For novelists, there is a bright line between speculative and let’s say speculation fiction. In speculative fiction, the author’s goal is to hit the fast-forward button on our thinking, offering us a context to consider the patterns and trends we observe around us and see how they (may) play out. In contrast, “speculation fiction” (or plain old science fiction) just plops us in a whole new world, with no extension from our reality needed or implied.
Dystopias are interesting because they almost always end up on the speculative side of the divide, even when they might otherwise work better as pure speculation. Their authors want readers to meditate on certain matters precisely, and so creating a continuity with today is paramount for believability
A very comprehensive overview of one of the largest newsmakers this year. SoftBank is a telco, a venture fund, and owns huge swaths of the infrastructure companies that make smartphones work. So its actions and strategy this year are critical to understand for Silicon Valley. Some great news around their assets like ARM, but a tough debt situation is going to make 2019 a tough year with stocks looking primed to go down.
This was my most in-depth, thoughtful article the past two weeks. It’s maybe a little heady, but essentially, the internet is creating the context for a new form of the nation-state. That discussion was in the context of Imagined Communities, a book that is one of most cited of all time in the social sciences and discusses how the printing press was the enabling technology for the first nation-states to form. May try to follow up on this in the coming weeks.
An argumentative essay that largely agrees with Amazon’s process for selecting its HQ2. Such location decisions are almost always the exclusive province of boards of directors, but Amazon did open it up a bit to offer politicians an opportunity to make their pitch. Maybe people didn’t like the process, or thought it was sickening how much cities were willing to fight for jobs (I don’t understand that personally). In the end though, it is great that cities had any input at all on a private corporate matter.
Damn good writing productivity this week if I do say so myself. A set of five articles packaged as part of a new content experiment at TechCrunch, a book review, and two more editions of TechCrunch’s Equity podcast.
A set of five columns focused on SoftBank’s financial performance and Form Ds, which are the filings that startups typically submit to the SEC when they take venture capital. SoftBank loves debt, but yet has managed to continue to outperform on operating income growth, while
Malka Older’s science fiction novel State Tectonics is an incredible romp through the future of democracy and politics. It’s filled with great vignettes, and has a thriller plot line as well. The characters are perhaps a bit underdeveloped, but in the end, people read speculative fiction for the speculation, and State Tectonics offers it in spades.
A deep dive into New York City’s new cybersecurity ecosystem initiatives. The city wants to be one of the global hubs for the industry, since most of the major customers that use this software are based locally. These sorts of initiatives are tricky to get right, but the hope here is that the combination of an incubator, education initiatives, sales accelerators and co-working/community space can catalyze the industry against other leading cities like Boston, Washington DC, and Tel Aviv.
This was an in-depth look at the failures of four well-known VC firms in Silicon Valley. All four were widely popular with the press, and all four have all but ceased to exist just a couple of years later. What happened? The essential story here is that there really aren't all that many similarities. Much as the families of Anna Karenina are each unhappy in their own ways, each of these funds faced different issues which caused their undoing. Crazily enough, some of these funds may still turn out to have blockbuster returns.