Cold Takes

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

As part of my daily routine, I’m constantly cycling through note-taking apps. Over the years, I’ve used everything from the macOS (née OS X) TextEdit, to Simplenote, to Vesper (RIP), to DayOne (much better as a journal than a notepad), to iOS/macOS Notes. (I never got into Evernote; always just seemed a bit of overkill to me.) Most recently, I’ve been using Bear.

While I liked that Notes came built-in to iOS/macOS, so you knew it would always be around, the sync on it has been pretty awful. Bear is much better in this regard. Yes, syncing is a part of the paid product ($1.49 monthly or $14.99 annually), but it works instantly 100% of the time. So it’s well worth it, in my book. Bear is also substantially better-looking — why on Earth is Notes still done in a skeuomorphic manner?!

There are some small nits with Bear. Would love an archive, for one thing. But overall, it’s solid. And I like it’s Slack-y organization elements (hashtag-based).

Anyway, Bear is hardly a secret, as it’s one of Apple’s Apps of the Year for 2016. But worth a look if you’re into such things.

(Aside: Trying out this new theme that the folks at Revue cobbled together with the people at Awkward. Looks nice in editing form — very clean. Makes the whole “by M.G. Siegler” element of my header a bit redundant, but that’s easy enough to fix.)

Top of Mind

“Then we’re building Iron Man suits.”

As I continue to clear out things I’ve read that I want to link to, here’s Casey Newton’s interview with Marc Andreessen. A few key blurbs:

The single biggest X factor in the next five or 10 years for all of this stuff will be if there is some fundamental breakthrough in battery technology, then basically all of these questions of what’s possible get reopened. Because if I had 10 or 100 times the amount of power that lasts 10 or 100 times longer, then we’re building Iron Man suits. Then all kinds of things start to happen.

On the topic of self-driving cars:

There are mayors that would, for example, like to just declare their city core to [ban] human-driven cars. They want a grid of autonomous cars, golf carts, buses, trams, whatever, and it’s just a service, all electric, all autonomous.

Think about what they could do if they had that. They could take out all of the street parking. They could take out all of the parking lots. They could turn the entire downtown area into a park with these very lightweight electric vehicles. No pollution, no noise, no nothing. It would be almost like going to an airport, where you could drive and then you drop your car off and then a self-driving golf cart would take you into town. There are cities that want to do that, and not just in the US — there are cities internationally that want to do that, including in some countries where the government can order that to happen. College campuses, retirement communities, amusement parks, industrial campuses, and large office complexes in some cases are places where this stuff can get rolled out in a top-down way. I think you’ll see a hopscotching kind of thing, as opposed to sudden mass adoption.

Continuing on the topic of cars:

The long-run thing that’s going to happen here, I think, is very enticing. The really big economic impact of cars was not the car industry — the really big economic impact was suburbs and retail and package delivery and movie theaters and motel chains and theme parks and the interstate and truck stops and all the other implications. Basically, the entire way we live today is a consequence of the invention of the automobile. Because, before that, people just never went anywhere. Therefore, everything that you travel to is a consequence of the automobile.


In general, in venture capital and startups, the hardest thing to call is timing. The way it gets written after the fact is, “It was obvious it was going to happen at point X, and the people who thought it would happen earlier were stupid.” When you’re in the middle of it, it’s actually not that obvious. I always like to point out Apple came out with the Newton in 1989, and boy, it seemed like it was the time. And it turned out it took another 20 years to get to the iPad.

100% agree with this. It’s so obvious, and yet we overlook this time and time again. Sometimes we mistake this for luck. But it’s not really luck. It’s timing.

5ish Links

One of the best performances in ‘Rogue One’ is by an actor who died in 1994

If you’re one of the seemingly few human beings on the planet who hasn’t yet seen Rogue One, you should. Meanwhile, below is only a spoiler if you haven’t seen any of the trailers (which also seems impossible).

Michael Cavna:

Under director Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One” represents another marker in the decades-long quest for the best CGI-fashioned human replicas. The filmmakers auditioned actors to “play” Cushing’s Tarkin, settling on BBC soap actor Guy Henry. This Tarkin is thus free of the dreaded “dead eye” effect. Lo, though the effects wizards walk through the “uncanny valley,” Tarkin registers as quite alive — even if his facial proportions sometimes read as ever so slightly off from the Original Trilogy. We are nearing the reality of a fully fleshed-out, CGI-enhanced performance long after an actor has passed.

It’s pretty incredible how well done this is. And yes, it’s just a matter of time before a full leading performance is done this way. It’s the “natural” extension of Gollum plus Hologram Tupac…

“Are my songs literature?”

Here’s Bob Dylan talking about Shakespeare, from his speech accepting the Noble Prize:

His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”

Aston Martin Broadens the Brand

Elizabeth Paton with an incredible stat:

Aston Martin has made 80,000 cars in its history, he said, with 90 percent still on the road; the number that Toyota would make in three days, given the Japanese giant’s annual vehicle output of five million units.


Bill Gates’ Favorite Books of 2016


Still, reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.

500ish Words

From 2 to 90 to 250,000 to Infinity

Some thoughts on GV’s investment in Amino Apps.

(Originally published 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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