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“It’s so much bigger.”

(First published on 4/14/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter — more)

Happy Good Friday. Actually, Great Friday, because the new Star Wars trailer just dropped. It’s two minutes of near-perfection. It’s quite cryptic. But it sure looks like The Last Jedi will be substantially darker than The Force Awakens — following in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back versus A New Hope.

And, as everyone knows, Empire remains not only the best Star Wars film, but also one of the better sequels of all time, period. So yeah, high hopes for this one. And this trailer will only add to that.

Also, the amazing fucking poster.

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5ish Links

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“An extraordinary bullshit detector”

Great ‘Lunch with the FT’ between John Authers and Ed Thorp. Some highlights:

He no longer gambles. “I enjoyed the process of learning something new and being in a new milieu. Once it became a routine grind, I wasn’t interested,” he says. “Blackjack isn’t very interesting because the stakes are so small. If you are used to betting millions in the market, betting a few thousand in the blackjack tables doesn’t mean anything.”


Instead, he put his insights from blackjack to work on investments, using advanced mathematics to develop strategies based on buying stocks in large numbers, where the odds were in his favour, just like counting cards. Having turned investment into a mathematical problem, he solved it, and programmed computers to help him.

Why was he able to make so much money from this when others do not? “People aren’t good processors of information. Not collectively. Witness the recent political campaign in America. They can be fooled by fake news easily.”

And there’s another point. “One of the things that’s served me very well in life is having an extraordinary bullshit detector.”


This also explains why he did not make more of an effort to keep his hedge fund. “I realised Princeton would have taken over my life. I would have spent my life just accumulating money.” His secret was to realise that he had enough.

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1*y 9 c8fpzus3spwbioblog

Stripe co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison sat down with economist and author Tyler Cowen for a fascinating and wide-ranging interview. Cowen on how to think about the success of Silicon Valley:

I would suggest if we’re trying to figure out, like what makes Silicon Valley work, actually, by studying how they did what they did in the Florentine Renaissance is highly important. You learn what are the missing inputs that make for other kinds of miracles.

Ireland and writing would be another example.

On that last bit, the notion that our connected world is trending towards too much homogeny:

And I worry now that people in Ireland hear too much American English, too much English English, and that style of writing, talking, joking, limericks, is becoming somewhat less distinct. Still many wonderful writers from Ireland, but again, it’s like an optimal stock depletion problem, and maybe we’ve pressed on the button a little too hard.

And taking that thought into the world of tech:

With the tech world, in some ways, the tech world might be growing too quickly. People very quickly shift to Facebook, and that allows them to do much more socializing. And that, in some ways, actually limits the diversity of the world. They’re happier individually, but that’s another instance of cashing in that actually may not be socially optimal.

To that end:

And the extreme acceleration of connectivity through tech, I would say, is a huge, non-controlled experiment that we need to be a little cautious about.

As I quipped on Twitter, all these years we’ve been interviewING Patrick Collison, when it turns out he’s a far better interviewER than any of us.

Facebook instant articles blimp
Facebook instant articles blimp

Lucia Moses:

Business news sites Forbes and Quartz are also absent from Instant Articles. Forbes experimented with it last year but found monetization lacking, chief product officer Lewis D’Vorkin recently said. “It left a lot to be desired in terms of monetization,” he said. Condé Nast’s priority is to drive readers back to its own sites, which is why its brands use Instant Articles only sparingly.

This backlash could not be any less surprising. Despite Facebook’s recent (ridiculous) attempts to amp up the monetization of Instant Articles, it can’t beat the bullshit that sites like Forbes pull — that awful interstitial.

Assets small
Assets small

Speaking of Facebook, Timac does a deep dive into why their iOS app has bloated into 253 MB. A big part of the cruft, unsurprisingly, can be chalked up not only to a lack of optimization, but lazy, duplicate resources.

(via Daring Fireball)

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20170408 fbp001 0

The Economist with a sort of crazy, amazing state about Apple’s soon-to-open “Spaceship” HQ:

In all, the new headquarters will contain 318,000 square metres of offices and laboratories. The car parks will occupy 325,000 square metres.

This is, of course, not unique to Apple. And the car parks are underground. But still, how crazy is it that this is still the way we build things in 2017?

Quickish Hits

One hell of a career that paved the way for so many of us.

A fun “A.I. experiment” out of Google.

(First published on 4/14/17 on 5ish Links, 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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