Hello friends! 👋🏻👋🏻
Hope everyone is doing well. Markets are volatile, but hopefully your personal life is starting to return to some semblance of normal.
I’m pretty excited about this edition of Tidbits and to discuss how “everything is becoming everything”. I’ve written a lot over the last few years about mostly convergence in almost all areas I can think about. But I think it goes deeper than just convergence.
What we’re likely seeing is how everything is becoming everything. And for good reasons.
Without spoiling much, let’s get right to it.
Everything is Everything
By now, it seems to be a running joke in certain financial / VC / investing circles to say “everything is fintech”.
It’s a meme.
And the meme’s everywhere…just like fintech (!).
Source: SarHaribhakti’s Newsletter
Source: SarHaribhakti’s Newsletter
I’m not really sure why it’s funny.
Maybe it’s funny because it’s true? I suppose it’s funny because in the early days, fintech investors that saw the potential likely sounded so optimistic that they sounded crazy.
Except it’s not so crazy anymore!
What’s most interesting to me is how history rhymes.
The “everything is fintech” meme is not unique by any measure, though it has taken greater collective mindshare than other iterations of this “everything is X” philosophy.
Prior to this, we’ve also seen:
1/ Everything is messaging / social – It wasn’t that long ago that people would joke about how every app at maturity adds messaging and DMs to the product.
2/ Everything is Stories / live streaming – Ummm…even LinkedIn has Stories.
3/ Everything is commerce / marketplace? Getting there.
4/ Everything is audio? Maybe? Clubhouse certainly seems to have started a gold rush.
5/ Everything is a super app?
6/ Everything is a game?
You get the picture.
What I think is happening is that there is a bigger overall trend here – Everything is becoming everything!
One way to explain this is through competition and network effects.
I’ve written a lot before about how it takes a network to destroy a network.
In fact, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the easiest way to break an incumbent network is to have your own network to leverage.
To break a network, bring your own network to war.
This realization (either directly or indirectly) is likely leading to or will lead to an unstable equilibrium. While cyberspace could have seen an extended era of peace with each player tending to their own walled garden (e.g. Google in search, Amazon in ecommerce, Facebook in social, Uber/Lyft in ride hailing, Yelp in local services reviews, Match in dating, LinkedIn in professional networks, etc), ambition (and paranoia) will ultimately doom any desire for peace because every successful network has likely realized that they are potentially under threat by other successful networks as well. The only way to survive is to expand.Source: The Coming Ecosystem War Over Your Wallet and Payments
If you don’t have a network, I don’t think you should even try to make an attempt at disrupting a well-functioning network.
If you come for the king, you best not miss.
But if you don’t have a network, friending one is probably the next best option.
Every network run by a smart operator realizes this. And by realizing this, every network knows it must either co-opt or destroy other networks that can potentially threaten it. If not, the network leaves itself open to disruption in the long run.
So with that in mind, it’s not too hard to explain why it seems like everything is becoming everything.
But increasingly I think that’s only half true!
Yes, there are a lot of paranoid companies that would like to survive, and maybe that is compelling them to become everything. But that doesn’t explain why non-competition-oriented companies are also going down this path.
Increasingly, I think the greater truth is that we are at the foothills of an era of digital world creation.
And while digital worlds are digital, worlds are still worlds.
What this means is that every digital world still needs a core set of features and functions and infrastructure just like every other world (whether physical or digital).
What are these functions and core infrastructure?
1/ Finance (e.g. way to facilitate transactions in this world – currency, payments, financial services / fintech)
2/ Identity (e.g. way to establish unique existence)
3/ Communications (e.g. way to establish place in the world – messaging, live streaming, stories, etc)
4/ Commerce + ability for your users to make money (e.g. way to to sustain existence in this world)
5/ Entertainment + world-building (e.g. way to consume and create meaning in this world)
There are probably more elements, but the point is that we are re-creating digital worlds ad infinitum. And all these digital worlds need almost all the same things!
Maybe there will be horizontal players like Stripe that enables payments / fintech everywhere. But it doesn’t change the mountain we are all trying to climb – the creation of worlds upon worlds. In a way, all of these worlds will be the same.
The only difference between them are the Gods you worship, the ideals you hold dear, and the poisons you’re willing to drink.
