Startups, Ideas and Timing

“The two worst things to be as a startup is too early or too late. Too late you can’t recover from, but you can survive too early if you have a great CEO and loyal investors.”

This quote in Dan Primack’s newsletter (via Axios) from Paul Maeder, investor and board member at the recently public Carbon Black, which started its journey 16 years ago reminded me of my conversation with Silicon Valley legend and serial entrepreneur, Andy Bechtolsheim.

Yesterday’s Terabyte + What to Read This Weekend

Less than a fortnight ago, the proverbial airwaves and media web were falling all over themselves, chastising Facebook and its data addiction, which allowed the company to amass data on over two billion people. The insidious impact of the data and Facebook was all the object of moral outrage. Fast forward to this week, all that has been conveniently forgotten – replaced by happy, shiny headlines from Facebook’s annual festival of self-aggrandization, F8. Add to that an earnings report that sent Wall Street into raptures and pushed the stock higher, not too far from its all-time high of about $194 a share. Morality and ethics have no place in this perpetual profit machine. Continue reading "Yesterday’s Terabyte + What to Read This Weekend"

The Paywall Quandary: How many subscriptions does one really need?

Bloomberg is the latest to go behind the paywall. And it is going to annually cost about $420. Felix Salmon (over on Slate) argues that Bloomberg is going behind a paywall because it can as this is a season to go behind the paywall. And he points out that we should save our dollars for some other publication, which needs it. Well, that’s not how capitalism works. You pay for things you want. My response to his commentary on Twitter was: “Bloomberg gives you information edge, and thus it would be one new subscription I will pay for, despite their anti-Apple bias. One of the best tech teams, global coverage. They are premium & are charging premium $$$s.” And I mean that. Continue reading "The Paywall Quandary: How many subscriptions does one really need?"

Dating with Facebook: What’s love got to do with it?

In Hindi, there is a saying that no matter what you do, you can’t unbend a dog’s tail. I was reminded of that saying when I read the news that Facebook was launching a dating app, to make a love connection. While on the surface it might impact the fortunes of Tinder, the dating app that changed the rules of modern dating, a conclusion reflected in the stock of Match Group which promptly nosedived.

“We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends.” Mark Zuckerberg.

Continue reading “Dating with Facebook: What’s love got to do with it?”

The Past vs. The Future

Holding on the past is a convenient way to avoid science, technology, and the reality of the world. Future needs reinvention and rethinking. Industrial era dogmas are now in direct conflict with the digitally connected ideologies.

The dissonance between the old industry and the new digital reality is also cultural. We, the humans are now living at a speed of the network and not at the speed of humans, and perhaps that is why we feel powerless and angry. So we try and rationalize and find someone to blame. Facebook, for example.

Human-scale is in direct conflict with machines. The societal norms of yesterday are being challenged by new ideas. The inheritors of the future are challenging the gatekeepers of the old. The grandeur of the past is in direct conflict with the dystopian reality of tomorrow.

Some say that this is human civilization, but now we have networks metastasizing Continue reading “The Past vs. The Future”

It is time to ask Twitter the same privacy questions

Updated: Media rightfully has been focused on Facebook and its outsized role in what are calling the surveillance economy. But focusing just on Facebook is a mistake, for data accumulation and its subsequent abuse can happen anywhere, anytime. Various data streams are being reassembled for hyper-targeting. And one of these could be Twitter, which sells its data to others.

Continue reading “It is time to ask Twitter the same privacy questions”

Need for technically literate legislators

The Spectator:
It’s no longer good enough for our elected representatives to feign technical illiteracy, throw up their arms in defeat, and ask the office twenty-something to fix it….a special case can be made for upping the digital literacy of our elected, because unlike the many, many subjects about which our politicians know little, digital technology increasingly concerns foundational questions of accountability, fairness, and abuse of power. And to answer these questions today increasingly requires some degree of technological know-how.
If the most recent Facebook-data dust-up has shown us anything, it is just that we cannot be legislated by technically inept. Technology is now a fundamental part of society now, and it impacts us on a daily basis. Whether it is Facebook or scooters in San Francisco, you can’t govern or write smart laws, if you don’t know anything about it. In a similar vein, it is also essential Continue reading "Need for technically literate legislators"

