man sitting on bench reading newspaper
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

…oftentimes you can see change on the horizon, assuming you’re looking for it, and there comes a day when the landscape flips. But the old entities attached to the old ways refuse to adjust, they believe in holding back the future, staying rooted in the past, to their detriment, because the public is not controlled by them. 

Bob Lefsetz

This simple insight is Silicon Valley (a proverbial proxy for post-industrial technology). Why it exists, why it eats itself, and why it finds the future. A more business version of this insight is Clay Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma. 

Top Read:

The Junkification of Amazon: Amazon might be the biggest store on the web, but it is also the shittiest place to shop on the web, says John Herrman. I couldn’t agree more — my overall experience with Amazon has deprecated, and I am always worried about what crap I will get in the box. I have shifted about a third of my dollars to Walmart — Amex underwrites the Walmart equivalent of Prime — and another third to Target or independent stores. Shopify has made it easier to shop with independents. Amazon’s great advantage is “returns.” You will see Amazon as just another web place when someone cracks that. (Ironically, New York magazine has no problem linking to Amazon for affiliate revenues.)

Notable 

So Many Podcasts, So Little Money: Spotify has thus far failed its big bet on podcasts. It has become the biggest podcast platform and has $200 million in podcasting-related ad revenues, but is that enough? Spotify and its CEO made the classic mistake all leaders make: they brought in big-ticket experts who know how to spend big bucks to attract talent. In reality, Spotify forgot it has the audience and the platform to turn anyone into a star. 

It could be verse: Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving up on his Metaverse ambitions. Sure, they lost money in 2022 and will lose more in 2023. The real question is, will they ever make it work, or will Apple come and steal their thunder? For now, Zuck is all in on the hot new thing of today: Generative AI.

Is this the end of writing? 

What is the Internet? 

Why you should not buy iOT devices from Anker

Ephemera 

Now, this is a clever photography game!

Feb 4, 2023. San Francisco.

At the very end of 2022, I wrote about my photographic journey and how it has allowed me to look at both the world and life in new ways. It has allowed me to embrace imperfections, my own and in others. Of course, it could just be that my inner monologue influenced my photography.

Regardless, many of you wrote wanting to see more of my photos from 2022. There are quite a few favorites, so instead of creating a long string of photos, I roped in my friend Felix and had him create a video presentation of the best of my 2022 photos! Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

February 4, 2023, San Francisco.

pink arrow neon sign
Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that “tech layoffs” have been on my mind, and I wrote a column for The Spectator to explain “the why of these layoffs.” An unprecedented boom in Silicon Valley that started with the once-in-a-generation convergence of three mega trends: mobile, social, and cloud computing, has peaked. It started in 2010, and it has been bananas around here for the past decade or so. The FAANG+Microsoft companies saw their revenues go from $196 billion to over $1.5 Trillion. Let that sink in. Booming stocks helped create an environment of excess like never before. 

The companies got into the business of what Paul Kedrosky calls “people hoarding.” The pandemic and the resulting growth revved up the hiring machine even more. The over-hiring of talent has led to wage inflation, which had a ripple effect across the entire technology ecosystem. Technology insiders are happy to tell non-tech companies to use data and automation as tools to plan their future. It is easier to preach than practice. 

Why does Google need close to 200,000 employees? Or does Microsoft need 225,000 people? Salesforce, till recently, had about 73,500 employees. Profitable as these companies have been, it is also clear that they have become sloppy and bloated. I don’t want to undermine the misfortunes of those losing jobs. A lot of the blame is on the leaders of these companies, who were asleep at the wheel. The reality is that when it comes to business, companies have to appease their investors. And right now, those investors want to see companies be more efficient, especially now that growth is becoming normal. 

If you are looking for one, the silver lining is that we will soon be in a new cycle, and a new set of hype trends will converge and create opportunities. And they might not emerge in 2023 or 2024, but they surely will. By then, the industry would have put these job cuts in the rearview mirror.

Read the full piece on The Spectator website!

February 2, 2023. San Francisco

Spotify is changing electronic music and dance music in particular. Spotify doesn’t just eliminate the DJ as the conduit between artist and audience. Streaming music has cultivated a new breed of creators who seem to be totally in the dark about what a DJ does in the first place. As a result we have what’s almost a new format of music that broadly fits into the parameters of club music, but will almost certainly never be played in a club — or by any DJ at all.

I am not surprised that Spotify or TikTok are changing how music is made, why it is made, and how it is consumed. Streaming has shaped how we experience music, and as a result, it has lost some of that loving feeling. Medium is the message!

Good Read: How Spotify turned dance music into dance Muzak.