Well, now that the house is really getting dialed, in here are some final notes, there will be a blizzard, but got to start somewhere.
The Sony WH-1000MX series are designed be to very base heavy. When you have great earphones like the Etymotic ER-4a or the Sennheiser HD-650, this can be kind of annoying. The fix is to have an equalizer to adjust the sound properly. Fortunately, a Reddit user /u/BrightPlace did the work to figure out the response curves and therefore what is needed to bring it to true.
Different folks vary, but it look like
SourceClear Bass4001k2.5k6.3k16kLes Numeriques+10+1±0-1-3-10Rtings+5±0-2-2-4-10Super Best Audio Friends+8±0-2-5-5-10Custom EQ Settings-5±0+2+1+4+10
Super Best Audio
Estimated error from flat for the WH MX1000
There are a few ways that you can implement this. If you use the Sony application, then you can just set it in as above. This works great if the input source is an IOS Device, then you just follow the settings on imgur.
Set on Sony App on mobile device
To reverse these effects that is to set the Sony application to Manual and then:
Set Clear Base to -5
400Hz as 0
1Khz as +2
2.5Khz at +1
6.3Khz at +4
16Khz at +16
On your Mac
The Mac doesn’t have a Sony application, so instead, you need to use one of three ways to provide equalization as MakeTechEasier says:
If you just want it for your music, then you can use the dedicate Equaliser in Apple Music at Window/Equalizer where you can make a preset, it’s a little hard to figure out what the values are since it is not clear what Clear Bass means, and the points are different, but I used -5/32Hz, -4/64Hz, -2/125Hz, -1/250Hz, 1/500Hz, 2/1Khz, 3/4Khz, 6/8Khz, 12/16KHz
If you want this to work for Zoom and other system oriented things, then you need to use a their party utility like Boom (just $10 for Black Friday). As a bonus, it also does 3D surround sound.
Airfoil is a utility that I often use, while Apple Music let’s you transmit it’s playback to a whole bunch of different sources, you can’t do this for the system, Airfoil make the Mac a full client that let’s you connect the output to just about anything. Pretty useful for parties and things. It does cost $30 for the privilege so beware of that.
Primer, the U.K. fintech that wants to help merchants consolidate their payments stack and easily support new payment methods in the future, has raised £14 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Accel, who I understand were quite proactive in persuading Primer to take the VC firm’s money.
The young company wasn’t actively fund-raising, having quietly raised £3.8 million in funding announced in May. Instead, the team was heads down building out the product and wooing potential customers by holding technical workshops and in-depth interviews over Zoom with 100 merchants — activity that didn’t go unnoticed.
Also participating in the Series A are existing investors: Balderton, SpeedInvest and Seedcamp, who were joined in the round by new backer RTP Global. Sonali De Rycker, partner at Accel, will join Primer’s board.
Founded by ex-PayPal employees – via PayPal’s acquisition of Braintree — Primer wants to offer one payments API to (hopefully) rule them all, with the explicit aim of bringing greater transparency to a merchant’s payment stack.
The thinking is that larger merchants, especially those that operate in more than one geography, have to support an array of payment methods, which brings with it significant technical overhead, a poor user experience, and lack of transparency.
Primer, now described as a “low code” platform, carries out a lot of that heavy-lifting on behalf of merchants and while remaining steadfastly payment method agnostic. By doing so, the idea is to reduce friction when adopting new payment methods as they come to market, and be able to provide better insights into things like how well each checkout option is performing.
As well as payment-service-providers (PSPs), the platform has connectors for fraud providers, chargeback services, subscription billing engines, BI tools, loyalty and rewards platforms. Both payments and non-payments services can be “seamlessly connected to the checkout experience and payments flow via workflows, enabling merchants to unify their fraud migration efforts, build sophisticated transaction routing, and solve complex flows – all with no code,” explains Primer.
Primer says the additional funding will be used for international business development and scaling its team. Billed as a remote-first company, Primer has 23 employees across six countries, and says it has already picked up traction across mid-market and large enterprise e-commerce merchants across Europe.
Comments Paul Anthony, Primer’s co-founder and head of product and engineering: “During our time at PayPal, we saw first-hand the technical burden online merchants face trying to offer the best payments experiences to their customers globally. Our low-code approach enables merchants’ payments teams to manage and expand their payments ecosystems, and maintain sophisticated payments logic with a familiar workflow UI”.