Facts about GDPR & Instagram’s Data Downloads

The specter of general data protection regime aka GDPR (learn more about it here) looms large for American companies and many of them are working hard to comply with the letter of the law, if not its spirit. I got an email from Sonos about privacy, but couldn’t make much sense of the email. Others are worse: the explanations around data and privacy are written by lawyers, not actual humans.
Continue reading "Facts about GDPR & Instagram’s Data Downloads"

Facebook is Exxon of the Internet

“…the utopian view of social networking connecting everyone for good is coming to end across the political spectrum. Now it’s seen less as a hopeful tool and more as a weapon that everyone thinks is in the wrong hands. In many ways, Facebook is like the Exxon of our time — an indispensable tool that everyone despises — Exxon, maybe Comcast, and now Facebook; there’s not a lot of brands like that. After enough oil spills, we started investing in solar and battery technology … now we need to find our digital solar and batteries to invest in.”

Moxie Marlinspike, a security researcher & former head of security at Twitter. Via

Apple’s TV Plans and & List of Shows

Apple is competing with Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and Hulu to become a streaming entertainment company. Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, former Sony bosses head up Apple’s TV efforts. The team is said to be 40 staffers and there is a billion dollars in programming money. According to this report, Apple is spending money and beating other streaming services as a buyer, but rest of the details about its efforts remain pretty murky. Continue reading "Apple’s TV Plans and & List of Shows"

Is this the future of retail?

The other big Seattle retailer, Nordstrom, that is, doesn’t think that retail is doomed. Instead, what it needs is a reinvention. And they are willing to spend tens of millions to create a store that takes the best of online and marries it to the best of offline retail. Will they be successful? I am going to check it out, next time I am in New York!

Who am I buying this for?

The brands themselves aren’t the problem, though: we all need some stuff, so we rely on brands to create the things we need. The problem arises when we feel external pressure to acquire as if new trinkets are a shortcut to a more complete life. That external pressure shouldn’t be a sign to consume. If anything, it’s a sign to pause and ask, “Who am I buying this for?”

The Minimalists

[Photo] Foz By The Sea

Porto is one of my favorite cities, for two reasons: it is awesome, and also it is the hometown of True Ventures’ portfolio company, Veniam. As a board member, I end up visiting the city quite often. I walk down from my hotel (which is usually near the Veniam offices) along the River Duoro, all the way to the Foz. It is one place where I often dream of living. This photo is of a lighthouse that has been replaced by another one. I love just being out there. Made with Fuji xPro2 and Fuji f2/23mm. Shutter speed 1/8000th of a second. Focal length: f3.

Mr. Zuckerberg goes to DC

Facebook (and to a large extent big tech) will find itself under the microscope this week, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of the U.S. legislators. Whether it is Facebook or Amazon or Google, the world at large sees technology companies out of sync with reality, and somewhat shying away from their responsibilities.  Continue reading "Mr. Zuckerberg goes to DC"

[PhotoSet] Some portraits of friends made with film

My friends tell me that the path to digital photographic nirvana is paved by celluloid — aka film. Well, here I am playing around with film. I used Konica Big Mini, a point-and-shoot camera for these photos. The goal is to get to a point where I can use to capture moments and portraits with some depth of emotion. As you can see from this photo set, I have a long road ahead. I used Pancro 400 B&W Film to capture these portraits of friends. Featured in this set from top to bottom: Bryan Mason; Chris Michel; Simone Mancini; Nima Wedlake; Bijan Sabet; Lino Pommella (l) and Gianluca Migliarotti (r) and Lino Pommella. Continue reading "[PhotoSet] Some portraits of friends made with film"

Design’s grand opportunity to change everything

Minimalissimo has a wonderful interview with uber-designer Karim Rashid. His definition of design and what it can achieve resonated with me.

Humans touch an average of 600 objects a day and the potential for them to help us or bring us joy is huge! The big challenge of design is to create something that, although accessible to all consumers, touches people’s lives and gives them some sense of elevated experience and pleasure and is original. Designers have the power to shape a better, smarter world, to simplify yet inspire every individual, to make well-made and beautiful products accessible to all.