc. Here are the highlights from the 2019 report
💨 Zoom - “When Yuan flew to New York for the IPO, it was just his eighth work trip in five years.” Great profile on Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom, and his journey to building a profitable $20B company with 50K+ customers (without ever traveling for customer meetings)
January 13, 2020
🛴 S-Pod - “The original Segway, which debuted in 2001, was supposed to replace walking. Obviously it didn’t.” Maybe the original Segway didn’t work out, but this thing looks amazing! Can’t wait to ride it around the office
🥾 Best hikes in every state - Outside Magazine says Yellow Aster Butte, Trail of Ten Falls Loop, and Hells Canyon are the best hikes in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho
👪 Co-parenting startups - A couple of startups match people up who want to be co-parents but don’t want any romantic expectations. According to the WSJ, “It’s a lot like a divorce, without the wedding or the arguments.” Thoughts?
January 6, 2020
👨🏫 The Man Who Solved The Market - How crazy are those stats? $100B+ total profit, $7B annual profit, and only 300 employees. This book covers the history of Renaissance Technologies and its founder, Jim Simons. Not the best writing, but the story is pretty incredible
⚔️ Unicorns vs. Microsoft - Someone compared the return of investing in all unicorns vs. Microsoft over the last five years. Spoiler alert: Microsoft wins. Why invest in risky startups when you can just buy MSFT shares?
🏡 The Hype House - Twenty of the biggest TikTok stars just moved in together, and the NYT describes what it’s like. To get in, “you either have to be talented at something, or a weird funny mix, or extremely good looking.”
🍌 BANANA! - Not the Art Basel banana but just as good. Please turn on your sound and watch this 30 second video
December 30, 2019
📈 Y Combinator Trends - (1) YC is increasing batch sizes in line with seed funding trends, (2) YC is favoring enterprise over consumer, (3) AI, EdTech, and Healthcare on the rise; Hardware and Fintech on the decline
🇺🇸 American Dream - a 3M sqft mall with “so ambitious it has transcended the word ‘mall.’” Complete with indoor skiing, Nickelodeon theme park, DreamWorks water park, Legoland, a Vice-branded “Munchies” food hall, and a field hopping with live rabbits. Has anyone visited this place??
🇨🇳 Also the American Dream - Chinese immigrants are closing their family-run restaurants, but they’re happy because it means their kids are in professional jobs leading a less grueling life 😭
🥊 Twitter debate - True or false? “If you don’t work nights and weekends in your 20s, you’re not going to have a successful career.” Let me know what you think about this raging Twitter debate
December 23, 2019
🐾 Tracked - The NYT did a big investigation into the location data that companies buy about you. You should check out their visualizations - it’s pretty terrifying. One excerpt from the article…
We were able to track smartphones in nearly every major government building and facility in Washington. We could follow them back to homes and, ultimately, their owners’ true identities. Even a prominent senator’s national security adviser — someone for whom privacy and security are core to their every working day — was identified and tracked in the data
🤓 Focused - New startup in SF charges $40 to have someone watch you work. Starts with a consultation on what you want to accomplish and then a two and a half hour working session. Actually sounds like a pretty good idea… Let me know if you book a session!
💼 Career Launching Startups - Every year, Wealthfront publishes a list of tech companies that they recommend young people start their careers. It’s a pretty Bay Area-focused list but still interesting to look at
December 16, 2019
🚀 Fortnite x Mandalorian - Sarah and I finally watched the Mandalorian this weekend, and we love baby Yoda. Separately, here’s a cool article about Disney used Fortnite’s game engine to film a lot of the shots. They render imagery on LED screens and point a camera at the screens. Cool demo
🗣️ Ablaut reduplication - Fun fact. Whenever there are words/phrases with repeating sounds, the vowels always go I -> A -> O. Examples: tic tac toe, criss cross, dilly dally, King Kong. If you flip the words, they sound really weird: zag zig, hop hip, mash mish. Reddit explains why
👫 Virtual boyfriends - A growing trend in China is single women hiring ‘virtual boyfriends’ who text them throughout the day to chat and keep them company. Think there’s a market for this in the US?
👑 Job alert - Love The Crown? Love Instagram? Looking for a new job? The Royal Household is hiring a Head of Digital Engagement. Unfortunately, you’ll have to leave the PNW and work at Buckingham Palace
December 9, 2019
- 🧙 The Difficult Life of a Wizard PhD Student - This is SUPER cool. Someone took OpenAI’s GPT-2 model and used it to build an “AI Dungeon” game with infinite text adventures. Read this user-generated Wizard PhD story here (it’s really good) and then try it yourself here
- 😑 Portland facial recognition ban - Portland is planning to ban the use of facial recognition for both the government and private business. Of course Amazon is already working on hand recognition…
- 🍽️ Sad times for Seattle restaurants - Ethan Stowell closing three restaurants, Tom Douglas closing his three spots in Via6, and Matt Dillon closing Sitka & Spruce. Is the Seattle restaurant bubble ending?
