CategoryIn the news

Copying Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway letter

A few weeks ago I asked the internet why there are no copycats of Berkshire Hathaway, despite Warren Buffett telling the world exactly how he and Charlie do what they do. This week, Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders was published, and now that Africa Eats is copying parts of Berkshire Hathaway’s model, I found it more fascinating than usual to both learn as well as compare and...

Reminiscing of 30 year old (failed) technology

Remembering he Apple Newton

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

Cover of BYTE 1991

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

Electric camper

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)

Federal Reserve thoughts

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

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?

Electricity from Sea Water

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

Mountain top

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

techno fixes

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

Kalahari Honey header

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...

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