Meanwhile, the new investment brings Primer’s total funding to £17.8 million, and comes only a few weeks after the initial launch of the company’s platform.
An acquaintance of mine, Arnold Waldstein just passed. I found out from my wife, who read another friend’s Facebook post. I didn’t know he was ill.
Frankly, we commiserated a lot after meeting at AVC. Private texts, emails, and the like. There was some personal stuff but it was mostly business. We tried to help each other. He was a Yankees fan, I was a Cubs fan so we were cool. We understood the value of having totally different networks and that might be able to help one another.
I never pried into Arnie’s background or his family. I don’t even know if he had sisters or brothers. I know he had a girlfriend, a son and Sam the Cat. I do know when his mom passed away it affected him deeply. She was in her late 90s. His dad passed away a while ago.
He liked it when I was up in MN. He told me about his experiences in upstate NY back in the 60s and how it sometimes reminded him of that.
Our relationship deteriorated over politics which I suspect has happened to a lot of people. Arnie ended it. He hated Trump and could never understand why anyone let alone me might support him. I never reached out after he did. It was not worth the effort and I knew that if he were of value to something I was doing I would not have hesitated to reach out. I generally don’t choose friends over politics unless they are abusive or try to inflict harm in some way.
That has happened to me too and I ended the relationship.
Arnie had never spent time in flyover country, and during his life and career he never really interacted with blue-collar people. So, it was hard for him to understand it. It’s more than Hillbilly Elegy, which is an extreme.
I valued Arnie because he sent me to some great places in NYC. He introduced me to Racine’s and Russ and Daughters. We met for lunch in the smallest little places which was fun for a guy from Chicago. Chicago has great places, but they are larger footprints. I bought the last time we saw each other physically and when I die, I hope he has a table waiting for me with some steaming matzoh ball soup and pastrami.
I am off Twitter until the company changes. Their policies and implementation of them are evil, and so is their management. I am on Parler.
So, instead of tweeting a little message to Arnie’s descendants and friends, I thought I’d just post here. If they find it, they will know that Arnie touched a lot of people and had a lot of loose friends that are out there that have them in their thoughts today. I don’t know what Arnie wants for burial, but if you spread his ashes in Tulum and then have a picnic by the sea with a glass of natural wine, he will be happy.
Google will end up giving about €150m to the French press over the next three years. The details show a mixture of a genuine and impactful arrangement and the usual convoluted dealings to make a new set of subsidies looking like a sound business deal.
(This is the first part of a series about the relationships between the platforms and the news industry)
It took a year of discussion between Google and the representatives of the French media industry to come up with a deal on the European directive on copyright and neighboring rights (see a previous Monday Note). The EU copyright Directive had been translated into a French law, forcing the parties to find an agreement by the end of next year.
The sign that the deal could be a decent one is that none of the parties are gloating about it. There is no obvious winner: the French media tamed its expectations while Google yielded on many points with the idea of keeping the lid on a costly Pandora’s box.
The deal in itself is quite complicated to the extent that not all the publishers I talked to were able to draw a complete picture of it. Here is the best obtainable version of the puzzle:
1 . The arguments
The publishers’ side
Over the past ten years, they say, “Google has profusely siphoned our financial resources by capturing a sizable amount of the advertising we used to own. At the same time, they make tons of money by using our content which appears prominently in their search results pages, without paying a dime for it”.
Publishers refer to this:
“Without the news media,” they add, “Google’s search engine would not perform as it does; it would be less relevant, and would carry only low-quality content. The main search algorithm would not work so well as it would be fed with crappy stuff.”
Among the litany of complaints: “Google knows our readers better than we do and they refuse to share any data that could vastly help our business.” The data sharing has always been a contentious issue for publishers with a yawning gap between their own vague knowledge of their readership and Google’s hyper granular profiling, with thousands of data points on each of us. To the dismay of the French publishers, their attempt to create data a common data hub to regain some credibility vis-à-vis the advertising market completely bombed. Big brands such as L’Oreal that are used to buying splashy ads in the press to showcase their products completely ignored the efforts of the media when quantifiable returns were needed.
Last but not the least, French media have tried to use alternative tools to place their ads or measure campaign efficiency, but were eventually forced to use Google’s prolific toolbox, which offers better performance and is favored by advertisers.
