Between the Piers! Made with Leica SL2-S & Leica M f2/35mm APO-Summicron. Photo by Om

There are some days when the view outside your window aptly reflects your state of mind. And sometimes those days turn into weeks. This week, I found myself in a foggy state of mind, all too often. The whole mess around the pandemic, the abortion ban, and the general malaise in the planet, added to my broodiness.  

And as a result, I was too contemplative and unable to untangle a lot of thoughts and ideas spurned on by conversations with many smart people.  I hope to finalize a few bigger pieces in the days ahead. In the interim, as always I am sharing what I am reading — and find important & interesting on the link blog They are also shared on my Twitter account. 

September 5, 2021, San Francisco


Sticks & Smoke! Made with Leica SL2-S & Leica M f2/35mm APO-Summicron. Photo by Om

Sept 3: I have been trying to track down my former boss from a while ago. There was a time one could call “directory assistance” and get a phone number. How I am trapped in a spider web of broken/outdated links. What progress we have made with technology.

Sept 3: “The hypocrisy is not lost on any of us that a bunch of people running around shouting about bodily freedom when it comes to vaccination—are the same ones who think women shouldn’t be able to decide whether or not they wish to be pregnant.”  @abbygardner 

Sept 3: “CEOs have political power, particularly in Texas. Maybe they shouldn’t, but they do. Right now they’re abdicating it.” @danprimack  is so spot on!

Sept 2: Just coming across  @seanlock  video clips on @YouTube  is such a mindfk and makes me sad. This genius is gone, taken too soon. RIP.

August 31: “A key to making meetings more productive for me has been providing my meeting agenda items to the other person in advance.” 

 @bump  A very good productivity hack!

August 31: So  @danprimack says we are in the “age of dragons” and you are a member of the club with a minimum valuation is $12b. I wonder how many former unicorns are now “dragons” in public markets, as public markets better barometer of valuation. [Also: Someone just DM-d and said, when things don’t work, they will become drag-ons.] 

August 30: It is somewhat ironic that I find myself doodling about NFTs, networked society, memes, and narratives on paper using an old-fashioned fountain pen & ink.

August 30: Who is willing to trust this line of reasoning from a company that lies more often than being upfront about “anything.”  

n

August 29: Starting the Sunday right: new photo book. New coffee. New (old) Coltrane on the music system. Let the day of rest begin!

Gotham Gal, aka Joanna Wilson, and partner of Fred Wilson, is a well-known angel investor in New York. She has been a prolific investor, but she is hanging up her boots. Why?

Valuations have become out of control. VCs began investing in every single sector. It makes sense because technology, health, how we eat, next-generation consumers, etc., have changed everything. Yet to value a company that sells mattresses like a software company makes zero sense to me. The amount of money just tossed around and lost without care is mind-boggling.

This one paragraph is enough to really sum up the current state of investing in technology, the spectacle of technology, and everything related to it.

Read article on Gotham Gal

smartphone on brown wooden surface

Given the state of the markets, Tiernan Ray, a veteran journalist who has followed technology stocks for decades, tries to answer this most pertinent of questions. While reading the piece, you might encounter jaw-dropping statements like Apple stock is still undervalued despite being a trillion-dollar company.

Stock analysts started to value tech stocks by simply comparing them to other stocks. Almost everything became relative value. Now, once stocks become unhinged from the earnings power of assets, and become merely a comparison of relative valuations of assets, one has valuations that are all over the map.

Everything is worth not what the business generates, but rather whatever someone wants it to be priced at relative to whatever is similar that has recently been priced at whatever multiple. 

Where once tech companies reported merely revenue, earnings, and maybe an adjusted figure for earnings, backing out stock compensation expense, every single company now has a strange brew of reported figures. 

I don’t want to quote the whole damn piece. It is so good, and it is worth reading. Please do yourself a favor, and do it right now!

Read article on The Technology Letter

A unicorn company, or unicorn startup, is a private company with a valuation over $1 billion. As of August 2021, there are more than 800 unicorns around the world.

CB Insights

I sometimes felt quite alone in my scorn for the idea of “unicorn” terminology as applied to startups and their valuation. The focus on valuation undermines the “value” and “values” of the startup. It puts focus on entirely the wrong things!

Anyway, aren’t unicorns are rare and mostly figments of imagination? Now they are not even rare. There are so many that they might outnumber a decent Zebra herd on the Serengeti. The total valuation of the 800 unicorns: $2.6 trillion! I guess we have gone from unicorn to unicorn-y.

Don’t worry: Dan Primack, the VC industry’s chronicler-in-chief, has proposed a new term: dragon.

Dragons are much bigger, stronger and more awe-inspiring than unicorns. They destroy whatever’s in their path, and their own destruction is viewed as catastrophic (at least if “GOT” is any guide).

To qualify, a company must be valued at $12 billion or more, net of venture funding. Yes, it’s a somewhat arbitrary figure. But it reflects the >10x “unicorn” growth since the Fortune piece, and the rapidly ascending private funding trajectory.

By the numbers: Currently, there would be 19 dragons. Of those, nine are based in the U.S.

Dan Primack, Pro Rata

Right on cue, a friend pinged me and said that if dragons don’t work out, they could easily be renamed: drag-ons!

August 31, 2021, San Francisco

white and black cat sketch

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn: that is now part of our daily vernacular. Did you see my TikTok or read my Tweet? We don’t interact. We transact.

Read the papers, and you will quickly learn that everyone is an influencer or wants to be one. What is an influencer? Someone who influences someone else to do something online that eventually ends in a transaction — a follow, a share, or a commercial transaction. We hate advertisements, and yet we have become flesh and blood billboards.

Our constant interaction on and with social media platforms has trained us into a hyper-transactional society.

PS: Just in case you were wondering, why I am waxing philosophical — just read this news release from TikTok: they are pushing shopping on their platform. Meanwhile TikTok’s parent, Bytedance is spending $771 million to buy a VR headset maker. Instagram-parent Facebook owns Oculus, a VR headset maker. Oh it’s on!

August 25, 2021, San Francisco