Some day this “everything is fintech” meme will run its course.
Something else will take its place.
I don’t know what it is. (My bet is it will be Identity.)
I don’t know what the road looks like.
But I think I already know where we’re going.
On to our regular programming:
I’m not sure why I’m writing so much about crypto. The more I think about it, the more I feel like I know nothing. But the world seems to want there to be some meaning to all this crypto stuff.
The World wills.
I’m just the reporter and observer…
#1 Mass adoption looms as South America’s second-largest company accepts crypto payments
Mercado Libre’s move to accept cryptocurrency payments for real estate could usher in a new way of crypto mass adoption in South America.
On April 28, MercadoLibre (MELI), the largest Latin American online marketplace, launched a real estate section dedicated to cryptocurrencies. Although the company does not settle property transactions directly, it legitimizes the category as a payment system.
Argentina might end up being the poster-child for cryptocurrency adoption as the country’s gross domestic product declined by 10% in 2020, and its cumulative inflation hit 42.6% over the last 12 months.Source: Cointelegraph
While I don’t think crypto makes obvious sense for a developed economy like the US (though can make sense in some ways, especially as the programmability of the ecosystem grows over time), crypto does make a lot of sense for people living in highly dysfunctional capital markets.
Like Argentina. Argentina has been seeing hyperinflation for many, many years. That’s an easy situation to understand why crypto has obvious appeal.
Ideally, the world is improving all the time, which would limit the singular appeal of a hedge against state collapse, but I have to admit the world is not improving at the moment. Some rich countries will emerge from Covid-19 okay. But most markets, especially the emerging markets are likely submerging.
#2 Goldman Sachs internal memo unveils new cryptocurrency trading team
The bank informed its markets personnel on Thursday that a newly created cryptocurrency desk had successfully traded two kinds of bitcoin-linked derivatives, according to an internal memo obtained exclusively by CNBC.
The crypto team exists within the firm’s global currencies and emerging markets trading division, reporting to Goldman partner Rajesh Venkataramani, who wrote the memo, and is part of the bank’s overall digital assets effort led by Mathew McDermott.Source: CNBC
Even Goldman is officially getting in the game.
What’s interesting to see is how this impacts the actual crypto market. Goldman is not trading crypto. It’s trading derivatives. This is an important distinction. In almost all commodity markets, very few people actually trade commodities under physical delivery anymore. The prices (and bets) are all largely just financial bets. The amount of contracts that trade are many, many multiples larger than the amount of physical commodity that exists.
And because of how large the commodity derivatives market is, the center of gravity has shifted away from the physical market. The same might happen in crypto! If the center of gravity shifts to derivatives and people prefer to make their bets through derivatives instead of dealing with the cost and time of recording a crypto transaction, it could have very large implications for how the crypto market evolves from here (assuming we are still talking about crypto 10 years from now).
#3 Bridgewater Associates CFO Leaves Dalio to Join Institutional Bitcoin Firm NYDIG
In one of the biggest personnel shifts yet to the cryptocurrency world from the mainstream financial one, NYDIG said the CFO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, has joined the bitcoin (BTC, -9.49%) financial services firm as its new CFO.Source: Coindesk
Again, I’m not even sure if crypto will ever lead to anything other than a very fun way to gamble. But Bridgewater’s CFO seems to think there is a large career opportunity here. Bridgewater is the world’s largest hedge fund with >$100 billion of assets under management. I’m sure he was paid very well. So he must think he can make more in crypto space.
#4 The Last Days of Satoshi: What Happened When Bitcoin’s Creator Disappeared
They suspected that he was British[X], that he was Yakuza[X], that he laundered money[X]. They wondered if he was a woman[X], laid claim just in case[X] and joked about fucking him[X]. They kept contingencies for if he proved crazy[X], eyed for shifts in his sleep[X], debated why he spoke and didn’t speak and sent him eager patches signed with pretty please[X].
To be sure, by the waning days of 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto was still acknowledged for inventing Bitcoin, and was respected for growing the world’s first decentralized digital currency into a $1 million market. But as frustrations with his authority and availability built, it became all too common for users to decry Satoshi the admin[X], Satoshi the bottleneck[X], Satoshi the dictator[X].Source: Bitcoin Magazine
And, let’s not get started on how NO ONE knows anything about the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi.
