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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #213

April 25 · Issue #213 · View online
P.S. You Should Know...
👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7am CST, and definitely the best one published by me. Now in its fifth year!

my story 🚀
Here are some musings from this week.
  1. How large are the error bars? “Error bars are graphical representations of the variability of data and used on graphs to indicate the error or uncertainty in a reported measurement.” (Source: Wikipedia) When we make predictions or estimates, it’s helpful to recognize that there’s an error rate. Some predictions are more prone to error than others. Predicting the price of milk at my local supermarket tomorrow is less error-prone than predicting the average ticket price of regional air transportation in seven years. Mental shortcuts make us want to treat all predictions as equally (very) accurate, but it’s helpful to stop and consider how big the error bars might be. Reading this, it’s easy to think, “Well, I don’t make predictions all that often.” But as Thinking in Bets author Annie Duke explained, decisions are predictions about the future. Recognizing where my predictive abilities are weak (and my error bars are large) is a practice in awareness and humility, and I look to keep working on it.
  2. Where’s the value? Jeff Bezos published his final letter to shareholders as Amazon CEO this year. It’s worth reading in full. Some take issue with the vastness of the fortune Bezos has amassed through the founding and growth of Amazon. In the letter, he indirectly defends himself by pointing to the vast amounts of value that Amazon creates for various stakeholders. This includes shareholders (owners), employees, third-party sellers, and customers. In 2020, Bezos says that Amazon generated $21 billion in net income for its owners among the $301 billion in total value created. He estimated third-party seller profits at $25 billion. The employees and customers derived the rest of the year’s value, $255 billion. Left unstated is the valuation multiple. While Bezos calculates the net income, he doesn’t mention the multiple of net income that accrues to owners. So, while owners of Amazon and its third-party sellers capture the smallest share of the total value, their wealth grows disproportionately since their share of value has the benefit of an “earnings multiple.” The value captured by employees and customers does not. My takeaway? If looking to grow wealth, look to be a shareholder.
someone else's words 💬
fun facts 🙌
A guitar hero robot. “I wanted to be great at Guitar Hero. So I might have enlisted the help of robots and artificial intelligence…” Follow the link for an awesome video of the robot in action. | learn more
Invasion stripes. Aircraft in WW2 used a “Identification, friend or foe (IFF)” system to avoid friendly fire. Before the D-Day invasion the Allies realized that the system wouldn’t scale to handle the thousands of aircraft involved in the invasion. So, they moved to a low-tech solution. “Invasion stripes were alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of Allied aircraft during World War II to reduce the chance that they would be attacked by friendly forces during and after the Normandy Landings.” | learn more
Car design history. “A data visualization celebrating the work of the great Italian design studios.” | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Playing different games – the Tiger phenomenon. The hedge fund Tiger Global and several offshoots are aggressively deploying capital into startups with little diligence, historically high prices, and lighting fast speed. “Hah! You’re telling me — I heard they did [Deal X] in 24 hours after only getting a P&L for diligence and came in 25% over the founder’s asking price!” What’s happening here? This post goes on a bit too long but is entertaining! | learn more
Drones form a scannable QR code in the sky. And to think, I once thought QR codes were going nowhere. “Chinese gaming giant Bilibili used the dazzling display to advertise the one year anniversary of its role playing game Princess Connect! Re: Dive. At the end of the show, the 1,500 drones gathered together to form a QR code that when scanned, led to the game developer’s website.” | learn more
better doing 🎯
Wander in and pester. An insightful perspective on organizational productivity. “In 1992 the economist Peter Sassone published a study of workflow in large US corporate offices. He found that the more senior a person was, the more likely they were to do a bit of everything. Administrative assistants did not do management, but managers did do administration. Sassone called this “the law of diminishing specialisation”.” | learn more
Visionaries & operators. Fred Wilson discusses why some companies lose value after a founder leaves, while others don’t suffer the same fate. “I like to keep things simple and in my simple mind, leadership comes in two flavors, visionary leadership and operational leadership. Founders are almost always visionaries (if they aren’t, run in the opposite direction) and hired CEOs are almost always operators.” | learn more
to your health ⚕
The future of the $1.5 trillion wellness market. An article from some of the smart folks at McKinsey. | learn more
How does intermittent fasting affect glucose levels? New from the NutriSense blog! “Intermittent fasting (IF) is the intentional restricting of our mealtimes to maximize health. Media coverage tends to paint IF as the latest fad diet … except it’s neither a fad nor a diet.” | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Experimental oral pills auto-release insulin when glucose levels are high. “Daily injections of insulin are a hassle for the hundreds of millions of people with diabetes. An oral pill would be much easier to swallow (pun intended), and now researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi have developed a new method for packing insulin into capsules that can survive the trip through the stomach to the bloodstream, and only release their payload when it’s needed.” | learn more
The science fiction world of 3D printed organs. “3D printing holds the promise of changing the healthcare industry for the better by offering products such as smarter drugs and hyper-customized prosthetics. …[In] the near future, it might become commonplace for doctors to treat patients with printed organs. In fact, this is already happening. Researchers from various leading universities have 3D-printed functioning human organs.” | learn more
Embedded enzymes make for compostable plastics that break down in days. “A new type of compostable plastic is embedded with enzymes that, when triggered, quickly break the material down to its constituent molecules.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
A look at Próspera, the charter city taking shape in Honduras. “Who among us hasn’t looked out at the great edifice of human civilization in all its complexity, and thought "Yeah okay but I could do it better” | learn more
NASA chose SpaceX to take humans back to the moon. I just finished reading a book about the early days of SpaceX. The number of times the company came close to death is remarkable. “SpaceX beats out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics to be the sole provider for the system, a surprising break from the past when NASA has chosen multiple companies in case one fails.” | learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
Not your keys, not your Bitcoin. Another $2 billion example of counterparty risk, this one from Turkish exchange Thodex. “Turkey launched an international manhunt for the founder of one of its major cryptocurrency exchanges after he stopped paying clients and fled the country.” | learn more
Why USDC is the fastest growing stablecoin. Short answer: because it’s the most trusted. | learn more
calls to action 👇
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