Cold Takes

A Most Super Bowl

(First published on 2/7/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more)

As noted a couple days ago, most Super Bowls are total crap. And sure enough, for just about three quarters, that was the case with Super Bowl LI. And then…

The first comeback that was over 10 points in a Super Bowl — and the deficit was 25 at one point. That absolutely insane catch. The first overtime Super Bowl. Brady’s fifth. His fourth MVP. And, most importantly for my prediction, they covered.


A handful of links about the game…


Anatomy of a miracle

Bill Barnwell has a great tick-tock of the insanity of the second half. With regard to Julian Edelman’s catch…:

“I’ve watched the play 20 times and I’m still convinced Edelman’s going to drop the ball each time I watch it.”

To quote the NFL on Twitter: “sdflka;sdjf;kzjdfc;alksejf;lkasdjf;lkasjdf;lkjasdf;lkjasdlfk;cjasd;lkfjaslkdf

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07macur1 facebookjumbo v3

Tom Brady, the Future Hall of Famer Some Love to Hate

Juliet Macur on the game:

That’s when fans saw the very thing they hope to see whenever they tune in to sports. Sometimes, yes, it’s for that schadenfreude. But really, fans don’t watch players because they are especially likable or because they follow the rules or are good citizens. They watch to see them do amazing things.

“Down 25 points, it’s hard to imagine us winning,” Brady said later, though his teammates said they actually did imagine just that — because of Brady.

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Crouch new england patriots owner robert kraft balancing act 1 1200 630

Robert Kraft’s Balancing Act

Ian Crouch on Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots:

Kraft’s story is about the value of an owner letting go and leaving the football decisions to the experts.

A lot of other teams’ owners could learn from this…

Cough* 49ers *Cough*

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Bn rz179 2wexo p 20170206132223

New England Can’t Lose, And It Makes Haters Crazy

Jason Gay:

There’s nothing to be mad about anymore. It is all sunshine and happiness and warm baskets of puppies and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Boston fans cannot possibly have a single complaint.

Patriots dolphins football 0aa11
Patriots dolphins football 0aa11

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s secret? It’s not personal; it’s just business

Sally Jenkins on the relationship between the coach and his star QB:

“They have never even gone out to lunch or dinner,” according to Brady’s father. “That’s not what they do.”

And, some history on the way Brady manages the team:

According to someone who knows both men, the tone was set during Brady’s rookie season, when he sat impatiently in meetings that would halt while former starter Drew Bledsoe left the room for a bathroom break. Brady determined then not to be a quarterback who could make a room revolve around him, even unintentionally.

Love Brady or hate him, you have to love this.

5ish Non-Football Links

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Bn qh556 nevada g 20161017134337

What Does Nevada’s $35 Billion Fund Manager Do All Day? Nothing.

Speaking of people you gotta love, Nevada’s employee pension fund manager Steve Edmundson…

“Doing nothing is harder than it looks,” says Ken Lambert, Mr. Edmundson’s predecessor and only outside investment-strategy consultant. Harder, he says, because of the restraint needed to practice inaction.

Your moment of Zen.

He traces his philosophy to what he learned working for a Bozeman, Mont., wine distributor. He marketed the best-selling wines without highlighting the grapes’ origins or tasting notes.

“The wine industry tends to be portrayed as something complicated and difficult with fancy terminology,” he says. “On the investment side, it’s really similar. You can focus on the small details rather than the big picture.”

Love this mentality.

The typical call lasts about five minutes. He lets callers down gently, deflecting advances by concluding the offering isn’t a good fit and thanking them for the information.

“I’ve become very good at saying no,” he says. “I don’t try to lead them on, so they don’t get false hope.”

Of all the things easier said than done, this may be the most “easier said than done.”

One recent day, he started a PowerPoint presentation on interest-rate risk and discussed investment targets with Nevada pension officials before breaking for leftover bucatini pasta with bacon atop a salad.

Nice little Tuesday.

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20170204 wbd001 facebook

Beating Apple, Xiaomi and the gang in China

The Economist:

It took discipline not to be waylaid by the striking (though short-lived) success of Xiaomi’s hype-fuelled internet strategy. Many other companies tried to copy it. From 2011 to 2013, insiders say, OPPO looked hard at expanding its online sales channels, but decided against it. Sky Li, managing director of OPPO’s international mobile business, says the reason lies in her firm’s long-held adherence to the philosophy of ben fen — loosely translated, sticking to one’s knitting.

In other words, they beat Xiaomi by not trying to be Xiaomi. How many companies do the opposite in the face of competition? Many.


Finding Wisdom in Letters

Robert Fay:

The onset of middle age, and beyond, often prompts the second-guessing of old decisions. Some feel guilty about relationships pursued (or not pursued), while others wish they had followed an early passion or artistic impulse. In three separate letters, Beckett discusses his remorse about not going to work for the Guinness beer company in Dublin just as his middle-class father had repeatedly suggested. It’s a detail that many unfulfilled workers should ponder: A life as a successful musician, or All-Pro quarterback, or even as a Nobel Prize-winning writer for that matter, does not exempt one from the pangs of occupational regret. You can be brilliant; you can write Waiting for Godot, you can have an apartment in Paris and a house in the French countryside, and still wonder if you’d be happier being a 9-to-5 drone in a Dublin office cubicle.

Interesting guy, that Samuel Beckett.

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La fi tn snap ipo risks 20170203?1486439493

Snapchat’s young users are at once its greatest asset — and one of its biggest risks

Tracey Lien and Samantha Masunaga:

“It would be like cheap beer,” Gordon said. “I live in a college town, and the best-selling beers are cheap beers. But when these students graduate and they have income, they switch. They’re no longer drinking what’s on special.”

Interesting analogy… Not sure it applies here. At all. But interesting… 🍻

500ish Words


Just a Game

From a few weeks ago, but especially timely with the game and all…

(First published on 2/7/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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