Cold Takes

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

Holy hell, it’s November. Holy hell, I’m turning 35 years old tomorrow. Holy hell, the Cleveland Indians have a shot at winning their first World Series since 1948 (that’s nothing for Cubs fans, I know, I know — but for any other team/city, that’s an absolutely insane drought). Holy hell, the World Series is still going on in November…

As much fun as it would be to have the Indians host a Game 7 in Cleveland on my birthday, I’d happily take a win tonight. The Indians have been down that whole Game 7 road before, and it didn’t go too well. Plus, my father will be at the game tonight in Cleveland. Wish I could have joined him, but work keeps me away.

Plus, I thought it would be freezing cold — a World Series game in Cleveland in November… Tuns out, it’s 77 degrees there today. In Cleveland. In November. Holy hell.

Go Tribe. (Sorry, Cubs fans, you’ll have to settle for your team that will be great for the next decade.)

RIP David Bunnell

The man who started PC Magazine, Macworld and several other seminal technology magazines passed away a couple weeks ago, and I finally got around to reading the tributes, which I highly recommend. Here’s Harry McCracken:

Starting in April 1975, Bunnell edited MITS’s newsletter about the Altair, Computer Notes — a periodical that, as far as I know, was the first devoted entirely to the subject of personal computers. He went on to start Personal Computing, one of the first slick magazines on the topic. Then he cofounded both PC Magazine and PC World, the Coke and Pepsi of PC publications. And then Macworld — both the magazine and the trade show. At one point, four of the top 10 computer magazines were ones he’d started, and PC Mag, PC World, and Macworld are all still very much with us in online form.


That magazine — PC Magazine — was such a success that multiple large publishing companies were soon interested in acquiring it. In fact, Bunnell and Woodard thought they’d struck a deal to sell it to Pat McGovernof IDG, publisher of Computerworld and InfoWorld, when they learned that their financial backer had sold it to Ziff-Davis without bothering to tell them. They — and 48 of the magazine’s 52 staffers — responded by promptly quitting to found PC World for IDG. Its first issue was so thick with advertising that it set records.

A different time, for sure.

From John Markoff’s story:

Mr. Bunnell arrived at MITS in 1973 without a technical background. But his ability to write clearly and accessibly about the industry and its wares earned him a job, and he began chronicling what would become known as the “PC revolution” — one of the first to do so for a mass readership.

Mr. Bunnell had been at MITS several years when two other ambitious young men, Paul Allen and Mr. Gates, arrived there with a version of the Basic programming language. Mr. Allen and Mr. Gates would soon leave MITS to found Microsoft.

Like ships passing in the night…

One other humorous excerpt:

“Getting ads was so easy,” Mr. Bunnell told Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine in the book “Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer.” “All you had to do was answer the phone.”

Again, a different time, for sure.

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Rest in peace.

5ish Links

I understand the reasons why many people don’t like the SolarCity/Tesla tie up, but I don’t understand why people don’t understand it. Again, it seems stupid to bet against Elon Musk being one step ahead in this thinking…

Jack Stewart:

The new roof and battery are both part of Musk’s master plan to save the world through sustainable energy. Yes, you could go out and buy a solar system now, but the large, purple-black sheets of glass don’t exactly blend in on a period house — or most other properties, for that matter. Beyond a certain grudging respect for your green credentials (and lower utility bills), they don’t make the neighbors jealous in the way a Tesla Model S in the driveway does.

And that’s a shame. Solar power is an elegant solution for sustainable energy generation. Once the panels are installed, they make electricity whenever the sun shines, with no moving parts, no noise, and, beyond the occasional cleaning, very little maintenance. The problem is, when the sun isn’t shining, like in the evenings when electricity demand peaks, they’re useless. Hence Tesla’s plan to integrate pretty panels with a battery. Generate and store by day, light up your house by night, and brag about it when you feel so inclined. (“If you install our solar roof on your house, you’re going to want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof!’” says Musk.)

Dan Gallagher:

At nearly $23 billion in annual revenue, the Mac business alone would rank 123rd on the Fortune 500. While that is still only 11% of Apple’s total revenue, Mac computers can act as a key hub in the company’s ecosystem of devices. It is worth noting that Mac sales actually accelerated in the years that Apple launched the iPhone and iPad, despite worries those products would cannibalize the iconic computer.

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The Mac Business.

So, the actual number may or may not be overblown, but there were undoubtedly continued loses and so the main long-term point by Clay Travis stands:

ESPN’s in infinitely worse shape than any other cable network out there too because it makes more than any other channel off the current business model and because those channels don’t have the billions in fixed costs that ESPN does. If CNN makes less money on subscriber revenue, they can spend less on news gathering. If AMC makes less money in subscriber fees, they’ll pay for fewer shows, but ESPN’s entire business is predicated on the billions they owe for sports rights every year into the foreseeable future. ESPN made a bet that exclusive live sports rights would be the moat that protected its castle from all attackers. The problem is this, that moat flooded the castle instead.

It’s hard to see how this current mode is sustainable. And that’s a problem for not only ESPN, but potentially for the leagues as well

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Finding our Twitter voice

A must-read for any company getting started and looking to set their voice across various social channels.

500ish Words


Wither on the Vine

Some extended thoughts on Twitter’s extermination of Vine…

(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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