Cold Takes

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

A couple days later, I still find myself thinking about the second presidential debate. Yes, the content was mildly insane — one candidate threatening to imprison another one — but just as with the last debate, it remains such a great showcase of what Twitter can be when firing on all cylinders. As it has during these debates.

It seems sort of crazy to me that no one (apparently) wants to own Twitter. Or at least not badly enough to make a hard and fast move to scoop it up in this time of turmoil. That especially includes a certain sister company to where I work… (I have no inside knowledge of this, of course. Just my own opinion.) Just seems like such a no-brainer, that I feel like everyone is overthinking this. Turn on CNN. Turn on Fox News. Turn on ESPN. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. How is that not insanely desirable? And valuable?

I know there’s fiduciary duty and all, but all of these behemoths have the teams to figure out how to make this work as a business too, no doubt. I just don’t get it. More importantly, I just don’t want it to go away.

5ish Links

Speaking of the debates, great profile of a certain candidate’s most famous building by Thomas de Monchaux. One choice bit:

Among the motley collection of old and new buildings that line Fifth Avenue north of Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower is almost punctiliously elegant — a little like a socially ascended guest who, not quite to the manor born, arrives unimpeachably but undeniably overdressed. That sense of decorum may have accounted for some of the building’s appeal to the architectural critics of its era, who received it with a bemused admiration and just a little distaste.

Apt description.

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Yuge hands.

Steven Levy followed Mark Zuckerberg to Nigeria:

For startups, there are particular challenges. Every hour or so, the power goes out. Most people do not have bank accounts or credit cards, so it’s hard to collect money from customers. Funding is elusive. The nearest Philz Coffee is 5,418 miles away. Though the energy and creativity of Nigerian founders are prodigious, there is a role model gap the size of a continent. “We have a trust issue,” says Ade Atobatele, an investor and founder familiar with the nascent startup scene in Lagos. “There’s no legacy system. People don’t believe they can succeed.”

But the opportunity is massive. Nigeria is currently the 7th most populous country in the world. By 2050, it’s projected to be the 3rd — just ahead of the United States.

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A massive jump.

Fred Wilson:

As these expansion stage companies struggle to raise capital, they are forced into a cathartic (and at times painful) process of self reflection. What is their sales process? Is it efficient? What is their unique value proposition? Is it really unique? What kind of company are they building? Will it be large enough to justify all of this investment?

And as a result, these companies are coming out of these hard raises with better businesses, better operating models (lower burn rates!!), and bigger visions to go execute against.

I think this is absolutely true as well. There is a real upside to such a struggle. And the flip side is something to think about as well: when it’s so easy to raise capital, is it masking — or at the very least, not surfacing — some fundamental problems that would reveal themselves in harder times?

So many good little bits from this Dave Itzkoff piece about director Ang Lee’s attempt to make a drama — Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — in 3D, at 4K resolution, shot at 120 frames per second. A few:

“I’m pretty good with bigger sequences — it’s just work, you knock off the shots,” Mr. Lee said. “No matter how complicated things are, nothing’s more complicated than reading a human face, especially with this clarity.”

Fascinating way to think about it. And:

“In its simplest form, Ang is one of the great visionaries of our business,” said Mr. Rothman, who, as chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, oversaw Life of Pi.

In the longer term, Mr. Rothman said that studios need to support filmmakers like Mr. Lee who will keep their business at the forefront of innovation at a time of overwhelming competition from other media.

“They need to dream, and we need to dare,” he said. “Because, hey, if we just sit here, it’ll be Netflix and chill instead of dinner and a movie. We’ll see what happens in the world, but I know Netflix can’t do this.”

Great “Netflix and chill” quote. I’m not sure he knows what he’s actually implying here, but still great. That said, the notion of “I know Netflix can’t do this” — oh boy. We now cut back to former Palm CEO Ed Colligan for his perspective:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Lastly, it’s amazing that it’s Lee who is pushing the envelope here:

Mr. Squyres could not say for certain why Mr. Lee, of all filmmakers, would emerge as a leader in technological revolution in cinema. “Ang is one of the least technical people I know,” he said. “He only got email a couple of years ago. What has pushed him is not his love of technology for technology’s sake — it’s his interest in what it can do.”

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“He only got email a couple of years ago.”

500ish Words

Some thoughts on iPhone 7 (versus iPhone 7 Plus) — at last.

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Yes, yes it does.

(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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