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w.203 | BlackBerry, OSS Capital, Luxury Goods, Grifterverse, Trends
I watched the re-enactment of BlackBerry, a new movie about the rapid rise and fall of the company that produced the once-ubiquitous device, Research in Motion. It was entertaining despite not being particularly insightful. The lesson is that raw brilliance is not enough to overcome terrible management practices.
The week's news highlighted that while changes are afoot, nothing feels like a big surprise. The SEC took action against Binance and Coinbase; it felt like a long time coming, and it finally arrived. American consumers are still spending, and labor market data remains robust.
Good Reads: Sensible Investing
Song of the Week: California Dreamin’
Good Reads: Sensible Investing
Open Source Software Capital Pitch Deck. A VC firm focused on OSS. It’s always interesting to see the argument laid out.
OpenAI's Plans According to Sam Altman. On Wayback Machine because these weren’t supposed to be public :)
Luxury Goods: Europe’s Joke on the World. The old continent profits from the cultural insecurities of other regions. Interesting perspective by Janan Ganesh in the FT.
The luxury trade isn’t evil. But it is sad. There is something pathetic, in the original sense of the word, about a certain kind of global luxe living: marble floors, white furniture, champagne flutes, too-strong fragrances, restaurants with handbag stools. It is not the visual naffness. It is the imitation of an aesthetic that is held in ironic disdain in its home market.
Things I’m Thinking About - The Startupy Newsletter.
I generally enjoy’s weekly newsletter but the unfiltered thoughts from the curator herself were particularly enjoyable. I found myself nodding along to most. Here are two of my favs:
Most social internet has become about building an audience and connecting people to brands and influencers. It’s better understood as a performance by the top 1%, not as a way to exchange knowledge or connect people.
When I started writing a newsletter in 2019, I remember thinking there were too many newsletters. The coolest things do not yet exist. You are not late.
The Grifterverse. The author describes the phenomena of ‘the endless pushing of novelty for commercial gain through deception.’ I like it, but I can’t entirely agree. The author is plugging his newsletter's pro version while disparaging solopreneurs and influencers. Where is the line between selfishly playing the game and ‘careers about serving people’? That would be more interesting to explore.
‘Trends Have Lost All Meaning’ Why? According to the article:
They are exhausting. About 64% of people feel the pace of culture accelerating.
They are futile. Around 66% of people believe brands try too hard today.
These trends are empty—devoid of meaning.
Song of the Week: California Dreamin'
Video on YouTube.
This is a 1960s classic song. The FT sums up the aura: “California Dreamin’” captured the modern mythology surrounding the West Coast — its title almost becoming a metonym for the pursuit of health, happiness, and success.
Is it strange that I’ve been thinking of songs like California Dreamin’ while moving to Texas? It seems like I’m not alone. My friend sent me the short reel on ‘escaping actual California for fake California.’ Maybe there is something to the modern mythology moving from the West Coast to Texas. There is more space here; everything is cheaper, easier, and more accessible, allowing time for new encounters and for intellectual pursuits to percolate. Sixty years later, maybe California Dreamin’ has moved on to more open fields.
“California Dreamin” by The Mamas and The Papas
All the leaves are brown And the sky is gray I've been for a walk On a winter's day I'd be safe and warm If I was in L.A. California dreamin' On such a winter's day
Selfie of the Week
I’ve been hanging out this week with my new friend, Jake, who just moved to Austin. Jake is an inventor, artist, and serial entrepreneur. We watched the Apple VR release (the reviews are pretty great!) and talked about design for spatial input. Jake believes that we are at the beginning of a massive technology platform shift that feels as big as the early days of the internet. I’m listening and learning.
Thanks for reading, friends. Please always be in touch.