Hence a certain level of bitterness.
Last week, I was offered another view: “You need to put this into a historical perspective”, my interlocutor said. “When Google started to take off, a great part of the lift was provided by the media industry, which brought quality content, credibility, and notoriety. It undoubtedly accelerated the public acceptance of the search engine and later all the services that were stacked upon it. The same goes for Facebook. Without the media industry, Facebook would be MySpace and Google the Yellow Pages. If you add to that the fact that Google has basically destroyed our business, they definitely need to pay at some point.”
The person who said this is not an old media baron, nostalgic for the past luster of the industry. It comes from a smart and witty woman in her thirties, with a business degree and experience abroad. I won’t go into the details of this long conversation, but I told her that building a long-lasting (and global) business agreement can hardly be considered as some kind of “reparations”.
That view is worth considering just as an example of how pervasive and widespread the emotional context is in France. Especially now with the Covid-related crisis, the behavior of American Big Tech is seen as salt in the wound of a media industry that isn’t healing. This element of context, which is often lost in translation when seen from Mountain View, is important to keep in mind.
For nearly a decade Google adamantly opposed the idea that it had to pay for snippets, the text it shows below headlines, fearing that it would open a Pandora’s box filled with the demands of thousands of digital outlets across the world. More broadly, the firm invokes the fair use legal doctrine, which allows limited reuse of copyrighted content. While it is more restricted in France, in the United States, its extensive use has opened the way to a cottage industry of aggregated content, such as pro or prosumer newsletters (including paid-for) that thrive on it.
Google’s strongest argument — also the least known — is the transfer of value to the publishers, i.e.: when someone clicks on a “blue link” of the search result page, they are sent to the publisher who will (hopefully) monetize the page with ads or various tools to convert the fly-by reader into a subscriber. Google reluctantly agreed to a vague approximation on this in the new deal, saying that it was globally sending 24 billion visits to the press each year. But without any point of reference or any idea of what it encompasses, this figure is completely pointless. This imprecision is a terrible and recurring mistake attributable to an ingrained disregard for strategic communication (I bet Google’s blunders in the matter will be taught someday in B-schools). Too bad because the actual transfer of value would have constituted the best argument ever to not pay a dime to the publishers.
2. The Amount
The most discussed aspect of the new deal was the global amount of money Google was willing to give and for how long. At the opening of the negotiation, the publishers came with a demand of €150m per year. The figure was based on an Ernst & Young research paper, which is unlikely to remain in the audit firm’s best-of portfolio.
Google said no. After a month, publishers came with a sweetened offer: €149m/year. “We knew that we could be there for a long time”, recalls a participant. To put things into perspective, €150m/year is about 12% of the revenue of the entire legacy French press.
The most reasonable negotiators had in mind the 2013 deal signed in person by Eric Schmidt (at the time executive chairman of Google) and then president François Hollande. At the time, the French media obtained a commitment of €60m over three years for its transition to digital. While the effort led to genuine innovations by small companies, for the legacy media it was essentially a brand new subsidy channel. Most of the publishers promptly used the proceeds for current business expenditures such as a top-class TV studio or apps that were already in the pipeline (one publisher even asked for money to offer tablets to its new subscribers). The move also led to the more ambitious and impactful Global News Initiative.
Seven years later, Google’s global revenue has more than tripled and publishers were keen for a serious hike.
Refusing to even consider the €150m demand, Google came up with the actual figure for the value it transfers to the French publishers: a staggering number, several times the amount asked by the publishers. As Google exposed its methodology, publishers quietly rolled back their EY fantasies and the discussion started on the right footing.
The parties agreed on a final mark slightly above €30m a year over a three years initial period (publishers wanted a much larger horizon, if not perpetuity). The distribution will be made through a complex equation mixing various audience metrics, the number of journalists, typology of content (serious news as opposed to entertainment and service). That’s for the base part of the deal.
Adding everything, the final number is about €50m that Google will spend each year.