- ⚠️ Away expose - “Never work for your dream brand.” Big investigation on the toxic culture at Away, the suitcase startup. Plus, a follow-up on how employees are barred from discussing the article and a separate follow-up on how VCs and founders feel about the news
December 2, 2019
👕 Digital clothing - I bet none of you bought digital-only clothing on Black Friday. How it works: you buy a digital sweater, send the company a picture of yourself, and they send your photo back with you wearing the sweater. Genius? Or insane? What do you think?
🎧 Naval Ravikant w/ Joe Rogan - Fantastic two hour podcast about how to design an amazing life in modern society with techie / philosopher / entrepreneur / guru Naval
📈 Startup financing trends data from Wilson Sonsini - Good reference from WSGR on median fundraising amounts, valuations, and deal terms
💑 John Legend and Chrissy Teigen - I love these two! Go read their Vanity Fair profile for a ton of great stories, like how John got his big break through a college roommate (Kanye West’s cousin), and how Chrissy is sad the second they land somewhere for vacation (because they’ll have to leave)
November 25, 2019
check out this demo to see how you can sub in different model's faces for each photo
📸 Generative.photos - Good domain name and very cool AI product that uses AI to generate realistic stock photos, and they’re free (for now)
👯 Improve Your Social Skills - This site was at the top of Hacker News last week. Sounds like a parody, but actually it’s a bunch of articles on how to build social skills from someone with Asperger’s Syndrome who had to methodically learn how to be social step by step. Interesting read
📖 The Dark Forest and Death’s End - Thanks to Philip S for these recs! If you read The Three Body Problem (China’s most popular scifi book) and thought it was good or even meh, please finish the trilogy! It’s SO GOOD!
😘 Dating market thesis - Here’s what you get when a hedge fund dude analyzes the online dating market for shifts in market dynamics and optimal dating strategies
November 18, 2019
💕 Here’s a much better love story - This is probably not even possible today because millennials can’t plan more than a year in advance, but that’s what makes the story so amazing
📺 In the Age of AI - Shoutout to new papa Alex Spencer who recommended this Frontline documentary on the AI race between the US and China and how it is changing the world. Great way to get up to speed on the latest in AI research and China’s tech scene
🔮 The future of the internet - In the US, when big companies want to undergo a “digital transformation,” they spend a lot of money on consultants. In China, they just get on WeChat. Here’s why the NYT thinks the future of the internet is “superapps” like WeChat
📡 The future of streaming - Is watching Netflix at 1.5x speed going to be the only way to get through all your shows on Netflix, Disney+, AND Apple TV? According to CNET, this is “the horror future we deserve” 🤣
November 11, 2019
🛫 Why don’t rich people just stop working? - Rich people work longer hours and spend less time socializing. The New York Times digs into why
📺 How would a six year old spend $1000? - I loved this YouTube video - definitely worth nine minutes to watch a kid live out his dreams for a day!
👨💼 How VCs make money - This is the best article I’ve ever read on how VC firms are structured, charge fees, and create budgets
November 4, 2019
🚌 Trailhead Direct - King County’s hiking shuttle grew 75% this year to ~18K trips (though VCs are really hoping to see a triple at this stage 😝). But now funding is in jeopardy because of Tim Eyman’s I-976 - a tax cut Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia are trying to prevent. Here’s a surprisingly interesting history of Seattle transit funding and Tim Eyman on Curbed
💵 Bitcoin’s 11th Birthday - Facts from Coinbase: 1 in 4 people with an MBA or PhD hold crypto, $240M of BTC was exchanged in Venezuela in 2019, and the supply of US dollars has increased by 36% per year since 2008
➡️ Doc.New - Google created a bunch of new “.new” sites, so now you can type commands directly in your URL bar like “doc.new” (starts a new Google Doc), “playlist.new” (new Spotify playlist), and “repo.new” (new Github repo)
🙌 Setbacks and success - New research paper says that failing (by a little bit) in the early phases of your career mean you will be more successful in the long run –> “Near-misses systematically outperform the narrow-wins”
October 28, 2019
🇺🇸 The American Dream - In the 1940s, 90% of children in the US grew up to earn more money than their parents; by the 1980s, this number dropped to 50%. The US is getting richer, but wealth isn’t distributed equally
👚 Stop buying clothes? - Morgan Stanley says that “consumers have reached peak happiness with clothing” because they already own too many clothes (the average person buys 65 clothing items per year)
💸 Speaking of family businesses… - Last week, Eric Tse (24 years old) became the world’s newest billionaire after his parents gifted him $3.9B of company shares. Check out his Instagram in this Daily Mail post
📚 Red Notice - A guy from Chicago becomes the largest private investor in Russia and gets on Putin’s bad side. It’s a true story that reads like a crime thriller. Definitely recommend!