He disappeared 10 years ago. And he still controls a lot of Bitcoins!
Interesting read, though.
#5 Beijing Tries to Put Its Imprint on Blockchain
With an offer of ultracheap server space, Beijing is beckoning blockchain’s global community of developers to adopt its vision for the technology. Success could put China in a powerful position to influence future development of the internet itself and promote international use of Chinese innovations, like a homegrown Global Positioning System and a digitized national currency.
China is pitching its initiative, Blockchain-based Service Network, or BSN, as providing much-needed digital infrastructure for developers world-wide: server space at a few hundred dollars annually, programming tools to create blockchains and, most critically, templates to standardize some basic functionality.
BSN’s promise is to enable blockchains on its platform to interact, the so-far elusive “interoperability” that could become the magic key to the maturing of the internet.Source: WSJ
Now this is very interesting.
Crypto has allowed the proliferation of a lot of independent systems. Currently there’s no interoperability but China wants to change that. In a way, it’s a central centralizing layer to bring all these blockchains together.
As they say in Middle Earth: One Ring to rule them all…
I am also very curious to see if this gets any more traction than Facebook’s ill-fated Diem / Libra effort. If people are that wary of Facebook, not sure how much further China will get with their own effort.
#6 Of Course Mark Zuckerberg Has a Goat Named ‘Bitcoin’
On Monday, Zuckerberg shared a photo of two goats with a caption simply stating, “My goats: Max and Bitcoin.”Source: The Cut
Just like crypto, I don’t know if this means anything. Maybe it does.
As the World wills.
#7 IronSource’s Supersonic launches LiveGames publishing service for indies
Mobile monetization firm IronSource said its Supersonic Studios division has launched LiveGames, a self-service way for indie game developers to manage mobile games and their live services (such as tournaments or updates).
The product offers developers who publish their mobile games with Supersonic access to game management and full visibility and transparency into in-game metrics that enable them to better manage and grow their published games.Source: VentureBeat
Turning to our more normal fare, IronSource is a company we should pay attention to. It is currently in the process of merging with a SPAC to go public.
In a way, IronSource competes with Unity through its app monetization tools. These tools compete with Unity’s “Operate” segment.
This IPO follows the recent IPO of AppLovin, which also competes with Unity’s “Operate” segment.
Neither IronSource nor AppLovin are backward integrated into the game engine, though. AppLovin is forward integrated into games and has become a game publisher / developer themselves. IronSource, on the other hand, is integrated with telecom partners, which offers a differentiated channel to help developers distribute games beyond just advertising.
#8 Pinterest to Test Livestreamed Events This Month with 21 Creators
Pinterest is expanding into live events. The company is planning to host a three-day virtual event that will feature livestreamed sessions from top creators, including big names like Jonathan Van Ness and Rebecca Minkoff, among others. The virtual event will run inside the Pinterest app from May 24th through May 26th, and will serve as the company’s first public test of directly streaming creator content to its more than 475 million global users.
The rise of the creator economy and a pandemic-fueled demand for virtual events led Pinterest to explore the idea of livestreaming. Last fall, it began testing a “class communities” feature that allowed users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest, while creators used Pinterest’s boards to organize materials, notes and other resources. These communities also included a group chat option and shopping features.
The new livestreamed sessions will operate a bit differently.
For starters, they’re not directing users off-site to Zoom for the sessions. Instead, users will launch the livestreaming experience directly inside Pinterest mobile app and remain there during the sessions. Pinterest users can also comment to interact with the creator during their stream. The shopping functionality will now include the ability for creators to tag products with Product Pins. (Note: At the time of the initial report, Pinterest had said no shopping functionality would be available. That has now changed.)Source: TechCrunch
Pinterest remains a sleeper hit.
There’s a very, very rich ecosystem evolving here bringing together media and commerce.
#9 Netflix Drive
In this post, we are introducing Netflix Drive, a Cloud drive for media assets and providing a high level overview of some of its features and interfaces. We intend this to be a first post in a series of posts covering Netflix Drive. In the future posts, we will do an architectural deep dive into the several components of Netflix Drive.
Netflix, and particularly Studio applications (and Studio in the Cloud) produce petabytes of data backed by billions of media assets. Several artists and workflows that may be globally distributed, work on different projects, and each of these projects produce content that forms a part of the large corpus of assets.
