CategoryIn the news

Reminiscing of 30 year old (failed) technology

I’m not the only one this week looking back 30 years at failed tech gadgets. Today in my news feed was a post on ars technia, Remembering Appleā€™s Newton, 30 years on. Thirty years ago, on May 29, 1992, Apple announced its most groundbreaking and revolutionary product yet, the Newton MessagePad. It was released to great fanfare a year later, but as a product, it could only be described as a...

Seeing is hard, especially into the future

This year I’m celebrating 30 years as an entrepreneur, and with that round number reminiscing more than usual about three decades of learnings. My personal journey into startups began a year earlier, in February of 1991, while still a senior in college at Carnegie Mellon. That month’s issue of BYTE magazine focused on the future of laptops, with a series of articles talking not just...

Camping in an Electric Camper Van

While the news is full of stories of the transition to electric cars, soon to be added into that transition is camper vans, as that is now just possible too, and you don’t even need to buy one. The challenge is that camper vans are much heavier than cars, less aerodynamic, and thus need more power to move about. That, plus campers are intended to go out into the wild, away from civilization...

The Federal Reserve’s thoughts on the Digital Dollar (CBDC)

The Federal Reserve published their first public paper on digital dollars, a.k.a. Central Bank Digital Currencies, a.k.a. the dollar CBDC. This, of course, is spurred by the popularity of cryptocurrencies and the questions of whether they will replace the government issued fiat currencies. At a high level, this paper says nothing interesting. A bone dry nothingburger. But what is interesting is...

Naming is hard… ask Alphabet and Meta

Naming is startup is hard. Harder than naming a baby you’ve yet to meet. Back in 2017 I posted a lesson in how to find a great name. Today (2021), Facebook shows us just how difficult it is to brand a company, especially an established company. Back in 2015, Google demonstrated the same mistakes. Mistake #1 – Naming by Committee No good name has ever been created by committee...

Salt water, lighting… bad journalism or fraud?

I keep seeing stories about a new lamp that is “powered” by salt water. The claim is that you’ll get 45 days of lighting using nothing more than half a liter of salt water… What I want to know is why none of these journalists ever check with an engineer or physicist or high school science teacher on whether such a claim is possible. If it’s not obvious to you, the...

Sequoia sees the light

Over at The Angel Accelerator I’ve been teaching new startup investors the history of venture capital. It’s one of those industries that feels like it’s been around forever, maybe inherited from the Roman or British Empire, but in reality, in its modern form, was created in my grandparents generation, after my parents were born, and wasn’t a mature, robust, big industry...

The state and future of vertical farming

As a startup investor (and fund manager), there are themes that appear repeatedly in the dealflow submitted by startups. The entrepreneurs typically can’t see these patterns, and thus end up wasting their time repeating the same business plans that others many have tried and failed. I’ve written about this information asymmetry before and included a short list of business ideas Fledge...

Irreplaceable

Some entrepreneurs stand out, clearly destined to turn their vision in reality. Some entrepreneurs succeed despite the myriad of unjust hurdles of world puts in front of them. Hurdles like being born a women. A black woman. In Africa. In one of the many countries no one outside that country cares about. Start off any entrepreneur in those circumstances and 99 out of 100 will end up no better off...

MIT’s study on social collapse: too soon to tell

Last week there was a flurry of articles citing MIT’s 1972 study on social collapse. The key graph from the study repeated by the articles is: What those lazy journalists didn’t tell you is that there were four scenarios predicted in the study In two, the model predicts a collapse in industrial production and food, a giant famine, and a drop in population. In the third model, some yet...

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