October 21, 2019
🧻 Double < Triple < Jumbo < Mega < Mega Plus < Super Mega < Forever < Forever XL - The evolution of Charmin’s toilet paper rolls 🤣. Sh*t you not - you can now buy a 13.2" diameter toilet paper roll that will last you for months at a time! Buy it here (comes with a free stand)
📍 Seattle’s tipping point - Here’s a super comprehensive analysis from AI2’s Jacob Colker and Oren Etzioni on the five reasons the Seattle tech ecosystem is about to take off. Definitely worth a read
🎃 PCC Markets to Host Gluten-Themed Haunted House - Happy Halloween! (thanks to Liz Michiels for this link)
🤕 The next opioid epidemic? - 75% of Gen Z-ers and 50% of millennials have left a job for mental health reasons. And the big spike in mental health issues lines up with the time that the majority of people began to own smartphones. Seems like this could be the next massive public health crisis
October 14, 2019
🧠 The three stages of hearing about dopamine fasting - 1. ??? 2. lol 3. yeah I’d probably try this too tbh. 🤣 Here’s the link to learn more
💣 r/WallStreetBets - Speaking of Robinhood… this is my favorite subreddit. It’s dedicated to people making YOLO stock bets on Robinhood. Here’s one guy who started with $50K, made $600K on two trades, and then lost it all over the course of a week
🌊 Digital Gold - Best book on the history of crypto. Really exciting to put yourself in the shoes of the early adopters at the forefront of a new technology wave
October 7, 2019
🗽 “Making it in America” - What people think about their lives and where they are now vs. where they think they’ll be if they “make it”
📚 Becoming - Awesome book - highly recommend! This is a super inspiring, moving, and uplifting memoir from Michelle Obama. My favorite parts are when she explains her decision to “swerve” off the Princeton-Harvard-big law “path” and find work that’s meaningful to her and when she describes the sacrifices that both she and Barack made to enter politics and start a family (4.9 stars on Amazon w/ 15K+ reviews!)
🅿️ Optimal parking strategy - Science says… park in the first empty spot between two cars. This performs better than driving to the destination and backtracking to the first available spot or just taking the first empty spot
👏 Orlando Bravo - Movie star? Nope. The billionaire founder of Thoma Bravo, the tech-focused private equity firm. Forbes did a great profile on how he started investing in software and what’s driving his firm’s success
September 30, 2019
💸 How much do people at tech companies make? - Last week’s most popular link was Microsoft comp data, so I wrote a more detailed post on tech compensation vs. other high paying careers. Check it out on my new website! (with searchable archives for all DL posts)
⛪ The church of chicken - It only costs $10K to start a Chick-fil-A (vs. $2M for a McDonald’s) because they pay all the startup costs. This allows them to be very selective (0.15% acceptance rate) and find passionate community leaders to spread Chik-fil-A’s “gospel of hospitality and fried chicken”
🤖 $160,100 - Live auction price for a 2-story tall, giant battle robot. The owners spent $2.5M building it, but they went bankrupt and need to sell
🍣 “End of the Line” - Nice article (and pun) from Eater on the sudden end of Blue C Sushi, the conveyor belt sushi restaurant
September 23, 2019
☢️ Public service announcement - Most smartphones exceed legal safety limits for radiation exposure because companies test phones 5-25 mm from the body, even though most people carry their phones next to their body. Don’t carry your phone in your pocket!
🧬 Gene editing in Excel - One in five genetics papers has errors from using Excel because there’s a gene called SEPT2 which gets saved as Sept 2, 2016
🎒 $995 - Google and Saint Laurent collab on a connected backpack
💰 Rewards - Hundreds of Microsoft employees shared their comp details to a Google Sheet (haha) after bonuses came out. Here are the numbers
September 16, 2019
✈️ “Hit or miss?” - One of WhatsApp’s first marketing posts was Jan Koum asking FlyerTalk users to try a new app he built for people who travel a lot. Fun to read through because no one wrote back to him for four years!
