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
Now, get a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Technology and Startups
- The best products launched in 2017 by ProductHunt.
- The list of 26 companies started by 1st or 2nd generation immigrants.
- CES 2018 summary by Steven Sinofsky. Big trends: voice interfaces, home electronics, robots, cars, and AR/VR headsets.
- AI and Deep Learning in 2017 – A Year in Review. A great summary of progress and links to online courses by UC Berkeley, Stanford, and others.
- Amazon opened a store with no checkout lines (NYT). Customers are charged automatically, thanks to machine learning and hundreds of cameras.
- Blockchain Governance: Programming Our Future by Fred Ehrsam. Setting up the right mechanisms for coordination and incentive structures can be critical for new blockchains.
- Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble (NYT). All the hype and crypto speculation aside, blockchains hold a promise of a truly open and decentralized Internet – the way it was meant to be.
- How an A.I. ‘Cat-and-Mouse Game’ Generates Believable Fake Photos (NYT). Generative adversarial networks at work. Getting AI to classify content is important but getting AI to create content is even more exciting.
- Twitter’s investigation of Russian interference in the US election. Twitter removed Russian government-linked accounts and emailed 678K people in the US who followed, retweeted or liked a tweet from these accounts during the election period. I’m glad social media companies start to accept more responsibility for how their platforms are used and abused.
- Facebook will show more content from friends and family and less content from publishers. Overall, it’s good that Tristan Harris’ “Time Well Spent” ideas are getting traction. I wonder what would happen if FB let users adjust defaults at any time by choosing % of content from friends vs. % of content from publishers; long-form vs. short-form; education vs. entertainment; text vs. video; new vs. old; from currently followed sources vs. discovery; as well as mute specific topics/keywords.
Growth and Marketing
- Intercom on Marketing (ebook). A good intro to marketing and, in particular, product marketing that will be interesting to those who are relatively inexperienced.
- How to Design Marketing Campaigns. Basics of marketing segmentation, messaging hierarchy, and campaign management – this article will be useful to those who’re new to marketing or looking for a refresher.
- HubSpot’s Pricing Page Redesign → MQL Conversions 165%↑ & Free Sign-Ups 89%↑. How: research first – usability testing, internal feedback, and customer intelligence; then design based on insights and A/B test.
- “What’s next in growth?” (video) talk by Andrew Chen who leads the rider growth at Uber. Andrew recommends you ignore “growth hacks” and focus on fundamentals that worked for decades. E.g. user referrals, shareable content, and using discounts to jumpstart demand for new products.
Product Management and Design
- Facebook tried flagging fake news. Looks like the main challenge here is human psychology and confirmation bias: people who want something to be true aren’t usually very open to counterevidence.
Leadership and Management
- The surprising thing Google learned about its employees (WaPo). “Among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills.”
- Science-based interviewing by Don Moore, a professor at BerkeleyHaas (video). Be humble about your abilities and use structured interviews. Surprisingly, intelligence– and integrity tests might be relatively predictive too. Cultural fit, if not defined, leads to “hire people who are like me” bias.
- The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the story of genetics from early days of Aristotle all the way to CRISPR/Cas9.
Podcasts and Documentaries
- This Week in Startups by Jason Calacanis. Try Coinlist or Finless Foods episodes.
- Sam Harris’ Podcast. Try recent The Science of Meditation episode.
- AlphaGo documentary on Netflix. The storytelling is great but it’s short on technical details.
- The Daily by The New York Times. Whether consuming news daily is a good use of one’s time is still an open question to me. But there are better and worse ways of doing it. The Daily appears to be a better one. Try “The Best of 2017” episodes first.
Cognition and Psychology
- Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet. A very comprehensive list of 175 bugs that our brains have.
- Ten Commandments for Aspiring Superforecasters. These takeaways from Philip Tetlock’s book “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” can serve as guidelines for predicting future events.
- TaoTronics Earbuds – my favorite $26 Bluetooth earphones that are perfect for listening to podcasts and audiobooks when running and commuting.
- $16K is the price of a laundry-folding robot.
- 8.3M subscribers were added by Netflix in Q4.
- $380B is the iOS economy revenue in 2017, including hardware.
- 39M Americans own a smart speaker, 6M of them sold by Google in 2017.
- 1.4K electronics products were ordered per second on Amazon via mobile this holiday season.
- Polls show no decline in American people’s impressions of tech companies despite all the talk about the “tech backlash”.
- Write a to-do list for the next day to fall asleep faster.
- How to be “good at self-control”: create habits, learn to enjoy the activities, and eliminate temptations.
- Strava published a global heatmap of all fitness activities. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, it can be useful for finding places to run, bike or swim.
Science and Research
- Longevity FAQ by Laura Deming. Scientific ideas that have been linked to longevity in mice or human: caloric restriction, insulin/IGF, parabiosis, senescence, autophagy, sirtuins, etc.
- Studying Studies: Part I by Peter Attia. The first article in series that explain how to read scientific studies. This one explains the difference between relative risk reduction often reported by the media and absolute risk reduction that sometimes might be more relevant.
- A Long Read of My Dream
- Principles of Ethical Marketing
- How to Develop and Validate a Value Proposition
“Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.” – Peter F. Drucker
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