View profile

Jeremy Hurst: Value, Improvement & Curiosity - Issue #47

Selling shovels. Speech recognition. Thank you. More programming content. When does a mistake become
October 30 · Issue #47 · View online
Jeremy Hurst
Selling shovels. Speech recognition. Thank you. More programming content. When does a mistake become a character trait?

Business & Money
There’s a saying that goes something like the following: in order to get rich you should “sell shovels during a gold rush.” I believe the idea stems from the California gold rush of the 1850s. During the rush, people flocked to the west coast in hope of finding gold and striking in rich. Unfortunately most of them never realized their dream. There was, however, a certain class of people that did make a killing. These were the individuals who realized that, instead of searching for gold themselves (extremely low probability of success), they could sell goods and services to the droves of people that were flocking to the area. They profited handsomely from selling shovels, picks and tents while most people went home empty handed.
In the internet era, a similar phenomena is playing out. A couple recent examples:
WordPress - all of the stat’s I’ve seen say that 25-30% of all website on the web run on WordPress. That’s bananas! Matt Mullenweg (founder) realized that the internet was exploding in the early 2000s. Every business, group and individual was in need of a website. Instead of opening a design shop or building sites himself, Matt decided to sell shovels. He built an incredibly easy to use platform that would allow anyone to build and manage their own web presence.
Twilio - how many apps do you use that have some type of voice or SMS capability. Uber drivers call you when they’re outside. AirBnB sends SMS reminders for reservations. Seamless sends an SMS when your food is out for delivery. All of these are powered by Twilio. They’ve built a simple API that allows for easy voice & messaging integration into any app or service, the epitome of selling shovels in a gold rush.
As I think about what problem I’ll try to tackle next, I find myself often thinking about what industries are in need of shovels.
Human Progress
I often ask “Siri” or “Google Now” to do something for me, such as record a note or add a reminder to my calendar. I don’t do it because either system works extremely well (they don’t), but more so because I’m curious about the advancements in speech recognition technology.
Recently a team of researchers at Microsoft have hit a pretty big milestone in speech recognition. They are claiming that they have reached human parity. In other words, a computer can now recognize words in a conversation as good or better than a human being can. I think that’s a pretty big deal. From a narrow perspective, this should allow Microsoft’s Cortana (their AI powered assistant that competes with Siri and Google Now) to fare better among the competitive set. But more broadly, speech as a new interface is in it’s infancy. I’m confident that we’ll all be speaking to computers in ten years far more than we do today, and it won’t be asking our cell phones to complete trivial tasks.
Today I wanted to take a second to say thank you to all of you beautiful people that made it out on Friday for my birthday and/or sent your love from far away places. Birthdays offer a great opportunity to sit back and appreciate the important people in life and I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the world.
First to my Philly friends that made it out, you guys have been there since the beginning. Your families have housed me during moments of crisis, fed me at holidays and offered timely advice when ever I’ve needed. Thank you!
Crasians, you ladies have been a staple in my life since I got to NYC. We’ve crushed marketing projects about the Philippines, we’ve sung drunken melodies in Washington Square Park, we’ve taken cabs across eastern Europe (bad idea), we’ve danced in the dessert until sun rise.. the incredible memories are far too many to list here. Thank you!
Fiends - so many late night conversations in bake city (coral towers) about who knows what. We’ve had frightening moments of spilled spinal fluid, we’ve lifted many a heavy weight, we’ve spoken at length about various investment ideas, read incredible books, and now are enjoying each others company as we prepare to take another huge step in life. Thank you!
Dance crew - we’ve shared many a late night and many a dirty beat. Those moments when we’re watching our favorite DJs with our arms around each other and smiles ear to ear… there aren’t a lot of moments that top these. Thank you!
Business partners - we’ve learned so much together. None of us had the slightest idea of that we were doing, but we put our trust in each other and dove in. And it’s only the beginning. Very much looking forward to tackling more challenges and growing together. Thank you!
Work friends - can’t even begin to say how excited I am about what we’re building together. We have an incredible team, killer product and massive opportunity in front of us. Thank you for everything you do on a daily basis.
My beautiful fiancé - tell me she’s not the best party host in the game. The party was lit! No, but seriously, I wouldn’t be where I am without you. You force me to be more empathetic, more caring… more of a human being. It’s funny, I’ve always felt like a pretty confident person, but you constantly hold me to a higher standard. You force  me to reflect and think about the many ways I can improve. Thank you for your unrelenting love and pushing me to be better!
Honestly, everyone. Thank you so much for everything you do and just being you. I love you all so much and looking forward to another year of growth and shenanigans!
My Latest Discovery
I’ve recently started this javascript course on The best part is that the course is free. And I really mean FREE. As far as I can tell, you can take an unlimited number of courses for exactly $0. They do offer a “Pro” version that offers access to additional resources (on demand advisors, a custom learning plan, etc), but I find that the platform has a great UX and it offers a low friction way to get your programming feet wet.
Question Of The Week
How many times can a person make a mistake until it stops being a mistake and becomes a character trait?
It's A Wrap!
If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter, feel free to check out previous issues and/or subscribe here!
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue