Serendipity & Summer Doldrums

Did you notice that I had gone missing for a few days? Exactly 10 days to be specific! In case you were wondering, I decided to take some downtime to work on a specific problem — a continuous sleep disorder related problems that were making me get up at ungodly hours and leaving me exhausted for much of the day. As a result, I was unable to think and walked through the day like a zombie.  Continue reading "Serendipity & Summer Doldrums"

Elad Gil on startup advice & his book, High Growth Handbook

About ten days ago I caught up with Elad Gil, a Silicon Valley veteran who has written a new book, High Growth Handbook. Even halfway through the book, and I can already tell this is a book that is a valuable asset for those who are running fast-growing companies. It is equally helpful for those of us who aspire to grow fast. Elad has written one of the best books for the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. Continue reading "Elad Gil on startup advice & his book, High Growth Handbook"

Why we need sleep + 4 good reads

Do you remember what happened at the start of this week? Me neither! The news is flowing so fast these days, that you can’t really figure out what’s really happening. And that is why misinformation — aka the real fake news — surreptitiously gets embedded in our brains and we start believing that it might be true. The whole thing is becoming a bit of a confusing mess. And that’s the objective of the propagandists. Yet another accurate Orwellian prediction. Perhaps that is why I am sharing these articles today so that when you get a chance to read them, you feel you feel satisfied, at the very least. Continue reading "Why we need sleep + 4 good reads"

Even Leica loves “computational photography”

What I hate about news is that there is too much of it, and most of it doesn’t matter. So instead of writing about the regulation of Google’s monopoly or moral ambiguities of Facebook, I decided to focus on a topic that makes me excited about the future — computational photography, which is simply capturing and processing digital images using computation instead of more traditional optical processes.

I had a somewhat slow weekend — spent pouring over research I have accumulated for my book on photography and camera culture titled The Third Eye. It has been slow going, mostly because understanding the social, cultural and ethical impact of cameras everywhere. It started out as a straightforward exercise, but I have found myself tangled in the thick weeds of morality and humanness. And yet, there is a sense of delight that modern camera — a visual sensor, really brings to mind. Continue reading "Even Leica loves “computational photography”"

Companies, like people, don’t change

Not a month goes by when we hear about another snafu or scandal about Facebook and Uber. And each time I wonder if they will change. It seems both these companies are genetically pre-programmed to obey what their DNA tells them — unfettered growth without consequences. And which makes me wonder, can companies change? Or the culture a company starts with becomes its defining characteristic. Here are my thoughts. Continue reading "Companies, like people, don’t change"

“Fake Followers” are “Social Spam”

Just about 12 years ago, at a costume party hosted by Ruby Red Labs in the SOMA district of San Francisco, I got a chance to talk to one of the now-forgotten founders of Twitter, Noah Glass. He showed me Twitter (or Twttr as it was known back then). I tried it and must have liked it because I went home (admittedly just a few blocks away) and in a slightly inebriated state wrote about the product and Twitter was launched. It is perhaps why I retain a lot of affection for the product, and its co-founders. I am not shy about expressing my displeasure, but in general, Twitter has been a great little addition to my life.

And perhaps that is why I was pleased to learn on my twelfth anniversary of using Twitter (which reminded me of that, obviously) I lost 200,000 followers. I was part of the big fake account and bot purge that Twitter has recently embarked on. The New York Times says that there are about 48 million active users are what it calls “automated accounts designed to simulate real people.)

As The New York Times noted — Oprah ( down 1.4 million), Ellen (down 2 million), Justin Bieber (down over 3 million) and Kim Kardashian (down 3 percent) — lost many more. I would be happy to lose half or even more of my followers if that means cleaning up the service, increasing the signal and dampening the noise. I think the challenge for social platforms like Twitter is that real engagement is being drowned by the noise in the system – fake accounts and bots.  Continue reading "“Fake Followers” are “Social Spam”"

BitCoin & Energy Usage

…the current global power consumption for the servers that run bitcoin’s software is a minimum of 2.55 gigawatts (GW), which amounts to energy consumption of 22 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year—almost the same as Ireland. Google, by comparison, used 5.7 TWh worldwide in 2015.

If the cryptocurrency were to stay at its recent price of $8,000, power usage of the bitcoin network would peak at 7.67 gigawatts (67 terrawatt hours of energy on an annual basis, or one-fifth of Britain’s energy use).

App Store At 10

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Apple’s App Store turned 10. If you remember Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs, then you would remember Steve wasn’t a fan of the idea of an app store. An enthusiast community saw an opportunity, released a cracked iOS and an app store for independent apps. Very few developers were on board for the web apps, that Apple was pushing.

