In case you’ve missed the new (well, 1.5 months old) 2017 KPCB Internet Trends report, here it is. As always, it’s a fascinating 355-slide deck of charts and graphs that cover everything from advertising to macroeconomics.
Here are some less than obvious insights I noted. What did you find interesting?
Ads vary significantly in how much they annoy customers: mobile pop-ups are the worst
Unexpected popularity of weird YouTube channels, e.g. people who record themselves unboxing stuff
Delivery / On-Demand Economy
Trending up across the board: from Amazon to Doordash
Amazon eating the world with Amazon Basics brand
Gaming and VR
Gamer’s average age: 35
More weird entertainment: the # of people watching other people play games keeps growing
Games have higher engagement in minutes/day than Facebook (per active user)
VR and gamification of the real world: Stanford Football, Peloton and all kinds of mobile apps
Virtual world simulations: Improbable
Continued growth of the subscription model and personalization: Spotify and Netflix dominate
Interfaces become more humane as reflected in growing designer/developer ratios
On-demand bike sharing
AliPay + WeChat
60% of most valued companies started by 1st or 2nd generation immigrants
50% of most valued companies started by 1st generation immigrants
I know I am 1.5 years late with this recommendation, but if by some unfortunate twist of fate you missed Hamilton musical, you should go listen now! Start with “My Shot”, “Non-Stop”, and “Alexander Hamilton”. Or listen on Spotify:
I had a chance to work for companies with very different corporate cultures. In my experience culture does not just happen. Instead, it should be deliberately designed and reinforced. So I found this Harvard Business Review article relevant and insightful:
Think carefully about each of these four elements:
Incentives are a basic element of doing good work. People should be paid fairly and competitively for their roles, and increases in compensation should be a predictable process. In addition to pay, the culture should work to reward results generated versus hours worked. Employees shouldn’t feel anxious about how visible they are in the office or on projects, and strict timekeeping can create a sense of mistrust between teams and management. Lastly, and this is something we care about a lot, good failure should not result in career suicide.
Context and rules will determine what rituals and processes allow people to do great work. If initiative is punished instead of rewarded, people will feel less compelled to push new ideas internally. The ability to make quick judgment calls and move decisions forward will outpace any lengthy or cumbersome internal approvals process. The same goes for autonomy and flexibility—do you trust your teams to lead while you get out of the way? Are teams allowed to participate in flexible work options that encourage their productivity? Your teams need the right tools and resources to do their job—are they spending more time fighting for what they need? If access to those resources is limited, individuals will be less inclined to take part in initiatives with so many blockers in front of them.
People are the core of a great organization and the processes and systems you use to hire, promote, and reward them can be both enablers and blockers. Bob Sutton’s famous “no asshole rule” is an important factor when hiring people for your company, especially if they’re “star performers”. Sutton believes that star performers who are demeaning can wreak havoc on organizations. You just can’t compromise your business on people like that.
Leadership has to play a role in the culture if the whole organization is to transform. And leading by example is a pivotal component of management enablers (and blockers: leadership can lead by poor example as well, of course). If leadership exhibits the behaviors expected of teams and individuals, then people in the organization will follow suit.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is yet another mind-expanding book:
“About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.
About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions is called chemistry.
About 3.8. billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The story of organisms is called biology.
About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.
Three important revolutions shaped the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution kick-started history about 70,000 years ago. The Agricultural Revolution sped it up about 12,000 years ago. The Scientific Revolution, which got under way only 500 years ago, may well end history and start something completely different. This book tells the story of how these three revolutions have affected humans and their fellow organisms.”
Steve Blank, our UC Berkeley professor, wrote an awesome “Guide to the Real Silicon Valley”. I recommend it to everyone who is planning to visit and even to those already living in The Bay. I’m quoting an excerpt here:
For the ultimate startup experience: talk yourself into carrying someone’s bags as they give a pitch to a VC. Be a fly on the wall and soak it in.
If you’re trying to get a real feel of the culture:apply and interview for jobs in three Silicon Valley companies even if you don’t want any of them. The interview will teach your more about Silicon Valley company culture and the valley than any tour.
Meet some locals in tech: attend at least three tech-oriented Meetups or Plancast events in the Valley or San Francisco (Meetup is a deep list. Search for “startup” meetup’s in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Santa Clara.)
Just finished reading “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip Tetlock. The book is similar to Nate Silver’s “The Signal and The Noise” in many ways.
I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re interested in the application of the scientific mindset to forecasting of future events.
Here is a quote to give you sense of what to expect:
“Suppose someone says, “Unfortunately, the popularity of soccer, the world’s favorite pastime, is starting to decline.” You suspect he is wrong. How do you question the claim?
Don’t even think of taking a personal shot like “You’re silly.” That only adds heat, not light. “I don’t think so” only expresses disagreement without delving into why you disagree. “What do you mean?” lowers the emotional temperature with a question but it’s much too vague. Zero in. You might say, “What do you mean by ‘pastime’?” or “What evidence is there that soccer’s popularity is declining? Over what time frame?” The answers to these precise questions won’t settle the matter, but they will reveal the thinking behind the conclusion so it can be probed and tested. Since Socrates, good teachers have practiced precision questioning, but still it’s often not used when it’s needed most.”
I just wanted to share these two very well-done and informative primers on AI and quantum computing by A16z. The latter one made a bit less ignorant about the topic. The former one is rather basic but still interesting.
Some people liked the Spotify Playlists I shared last time, so I thought I’d share a few more. I wouldn’t claim that these four are the best but they are definitely my favorites when it comes working or studying and you need music to assist your focus: