M.G. Siegler

“There was this feeling that the really serious players are going to come. The Germans have finally come, and they’re not as good as Tesla.”

— Peter Rawlinson, CEO of electric car startup Lucid Technologies (and the former chief engineer of Tesla’s Model S), on Volkswagen’s first real foray into the electric vehicle space, which has not gone well

Apple’s Rumored Tesla-Like Approach to VR/AR Hardware…

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Photo by Stella Jacob on Unsplash

A bunch of interesting tidbits in Mark Gurman’s latest report for Bloomberg about Apple’s VR/AR ambitions. Notably, perhaps, that order. Per his reporting, it now sounds like Apple is aiming to do a VR-focused headset first (perhaps in 2022) focusing on an extremely high-end, expensive device with muted sales goals. This would be followed by their more ambitious (and more mainstream) AR device in 2023 (or later, as Gurman notes).

I’m trying to think of what this strategy would be akin to in Apple’s history. With multi-touch, Apple originally set out to make a large, high-end tablet first — though that project ended up being scrapped and eventually morphed into the iPhone (before morphing back into the iPad). If anything, this reminds me a bit more of the Tesla strategy. Launch the high-priced Roadster first. …

Edmund Lee for The New York Times:

The risk was clear: If Netflix didn’t generate enough cash by the time the debts came due, it would be in serious trouble. Mr. Hastings was betting that the company could attract subscribers (and raise its prices) faster than the debt clock was ticking. (Netflix was surprised that Hollywood waited years to jump into digital television, giving it an even bigger lead.)

The gambit seems to have worked. The company will still have $10 billion to $15 billion in debt, but it said it now made enough revenue to pay back those loans while maintaining its immense content budget. …

A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis of The New York Times look back upon the last year which was a disaster for basically all business, but one of epic proportins for the movie business:

But what about the small and midsize movies that depend on the theatrical system to find their audiences? They follow a path that starts at festivals like Sundance, Cannes and Toronto, where critical enthusiasm can spark early interest. Then they open in a few cities, building word of mouth through reviews and media coverage and eventually — if everything breaks just right — reaching a wider public and maybe winning some awards. …

Apple Podcasts+ doesn’t make sense, until it does

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Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

The report last week that Apple was thinking about launching a premium version of their podcasting service shouldn’t be a huge surprise. I mean, it is because it’s Apple, the company which birthed the movement and has repeatedly declined to take any sort of ownership of it. But this was always inevitable — certainly since Spotify started doing their thing in the space for the past couple of years.

Many folks, certainly old school podcasters, don’t like this notion because Apple has been viewed as a benevolent ruler, of sorts. A way to keep the format “open”. But the reality is far more nuanced. Apple didn’t care about monetizing podcasts because Apple didn’t think they could monetize podcasts in a way that would be meaningful to the company. …

I missed this trailer a few weeks back, but it’s insanely impressive. The breadth and depth of what is coming to Netflix in 2021 makes you wonder how anyone can keep up. And then their latest earnings dropped this week which sure seem to indicate that anyone cannot.

What Disney is doing with Disney+ is also a level above, no doubt. But it’s different. Netflix is doing this primarily without legacy franchise IP. A movie a week. Aimed at seemingly every demographic. With big stars, up-and-coming stars, cross-over stars and… Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. The latter of which I’ve wondered about potentially never crossing the streaming chasm — perhaps the last “true” movie star, as it were. Funny how a pandemic can change that equation.

Next up: Tom Cruise.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, sat down with Nilay Patel of The Verge for his Decoder podcast — amongst the topics, the state of Reels, the service’s TikTok clone, as Ashley Carmen relays:

Instagram is also seeing a conflict between its many different video formats. Mosseri says “most people” likely don’t know the difference between videos posted to Instagram and IGTV, the app’s format for longer videos that’s existed since 2018.

“That’s probably too nuanced a distinction to resonate with anybody, so we’re looking about how we can — not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram — simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets,” he says. …

I’m late to this bandwagon, and I’m just at the end of season one — but wow, Cobra Kai, the sequel show to The Karate Kid movies is good. Really good. A few quick thoughts:

When I first heard the premise, I thought it sounded sort of fun, but with a high likelihood of being too diluted and cute. The weird thing is that it is sort of corny, but in the best way possible. They walk a very fine line here.

What the hell was YouTube thinking letting this show go to Netflix?! I get that they decided that these types of shows perhaps shouldn’t be their main business. But wow, this was clearly a homerun from the get go. …

In a memorable day for several reasons, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman’s poetry clearly stood out. Alexandra Alter dug a bit into why for The New York Times:

On Wednesday, as she recited “The Hill We Climb,” in front of the Capitol in the bright sunlight, her voice animated and full of emotion, Gorman described her background as a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” who can dream of being president one day, “only to find herself reciting for one.” …

A shift back to boring. Hopefully.

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Photo by Robert McGowan on Unsplash

You know what I’m most excited about? Not having to write about politics anymore. You could say that was a choice, and sure. But it also wasn’t when seemingly every waking moment of every waking day of every waking week of every waking month was polluting my mind with the latest infuriating nonsensical bullshit. I look forward to politics once again being background noise. Being boring. One can only hope.

Donald Trump leaves office tomorrow as the worst President in the history of the United States. I thought we’d have to wait 100 years to definitively say this — as it turns out, we didn’t even have to wait 100 months. By basically any measure you can muster both quantitatively and qualitatively he’s the worst. Yes, history will highlight this further, and really drive home what a mistake we made here. …


M.G. Siegler

Writer turned investor turned investor who writes. General Partner at GV. Writer at 500ish. I write to think. 🍻

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