P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #304
I lost money on a startup investment.
my story 🚀
Thanks everyone who participated in last week’s poll and please keep the comments and feedback coming!
i’ve been thinking 💭
Here is the story of my first venture investing write-off. I made a small investment in MilkRun in May 2021 through an online syndicate. MilkRun was an online farmers market led by passionate founder Julia Niiro, whose TEDx talk How to save farmers from extinction I enjoyed watching a year or so earlier. I had passed on investing the prior year because I couldn’t try the service in Chicago. But this time, living in Austin, I could be a customer. Their branding was great, as was their product. Sadly they recently ran out of money and weren’t able to raise more. The investment is now my first official “zero” since I started supporting startups in 2016. The most surprising part is that I had such a long (and for sure lucky) streak without write-offs. While it’s a disappointing outcome, I remain grateful to the team that tried their best to build a meaningful company.
fun facts 🙌
The industrial revolution’s many prerequisites. “Consequently while we have many examples of the emergence of farming and from there the development of complex agrarian economies, we really only have one ‘pristine’ example of an industrial revolution.” ~ learn more
Programmer salaries in the age of LLMs. The author compares the coming change to that of lawyers’ salaries in the 1990s due to the rise of the Internet. ~ learn more
Wheel running in the wild. A lot of experiments with mice measure their running on wheels in their cages. Some had worried that the running was a symptom of captivity rather than a natural behavior, invalidating many experiments. So, between 2009 and 2013 researchers placed running wheels in the wild with cameras trained on them. It turns out mice were naturally into it! Also, so were “shrews, rats, snails, slugs [and] frogs.” ~ learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Inside the secretive world of Shark Tank deals. “Which judges close the most deals, which ones change the terms off the air, and the surprising response from some entrepreneurs who don’t win over a shark.” Unrelated: I briefly turned on Shark Tank in our hotel room last weekend, so had to explain it to my 5 year old. It was a struggle to do so without throwing shade at either real sharks or investors. ~ learn more
AI and the big five. To Stratechery’s Ben Thompson, “it seems clear … that this is a new epoch in technology.” So how might the giant tech companies of the last decade play a role in this new epoch? The premise here is that, “some of the biggest winners in previous tech epochs have been existing companies leveraging their current business to move into a new space.” ~ learn more
LangChain, a very exciting open source project. “But using these LLMs in isolation is often not enough to create a truly powerful app - the real power comes when you can combine them with other sources of computation or knowledge. This library is aimed at assisting in the development of those types of applications.” ~ learn more
better doing 🎯
Monster vs. enemy. “Pick a monster, not an enemy. The difference might be subtle, but it's a big one…” ~ learn more
How to (actually) use ChatGPT. The first useful tip is to tell the chatbot what role you want it to play. For example, “I want you to act as a travel guide….” gets you a much more detailed response to a question like “what are some museums I can visit in Madrid?” ~ learn more
retail therapy 💸
Apple Card holders are an expensive group to service. “Reported by Bloomberg, the new performance details from Goldman’s Platform Solutions division paint a grim picture. In just the first nine months of 2022, the businesses including Apple Card saw a pretax loss of over $1.2 billion.” ~ learn more
The rise and fall of 15-minute delivery startups. “Fueled by record levels of venture capital funding, they quickly blanketed New York City with their delivery bikes. The bet was that, in densely populated metropolitan areas, ultra-fast delivery would be more financially feasible to pull off. But just as quickly as some of these 15-minute delivery startups burst onto the scene, they flamed out.” ~ learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Incredibly accurate 3D human pose mapping from WiFi. “The researchers believe their work could have practical applications in monitoring the well-being of elderly people or identifying suspicious behaviours in the home.” Or nefarious applications like avoiding security guards during heists? ~ learn more
Long-awaited study on aging published in Cell. Long-time readers will know that the study’s findings are not news, but its publication is a milestone. “In the Cell paper, Sinclair and his team report that not only can they age mice on an accelerated timeline, but they can also reverse the effects of that aging and restore some of the biological signs of youthfulness to the animals. That reversibility makes a strong case for the fact that the main drivers of aging aren’t mutations to the DNA, but miscues in the epigenetic instructions that somehow go awry.” ~ learn more
big ideas 📚
Making energy too cheap to meter. “Building a world that prioritizes energy production, an ergophilic world, can unlock far more than just solutions to problems. An ergophilic world would put no upper bound on our ability to manipulate the physical world: continuing the exponential growth in energy use and power density that continually enabled things that, to past generations, would be indistinguishable from magic.” ~ learn more
What does the rest of the world not get about India? “I asked Kunal Shah this question last week. Kunal founded CRED - one of India's leading consumer fintech companies valued at $6.4B. He gave me a laundry list of nuanced observations. This list is a *must read* if you're interested in Indian startups.” ~ learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
The web3 growth stack. There’s an ecosystem of tools and platforms that enable today’s tech and consumer companies to drive growth. “These tools enable structured processes around user acquisition, measuring retention and engagement, and monitoring conversion and monetization — the bread and butter of consumer internet businesses.” The crypto-native world is busy building a rival infrastructure to enable the growth of web3 products. You have not heard of most (or any?) of them, but maybe one day that’ll change. ~ learn more
thanks for reading!
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