Q&A with @StartupLJackson & @BoredElonMusk

As Jon Stewart and John Oliver have shown time and time again, parody is sometimes the best way to tell the truth. On Twitter, Bored Elon Musk ( a finalist for the Best Fake Account at the Shorty Awards) and Startup L. Jackson, two fake tech-observers who caustically add a dose of reality to the information bubble around technology. Obviously I enjoy their tweets and we got into a DM conversation which turned into a Q&A about some of the things going on in our world — Meerkat, SxSw, Apple Watch, Batteries, Buzzfeed and The Verge. 

So SxSw- is it really a thing? Can’t seem to tell the difference anymore in between real excitement & marketing tweets

Bored Elon Musk: SXSW now reminds me of that feeling I had when my mother joined Facebook and I completely lost interest in it.

Startup L. Jackson: SXSW — I still see friends here & meet smart people. The actual conference & parties are “over.”

Does this meerkat thing have legs or Twitter just killed it.

Bored Elon Musk: Funny that the tech set has cut the cord in terms of broadcast television yet currently is enamored with live video apps.

Startup L. Jackson: Twitter slowed Meerkat, it’s not dead. There are plenty of overlapping social graphs (twitter, address book, FB, etc) they can pull from. There’s other ways to build the network they’ll get to soon. This is a speed bump.

More on Meerkat. Reality TV has been huge on networks. Meerkat shows we all want our own reality TV shows. Don’t you think?

Startup L. Jackson: It’s too soon to call Meerkat. Clearly video matters, but ephemeral and 1:N p2p are new concepts. Unproven. Clearly celebrity broadcasting works. Periscope is the conservative bet & will target that.

Buzzfeed (Tech) or The Verge: which one of these wins the tech news sweepstakes?

Startup L. Jackson: Buzzfeed wins digital. Above a certain quality bar, tech-driven media wins the new era, & Buzzfeed has better tech & scale (data).

Bored Elon Musk: Oversized checks have been delivered to their doors. Hopefully both don’t end up spending their cash on cocaine and Faberge eggs.

Bored Elon Musk: Newspapers and TV shows (used to) disappear. Digital media doesn’t. It just adds to a bigger and bigger pile each day reducing the value of each individual piece of content that can grab someone’s attention. It’s tough out there.

Any thoughts on Apple Watch? Gold laptop?

Bored Elon Musk: Gold isn’t for us. It’s for China. And last i’ve heard, they have more millionaires than any other country right now.

Startup L. Jackson: Never bet against Apple, but I personally, I am uncompelled by the use cases they’re selling.

Bored Elon Musk: Apple has consistently built far more beautiful products than the competition. The watch isn’t a huge leap forward.

Startup L. Jackson: the new laptop is cool, but requiring a dongle is very un-Apple. This isn’t removing the CD drive. This is removing your phone charger. But, it’s smart they prioritized form factor over power. Specs don’t matter in any more. Full stop.

I think lack of ports is a good thing – wireless fabric of compute on us is here. I feel we are missing that point!

Startup L. Jackson: Om, yes. The one use case wireless misses is that my laptop is my external battery for my phone. In all other cases, it’s the near future. We should be talking more about batteries. They are more and more the bottleneck to innovation. This is why Tesla is undervalued.

Bored Elon Musk: Agreed Jackson. Physics is a cruel mistress (at least our understanding of it today). Some alien race will show up someday and laugh at us.

Can Apple survive the death of fanboys?

Startup L. Jackson: Apple is mass market. Fanboys don’t matter. They’ve always built for normal people. That’s the genius.

Bored Elon Musk: Apple will bring back the fanboys with future products. Cars. Holograms. Contact Lenses… They’ve got cash to figure it out.

What do you guys make of Google. They seem to be one revenue-trick pony. Do you think the addiction to ad dollars & related thinking is a problem?

Bored Elon Musk: Google is smart. They know ad dollars aren’t always going to be there, so they’re invested in crazy ideas hoping 1/100 is their next biz. Google has a big long-term vision for the future and resources to be patient. Their curse is not being able to work on it in obscurity.

Startup L. Jackson: If they were pursuing short-term revenue we’d criticize them for lacking long-term vision.

Bored Elon Musk: In my mind Google is the next iteration of GE. Except they didn’t steal all their original ideas from a crackpot Croation man.


Bored Elon Musk: I’m referencing the feud between GE’s founder Edison and Nikola Tesla. Edison allegedly (did) stole many ideas from Tesla.That all said, GE has become an amazing and varied company today and Google seems to the next version of it. With more of a software bent.

Startup L. Jackson: Said another way, at scale every successful company becomes a conglomerate.

I thought at scale every tech company become a version of the company it wanted to kill and replace.

Bored Elon Musk: As long as humans run them, then yes that’s likely true. As AI replaces more of us, corporate behavior may change this repetition of history.

Interesting observation, but I would argue that AI is being built (programmable chunks) by humans who aren’t perfect to begin with and that many of situations are unpredictable and this can cause AI to behave in exactly the opposite manner. So what does data informed corporate behavior look like, given that humans are good at ignoring data and machines are good at not understand emotion, humanness :)

Bored Elon Musk: Exactly. We use data mostly to confirm our own agendas. If we let computers truly make our decisions half of us would (will) be unemployed.