Cold Takes

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more about it here.)

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I didn’t write this newsletter yesterday. Truth be told, I probably could have gotten something out, but I honestly felt like I hadn’t read enough really good things to share — or bad things that I had a good opinion about. So it would have been a stretch.

Plus, I did want to see what would happen if I didn’t post and also didn’t say anything about it. And guess what happened? The same thing that always happens. Life moved on. And it did so with one less email in your inbox.

As of right now, I still like the cadence of doing these daily (-ish, as Megan would say). I like that it’s a forcing function to write. And to do so in a less formal way. So the experiment continues. Now with roughly 1,000 of you reading. Which is great, and only mildly stressful.

Sorry for the meta post. Will try to limit these as I know they’re not terribly interesting. It’s really just me thinking aloud about newsletters… Onward.

5ish Links

This review by chief NYT book critic Michiko Kakutani of the book, ‘Hitler: Ascent, 1889–1939’, is a revelation. And I won’t ruin it by pointing out why — it should be fairly obvious a couple paragraphs in — but read the whole thing. It’s remarkable in its restraint, which makes it so much more powerful than doing the obvious thing.

Once you’ve read it. Here’s my follow-up thought. (Though David Simon’s is more poetic.) Amazing. Well played.

If, like me, this U.S. election cycle has you wanting to move to Mars, we’re in luck. Elon Musk has a plan to start going there in 2018. And to start testing the rocket that would help get humans there in 2020. And to get humans there sometime after that. And the plural is important there — he wants to see a million people on Mars. (For the low, low price of $200B. Which, to be fair, almost seems reasonable to move a million people to Mars.)

The Economist points out why this absolutely matters (at some point):

In the very long run, the doom-mongers are right: human beings may indeed have to migrate, assuming any are still around. Around a billion years from now the sun, which has been brightening slowly ever since its formation, will be shining fiercely enough to make Earth uninhabitable. If human beings want to survive, they will have to leave. (At the same time, the brighter sun would make Mars much more salubrious.

Bonus points for “salubrious” — what a great word.

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How much?!

Roger Cheng:

It’s been an unstoppable descent. In 2009, BlackBerry controlled one-fifth of the phone market, just behind Nokia. Today, it holds a tiny fraction of 1 percent, according to Gartner.

Everyone knows this, but it’s still incredible just how fast a company — and really here, companies, when you include Nokia — can fall in less than a decade. More:

On Wednesday, BlackBerry posted fiscal second-quarter results that saw it swing to a loss of $372 million, or 71 cents a share, from a year-ago profit of $51 million, or 24 cents a share. Revenue fell by a third to $334 million.

Let’s put it this way: Apple makes roughly as much in profit in three days as BlackBerry makes in revenue in three months. Also, those phone hardware sales accounted for roughly 30% of that revenue. So yeah, down we go… The fate, sealed.

My favorite excerpt:

The prime phenomenal individualism of American culture is most vividly apparent in jazz music where each soloist extemporaneously creates new melodies in infinitely changing progression, so that all the composer supplies is the harmony line, the true composer remaining the jazz soloist himself.

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Trumped Up

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The World’s Biggest Deck

Lastly, just got my Trumped Up Cards deck. Amazing. And for a good cause, hopefully saving the United States from disaster…

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

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

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