Random Thoughts — March 2016

Here we go — another round of completely random, disconnected facts, stories or observations.

  • Here’s a headline for you: “Americans bought more pot in 2015 than Girl Scout Cookies.” That’s pretty interesting, detailed in this post. And that’s not even including the brilliant entrepreneur girl scout who set up a table outside the pot clinic in Colorado and sold ….
  • You know things are a bit wacky out there when “oil is cheaper than milk and water” makes the headlines of this Business Insider post.
  • Fascinating to see the feedback surrounding the AlphaGo match and how AI and machine-learning is creeping into everything. I find it neat and exciting — I don’t believe the “machines will take over the world” rumblings are applicable, although I did like The Terminator movie (the first one only, people).
  • Traffic, traffic, traffic. Bet you think your city is the worst? Well, INRIX just released their 2015 traffic scorecard, and my hometown of Boston came in 7th place under their “average time wasted per commuter per year” metric — at 64 hours. That pales in comparison to LA which leads at 81 hours, and nothing close to London, which tops the charts at a ridiculous 101 hours wasted per commuter per year. Nothing like a Big Dig traffic jam….
  • Lots of excitement surrounding increased valuations of tech companies. But this great research from The Information suggests caution in getting too carried away with private company valuations — — and the need to research what really happens in up-rounds on valuation increases v-a-v share price increases. Here’s one example: “Take MongoDB, which early last year raised an $80 million round that was reported to have valued the company at $1.6 billion, up from $1.2 billion at its previous fundraising in 2013. But the shares were sold in the new round at the same price as the 2013 round, according to data from PitchBook. That means existing investors did not see the value of their stakes rise. The higher valuation appears to have come only from an expansion in the number of shares.”
  • And then you get a hard-driving entrepreneur like Kevin Plank of UnderArmour basically blasting tech CEOs who joked about losing money at a recent technology conference. Said Plank in this interview in Business Insider, “Winning is cultural. Losing money is cultural. If you get used to losing money, it’s really hard to stop. Go let the other guy lose money and fail off.”
  • Pretty compelling analysis of gun control in UK, Australia, Japan, and Germany. Fascinating read in The Guardian about potential learnings for the US.
  • I’m a fan of the Internet of Things and the possibilities — sensors in parking garages and apps in connected vehicles to help speed up the search for parking spaces; Nest thermostats to help control home heating; energy usage in commercial buildings; and many more. But sometimes the technology gets out in front. Here’s a pretty scary story of a Linux security expert who easily and quickly gained control of every hotel room in a newly “connected” hotel.
  • Love this picture from friend Steve Garfield coming out of this past SXSW in Austin — sure looks like a friendly living room crowd. Yes, VR is the hot thing.
  • Need some motivation? This French woman named Colette Bourlier, age 91 from the Besancon region of France (near and dear to me, since that’s where I spent a summer in 1978), just finished her PhD after 30 years according to this Guardian article. Keep cranking, people. And stop complaining about “getting math” — according to her professor, “she is probably the only person who knew all the aspects in such detail and who was able to weave everything together. She backed it up with statistical analyses.”
  • I just have to end with this brilliant, mesmerizing video — I remember building marble slides with my kids long ago. I cannot even imagine how much time was spent on this one — but it’s breath-taking. Enjoy.

I warned you — those are some random thoughts and observations. What about yours? Share your thoughts here or follow me on Twitter at @Glennengler.

(Image from Another ABCD Mommy)

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