Monthly Newsletter: Issue 1

This is an issue of my monthly newsletter originally published on the blog. Main topics: technology, startups, business growth, and marketing. See other issues on my blog or subscribe. ~Max

Technology and Startups

  • Ten-year Futures — a presentation by A16z. New technologies enable new use cases. Seeing them, as well as non-obvious “second order” effects, is key. E.g. mobile enabled Instagram, Instacart, and ride-sharing.
  • Decrypting Crypto — another presentation by A16z. Bitcoin is a combination of three old technologies: hashcash, public key cryptography, and distributed ledger. Value of cryptocurrencies goes beyond the traditional store of value and medium of exchange. E.g. tokens can help bootstrap new protocol-level innovation and incentivize developers, customers, and investors to contribute.
  • AlphaGo Zero masters the game of Go from scratch. The ML algorithm learned the game without any pre-existing understanding of rules or strategies. Building a general or at least a-little-bit-less-narrow AI appears to be a big priority for DeepMind. Perhaps this can count as a small step in this direction?
  • Delivering blood with drones in Rwanda — a TED talk by the founder of Zipline. What an amazing application of new technology and a case study in social entrepreneurship.
  • Tacotron 2 is a new text-to-speech technology by Google that is (almost?) indistinguishable from a human voice. If Google manages to make it less computationally demanding and ship it as part of the Android OS, all kinds of interesting use cases will be made possible. I personally will listen to more of my Pocket articles in audio.
  • Magic Leap is launching its SDK, shipping in 2018. AR/VR is already quite a saturated market. It’s not entirely clear yet how hyped Magic Leap technology will compare to Microsoft HoloLens, as well as to VR headsets: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Growth and Marketing

  • Product Marketing for New Products. Emphasize the fundamental shift in the way business is done and ensuing challenges and opportunity. Explain how your product will facilitate the transition and contrast it with legacy solutions on the market.
  • Ship by ProductHunt. Might be a useful tool for early-stage startups.

Product Management and Design

  • Intercom on Product Management ebook. The book lays out a framework for doing a feature audit and deciding which features to develop and which ones to kill.
  • How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind. Tristan Harris, an ex-Googler, makes a persuasive case for ethical product design and for putting more thought into what metrics tech companies should choose to optimize for.

Books

  • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark jumps from AI to evolution to physics to philosophy in a mind-blowing way. It reads like science fiction that has a non-zero probability of turning into non-fiction.
  • Angel by Jason Calacanis describes startup fundraising from an angel investor’s point of view. The book can be useful to both aspiring investors and entrepreneurs looking to raise money. I appreciated Jason’s transparency and focus on details.
  • Behave by Robert Sapolsky is a very comprehensive and thought-provoking primer on evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and human science that gets a bit too dense and detailed at times.

Podcasts

  • Constitutional by The Washington Post tells the story of America by focusing on one issue at a time. E.g. “more perfect union”, “establish justice”, “common defence”, etc. Get all 13 episodes that were released so far!
  • The Kevin Rose Show by Kevin Rose. This one is similar to The Tim Ferriss Show. Most guests are from the technology world but some are bloggers, writers, and other interesting folks. I particularly enjoyed this episode: Bitcoin’s true potential, with Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

Products

  • Oura Ring is a “quantified self” gadget that I use to track sleep. It’s been shown to be relatively accurate compared the underwhelming performance of competing gadgets. Oura also breaks the sleep into deep, REM, and light stages. A very detailed review.
  • Yousician is a cross-platform app (MacOS and mobile) that can help you learn to play guitar or piano. It has helped me gamify the learning process and reduced the friction by showing a clear learning path.

Numbers

  • 1,665%↑ is Bitcoin YoY growth
  • 47 years is the average age of founders whose startups had successful exits
  • 50% is iPhone’s share in Beijing
  • 11%↓ people in extreme poverty in 2015 vs. 1987 (-41% in Africa)
  • 2017 in Review by The World Bank

Smarter Living

Science and Research

My Blog Posts

Contemplation Break

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ~Marcus Aurelius

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Originally published at max2c.com on December 26, 2017.

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