CategoryIn the news

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...

Efficiency vs. Resilience: The Texas Blackout

The right framework can uncover the most hidden of assumptions. For example, the 2021 winter blackouts in Texas. While the politicians and news debate over windmills, natural gas, and deregulation, they are missing the the framework and thus talking trees instead of forest.   The better way to look at this problem is the consequence of a hidden tradeoff we make with all our big, complex...

Powering the 21st Century

Predicting the coming year is next to impossible. But some predictions of the coming decade and century are easy, obvious, and 99% likely to come true. I’m enjoying an early view into one of those: battery-backed solar. It is dim, drizzly, and chilly in Seattle, the opposite weather of every image you’ve ever seen for solar power. We will literally get less than six hours of daylight...

A 21st Century antitrust solution for Big Tech

The last government antitrust breakup was AT&T back in 1984. It followed the model of Standard Oil back in 1911. Business and technology have changed a lot since the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was written and passed 130 years ago, in 1890. It’s time we update what we mean by trust-like behavior and how we remedy those consequences. Note that the breakups of Standard Oil and AT&T were...

Time Traveling and Virtual Conferences

Last month I attended my first conference held in a timezone from the other side of the globe. That was a one day event, and an interesting experiment in timezone travel and virtual jet lag. This month the experiment grows, as I’m attending Sankalp Global, a week-long virtual conference, with the programming running morning through afternoon in India Standard Time and East Africa Time. That...

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