Cold Takes

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

Past 500 subscribers now (thank you all — and welcome to all the new folks!). And just a few days in, my publish time is slipping rapidly. Blame morning meetings today. Tomorrow, I’ll blame something else :)

Just some links for you today. Well, and a couple charts and a GIF. Plus some words. More tomorrow.

5ish Links

What else is there to say beyond what Priscilla Chan did yesterday on stage:

“We set a goal: can we cure all diseases in our childrens’ lifetime? That does’t mean that no one will ever get sick. But it does mean that our children and their children should get sick a lot less. And that we should be able to detect and treat or at least manage it as an ongoing condition. Mark and I believe this is possible within our childrens’ lifetime.”

It’s easy to be cynical about the technology sector these days because there’s a both a giant spotlight and a giant number of jokers who seek said spotlight. But it’s impossible to be cynical about moves like this.

(Though I’m also positive someone will find a way to be.)

The focus of The Economist this week is on big companies versus small companies. Incumbents versus startups. I shared this a few days ago on Twitter and it’s worth reposting:

“In 1990 the top three carmakers in Detroit between them had nominal revenues of $250 billion, a market capitalisation of $36 billion and 1.2m employees. In 2014 the top three companies in Silicon Valley had revenues of $247 billion and a market capitalisation of over $1 trillion but just 137,000 employees.”

It’s something we all probably know, and yet, when put in context, it’s crazy. Silicon Valley is creating the same revenue (and immensely more shareholder value) with roughly 1/10th of the workforce when compared to the automobile industry in the 1990s (which wasn’t exactly the heyday, but still…).

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Big Tech, the new Big Oil

The entire series in The Economist is worth the read. Even if just for the charts:

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Sensing a trend…

I long thought Microsoft’s purchase of Minecraft (Mojang) was one of the more savvy moves by the company in a long time. And it’s starting to show itself in ways beyond straightforward gaming as it formally moves into the classroom. Does it make sense for schools to pay $5 per student per year? I have no idea, but if it does, this deal could look awfully cheap.

Curtis Hanson died on Tuesday at the age of 71. I thought this piece in The Ringer by Sam Donsky draws a nice parallel between Hanson’s own career and that of the protagonist in his film, Wonder Boys.

While Hanson had some mildly successful films over the years, all pale in comparison to L.A. Confidential, which was truly great. It was one of my favorite movies growing up, and it stands the test of time — something which the Library of Congress clearly agrees with, as it was one of two dozen films in 2015 to be entered into preservation in the National Film Registry.

A Kiwi and an Aussie playing two of the greatest on-screen cops in American noir history, who would have thought? Clearly, Curtis Hanson.

Fittingly, when I tweeted about Hanson’s passing, a number of folks responded with their love for not L.A. Confidential, but Wonder Boys. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that film, but will clearly have to watch it again soon. Just the facts.

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What a scene…

(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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