1. "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things."
    — 

    - Steve Jobs

    Ever since I heard Steve say these words through a garbled recording of some design awards conference in the early 80’s (on a remarkably great playlist Ashton Kutcher made on SoundCloud to prep for his role in that awful jObs biopic), I see these words everywhere.

    The most recent manifestation of them is this Beats Music/Apple news, and the origin of the whole Beats brand. There was the Monster Cable technology that Kevin Lee had chased for years before finally striking a deal with Beats that ultimately screwed his and his dad’s whole company out of any ownership. There was the purchase of MOG to power the me-too streaming service that became Beats Music. The crowning of Dr. Dre as the face of the headphones and thus making them a must-have fashion accessory. The shouting of the word “curation” at every turn with the launch of the streaming service with Ian Rogers doing most of the talking. And the deep music industry connections from the man behind the curtain, Jimmy Iovine (it didn’t hurt that he had convinced Universal and some executives at Warner to invest in the venture, making them a nice windfall profit in the process).

    All of those components would seem disparate at the get-go, but came together as one big money-making symphony with Jimmy as the conductor last week with announcement of Apple buying the company for $3.2 billion.

    Two people I love who cover the media industry—Jason Hirschorn and Bob Lefsetz—both invoked this wisdom from Steve in their reporting on the news. And examples like these just make that wisdom all the more crystallized. That’s some pretty good connect-the-dots work right there.

     

  2. continuations:

    I have been writing a lot about wealth and income inequality and I am readingThomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century (review forthcoming as soon as I am finished). So it seems appropriate to ask how I feel about the wealth being created by tech startups for entrepreneurs, early employees and investors (which of course includes VCs like myself). I have hinted at this here on Continuations in the past in a post about Twitter but it is worth clarifying. I believe that a large component of this wealth is random — or if you so want: luck.

    Maybe the perfect illustration of that random component is Brian Acton, the co-founder of Whatsapp. He famously tweeted about being turned down by both Twitter and then Facebook as an engineer in 2009. If either one of those jobs had come through it seems highly unlikely that Brian would have joined Jan Koum in the fall of 2009 to work on Whatsapp. Which in turn would have made it pretty unlikely that Brian would have made hundreds of millions of dollars when Facebook acquired WhatsApp.

    My personal story is similarly full of randomness. I spent all of 2003 trying to buy a traditional software company with the goal of then Internet enabling it. Together with a friend and partner we got super close to buying the leading trucking software company in the US which was headquartered in Cleveland. The deal fell apart at the 12th hour over a sales tax liability (that later turned out to be trivial — I will at some point blog about the details). In any case, had that deal happened I would have been in Cleveland instead of teaming up withJoshua for the wild ride that was delicious and subsequently joining USV.

    If you want to argue that this entrepreneurial or investor wealth creation is not random to a large degree, then you would have to believe that people like Brian (or myself) have some skill or ability that is thousands or even millions of times larger than that of others. I personally find that preposterous. Just to be clear, I am not denying an element of risk taking, smarts, etc. — clearly you have to work for a startup or become and investor to begin with if you want to have a shot at this (as in the joke of the person praying for years to win the lottery only to finally hear God speak “buy a lottery ticket”). Beyond that though much depends on being in the right place at the right time.

    At the moment  randomness is amplified significantly by the winner-take-all characteristic of many markets. The leading service or app in a category with network effects can be an order of magnitude or more larger than the next competitor and can do so on a global scale. Or put differently, the potential size of the lottery tickets has increased substantially. We have had a similar period in history during early industrialization.

    PS Some further clarification on the randomness aspect. I am not arguing that the emergence of a company such as WhatsApp is unlikely (in fact the opposite). I am talking about the probability of a particular startup becoming that and of a particular person to be a founder of or investor in that startup.

    Had this same discussion over Easter dinner yesterday and we came to the conclusion that generally people who acknowledge that at least a portion of their great success is the result of a “lucky break” somewhere along the way are much more tolerable/humble/fun to hang out with than people who attribute 100% of their success to their hard work/smarts/genius. Those people tend to be assholes.

    Not to say the girl or guy with the lucky break didn’t work their ass off to make the best of it, and of course they did, but there are also a heck of a lot of smart, hard-working people who haven’t had the same kind of success, however they define it.

     
  3. xlrecordings:

    JACK WHITE - LAZARETTO. The new album, 9 June on XL / Third Man Records.

    (via r3d)

     
  4. Just relax…

    credit: /u/Aaragon

     
  5. corealiscreative:

    Ira Glass | The Gap (Advice)

    To all of you new designers who are wet behind the ears, just starting off in your careers. Listen to this advice, it might be the best bit you’ll ever get.

    via: vimeo

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

     
     

  6. "I pictured how people play, one hand holding the train strap. When you play game on a smartphone, the simplest way is just tapping."
    — Dong Nguyen, on designing Flappy Bird (via maxistentialist)
     

  7. "One of the first items sold on [eBay] was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Astonished, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”"
    — 

    eBay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (via lauraolin)

    The internet, ladies and gentlemen.

