This is an issue of my monthly newsletter. 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.
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
- Social Media
- 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
- eSports growth
- Continued growth of the subscription model and personalization: Spotify and Netflix dominate
- Enterprise Software
- Interfaces become more humane as reflected in growing designer/developer ratios
- On-demand bike sharing
- AliPay + WeChat
- Macro Trends
- US Deficit
- 60% of most valued companies started by 1st or 2nd generation immigrants
- 50% of most valued companies started by 1st generation immigrants