reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 15


  1. Resistance Training Treats Depression – P D Mangan
    Depression has been called the common cold of psychiatric disorders, and at this point, huge numbers of Americans take antidepressant drugs. But there may be a better way, since resistance training treats depression.

  2. A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Nassim Taleb about Optionality/Investing – Tren Griffin
    “Optionality is the property of asymmetric upside (preferably unlimited) with correspondingly limited downside (preferably tiny).”
    “If you ‘have optionality,’ you don’t have much need for what is commonly called intelligence, knowledge, insight, skills, and these complicated things that take place in our brain cells. For you don’t have to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself (some acts of omission) and recognize favorable outcomes when they occur. (The key is that your assessment doesn’t need to be made beforehand, only after the outcome.)” 

  3. Uncanny Vulvas – Diana Fleischman
    Sex is consistently underrated as a driver of innovation. Yes, space exploration helped us develop the technology for things like cochlear implants, powdered (machine) lubricants and scratch resistant lenses. Lust has furthered the development of cash transfers, point-of-view filming and video chat. I predict that historians of the development of artificial intelligence are going to see sexual gratification as one of the phenomenon’s great motivators. Evolutionary psychology can give us insight into how sex robots are going to develop and the ramifications they’ll have on society.

  4. Own the Demand – Florent Crivello
    In short, if somebody successfully inserts themselves between you and your customer, they can exercise tremendous control over you, including taking a big chunk of your profits or outright killing you.
    This is one key insight in Ben Thompson’s famous Aggregation Theory: modern marketplaces get their power from aggregating the demand side. And that’s a much better position than the old way of trying to own the supply side.
  5. Lessons from Coinbase’s Wild Ascent: Four Rules for Scaling – FirstRound
    After coming up for air, Srinivasan checked in with a mentor for some encouraging words to keep him going — and got a reality check instead. “He asked me: ‘How are you going to fix this? How are you going to grow the team and systems fast enough?’” Srinivasan says. “And that’s when it just hit me: this is what hypergrowth feels like. And we’re not even remotely ready for it. We were only looking one square ahead of our pain points but in reality, we needed to think six to 12 months ahead and work backwards to design the processes that would get us to the scale to handle this growth.”

  6. The first “social network” of brains lets three people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads – MIT Tech Review
    BrainNet allows collaborative problem-solving using direct brain-to-brain communication.
    The proof-of-principle network connects three people: two senders and one person able to receive and transmit, all in separate rooms and unable to communicate conventionally. The group together has to solve a Tetris-like game in which a falling block has to be rotated so that it fits into a space at the bottom of the screen.
    The signals consist of a single phosphene to indicate the block must be rotated or no flash of light to indicate that it should not be rotated. So the data rate is low—just one bit per interaction.

  7. How Airbnb Evolved To Focus On Social Rather Than Searches – Fast Company
    For a couple years, registered Airbnb users have been able to star the properties they browse, and save them to a list. But Gebbia’s team wondered whether just a few tweaks here and there could change engagement, so they changed that star to a heart. To their surprise, engagement went up by a whopping 30%. The star, they realized, was a generic web shorthand and a utilitarian symbol that didn’t carry much weight. The heart, by contrast, was aspirational.
    Probing the reasons why a heart was so different from a star, they eventually landed on the concept of Wish Lists.
  8. A Guide to the New Football Leaks Revelations – Speigel
    The world of football has reached a crossroads. Self-important functionaries and authoritarian countries are marring the sport with backroom deals and covert plans for a new league. Today, DER SPIEGEL is launching a multi-week series disclosing their secrets.
  9. Funding Secured – Epslion Theory
    The Vision Fund, and more generally the Saudi money behind it, is a classic fin de siecle undertaking. It is The Greatest Fool in a private equity world that must find greater and greater fools for their investment funds to work here at the tail end of a very long and very profitable business cycle. The Vision Fund and its Saudi money isn’t just a lucky break for both the financiers and the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. It is an answered prayer.
    And here’s the crazy thing … the Khashoggi murder could blow this all up. Not just the WeWork deal. Not just the next mega-fund that SoftBank puts together. But this fund. The Vision Fund.
    And if the Vision Fund is no longer viable as a player in Silicon Valley, then I don’t think the unicorn valuations are viable, either.
  10. Uber’s Secret Restaurant Empire – Bloomberg
    The rise of virtual restaurants and Uber Eats’ explosive growth.  



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