🍾 Alibaba’s 20th anniversary gift - Super cool
🐙 $325M - Also super cool. The listing for Paul Allen’s yacht, Octopus
☀️ Caroline Calloway - “For some people on the internet, this article was akin to the Pentagon Papers or the Super Bowl.” If you enjoyed Fyre Fest, this is another “scam” happening live on Instagram. Here’s the story
👶 “AI-savvy” kids - According to the WSJ, if you want to raise an AI-savvy child, you should tell them to use the pronoun “it” when referring to a robot and explain that humans are the source of robots’ intelligence
September 9, 2019
🤖 Deepfakes – They’re back (again)! This time, it’s a Chinese app called ZAO that drops you into movie scenes
🔥 Hottest startups – LinkedIn measures how often non-employees view a company’s page and what startups people from top companies leave to join to put together a list of hot startups. This year there were three Seattle companies on the list (Amperity, Convoy, and Outreach). And #1 on the list (Snowflake) is a Madrona company as well!
👯 Bitcoin Billionaires – I’ve been looking for a book about early crypto investors, and this one is great. It follows the Winklevii after the Facebook settlement and tells the story of how they started investing in bitcoin
September 3, 2019
📚 The Tattooist of Auschwitz - I started this book Sunday night and finished it on Monday. Incredible story you should definitely read
💭 TL;DR: - Save yourself $200K for an MBA and just read these (surprisingly good) one sentence summaries of the 20 best finance books
🚴♀️ Striking! - In honor of the Peloton IPO, here is one of the best Twitter threads ever. Amazing photos and commentary 😆
August 26, 2019
🏢 WeWork IPO - Don’t worry! I’m not going to write another WeWork article. Just sharing a pointer to my favorite write-up on the IPO
🙎 49% - Deloitte says 49% of millennials will quit their jobs in the next two years. And the best new way to find your next job is become a ‘mintern’ (middle-career intern)
💰 Are you rich? - The New York Times has an interactive article that tells you if you’re rich. Apparently most people are (positively!) surprised by their results
August 19, 2019
My wife Sarah makes fun of me for not using Instagram, so this week I made my first Instagram post in three years and educated myself on Gen Z social. Here are some articles to get you up to speed, too:
👯 Twinfluencers - As an only child, I can’t take advantage of this one, but apparently, 1 in 30 kids born in the US today is a twin, and they’re taking over social media
⚡ AP Pokemon - Someone on Reddit created a 42 page AP Pokemon exam, and it is really good. Unfortunately, no emoji for Pokemon (yet)
August 12, 2019
- 📵 “In a bid to unplug, Americans are paying thousands of dollars to go off the grid” - My eyes rolled into the back of my head reading this headline, and then I immediately tried to book the first property they mentioned 😂
- 📚 Wikipedia for Gen Z - Apparently, “they have everything you want to know about everyone who is important.” But if you recognize more than three people on this site, I’m surprised you’re reading my newsletter!
- ⚾ 96 MPH - This is why I love the internet. This guy tweets videos of people who would otherwise get overlooked by colleges and pro baseball teams and gets them signed
- 🎧 Founded and Funded - Madrona just launched its first podcast ever, and it’s a discussion between me and Hope Cochran, who shares some amazing stories about her career. LMK what you think!
August 5, 2019
☝️ Special guest this week in the DL
Note from Dan: What do you do after consulting at McKinsey, redesigning NYC public schools, working in private equity, and then launching the Amazon Go stores? Go revolutionize the legal industry of course! Turning it over to Xiao here…
Hi everyone! My name is Xiao Wang and I’m the co-founder/CEO of Boundless Immigration, a Series A startup helping immigrants and their families through the complex government process at 1/5 the cost of traditional lawyers.
Besides maintaining our 100% government approval rate and figuring out how to successfully scale a fast-growing company, I love reading. Business, tech, outdoors, life, policy… my reading list is truly boundless (I’ll show myself out now).
I managed to parlay sharing that fascinating Cosmic Crisp story last week into taking over an entire corner of Dan’s weekly newsletter, so here you are for the first week of August!
- One writer’s experiment in drop-shipping sketchy swimsuits from AliExpress.
- What life as a delivery driver is like (with insights into how tipping actually works). Since this article, Doordash has updated its policies to be more driver-friendly, so score one for journalism.
- A brief history of money, as we prepare for our Libra overlords.
- Unsurprising to anyone who watched the bike-sharing art in China over the past few years, researchers at NC State concluded that scooters aren’t that great for the environment either. Can we solve the urban mobility problem while treating objects nicer?
- A little bit of history, a little bit of nostalgia, bivalves of the heart. What Ivar’s means to those who grew up in the Pacific NW.