Netflix Drive is envisioned to be a Cloud Drive for Studio and Media applications and lends itself to be a generic paved path solution for all content in Netflix.Source: Netflix
Netflix is already a subscription service on the consumer side. Does this mean it is also interested in being a subscription service on the enterprise side? Is Netflix becoming a SaaS company?
Also – everything is everything.
#10 Tinder to Roll Out New 48-Hour In-App Events Called ‘Vibes’
On the heels of strong first-quarter earnings, dating app giant Match announced its plan to introduce a new live event experience to its flagship app, Tinder. Dubbed “Vibes,” the new feature combines aspects from earlier Tinder events, Swipe Surge and Swipe Night, to create a new kind of in-app experience that’s both time sensitive and focused on finding new ways for users to break the ice.
Like Swipe Surge, users will be alerted to the Vibes events via push notifications when it’s time to engage, or they’ll see it when they open the app if notifications are turned off. And like Swipe Night, the larger goal of Vibes is to help users begin a conversation with something other than just “hey.”
The experience of Vibes itself is not some produced video series, however. Instead, Vibes presents users with a series of questions ranging from personality traits to pop culture. Again like Swipe Night, their responses will be displayed on their profile — in this case, for 72 hours. And when matches who participated in Vibes begin to chat, they’ll be able to see one another’s responses directly within the chat window, Tinder says.Source: TechCrunch
One thing I’ve been fond of saying is that tech infiltrates and then it transforms.
Tech has infiltrated dating and now it is transforming it.
‘Vibes’ is more like a mass dating event. Are there any offline examples of this? Probably not many. Maybe more like speed dating, but better.
And dating is now a game. I know people have strong opinions about whether things becoming games are a good thing or not. It might depend on what your situation looks like and what you stand to gain or lose. But, in my opinion, games (if designed correctly) are good. Because games can fundamentally lower the cost of failure, which is the greatest barrier to any meaningful progress in the offline world today. Silicon Valley has created a lot of value because it figured out how to not let failure get in the way. Our offline personal lives today are getting more and more rigid because of the rising cost of failure. Games might be a way out of this. Using dating as an example: Many people think online dating works only because it’s a numbers game. But I think online dating works because it has significantly lowered the cost of failure. It’s less embarrassing if someone turns you down. It’s not in a visible public place. And lowering this cost of failure allows and encourages daters to take more tries. A well designed game keeps the situation bearable even when you are failing.
#11 TikTok Begins Testing In-App Shopping to Challenge Facebook
ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok is working with brands including streetwear label Hype to test in-app sales in Europe, a move that will intensify its competition with Facebook Inc. and further blur the line between social media and online shopping.
The popular video app is hoping to replicate abroad the success of its Chinese-only cousin Douyin, which racked up $26 billion of e-commerce transactions in just its first year of operation. TikTok has begun working with merchants in markets including the U.K. on ways they can sell products directly to millions of users within the app, people familiar with the matter say.
While TikTok has run promotional shopping campaigns in the past, the current trials are a precursor to a broader launch of a global e-commerce service. The prototype so far is only visible to select participants and it remains unknown when the company will kick off the formal launch. A Hype representative confirmed the test without commenting further. The label’s storefront under its TikTok account displays a range of merchandise with product images and prices, according to a screen grab provided to Bloomberg News.Source: Bloomberg
I’m excited about this one.
#12 PayPal Wants to Be a Lot More Than an Online Checkout Button
PayPal Holdings Inc. is eyeing life beyond the checkout button.
In the coming months, the firm is planning to debut a bevy of new services, which could include high-yield savings accounts, check-cashing services and stock-investing capabilities. It’s all being done in the hopes of PayPal becoming the world’s next “super app,” akin to China’s Alipay or WeChat, India’s Paytm or Singapore’s Grab.
The idea came to Schulman during a dinner three years ago at his home in Palo Alto, California, close to PayPal’s San Jose headquarters, with Martin Lau, the president of WeChat parent company Tencent Holdings Ltd.
