Newsletter #54

Twitter Memes, Email from Bill, Pull Requests, Computer Desktop, Space You’re Not an Expert in, Stanley Druckenmiller, Mimetic Theory, The Dubrovnik Interviews, and Rituals for Hypergrowth

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Twitter Memes

Email from Bill

“At the moment, the best way to communicate with another person on the information highway is to exchange electronic mail: to write a message on a computer and send it through the telephone lines into someone else’s computer. In the future, people will send each other sound and pictures as well as text, and do it in real time, and improved technology will make it possible to have rich, human electronic exchanges, but at present E-mail is the closest thing we have to that. Even now, E-mail allows you to meet and communicate with people in a way that would be impossible on the phone, through the regular mail, or face to face, as I discovered while I was working on this story. Sitting at my computer one day, I realized that I could try to communicate with Bill Gates, the chairman and co-founder of the software giant Microsoft, on the information highway. At least, I could send E-mail to his electronic address, which is widely available, not tell anyone at Microsoft I was doing it, and see what happened.”

Are Pull Requests Holding Back Your Team?

“Firstly, I’m not saying that PRs are flat-out bad and can’t work well for your team; maybe your team functions better with them than without. What I am saying is that rather than accepting PRs as best practice just because everyone else uses them, I think it’s worth considering how much value the PR workflow is actually providing and weigh that value up against the costs — some of which I’ve described in this post.

With that caveat out of the way, I am of the opinion that the introduction of pull requests has probably had an overall negative effect on commercial software teams, and limits the potential of good teams to become high performers (in the SODR sense).”

Why We Need To Rethink the Computer ‘Desktop’ as a Concept

“The long-lived “desktop” operating system has been with us for almost 40 years. Although some of the mechanics have proven remarkably durable, contemporary computer usage is very different from the context these were born in, and it’s time to do some rethinking.

I’m going to outline the original idea, illustrate some changes in computer use, and suggest some new ways of thinking.”

Starting a Company in a Space You’re Not an Expert in

“His lack of experience translated to an open mind and unbiased approach rooted in the job-to-be-done, not on the solution-to-be-built. “I had no horse in the race — it didn't matter to me which system we built. I had no preference for hydroponics versus aeroponics or aquaponics or building a greenhouse or having a container farm. What I was really in search of was the answer to what is the most scalable and efficient way to tackle this problem,” he says.”

Stanley Druckenmiller

“When I’ve looked at all the investors (that) have very large reputations — Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, George Soros — they all only have one thing in common. 

And it’s the exact opposite of what they teach in a business school. It is to make large concentrated bets where they have a lot of conviction. 

They’re not buying 35 or 40 names and diversifying. 

I don’t know whether you remember that Icahn a few years ago put $5B into Apple. I don’t think he was worth more than $10B when he did that. 

[In 1992] when I went in to tell Soros that I was going to short a 100% of the fund in the British pound against the Deutschmark, he looked at me with great disdain. 

He thought the story was good enough that I should be doing 200%, because it was sort of a once-in-a-generation opportunity. 

So, [these investors] concentrate their holdings. This is very counterintuitive. 

In my thinking, [concentrating your bets] decreases your overall risk because where you tend to be in trouble is if you have 35 or 40 names. 

If you start paying attention to one. If you have a big massive position, it has your attention. 

My favorite quote of all time is maybe Mark Twain: “Put all your eggs in one basket and watch the basket carefully.” 

I tend to think that’s what great investors do.”

What is Mimetic Theory?

The Dubrovnik Interviews: Marc Andreessen

“This monoculture challenges two of my most fundamental beliefs. First, in business -- and these are businesses -- you seek to differentiate, to offer a unique product that your customers can't get anywhere else. In economic terms, differentiation is the key to pricing power, which is the key to profits, which is the key to staying in business. This is precisely what the existing media industry is not doing; the product is now virtually indistinguishable by publisher, and most media companies are suffering financially in exactly the way you'd expect. Second, civilizational progress happens not by top down unanimity and ideological instruction, but by debate and dispute. That this should happen, but is not happening, in the institutional media today is obvious.

And so I think it's obvious that the incumbents are handing us, by their own considered and determinedly executed choices, a sparkling opportunity to both build better businesses and an actual marketplace of ideas. I'm intensely proud of both Substack and Clubhouse and have very high hopes that they can deliver.”

Rituals for Hypergrowth: An Inside Look at How YouTube Scaled

“I joined YouTube in 2008, soon after the Google acquisition, and started on one of the most incredible roller coaster rides of my life. Much has been written about the external accomplishments of the YouTube team—growing from a (mostly misunderstood) video sharing property to the platform for millions of creators to connect with audiences all over the world. Interestingly though, very little has been written about the internal workings of YouTube.”