5ish Links

Status Update

(First published on 4/24/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter — more)

Back from a hiatus last week while I was traveling in London. But I’m still on the road — right now in Vancouver. Which reminds me. I love Slack’s new status messages. They make it so simple to tell others where you are and for you to tell where others are.

This concept, is nothing new, of course. People of my age will see these and look back fondly on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). In college, I basically lived on AIM and would put way more time than I care to admit into crafting away messages.

It was Twitter before Twitter.

Slack’s version has its own Slack-twist, of course: emoji. In fact, several people I see in my various Slacks are using only emoji for their status messages. It makes the creation of team-based custom-emoji even more brilliant.

Aside: this newsletter is now past 1,500 subscribers. I’ve thus far avoided any real promotion because I want to keep things tight (maintaining a high open and click-through rate because I know those of you reading this actually want to read this, because you found it somehow!). And because it’s still just an experiment, of sorts :) But I very much appreciate everyone taking the time.

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5ish Links

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Adventures1 facebookjumbo

America Express, Challenged by Chase, Is Losing the Snob War

Charles Duhigg:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve — which in the seven months since it was released has signed up more than a million cardholders, half of whom are under 35 — is all about emphasizing what cardholders can do, rather than what they can buy.

The craziest stat to me there is the “half of whom are under 35”. Anecdotally, I’m seeing this card everywhere these days. Including in my wallet. (Though I’m exactly 35.)

The other challenge is that many people who work at American Express aren’t all that millennially minded themselves. If you visit Amex’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan, you’ll find squared-jawed men in bespoke suits and fashion model-glamorous women, but not a lot of young people in the uppermost ranks. The company’s chief executive, Kenneth I. Chenault, has led Amex for almost 16 years, an eternity in corporate America. In one Amex brainstorming session, according to an executive I spoke with, participants spent 10 minutes trying to figure out what FOMO meant before turning to Google.

They discovered it stands for “fear of missing out.” It is unclear if the group recognized the irony.

This sounds so ridiculous that it can’t possibly be true. And yet… I’ve had an American Express card for over 15 years. I like it just fine. But even in 2017, there are places — in America — that refused to accept it, because of their higher fee. So it’s entirely unsurprising that when a competitor (a Visa card, no less) comes along with better perks, people go wild.

Team of cutthroats 05 17 final
Team of cutthroats 05 17 final

Inside Story of the Kushner-Bannon Civil War

A great, detailed read by Sarah Ellison. It fully showcases the total fucking shitshow that is the current White House. As I quipped on Twitter, history will prove that the election of Trump was really an IQ test for our country. And we just proved you can fail an IQ test.

This isn’t a presidency, it’s a reality show. That was the joke leading up to the election. But it’s absolutely true. And judging from the cable news ratings — a proxy for this “show’s” ratings — America can’t get enough. SAD!

But really, sad.


No-Sports TV? Viacom, AMC, Discovery Said Eyeing Web Bundle

Gerry Smith and Lucas Shaw on various players in streaming television looking at offering packages without sports:

Sports-free TV would cost less than $20 a month, according to one person. That’s about half the expected price of Hulu’s upcoming live TV service and YouTube’s new TV package, which came out last week. Both YouTube and Hulu are offering or looking to offer about 40 channels, including ESPN and broadcasters like NBC, Fox and CBS that rely heavily on sports. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the service was designed “to be great for sports lovers.”

Discovery, AMC and Viacom, which airs the popular VH1 series “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta,” don’t carry sports in the U.S. They have popular programming, like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Discovery’s “Shark Week.” At one point, several cable network owners discussed creating their own online service, like Hulu, one of the people said.

The anti-sports element is interesting. As everyone knows, sports have long been considered the glue holding together the television status quo — it’s the content that is still impossible to get elsewhere, in many cases. And it’s one of the last parts to maintain the value of “live”. But the flip side is also true: it’s by far the most expensive part of cable packages and the most expensive content for networks to buy.

As for other networks banding together, I still bet this eventually happens. “Lesser” networks will start bundling themselves together. Bundles all the way down…

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1*89hhdvytr1kndi b eogug

Why Apple Is Losing Its Shine in China

Jeremy Hsu:

In short, Apple’s monthly subscription was “late to the market with an inferior product that is overpriced,” says Robert Lyons, a former digital media executive who is now a visiting lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston. He pointed out that Apple Music’s competitors in China offer customers far more flexibility with different tiers of free and paid streaming. “It’s like you’re living in a big apartment building and there’s a cool party going on in the penthouse,” he says. “They’ve got mixologists and craft beers and craft whiskeys. Apple is you showing up four hours into the party and trying to sell cans of Bud Light.”

I definitely approve of this analogy. 🍻


IBM posts first revenue miss in five quarters, shares tumble


Shares of IBM, whose revenue has now fallen for 20 quarters in a row, tumbled 4.7 percent to $162 in trading after the bell on Tuesday. At current levels, the stock is set to more than erase its roughly 2.5 percent gain this year.

Twenty quarters in a row. That’s 5 years in a row, for your non-math majors. That’s incredible.

I feel like this isn’t talked about enough — perhaps because it’s not the 1960s, or 1970s, or 1980s. But in an era where basically all the current crop of big tech companies are near their all-time highs (both in stock and performance), IBM is struggling badly.

Apple’s market cap is now almost exactly 5x IBM’s. So much for “big brother”…

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Quickish Hits

The Talk Show ✪ with Special Guest MG Siegler

I was a guest on John Gruber’s podcast The Talk Show, a couple weeks ago. We talked Virgin America, the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros, the absurd bloat of iOS apps, and more.

Apple Said to Add Beats 1 Broadcasting Booth to Iconic Fifth Avenue Store in New York City

This is very much a rumor, but sounds like a pretty decent idea to me…

Apple Readies iPhone Overhaul for Smartphone’s 10th Anniversary

Not much new in this report from Mark Gurman, but I’m getting excited — I think about the screen more than anything else.

500ish Words

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1*n8wj4p1t dpccxvkfht63w

Nintendo Shouldn’t Be Running Nintendo

You know what this one is about…

(First published on 4/24/17 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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