“Tweek,” is an aggregation of the tweets I sent out during the week. It is a habit I picked up from Disquiet, a blog run by Marc Weidenbaum. It allows me to remember what I was thinking about during this specific time. It also allows me to correct my grammar and spelling. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, this is just the best of what I have shared with my community.) 


July 14: Well, in terms of product wishlists, my @Photoshop wish list would include a way to boost the ludicrous 2 GB file size limit. It made sense when the cameras had puny sensors. Now five curves + enhanced DNG is enough to zoom past 2 GB. And while we are at it, when will the Visual AI community develop a way to figure out the “sensor dust” problem and solve it by removing dust spots. That alone is worth $10-a-month in time saved. Upsizing of files isn’t that much of a necessity, as is “dust spot removal.”

July 14: Nothing except they are paying attention to those who are speaking to the fact that it was a terrible design decision, and they rectified fast. It is a good thing to see in a company. (My tweet was in response to a tweet from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman’s comment about Apple tweaking the Safari look-and-feel after massive blowback from the developers.) 

July 14This is old in terms of the Internet age. It was the first tweet outside of the Twitter team. #MyTwitterAnniversary

July 13: Hey @kayvz @jack @arctictony – product suggestion: use your magic to auto label paywalled links. That alone would make Twitter highly sticky. For now, all I do is spend time clicking on links I can’t read. 

July 12: In a few years, everyone will realize that 

@jasonkilar was right to push Hollywood into the streaming release mode. Nothing better than watching new movies at home. Waiting for headsets with a fantastic viewing experience. (Read more https://buff.ly/2QLqB2khttps://buff.ly/2UHM8jQ

July 11: Scratching my head and wondering where I have read this story before — maybe a few years ago? And more scratching later: so what’s different & what will be the model! More importantly, who is the sugar daddy buying the influence here? Anyone? 


July 17, 2021, San Francisco

Two folks, I follow on Twitter got into an exchange about media coverage of startup funding. The conversation caught my attention to the (somewhat rare) extent that I felt compelled to weigh in — mainly to offer some historical perspective from what I learned during my days as a professional blogger and journalist. 

The biggest change blogging brought to the media landscape was that it atomized news. What would previously have been a long news story got broken up into constantly updating components. One of these components was “funding news.” Other than acquisition, a possible public offering, or a new product launch, this was pretty much the only news that came out of startups. And no one covered pure funding news better than the folks at TechCrunch — quick, concise, and usually exclusive. That was what made them the first read for everyone.  

I told my tweeting colleagues that my approach back in the day was to think of funding news not just as a one-off event, but instead as an opportunity to dive deeper. I should admit that this was not necessarily a novel idea — I had learned it on the job. As I previously recounted in a many years-old post, when I was a young reporter, “my then editor would often chastise me for focusing too much of my time on investors. While investors & investment dollars are a good barometer when measuring the story worthiness of a startup, they aren’t the story, because what really matters is the company: its product, its technology, its founders, and the business they are trying to build.”

News flash: investors are never the story. (Not surprisingly, this is not the first time I have ranted about this topic.) 

Think of funding news as a notification on your iPhone: a chance to bring more attention to the startup. As a writer, you could dig into a company, what it does, why it matters, and how it redefines the competitive landscape. Money is just a means to an end. That end goal is what’s important.  Of course, this approach means that a writer has to really understand their coverage area — be it cloud, climate, online video, connected devices, the emergent web, or mobile ecosystems. 

Even today, whenever I see a news story about an event, I hope the story will inform and educate me about the company and its potential. Instead, I often get some meaningless drivel about the investors. The sad truth is that the “funding news” story as we know it has largely become a PR event. It’s just theater. In most cases, it isn’t even news — the funding likely happened many months ago. Furthermore, these days, media attention is more or less reserved for big funding rounds, focusing on how much cash some megafund puts into a company, how much the company is valued, and whether or not it is now a unicorn.  

To some extent, this is understandable. The sheer amount of money pumping into the ecosystem, and the gigantic scale of the startup ecosystem, means that the media folks have to use rough filters to focus their attention. Still, I will stand by my earlier argument: funding should be a trigger to tell a bigger story about the role of the company and the opportunity this event is likely to unlock. Additionally, by stepping back and paying attention to a range of funding news releases, a reporter can see common themes emerge, revealing shifts in the landscape and interesting market trends. This is fertile ground for finding optimism and excitement in the vast expanding technology landscape. 

The world as we know it stands on the precipice of massive change. We are transforming from an industrial society to a digitally enabled planet. How we live, work, consume, and create is changing. This shift has corporate and cultural implications. For instance, the workplace and the very definition of work is changing. Simultaneously, we are facing a planet-wide existential climate crisis. Against this backdrop of this change, we need to have optimism and enthusiasm for entrepreneurs and startups. To do so, we must go beyond the press release and the headline to determine the relevance of a startup to these pressing challenges.