As the two dined, a picture began forming in Schulman’s head: Consumers could come to the PayPal app for more than just paying for things online. It could be their one-stop shop for all things shopping and finance, mirroring the success WeChat has had in China.Source: Bloomberg
It’s a long shot, but it might be possible. PayPal hasn’t been that great at executing in the last few years, but that’s been okay simply because payments is a type of business that a ham sandwich can likely operate (to borrow from Warren Buffett).
But if PayPal gets its act together and succeeds in the super app dream, PayPal could be far more relevant than it is today. Not sure how much I want to bank on that today, though.
Also, deja vu: Convergence in financial services and commerce. And everything is becoming everything.
#13 How Shopify’s Network of Sellers Can Take On Amazon
If you were to pretend that Shopify was a retailer, we’re not a retailer, but pretend we were, we would be the second largest online retailer in America, after Amazon. The reason I say that is because the second largest online retailer in America, they’re entitled to massive economies of scale. And so what we try to do is, we try to go to the shipping companies and capital companies and the payment companies, and we negotiate as if we were the second largest retailer, except instead of keeping those economies of scale for ourself, we distribute those economies of scale and give those advantages to small businesses.
And we think what that does is a real leveling of the playing field so that these companies can get bigger, faster, at a pace that, frankly, we’ve never seen before. There’s rumors now that some of our biggest merchants are going public, are filing for IPOs. Some of them didn’t exist five years ago. In the history of commerce and retail, we’ve never seen that type of scale at that speed.
Shopify’s entire business model is predicated on: if small businesses do well, we do well. If they don’t do well, we don’t do well. And so the relationship we have, first of all, with small business, I think is very different than a lot of other technology companies where the small businesses, whether they sell a lot or not, they still need them for things like exposure and traffic and other all those things related to marketing and advertising. But the way we think about it is, the future of retail, in our view, is not going to be online, nor is it going to be offline. It’s not going to be on Instagram or TikTok or Facebook or Walmart.com, it’s going to be everywhere.Source: The Verge
Excellent interview with Shopify’s President. 100% worth reading.
We are. Our business model around fulfillment is we believe that there are tons of empty warehouses all over the US, that’s where we’re starting right now. Think of the 3PLs that used to supply J.Crew, or used to do all the logistics for Forever 21. You have all these buildings all over the US with great people there. In fact, some of them are actually small businesses that run these fulfillment warehouses. The problem is none of them are connected. And so [what] we’re trying to do with SFN, with the fulfillment network, is connect them all using software.Source: The Verge
And this comment on Shopify fulfillment is fascinating. Shopify fulfillment isn’t exactly like Amazon Fulfillment. Amazon Fulfillment is owned / leased / operated by Amazon. But Shopify fulfillment is a network. Just like how Shopify is arming the rebels on the merchant side by bringing together all merchants into a united front, Shopify is similarly arming the rebels on the logistics and fulfillment side by bringing together everyone’s fulfillment assets into a single network.
THAT is the threat to Amazon. Amazon is logistics. And Shopify is pursuing the ultimate network strategy here.
#14 Waymo, Cruise seek permits to charge for autonomous car rides in San Francisco
Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo and rival Cruise have applied for permits needed to start charging for rides and delivery using autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, state documents reviewed by Reuters showed, setting the stage for the biggest tests yet of their technology in a dense urban environment.
Neither company revealed when they intend to launch services. But they detailed contrasting deployment plans, with Waymo starting with “drivered operations” and Cruise expecting to deploy vehicles without humans behind the wheel.Source: Reuters
Bears watching for Uber. Probably not a major issue for actual financial performance, but could impact sentiment if Waymo ridesharing service gets some traction.
Though with that said, something must be going on at Waymo as they have lost a large number of people in the management suite in the past two months.
#15 Cloudflare Partners with NVIDIA to Bring AI to its Global Edge Network
Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE: NET), the security, performance, and reliability company helping to build a better Internet, today announced it is partnering with NVIDIA to bring AI to the edge at scale.
The combination of NVIDIA accelerated computing technology and Cloudflare’s edge network will create a massive platform on which developers can deploy applications that use pre-trained or custom machine learning models in seconds. By leveraging the TensorFlow platform developers can use familiar tools to build and test machine learning models, and then deploy them globally onto Cloudflare’s edge network.
“Cloudflare Workers is one of the fastest and most widely adopted edge computing products with security built into its DNA,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder & CEO of Cloudflare. “Now, working with NVIDIA, we will be bringing developers powerful artificial intelligence tools to build the applications that will power the future.”