    (via mikerugnetta)

    (via kenyatta)

     

  8. "According to Matt Groening, [John] Swartzwelder used to write [Simpsons] episodes while sitting in a booth at a coffee shop ‘drinking copious amounts of coffee and smoking endless cigarettes.’ When California passed an anti-smoking law, Swartzwelder bought the diner booth and installed it in his house, allowing him to continue his process in peace."
    — Wikipedia, John Swartzwelder (via maxistentialist)
     
  9. kenyatta:

    Every airline flight in the world over 24 hours

    via airtrafficlive and washpo

    Wow, such flights. Much awesome!

    (via khuyi)

     

  10. tonistarkofwinterfell:

    LIFE HACK IF SOMEONE IS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT SOMETHING TRY TO BE EXCITED FOR THEM OR AT LEAST PRETEND TO BE AT LEAST SLIGHTLY INTERESTED BECAUSE NOTHING FEELS WORSE THAN EXPRESSING SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY ONLY TO HAVE PEOPLE TELL YOU TO CALM DOWN OR IGNORE YOU COMPLETELY

    (Source: genius-billionaire-tonistark, via maxistentialist)

     

  11. "My underlying concerns in the book are issues that I struggle with in my own life: How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day? And when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all you hope to accomplish, must you give things up (sleep, income, a clean house), or can you learn to condense activities, to do more in less time, to “work smarter, not harder,” as my dad is always telling me? More broadly, are comfort and creativity incompatible, or is the opposite true: Is finding a basic level of daily comfort a prerequisite for sustained creative work?"
    — 

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Cure

    A book detailing the daily routines of people like Kafka, Wolfe, Karl Marx, Agatha Christie, Woody Allen, Dickens, Picasso, Gershwin? Yeah, I’m sold. Just got bumped to the top of the list.

    As someone who, no matter how busy, is constantly inspired to fiddle with some side project but finds too many excuses to dive deep enough, this topic is important to me. And if Anthony Trollope could write 3,000 words every morning before leaving for work at the Post Office, where he held a job for 33 years while writing more than 2 dozen books, then what’s my excuse?

     
  12. This is a gosh darn terrific presentation. Bravo.

     
     

  13. "The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right."
    — 

    Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts, 2012

    Was reminded of this in an email from Tim Ferriss today, referencing his incredibly honest "Productivity" Tricks post from last month. It doesn’t get much more inspiring than that!

     

  14. "The safe (simple agreement for future equity) is intended to replace convertible notes in most cases, and we think it addresses many of the problems with convertible notes while preserving their flexibility. In addition to being simpler and clearer, we intend the safe to remain fair to both investors and founders."
    — 

    Paul Graham - YCombinator Announces safe, an Alternative to Convertible Notes

    Haven’t read any of the documentation yet, but knowing YC’s propensity to innovate their “product” to find a happy medium between investors and entrepreneurs, I’m excited about this!

     

  15. maxistentialist:

    Cards Against Humanity’s “$5 More” Black Friday Sale

    A lot of people have been curious about how our “everything costs $5 more" Black Friday sale worked, and if it was successful for us.

    We initially started talking about doing a Black Friday sale over the summer, and came up with the idea of a “$0.01 off” coupon. I liked the idea, but have always maintained a policy of no deals, no discounts, and no sales  for Cards Against Humanity, even during our Kickstarter. To me the game is always $25, it’s never another price, and doing any kind of deal or discount undermines the simplicity and honesty of the game.

    Execution

    Nothing crazy here. I put together a landing page and we replaced all the “buy” buttons on our site with the new pricing. I edited the FAQ to include:

    Why do all of your products cost more today?

    We’re participating in the tradition of “Black Friday,” an American holiday celebrating a time when the Wampanoag tribe saved the settlers of Plymouth Colony with incredible deals. All of our products are $5 more today only, so you can enjoy buying them that much more.

    I’m mad that you’re making a joke about Black Friday.

    You’re probably a bad person.

    Reception

    The sale made people laugh, it was widely shared on Twitter and Tumblr, and it was the top post on Reddit. The press picked it up, and it was reported in The GuardianUSA TodayPolygonBuzzFeedAll Things DChicagoist, and AdWeek. It was even the top comment on The Wirecutter’s front page AMA, which had nothing to do with us.

    I was pretty sure that our fans would be into the “$5 more” sale, but I had no idea that it would turn a day where we’d normally be totally overlooked into a huge press hit for the game.

    Sales

    So how did we do? A little better than last year. We kept our position as the best-selling toy or game on Amazon. My guess is that peoples’ buying decisions just weren’t that affected by $5.

    The interesting thing to note is that we got a nice lift in our sales the day after Black Friday (“Regret Saturday”). That might be from people who were waiting to buy the game until it came back down in price, or, more likely, those are sales from people who heard about the game after our Black Friday press. Not bad for an ad that paid us to run it.

    This is just terrific. Was equally stoked on Everlane’s Blackout for Black Friday stunt last year. We had shut down our site on Thanksgiving this year because, well, it’s just ridiculous that people were getting up from family meals early wait in line at Walmart to get a “deal” on a TV they didn’t want or need in the first place.

    But Cards Against Humanity really pulled off a winner here with a campaign that was as simple and clever as their product. Brilliant!

    (Source: maxistentialist)