reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 14


  1. Liquidation Preference: Your Equity Could Be Worth Millions Or Nothing – Angel List
    To avoid being surprised when the company you work for is acquired, you need to understand what preferences are, why they’re important, and how you can negotiate around them.

  2. At trial, Harvard’s Asian Problem And A Preference for White Students from Sparse Country – New Yorker 
    Nearly a century ago, Harvard College moved away from admitting students based solely on measures of academic performance. In the nineteen-twenties, the concept of diversity in admissions arose in response to the fear of being overrun by Jewish students, who were considered strong on academic metrics but lacking in qualities of character and personality.

    That Harvard plan developed into a holistic admissions process, which has, for decades, expanded the notion of diversity beyond geography. The aspiration to assemble a class that is diverse in myriad ways, and the practice of considering many factors alongside academic accomplishment, among them personal qualities and racial background, became influential at many institutions that saw themselves as responsible for socially engineering the American élite.

  3. The rickety house of Paytm – Factor Daily
    The story of Paytm and turbulence it has been facing from all sides – not easy to run a business in India.

  4. The Amazon Selling Machine – Atlantic
    The e-commerce company has so much information about us that it’s become expert at shilling us things we didn’t even know we needed. No wonder its advertising business is booming.
  5. “Need More Time” or Lack of Product-Market Fit? Guideposts for Tech Founders Going to Market When No Market Exists – a16z
    Many iconic technology companies began with concepts that were new to the industry. In hindsight, the narrative goes something like this: Founder built thing X. Y bought it. Then all of a sudden Z started using it. Next thing you know, the world of computing was changed forever… history was made!
    The reality is far less magical, linear, or smooth. One of the biggest myths founders have is that people will immediately see the value of the product they built, whether in understanding what it is or in paying for it. This is especially true in “pre-chasm” markets, where you might have a few early adopters who totally get it — but there’s also a deep chasm between them and later, more mainstream users. Most startups fall into this chasm instead of successfully crossing it.

    In fact, it’s not unusual for even the most magical products developed by world-class teams to suffer from years of little or no growth before eventually taking off. So how do you know that you’re in this kind of market-readiness or market creation situation — that you “need more time” — as opposed to, say, not having product-market fit?

  6. At Netflix, Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings Unsettle the Ranks – WSJ
    Buzzwords and anxiety fill the hallways as Hollywood giant tries to maintain a winning culture amid breakneck growth. 

  7. Fast Food Pioneer Glen Bell and the founding of Taco Bell
    Just like many other intelligent fanatics, there was no instant success. It took Glen Bell 15 years and four false starts just to get into a position to succeed. The power to endure is the winner’s quality. If you learn from your mistakes and don’t give up, you win.
  8. What if everyone got a fair shot? – Kauffman Foundation
    A fair shot means that you should get a level playing field, no matter your skin color, your zip code, who your parents are, where you went to school, or how much money you started with in your pocket.
    A fair shot means you can take an idea, work hard, and turn that idea into new wealth, new jobs, and new opportunity. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

    This year, at the Kauffman Foundation, we’ve analyzed the barriers entrepreneurs face accessing capital, and we’ll publish a report later this fall. The bottom line: We’ve found that at least 81 percent of new businesses don’t access either venture capital or bank loans. That indicates they might not be accessing critical institutional capital they need to have a fair shot.

    Now, the good news. Entrepreneurship is becoming a proven tool to address some of our biggest economic challenges. The research evidence is more and more compelling.

    Entrepreneurship is a pathway open to every city in the nation to grow jobs – not just for one anointed city.
    Entrepreneurship even helps combat poverty. For every 1 percent increase in the rate of new businesses started in a state, there is a 2 percent decline in the poverty rate.
  9. Do the Rich Capture All the Gains from Economic Growth?
    A closer examination of data reveals that benefits of economic growth are not as concentrated as imagined earlier. 
  10. Advice to a Slightly Younger Friend
    Pursuit of achievement is often spurned by an ego-driven hunger, often a hunger for validation (in my eyes). Some of the most successful people I know are, deep down, wildly insecure. Some of the most secure people I know are really mellow; the most secure, accomplished people I know are those who wanted to get up to bat and take their best swing possible, and are satisfied that they did their best and randomness controlled the rest of the outcome.
    I think pursuit of accomplishment is most healthy when it is done without a need for validation.



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