3. The Deal Structure
Coming up with a convoluted solution that would not appear as a gift, a subsidy, or some kind of settlement required some complicated dealings. For Google, it was also important to not yield, at least formally, to the exotic notion of “neighboring rights” — the “no money for snippets” motto. That’s why the core of the deal is a licensing system based on News Showcase, the latest product engineered in Mountain View to boost the news ecosystem. According to Google:
“News Showcase is made up of story panels that will appear initially in Google News on Android. The product will launch soon on Google News on iOS, and will come to Google Discover and Search in the future. These panels give participating publishers the ability to package the stories that appear within Google’s news products, providing deeper storytelling and more context through features like timelines, bullets and related articles. Other components like video, audio and daily briefings will come next.”
It looks like this:
So that’s the €30m/year part and the framework agreement (everyone signs the same deal). Publishers are not entirely convinced, but at least the money is there and there is good potential. As one of them told me: “We won’t make much of an audience with News Showcase but at least we control the type of stories we will push, and we can put premium content that is good at boosting subscriptions”.
Like in every Western market which has suffered from depleted advertising revenue, subscriptions are key for the survival of the species, and the French press is doing quite well thanks to the lockdown.
The second stage of the rocket involves precisely the subscription model. It is based on the Subscribe with Google (SwG) program:
The product has been deployed in several countries where it proved to be quite successful. It vastly simplifies the subscription process, it’s not expensive for the publisher as Google keeps 5% and the cherry on top is that google agreed to share some data.
But the French press further enhanced it to their gain, not only to stimulate their subscription channel but to squeeze more cash from it.
Here is how it will work: the publishers will first collect financial aid to support their technical teams working on the SwG program. Details remain sketchy, but for some, that will translate into something tangible. That could be seen as the reward for chronic technical incompetence, but never mind.
Even better, Google will support the promotional efforts made by the publishers to sell more subscriptions. Again, more direct money. Example: Le Monde currently has a promotional offer at €1 for one month, then the normal price of €9.99 per month. According to the deal, Google will pay Le Monde for the difference between the promotional and the nominal rates (there are some variations, but that’s the idea). And it worked beautifully for Le Monde as SwG accounts for 40% of its current subscription inflow.
“Le Monde signed early on its own, but we expect the same deal”, a publisher told me. “Even more, Google agreed to pay for the promotion of our subscription packages on any media — including Facebook!” Don’t pinch yourself too hard, dear Anglo-Saxon reader. We are in France, in which good money doesn’t stink and the notion of amour-propre can easily bend to business necessities.
There will be other special deals, like with the powerful regional papers. While editorially mediocre in general — no content that could ruffle the feathers of a local potentate, no scoops or investigative piece that will get national attention and pathetically backward when it comes to their transition to digital — their influence remains high in their own fiefdoms. A few months ago, French President Emmanuel Macron personally weighed in to make sure that the provincial media barons will end up satisfied.
All included, a large media group like Le Figaro, Le Monde, or Le Parisien/Les Echos will each get 3 to 5 million euros in revenue per year (probably closer to 5), which is not a negligible return without even counting the long terms benefit of Subscribe with Google, which turned out to be a powerful conversion channel. The benefits for the regional and local press are more difficult to assess due to the myriad of publications involved, but all my interlocutors told me that they will do well.
I will stop here, for now, though.
In an upcoming series of Monday Notes I will look at this deal through a more global lens:
The snowball effect. How will the French deal reverberate across Europe and the rest of the world? That’s the one billion dollar question for Google (which is the amount of money committed by Google for the news media).
Is it a good deal? Is this kind of arrangement a good blueprint for a sound perennial cooperation between the Big Tech the news media? Could the pubs get something better — I’m not talking about disguised subsidies but actionable items with long-lasting impact?
Advertising and Business model. More broadly, how solid is the argument that puts the responsibility on the tech giants for the devastation of the media revenue model? (This question unavoidably gets me harsh criticism from both sides).
We’ve done a non-engineering scrum since Covid, and taken the basic idea of a stand-up to work across all functional areas in our small team at SaaStr.
Our modified structure is:
7:30–8:00am. M-Fri. Check in on Slack. Everyone shares Top 3 bullet points of what they are working on for the rest of the day.
1:30–2:00pm. Tu-Fri. Live meeting on Zoom. Bring up blockers, ideas, where need help. No repeats of Top 3 points from Slack check-in (i.e., assume everyone has read the points in Slack).
Monday only 12:00–1:00pm. Deep dive on everyone’s dashboard. Run on Notion, shared in Zoom. Every single employee and team member now has a dashboard in Notion, shared with everyone else. Monday is a progress review of each dashboard, with a chance to highlight issues and challenges.