Previously machine learning models were deployed on expensive centralized servers or using cloud services that limited them to “regions” around the world. Together, Cloudflare and NVIDIA, will put machine learning within milliseconds of the global online population enabling high performance, low latency AI to be deployed by anyone. And, because the machine learning models themselves will remain in Cloudflare’s data centers, developers can deploy custom models without the risk of putting them on end user devices where they might risk being stolen.Source: Cloudflare / Nvidia
Forgot to highlight this in the last edition of Tidbits when I reviewed Nvidia’s GTC / investor day event.
Cloudflare and Nvidia collaborating to bring AI to the edge. Pretty big vote of confidence if you ask me.
#16 Okta Exec: We Can Be Bigger Than Salesforce
Last week, the software maker Okta closed its $6.5 billion acquisition of Auth0, one of its main competitors in the market for identity and access management software. The deal, the largest in Okta’s history, is a bid to expand faster at a moment when Microsoft is breathing down the company’s neck with its own product.
Okta has big growth ambitions. In fact, in a recent interview, its new chief marketing officer, Kendall Collins, predicted that Okta could eventually be bigger than Salesforce, the cloud software giant he and Okta’s two co-founders used to work at.Source: The Information
I don’t have access to The Information so I haven’t read the whole article. But I think I get the gist from the opening paragraph 😄
I like how Okta thinks!
And I agree.
#17 Okta’s Auth0 deal closes: Inside the 8-year, $6.5 billion courtship
Todd McKinnon knew he had to buy Auth0 the moment he laid eyes on the log-in–tech startup in 2013. The chief executive of Okta, whose software helps people sign in to digital accounts, made his first pass that July, just five months after Auth0’s founding.
The initial proposition was a coy one. McKinnon emailed Auth0’s cofounders about the possibility of a “partnership.” “That’s how, in a courteous way, you say we want to buy you,” McKinnon tells Fortune in an exclusive conversation last week, years after the first attempted pickup. “At the time, we were really paranoid about competition,” he confides.
Eugenio Pace, Auth0’s cofounder and chief executive, regarded McKinnon’s proposal as “flattering” and “a validation” of his own ambitions, he says. But having just spent 12 years at Microsoft, Pace wasn’t ready to give up going it alone on his business, at least not yet.
So, he declined.Source: Fortune
The market didn’t initially like the Auth0 acquisition. But I think that’s silly.
Interesting look into the 8 year courtship for Auth0.
#18 TikTok’s New Developer Tools Allow Apps to Offer ‘Login With TikTok’
TikTok is expanding its integrations with third-party apps. The company today announced the launch of two new tool sets for app developers, the TikTok Login Kit and Sound Kit, that will allow apps on mobile, web and consoles to authenticate users via their TikTok credentials, build experiences that leverage users’ TikTok videos and share music and sounds back to TikTok from their own apps.
The company already offers tools that allow app developers to share content, including both pictures and videos, back to TikTok. But the new kits — or, SDKs (software development kits) — expand upon that functionality to make TikTok not just a destination for sharing, but a more deeply integrated part of the third-party app experience.
For starters, the new Login Kit allows an app’s users to sign in quickly using their TikTok log-in credentials, similar to other social log-ins offered by Facebook or Snap. Once signed in, users can then access their TikTok videos in the third-party app, potentially fueling entire new app ecosystems with TikTok content.Source: TechCrunch
Speaking of identity, interesting that TikTok is trying to get into this game as well! The greats (Google and Facebook and Apple and Microsoft) derive a non-insignificant portion of their power by controlling your identity. And part of this is through controlling and rationing access into other services.
TikTok is making the same play here.
What’s even more fascinating is what it will do for TikTok’s algorithms. Facebook and Google’s efforts to control your identity online gave them a lot of data to sell ads.
TikTok sells ads…but it’s not even really an ad company. It’s first and foremost an AI and algorithm company. What can and will TikTok do differently with the data it gathers if it becomes your key identity manager online?
#19 Google: A simpler and safer future — without passwords
You may not realize it, but passwords are the single biggest threat to your online security – they’re easy to steal, they’re hard to remember, and managing them is tedious. Many people believe that a password should be as long and complicated as possible – but in many cases, this can actually increase the security risk. Complicated passwords tempt users into using them for more than one account; in fact, 66% of Americans admit to using the same password across multiple sites, which makes all those accounts vulnerable if any one falls.
