Hello from Montana. Big Sky Country. Which seems apt. This is my first time here and it does seem both massive and beautiful. Easy to forget just how much space we have in the United States. Montana reminds you of that pretty quickly.
Couple other things. First, I actually tried to send this out on Monday/Tuesday, but AWS (and later, travel) had other ideas. And I was planning to mention the absolutely insanity of The Academy Awards — still can’t believe the Best Picture fiasco actually happened — and take credit for correctly predicting the Moonlight upset :)
Last thing: this is issue #50! Thanks to all who have subscribed so far. Some of you earlier subscribers will recall that I started out doing this very much as an experiment, just as much to learn about the newsletter space — learn by doing. And I wasn’t sure it would last into 2017. But I honestly enjoy how different this is from writing more straightforward posts.
To that end, I’ve been thinking about switching up the branding a bit. While “Cold Takes” is a fun play on “Hot Takes,” I’ve noticed I often enjoy simply linking to great, thought-provoking pieces as much as writing my own commentary on them. Sometimes, I just don’t have much of a take other than “read this.” So I was thinking simply calling it “5ish Links” was in a way more appropriate (and more on-brand with 500ish Words). Anyway, enough of the sausage making, on to the sausage eating.
Speaking of the Oscar situation, here’s a recap of what happened and the likely ramifications for longtime Academy partner PwC.
I was planning to link to a Medium piece which was posted a few months back by folks at PwC talking about how they handle the envelopes on the night of the show — because it actually revealed exactly what happened. Here was one key part:
The producers decide what the order of the awards will be. We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha has all 24 in hers. We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn’t sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you’re giving the presenter the right envelope.
And that, of course is exactly what didn’t happen. They accidentally gave Warren Beatty the second envelope revealing Emma Stone winning Best Actress for La La Land — hence, the confusion. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, PwC deleted said Medium post…
Great post by Ashley Mayer (disclosure: a friend), who ran communications at Box at the time of their IPO. Timely given Snap’s IPO yesterday… Of note:
I remember when longtime Box board member Josh Stein gently warned me that at some point, the positive narrative simply wouldn’t be interesting anymore. That we should prepare for some sort of backlash as soon as folks had the ammunition. Smart guy! (This guy is smart, too.)
Without question, Snap was able to pull off a successful IPO, even with the narrative turbulence leading up to it. But this also applies to the all-important time post-IPO leading up to the point where the first lock-ups expire (when investors/insiders can sell).
News cycles, even the biggest ones, come and go, but the trust that a company builds with its employees is sacred and needs to endure.
And a great example of this is Box itself, which was able to get cash flow positive recently. The IPO isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new one…
David Pierce on the newest phone from Nokia — yes, Nokia:
The 3310 is still a feature phone. It has a web browser, but only barely — it’s a dumbed-down version of Opera, basically there for emergency tweeting. It exists for you to make phone calls, send texts the way you did a decade ago (T9 FTW!), and play Snake. That’s right: Snake’s back. The 3310 weighs less than three ounces, and its battery lasts an absurd 31 days in standby time, or up to 22 hours of talk time.
When it launches in Europe, the 3310 will cost 49 Euros, which is about $51. It’s almost a grocery-store checkout purchase, or something you throw into your In Case of Apocalypse bag and never worry about again. HMD figures some people will buy it as a second phone, a way to get away from the tyranny of your dinging iPhone and buzzing Apple Watch without fully disconnecting.
Sort of fun. Massive battery life. Super cheap. But what if they built something like this as the ultimate chat device? Phone/SMS/FB Messenger/WhatsApp/etc all built-in? Give in a legit camera and there could be something there. No other apps. Just communication.
And fine, Snake.
What Patagonia has recognised is that doing good is good for its business. So while its rare marketing campaigns might shout ‘think twice’ to get consumers’ attention, the subtext is always ‘don’t think at all about buying anything else’.
“The real message of ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ — and it continues to be the real message of Patagonia in terms of consumption — is don’t buy this jacket if you don’t need it,” says Weller.
Adding value to both the consumer’s world, and the world at large, was always Chouinard’s intention. As he wrote in Let My People Go Surfing: “I’d much rather design and sell products so good and unique that they have no competition.” In that sense, and as a still relatively little known brand in Europe, Patagonia has work to do. But it will be able to draw on one thing its competitors can’t — a sense of purpose money can’t buy.
It’s hard not to love the Patagonia approach and ethos.
Twitter’s own Mac app is the cruelest joke of all the company’s cruel jokes. They launch it, they kill it, they launch it again. Then they let it fall into disrepair, with a fraction of core functionality. So who wouldn’t want to support someone else coming along to actually give this space the love it deserves? Tweetbot for Mac is great, but competition can’t hurt.
The Twitterrific folks are almost to their Kickstarter goal: $69k of $75k. 12 days to go. Let’s push them over the edge!
Our always just-out-of-reach iPad future…
(First published on 3/3/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter)