Nº147 New Year, New Frontier 🎉
Hello! Thank you for tuning in this week!
Tom Whitwell of Fluxx recently shared 52 things he learned in 2018. Here are 10 that I thought you might like:
- “Venture capital firms that increased their proportion of female partner hires by 10%… had 9.7% more profitable exits.” [Paul Gompers & Silpa Kovvali]
- AgriProtein is a British company that operates two fly farms in South Africa. Each farm contains 8.4 billion flies, which consume 276 tonnes of food waste and lay 340 million eggs each day. Those eggs (maggots) are dehydrated, flattened and used as animal feed. The company is worth $200m, and they’re planning to open 100 more factories around the world by 2024. [Andrea Lo]
- In 2015, the Billboard top 200 featured twice as many acoustic guitars as electric guitars. [Brandon Gaille]
- US nuclear testing between the 1940s and 1970s may have killed as many Americans (from radioactive pollution) as were killed by the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [Tim Fernholz]
- In April, a team at National Taiwan University created an automated Instagram comment generator that can look at images and leave replies that are convincingly human. Sample robo-comment: “I love your shoes!!! HYPED!” [Kuan-Ting Chen]
- No known machine learning system can reliably tell a bird from a bicycle when a human is trying to trick the system. [Tom B Brown]
- By optimising their email subject lines to be short, negative, surprising and full of brand names, CB Insights earned an extra $625,000 per year.[Anand Sanwal]
- Using a middle initial makes people think you’re clever. [Wijnand A. P. Van Tilburg & Eric R. Igou]
- 54 percent of Chinese born after 1995 chose “influencer” as their most desired occupation. [Charlie Gu]
- When he took over the bookshop chain Waterstones, James Daunt gave individual store managers control over which books to stock and how to display them. Over seven years, returns dropped from 20–25% to just 4%. [Robbie Millen / Benedict Evans]
Lastly, a party reminder alert:
As always, thank you for reading!
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I’ve done this challenge since 2011. Some years, like 2012, have been harder while 2011 & 2014 were unfairly easy. 2013, still easily my favorite, kicked off my time in the Netherlands and solidified some of the best friendships I have here.
I know 72,283 people went for the Festive 500 in 2015. That’s was increase on 2014’s 48,000 participants. Yet only 13,311 were successful in 2015. Does anyone know the numbers for 2016 & 2017? I’d guess up to 250k signups?
2016 had some major highlights like this Ijsselmeer (wind)jammer.
2017 was mostly yolo solo. Cold, wet & plenty of headwind on my Lester. I needed the headspace & it served me well.
2018 will again be a Dutch winter delight but as my kids are visiting, I won’t be doing the Ijsselmeer or other big group ride adventures during the day as to maximize my time with Otto & Mira. Instead, like 2012, I will be gettin’ it on before the dawn! Good luck to everyone competing this year!
Filmed entirely on bicycle, El Silencio brings the viewer along through the highs and lows of four cyclists as they traverse the mountainous Peru Divide.
A startup founder I know likes to say that their leadership style is “frequently wrong, but never in doubt.”
Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures asks: “So what do we even mean by asking about doubt and sharing it?”
Venkatesh Rao of ribbonfarm.com and breakingsmart.com formed this Groucho Marx Law of Martyrdom: I don’t care to die on any hill I’m actually capable of climbing.
€4 billion has been invested in German startups in 2018.
Sales & PR
Gmail Smart Replies and the Ever-Growing Pressure to E-mail Like a Machine — www.newyorker.com
Rachel Syme considers Gmail’s Smart Replies feature, which employs artificial intelligence to make responding to e-mail faster and easier.
Hint: give them plenty of time to explore new ideas.
‘be impatient about profit, but patient about growth’.
Dr Ola Brown (Orekunrin), the founder of West Africa’s leading air ambulance service, Flying Doctors Nigeria, writes about Tolaram; a manufacturers of Indomie noodles:
- They are patient with a long term view
- Focus on customer trends
- Target the bottom of the pyramid
- Develop killer supply chains and distribution
- Grow talent in-house
kottke.org has done these for the last five years.
There are some wild ideas in here! : )