On World Password Day, we’re sharing how we are already making password management easier and safer, and we’re providing a sneak peek at how our continued innovation is creating a future where one day you won’t need a password at all.Source: Google
Google is not finished, though.
#20 The Wrong Bet
“Value investing is betting the world is going to stay the same. Venture capital is betting the world will be different.”
You’ve probably seen something like the above quote floating around. I like it. But, as I heard about another private SaaS deal priced at 80x ARR I couldn’t help but reframe it:
“What happens when venture investors bet the world is going to stay the same?
That is what is happening in SaaS right now. The market is pricing the future like the past.Source: Buck on Software
#21 Moderna CEO ‘didn’t lose sleep’ over US backing of patent waiver
The Biden administration said on Wednesday it would support the temporary waiver of the patents, a step that had been opposed by many in the industry who said suspending intellectual property rights for the jabs set a dangerous precedent and risked halting innovation in the sector.
But Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said he believed “it doesn’t change anything for Moderna,” during a call with analysts on Thursday to discuss the company’s first-quarter results.
He argued that there were not enough production sites or skilled workers to be able to rapidly increase the supply of mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s, and that focusing efforts on expanding manufacturing within companies that already had the technology and knowledge was the fastest and most effective way to supply the world with mRNA jabs.
“There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world. This is a new technology, you cannot go hire people who know how to make mRNA — those people don’t exist,” Bancel said.Source: FT
Moderna sold off a bit a few days ago when Biden ordered the government to waive patent rights on mRNA technology. While Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech are the leaders in mRNA tech at the moment, the original research was funded by the US government, which means the government still holds key patent rights to the technology.
With that said, the sell-off is likely unwarranted. Moderna last year already said they would not enforce their own IP rights during the pandemic. Sounds like charity, but it isn’t. Because Moderna and BioNTech know that there is no mRNA production capacity in the world right now anyway. Waiving the patent rights does not magically create production capacity. And while the government can waive the rights to mRNA, the government does not hold the rights to the other side technologies that are needed to get the mRNA into your cells.
Anyway, a Covid-19 shot is <$20. Much cheaper than a visit to the doctor or even a Covid-19 test. Sounds scary, but all I can think about are all the amazing things Moderna will be able to do with mRNA tech in the next 50 years.
#22 China Lands on Mars, Closing Gap With U.S. in Space Exploration
A Chinese spacecraft has landed on Mars, making China only the second country after the U.S. to send a rover to the surface of the Red Planet.
“It’s the most difficult place in the solar system to land,” said Emily Lakdawalla, author of “The Design and Engineering of Curiosity,” about the NASA rover that landed in 2012. China’s success on its first attempt “tells you that they are one of the most capable space agencies,” she said.
When landing on the moon, spacecraft can use rockets to slow their descent as they approach the lunar surface. That’s possible because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere. For returns to Earth, spacecraft reentering the atmosphere can deploy parachutes to glide slowly down through the air.
Unlike the moon, Mars has an atmosphere, which makes it difficult to use rockets to decelerate. However, the Martian atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s, making it harder to rely on parachutes.Source: Bloomberg
#23 SoftBank Keeps Minting Billionaires Despite WeWork-Sized Misses
Masayoshi Son has made his share of embarrassing mistakes.
His SoftBank Group forked out billions of dollars to Adam Neumann’s WeWork, taking a massive hit when it imploded. It bet that Lex Greensill, who Son called the “money guy,” would revolutionize finance. And it lent its backing to German payments company Wirecard.
Despite those fiascos, Son has never been more successful.
In March, South Korea’s Coupang had a blockbuster listing in New York, propelling co-founder Bom Kim’s wealth to $8.6 billion after the first trading day. Coupang contributed $24.5 billion to the Vision Fund’s profit. In February, used-car marketplace Auto1 Group surged on its debut, months after delivery platform DoorDash soared as much as 92% on its first day. SoftBank’s $680 million investment was worth $9 billion as of February.Source: Bloomberg
Very quietly, Softbank’s Vision Fund is now back to being one of the most successful funds of all time. Crazy right?