Everything Sunday Digest: Wei, Kwok, and Security Drones
Everything we published this week + Noted
Hello and happy Sunday!
It was Kevin Kwok and Eugene Wei week on tech twitter! That’s right, two of your favorite all-time business writers dropped bangers in the same week.
They’re not in the bundle (we wish!) but we’ve taken the liberty of summarizing each article for you. They’re great, and worth diving in to. Scroll down for more!
We also have a bunch of new features in the Digest this week:
- The Everything Index, a quantitative look at how our week went
- A Work Playlist review
- Book, movie, and song recommendations
And that’s just the highlights! So kick back, relax and enjoy your Sunday.
Everything Index — Week of 9/21
Articles we published 4
Podcasts we released 3
Tesla’s Stock Price -9.3%
Chamath’s Number 5
Chamath’s number is calculated by searching “Chamath SPAC” on Google News and counting the number of articles that are less than week old.
Roam Quotient 10
The Roam quotient is calculated by dividing Notion’s latest valuation by Roam’s latest valuation.
People Who Are Wrong 1
Number of times Rabois tweeted the word “wrong” this week.
Days Until the Election 37
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This Week’s Top Posts
(Ranked by the % of people who said the post was “amazing” in our feedback forms.)
- ⚡️ The Double Life of Productivity’s Most Famous Doctor by Dan Shipper in Superorganizers (3,562 words)
- ⚡️ Dopamine Stacking by Dan Shipper in Superorganizers(1,785 words) 🔒
- 📐 Substack Rhymes with Medium by Adam Keesling in Napkin Math (1,917 words)
- 💝 Passion Economy News: TikTok Deal, Creator Debt Financing, OnlyFans Disruption, Artist Monetization, and More in Means of Creation (1,334 words)
- 💞#29 - Casey Newton goes independent, what does it mean?🎧 by Dan Shipper & Nathan Baschez in Talk Therapy (15 min)
- 💞#30 - Giving your brain novelty, for fun and profit 🎧 by Dan Shipper & Nathan Baschez in Talk Therapy(15 min)
Tidbits from our little corners of the world.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
The Ring Drone is a security drone for your house. It’s kind of…awesome?
- NYC announced it will keep outdoor dining year-round, in latest sign that it is not at all dead.
- The Verge wrote an article with a bad headline. People are upset.
- Humane raised a Series A from Lachy and Sama
- LinkedIn Launched a stories product
SMART ARTICLES FROM GOOD PEOPLE
There’s been no shortage of coverage of TikTok’s coveted FYP algorithm. But, in Seeing Like an Algorithm, Eugene Wei writes that TikTok doesn’t have a “secret formula” – it uses the same broad technique as other social media, pinpointing your preferences to deliver you more content. What makes the app successful is its ability to train itself without needing any outside data. Here, Wei dives into how the algorithm helps TikTok understand users better than most social networks:
- Tiktok is designed to make habits more visible: by showing one video at a time, the algorithm forces you to make be clear about whether you enjoyed it. It then recycles that information for content delivery.
- On other socials, users don’t have to interact with every piece of content they’re delivered. That means algorithms like Facebook’s and Twitter’s are functionally “blind” — they don’t know what you think of something unless you actually react — and even then, those options are limited, especially where more critical reactions are concerned. Those algorithms can still tell when users are losing interest — they just don’t know why.
- TikTok can risk of a user seeing a video they may not like (as opposed to a stream of tweets they can pick and choose from) – because negative reactions are as useful as positive ones. And they gain that time back the next time the service delivers a user they love. Think Tinder, for content.
None of these features are exclusive to TikTok – the FYP algorithm is unique because it makes strong decisions about how to present content, rather than setting users loose to look at everything without asking for a reaction.
In his latest case study, Kwok explains the core reason behind Snowflake lead investor Mike Speiser’s repeat success: he “incubates” companies from the ground up. It’s a quietly radical model worthy of a deep dive – here are some of the key aspects of Speiser’s approach:
- After meeting with hundreds of candidates, Speiser settles on one company to invest in at a time. He assumes the role of Interim CEO to empower creatives with strong visions, giving their ideas shape as a company while handling the business end. When it’s time for a permanent CEO, the company looks more appealing to the strongest candidates — it’s already found its product/market fit under Speiser’s oversight. He’s looking for a new CEO because the company is working, not because it needs help.
- Of course, there are downsides to Speiser’s all-in methodology: the possibility of an unsuccessful investment is far more dangerous. And founders who still want as much business support may be disappointed with reduced equity. But his hit rate still tops that of most top VC firms.
- Speiser selects forward-looking companies in areas that are entering secular transitions: Snowflake is riding the cloud-computing wave; Pure Storage is entirely based in a shift toward flash storage; and Ghost Locomotion banks on autonomous driving pivoting to computer vision-based tech.
- The venture industry can benefit from looking at Speiser’s model. His appeal to potential incubator businesses isn’t based in a personal brand — it’s about his success rate.
MORE THINGS, WRITTEN
- The Magic of Trade-Offs
- The Original Business Plan for ViaWeb
- The Stock Market is Less Disconnected from the “Real Economy” Than You Think
- What I Hope Substack Changes About Journalism
FOR THE CULTURE
Listen: Partly Sunny, Joey Pecoraro
🎵 YOUR WORK PLAYLIST, REVIEWED 🎵
Last week we asked you to submit your Work Playlists. We listened to all of them, and this is what we learned: You like to chill while you’re getting stuff done. Your submissions sent us from Ultra-Mellow to Lo-Fi, Jazzhop to Afrobeat. At some point we’ll have to assign each newsletter a corresponding musical genre, but that’s going to take some more analytics.
Of course...there can only be one. Thanks to Taz from Salisbury, England, for the Playlist of the Week: “Winsome Music to Keep Your Worries at Bay.”
Clocking in at six hours plus, it’s long enough to get you through a chunk of the workday – or, like, one long Superorganizers interview.
Taz, who works in community management at a renewable energy supplier, says he listens to it while doing pretty much everything. It helps that the music is “a bit of an eclectic mix,” from soul to cross-continental classical music, and however you’d classify Beck – plus a smattering of deep soundtrack cuts from all sorts of movies. Taz says he keeps the playlist updated, so give it a follow and keep listening. Here are three of his choice tracks:
- Another One from Porlock – Penguin Cafe
- Nomalizo – Lette Mbulu
- Someday We’ll All Be Free – Donny Hathaway
Thanks so much to everyone who submitted! Looking forward to hearing more of your playlists.
🔥 BURN OF THE WEEK AWARD 🔥
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Daily dose of optimism:
It would be inspiring if we could get some:
“Most artists aren’t fully appreciated in their lifetime” is the only explanation for why this tweet didn’t blow up:
What if we replaced bonds with SPACs?
Some of the best feedback we received in our forms this week:
- “I liked Ali's honesty and credibility and many excellent ideas about how to systematically organize things/ tasks/ projects/ goals etc.!” (on The Double Life of Productivity’s Most Famous Doctor)
- “This is a great add – goes a way toward helping MoC stand on its own in the bundle” (on Passion Economy News: TikTok Deal, Creator Debt Financing, OnlyFans Disruption, Artist Monetization, and More)
- “As always. Your productivity is awesome.” Note: That’s huge. we’d be hypocrites otherwise… (on The Double Life of Productivity’s Most Famous Doctor)
Keep ‘em coming!
An invitation to Everything
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This post was written by Babe Howard. It was edited by Dan Shipper.