Found them fascinating? Complete waste of time? Please email me at email@example.com if you have any comments or recommendations.
July 29, 2019
🍔 $BYND - Beyond Meat IPOed at $25 in May has nearly 10x-ed to ~$225. At this price, it’s worth more than 25% of the S&P 500, including companies like Campbell Soup ($10B revenue) and Conagra ($10B revenue). Beyond Meat’s 2019 revenue forecast? $210M. Their IPO lockup ends in ~3 months, can’t wait to see what happens
🌌 Cosmic Crisp - “Unprecedented,” “on steroids,” “off the friggin’ charts,” and “the largest launch of a single produce item in American history.” Fun read about WA state leading disruption in a totally different industry
July 22, 2019
- 📺 or 👨🚀? - Kids in the US and UK want to become YouTubers when they grow up, while kids in China want to become astronauts. As a millennial, I’m thinking, “Why not both?” 🤷♂️
- 📞"Can you send me some money?“ - Criminals are now using audio "deepfakes” to impersonate CEOs and ask for money transfers
- 😃 Emojis - There is a 12 person committee that decides what becomes an emoji, and you can look at all the applications they get. Here’s the one for the sloth emoji (yep, they reference Kristen Bell)
- 🎧 Bill Gurley podcast - This is a conversation between one of the best interviewers and one of the best VC investors ever. Learn all about network effects, marketplaces, and IPOs. Highly recommend
July 15, 2019
- 🎂 Startup success calculator - According to this study, founders of the fastest-growing tech companies are 45 at the time of founding their companies
- 🙈 7.4 min - Average amount of time it takes someone on a streaming service to find something to watch. Also, older people find stuff quicker. Just another skill that gets better with age? 😜
- 📺 $9M soap opera blog - I love The Hustle’s daily email, and they just started a podcast. This episode is about a guy who made $9M selling a blog about soap operas, even though he’s never watched a soap opera in his life. It’s a fun headline but turns out the backstory is actually just lots of hard work building expertise in digital marketing
- 🦄 My Prime Day pick - “I imagine Amazon will be receiving many orders from ours being seen in person”
July 8, 2019
- 🤔 If you have no idea what any of this means, neither did I. Learn about some internet memes and inside jokes on this great ReplyAll podcast and feel connected to Gen Z!
- 📦 Apparently Amazon ships nearly half of its own packages (48%) now, up from ~20% in January 2018. Also surprisingly, FedEx has only ever shipped 1-2% of Amazon’s packages.
- 🙈 Deepfakes are back (NSFW), with an app called DeepNude. The app took a clothed photo of someone and used AI to make them appear naked. The app’s creator quickly pulled it after receiving a lot of criticism, but clearly this is now commodity tech that many people can build. We will see how the internet as a whole continues to police this kind of stuff - doesn’t seem like social pressure will work forever.
July 1, 2019
📚The Sun Does Shine - This is a crazy story about an amazingly inspiring person named Anthony Ray Hinton - and how he was unjustly sent to death row, how he managed to stay optimistic and survive with the help of loving friends and family, and ultimately how he was able to prove his innocence after 30 years on death row.
⚔️ In case you were wondering… HBO was able to retain 84% of new subscribers who signed up during the latest season of Game of Thrones. Pretty impressive considering how bad this season of GoT was.
💰Bitcoin! It’s back! Or it’s not back – kinda depends on the day. In any case, it’s pretty funny how over the last year, bitcoin prices are highly correlated with the price of avocados 🥑 (#millennials). Here’s the chart from Bloomberg.
June 24, 2019
📚 Rocket Men - Awesome book. This is one of those 5 full stars on Amazon type books. I didn’t know much about the Apollo space program before reading this, but this was amazing – such a well-written set of stories about the people behind the Apollo missions and how they got to the moon
🍔 Beyond Meat ($BYND) - If you haven’t tried the burgers yet, you should! I didn’t think they were very good. The stock price, on the other hand, is fascinating. This company IPO-ed at $25 and is now trading at $150+. Their revenue forecast for 2019 is $210M and their market cap is ~$8.5B (that’s a 40x+ multiple for a company with 20% gross margins 🤮). For reference, Tyson Foods does ~$40B of annual revenue and is worth ~$40B. If you’re thinking about shorting, though, watch out. Lots of people are thinking the same thing, so the cost to borrow shares to short is 125%+ per year
💰 Facebook Libra - Just so I can end issue #1 on something controversial - I really like this project. It’s a great demonstration of blockchain’s #1 benefit - the ability to pull a group of people/organizations together, that might not otherwise work together under a centralized hierarchy. Who knows if this will work, but I’m excited to see what happens