Instead it was a bunch of renegades who thought App Store was needed. They called it iOS jailbreaking. By the way, our friend Ben Schachter of Macquarie Research points out that “99.9% of all apps in the App Store have earned less than $1 million,” and that ” In 2017 iPhone Apps were 84% of total sales,” with iPad getting the rest.  

App store’s tenth anniversary is a timely reminder that enthusiasts — derisively labeled fanboys — help turn companies into cultural movements. Twitter, as it does a Continue reading "App Store At 10"

I don’t want my Financial TV

Fox Business News is beating the crap out of CNBC.

  • In 2Q 2018, Bartiromo’s Mornings led Squawk Box among total viewers, 109,000 to 104,000
  • FBN grew … beating CNBC by 23% (203,000 total viewers compared with CNBC’s 165,000).
  • Among viewers 25-54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers, CNBC finished ahead of Fox Business in the second quarter, with 31,000 viewers to FBN’s 25,000
  • Lou Dobbs Tonight, which won among total viewers (319,000) and among viewers 25-54 (36,000)

In reality, these numbers are so small and irrelevant that I wonder if anyone wants the so-called financial TV. It is mostly vanity television — only for business leaders to get on tv. From an advertiser perspective, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and other places offer more finely tuned audiences for much lower prices.

In the plus column, these puny sized numbers should be a big boost for (former Buzzfeed President) Jon Steinberg and his Cheddar, Continue reading "I don’t want my Financial TV"

Guest Posts Gone Wild

Buzzfeed is reporting that one single contributor who wrote 700 articles for Forbes and 300 for Entrepreneur magazine, has been charging brands to mention their names in his articles. It is yet another posts-payola scheme.

BuzzFeed News also obtained an email pitch from an AudienceBloom employee to a potential client in which he offered the ability for them to review an article with a brand mention before it was published. The pitch said a mention with a link back in a “premium tier” publication like Mashable would cost between $1,200 and $2,000.

In December 2017, Outline reported that “publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Forbes, wherein freelance writers were taking payments in exchange for favorable coverage.”

It happens with such regularity — especially at Forbes and Entrepreneur — that I usually ignore everything these publications offer. And when someone sends me a link about themselves (or one of their articles), I make it a point to not take them seriously in the future.

Continue reading "Guest Posts Gone Wild"

Does Silicon Valley have a conscience?

Silicon Valley’s recruiting pitch has long been: Work with us to change the world. Employees are encouraged to make their work life synonymous with their social identity, and many internalize those utopian ideals. “People who signed up to be tech heroes don’t want to be implicated in human rights abuses,” says a senior Google employee.

A close look at the emergence of employee dissent at big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft over issues that matter to them. One notable omission: Facebook. Perhaps they think that their company is pristine, flawless.

Journalism Problem #1

Jill Abramson, former editor of The New York Times:

“From four years of teaching at Harvard, so many of my students are interested in journalism, but they mostly want to write first-person, highly personal narratives about themselves. That may reflect their age. But I think there’s too much of that in journalism. It’s not about us. It’s about the world, and covering the world.”

This has been my biggest gripe with the media establishment. Everything is about them, not about the news.

Past & Future

Politics, business, technology, innovation… past always tries to hold down the future. Every time I read an article about Brexit, dismissal of Tesla, or new ideas, it all boils down to our dogmas and collective memories coming in the way of the future. The past can be a great guide, but it can’t be our social destination.

These days, the world seems dark at times, and as a result, I retreat into books, music, and art. Only art (including writing and blogging) allow you to remix the past and build the future. So much of our modern photography is influenced by those photos from a 100 years ago.

And they were influenced by masters (painters) from before, and they got their inspiration from the giants of the Renaissance. HipHop is a remix. I don’t know whether future is good or bad, but keeping an open mind does make present pretty Continue reading "Past & Future"

What do YouTube, Instagram & GitHub have in common?

I have had a few days to think about Microsoft’s decision to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion and I am increasingly convinced that this is a good deal for Microsoft, as long as they don’t pull the same shenanigans they did with Skype. The acquisition makes a lot of sense, especially when you see it from the lens of two of the most successful “buys” of recent years. Continue reading "What do YouTube, Instagram & GitHub have in common?"

You know that thing called blogging

It has been almost ten days since I have been able to read properly. The bug I picked on my recent travels along with severe conjunctivitis turned out to be a forced vacation from screens. I am woefully behind on emails and also on my reading. And as usual, I caught up with some of my favorite bloggers, Dave Winer and John Gruber. And as I sped through their writing, it finally clicked.

Continue reading "You know that thing called blogging"