Cold Takes

The Sun Goes Down on 2016

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

Seeing as I’ve almost made it down to Pocket Zero, I thought I’d share a few more links quickly to end the year. By the way, if you’d like to see which links that I shared in this newsletter that were the most popular (most clicked) ones this year (well, the partial year that I was doing this newsletter, anyway), Revue made a nice roundup for folks.

Happy New Years all, and on to 2017! 🎉🍻🥂

5ish Links

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Tragedy Made Steve Kerr See the World Beyond the Court

Just a great article about what makes Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, tick — including the backstory about the assassination of his father…

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The AI Takeover Is Coming. Let’s Embrace It.

Sandra Upson:

This neural net had taught itself a rudimentary new skill using indirect information. It had hardly studied Portuguese-to-Spanish translation, and yet here it was, acing the job. Somewhere in the system’s guts, the authors seemed to see signs of a shared essence of words, a gist of meaning.

It’s perhaps hard to grok in our daily lives, but the advancement of AI/machine learning is happening at a fast and furious pace. Count me in the camp that doesn’t find this scary, but extremely exciting.

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A Farewell to Wii U, The Game System For Nobody

Chris Kohler:

Wii U may have shared a name with its predecessor, but in many respects it was the anti-Wii; whereas the universal appeal of Wii was easily explained the moment you saw someone whack a tennis ball, Wii U was the most complicated game pitch ever: “Okay, so, I’m the ghost and I’m running around, and each of you guys has to look for me, but you can’t see me, so you have to tell everybody which color player you are and if you feel the controller vibrating that means the ghost, or me, is close, so…” and Mom has already set down the Wiimote and is now slowly backing away.

From the get-go, the Wii U made no sense to me. It’s almost as if they got it completely backwards — the handheld controller should have been the key to the system, not the add-on. Nintendo appears to be rectifying this situation with the forthcoming Switch, but is it too late?

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HGTV Will Never Upset You

Gerry Smith:

The escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Riding HGTV’s reality shows, parent company Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has seen its shares rise more than 30 percent this year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Viacom Inc.

I had no idea HGTV was that popular. But I’m also not that surprised. It’s almost the definition of counter-programming for a divisive and chaotic 2016. And yet:

In the cable industry, though, success is relative. Like other networks, HGTV has lost nearly 4 million subscribers in the past two years, though ESPN lost about 6 million in that time. In a note last month titled “As Good As It Gets?” Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson LLC, predicted viewership at HGTV has peaked and advised clients to sell Scripps shares. “I just worry that ratings at cable networks are volatile,” he said in an interview.

When even a huge success in the cable world is “only” losing 4 million subscribers, there’s something bigger going on

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The Outrageous Confidence and Pop Star Genius of George Michael

Rob Harvilla:

George Michael’s another one of those artists so casually groundbreaking that his achievements and personal revolutions look almost quaint and obvious now, making very difficult things look easy and incredibly awkward transitions look smooth and almost soothing.

This performance, upstaging Elton John with his own song, is still utterly amazing. Gone way too soon.

500ish Words

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Time to Digest

In my 35 years on this planet, I’ve noticed something about myself. Immediately after seeing a movie, I usually like it. Now, if a movie is total crap, that’s pretty easy to call out as such upon…

(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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