Sometimes, funding news is not just funding news. 

PS: How to write a good blog post

July 12, 2021. San Francisco

Happy Sunday, everyone! I have slowly (and unintentionally) slipped into “summer mode.” I have been working only a little and reading quite a lot. Last week, I also met Ken Kocienda, a former Apple software engineer and designer, to talk about art, life, photography, and watches. 

I didn’t spend as much time on Twitter (either perusing or tweeting), so there isn’t a “Tweek” wrap-up for the week. But several articles caught my eye that I probably would have tweeted, and here they are: 

Vinyl Is More Popular Than Ever. Surprisingly, That’s a Problem

During the pandemic, vinyl sales in the U.S. exploded, growing 28.7% in 2020 to $626 million, even beating out CD revenues of $483 million. Vinyl sales have been growing steadily over the years. Everyone (and I mean everyone) is making and selling vinyl records, including Target and Walmart. The annual demand for vinyl is between 320-400 million albums, while the total manufacturing capacity is 160 million albums per year. That is a problem for small labels. And to think, we are in the golden age of streaming — even hi-res streaming! By the way, streaming revenues were up 13.4% to $10.1 billion in 2020.

Back to the Bad Old Days of the Web – Jorge Arango

Indeed, the bad old days of browser wars and conflicting corporate interests are back. 

NFT sales volume surges to $2.5 bln in 2021 first half 

Yes, crypto is hot. NFT is hotter. So is the planet. 

You really need to quit Twitter.

You might have already read this article. It is excellent writing and a good post for everyone to share. It was hard, but I got off Facebook and Instagram, and I even managed to limit my Twitter usage to less than 30 minutes a day. If you are a grown-up (like the author of this piece seems to be), you need to know how to exercise self-control and fight off the addictive tendencies that drive so much social media usage. 

Individuals Now Spend More Time On TikTok Than YouTube, Facebook, Netflix

In a recent report, App Annie, a mobile research and analytics company, points out that the average U.S. android user spent 24.5 hours per month on TikTok, compared with 22 hours on YouTube and 17.5 hours on Facebook. Like I’ve said before, TikTok is coming for YouTube in a big way. 

So Much Money Everywhere

Dan Primack notes many all-time records set in techlandia during the first half of 2021: 

  • VC dollars invested: $288bn 
  • VC dollars invested in U.S. startups: $140bn 
  • Startups sold: $232bn 
  • 410 companies went public (Thanks, SPACs) 
  • 5,248 PE/VC funds looking for $900bn

[Actually, I did tweet this one 🙂 ]

Walkover

I didn’t think the principled India of 1974 described in this article ever existed. That’s just one thing that makes this story so incredible. 

July 11, 2021, San Francisco

Social media is a mirage. More often than not, what you see or experience is not reality. But every now and then, you come across authenticity, and you are reminded of the goodness of the Internet. Like yesterday, after following him for years, I met up with former Apple software engineer and designer extraordinaire, Ken Kocienda. Unsurprisingly, I found it easy to have a conversation with him — his tone and his way of discussing things he cares about are pretty much the same in real life as they are in his tweets. Though in real life, he is even more eloquently expansive.

We had a nice simple lunch, sitting outside Flour & Water Pasta Shop, and we talked about everything except what he did at Apple and what he does at the highly anticipated and exciting stealth mode company, Humane. We spent a significant amount of time discussing our love of watches and photography. Ken shared with me about this time studying photography at Yale and what he learned there. One of his professors — the name slips my mind now — told him that lived experiences are what really allow you to make photos from your heart and mind. A full life is a key to visual transcendence.

And then he asked me a question no one has ever asked before (and that I have never bothered to ask myself): what is my photography? Is it a moment? Is it a memory? Is it an artifact? Is it art? Stumped by the question, the best answer I could come up with was that my photography is an expression of what I am feeling at that moment. It was a tremendous example of the value of IRL interactions, which provide such powerful, unexpected opportunities for thought and reflection.

Another topic we touched on that I still find myself mulling over was the idea of living with the weight of a legacy. Success should help free one from the various chokeholds of life. Instead, ironically, it can force us into a trap of perfection, when often all we should be considering is hitting the big reset button. 

Our conversation, while meandering, often returned to our common passion for “stories” and how they define our interactions with products, places, and people. For instance, I told Ken about my early love for German watchmaker Nomos, and the Bradley Price watch startup, Autodromo. (Read my interview with Price.) He told me about Erika’s straps, his love of the 1970s watches, and his affinity for independent and obscure upstart brands. 

The lunch went by too fast. As a parting gift, Ken gave me a signed copy of his book, Creative Selection. I look forward to reading it and learning about his journey toward two products he worked on that touch billions of people everyday: the iPhone and the WebKit. But the real gift was the conversation, held over a small table with some good food. Highly recommended.

Ken wrote about our lunch on his blog as well.

July 8, 2021. San Francisco.