This has worked pretty well for us. The big difference from a traditional engineering scrum is we aren’t breaking up work necessarily into daily chunks.
A side benefit is it clearly highlights who the low performers are, when they have nothing to say, and have no progress in their dashboards and check-in points.
Start-ups aren’t democracies, no matter what some employees may think. The CEO is the CEO, and the founders are the founders.
But start-ups also aren’t IBM or Cisco. Or even, anything like DropBox or Slack or Box or Hubspot, not organizationally at least.
From 1-10 employees, it’s a family. After 150 or so, somewhere in there, it starts to become a traditional hierarchical structure.
In between … from 10ish employees to 1X0ish … a start-up is something unique. Something organic. A couple of platoons. An organization that has come together voluntarily to take on a mission, at least in part. Later, it’s just a job. Maybe a cool job, but just a job. But from 10-150, it’s no longer a (squabbling?) family, but for many of your team, it’s more than just the best way to pay the rent.
And in this phase, most likely, at least once — the troops will revolt.
They’ll revolt when you make a senior or mid-level hire that as a group, they simply cannot suffer one day longer.
It’s happened to me, and I think for whatever my faults, I have a pretty high EQ and am a half-decent manager. So my guess is it will happen to you, too. In fact, it’s happened with every start-up I’ve ever worked with.
The three times it happened to me:
A very senior engineer that we just HAD to have. In my first start-up, there was one engineer we had no choice about. He was literally the only person on the planet with the specific scaling experience we needed. Everyone hated him. But I forced us to hire him, over my CTO’s strong objection and my VPE’s grudging acknowledgment we had no choice. It did work — we got the scaling done. But then, once completed, the team turned on him. One day at a company meeting, he snidely called out everyone in the meeting (myself included, but that’s part of your founder job, to suck it up). It was just one burnt bridge too far. Everyone revolted within 20 minutes of that meeting. I didn’t know why at the time — but I fired him that day. It was clear anything else was even worse. Even without a back-up plan.
A senior product lead that engineering wouldn’t work with. Another time, a rather long time ago, I had a senior product hire that was pretty brilliant. But not someone that could manage engineering. Friction between engineering and product is good, if they aren’t the same function (and in SaaS, I don’t believe they should be). But engineering does have to respect product, at least begrudgingly. In this case, the product lead was both a bit acerbic and remote. That made managing engineers by will just too hard. One day, they simply had enough. It was clear I’d lose the team. That day, they had to go.
A senior marketing manager that offended everyone culturally. I think start-up culture is what you make of it. It’s the people you hire, not the number of Zoom games you play, how often you drink nitro stout together, or even how flat you think your organization is. And sometimes, you hire someone so far from the values and the culture of the rest of the team, they simply cannot work with him. This happened to me once. It was a hire I wasn’t really in favor of, but it was an experiment. You have to try new things. The experiment lasted 7 weeks. The borg completely rejected him. And one day I walked into work at 8am, and it was clear, the troops had revolted. By 8:30am, I had to make a change.
Plus for Every Start-Up: the classic non-hands-on-enough VP hired too early. You see this all the time. Bob is a great VP of Marketing or Sales at Box or Salesforce or Netsuite or wherever. He comes into your Hot 17 Person Start-up. And does no actual work himself. And no one will work with him.
If you notice a theme here, it’s not about competence, not usually. Incompetent non-management hires are shrugged off by the troops. They just ignore him or her.
And you have to try things, and take risks, and make stretch hires. And again, it’s not a democracy. Not everyone you hire has to be loveable, or even, likable.
So someday, no matter how careful a CEO / founder / hiring manager you are, you’ll hire someone that the troops just … revolt on.
My only suggestion and learning is don’t fight it. Understand that when you are 500+ employees, people will expect a certain amount of incompetence embedded in the org. But not in that crucial I’m Doing This To Be Part of Something Special phase.
When you are in that phase, and the troops revolt, you aren’t actually fully in control, even as CEO. Because if you lose them, you lose everything. And if you don’t act, they won’t believe in you, that you let this one “horrible” person stay on too long.
When they revolt — they “win”.
Let that employee go, that day.
Or at least, if you totally disagree, think about what I’m saying. And at least let them go as soon as you can.