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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #11: Market Domination, Sriracha and Cyborgs


Polymathic Monthly

August 6 · Issue #11 · View online
A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

As regulators clamor to stop the big tech firms - Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple - from their march towards total market domination, they are reverting to the old methods of curbing what they view as capitalism gone wrong; anti-trust structures and regulations. But this approach misses the fact that Facebook is nothing like Ma Bell; You and I opt into, and invest in, these services till we’ve become fully dependent on them to satisfy our basic needs. We complain about Amazon killing competitors but we don’t shop on platforms that cannot provide same/next-day delivery! 
A few years ago, my brother (a Google employee), was working on a ‘mediator’ app. The app would sit between you and (for example) Facebook ensuring that, for selling your attention to ad buyers, Facebook paid you every time you saw an ad in your feed. This idea, which was complicated to implement just 5 years ago, is now totally feasible using smart contracts and blockchain. The real questions stopping it existing are 
  1. 1. Will the regulators recognize that the old regulatory methods will not work for these new age monopolies? and 
  2. 2. will you and I ever realize the power we have in this currently skewed power and money dynamic with these tech companies? Will we?
The articles and books this week continue the thinking above…
  1. I ended up Medium and LinkedIn famous with an article on where Apple might be going with their connected home devices. Some of you probably signed up for this newsletter from reading the article. Thanks!
  2. An HBR article on how inequality is not just rising between individuals but also between companies. A deep dive into the dynamics I write about above. The author suggests that ’…found that the average wages at the firms employing individuals at the top of the income distribution have increased rapidly, while those at the firms employing people in the lower income percentiles have increased far less.’
  3. An API Key providing a way to give some power and money back to the labor side of the marketplace (Uber, Handy etc) equation.
  4. I haven’t read either of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s books (’Gene’ and ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’). This article on the intersection of AI and medical diagnosis explains complex concepts so brilliantly, I’ve added the books to my list.
  5. This (2013) story of the Huy Fong Sriracha company is the perfect example of how product over profit almost always yields sustainable profit. Or you can watch the movie about Sriracha here (rent or buy on Youtube). There is so much about this product/video that speaks to the positive and negative narratives (tech/non-tech, politics, immigration, entrepreneurship) bombarding us today…it’s well worth a read/watch. Fun facts: Tran named his company after the boat that got him to the UK and he’s never spent a penny on marketing.
  6. Jake Dyson, son of James Dyson, has been obsessed with lights for many years. His commercial light of the future should run for 22 years. Way to piss off your competitors in a market that is projected to be ~$165Bn in 2022.
  1. I suggest you reread ’Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus’ as it dives into the real issues behind the protests mentioned in the HBR article above.
  2. The same HBR article also mentions the benefits that accrue to being a learning organization. The best book I’ve read on the concept of learning organizations is Peter Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization“.
  3. You know how articles become essays, and then become eBooks and then become large book deals? Or is that just my wish and hope? ;) My article on an antifragile power grid has become a short book that I just released! Order here and please let me know what you think! 
  4. Dear Cyborgs is the right mix of fantasy, science fiction, politics and humor for our time. It’s a good short read by Eugene Kim.
  5. I’m currently reading ’The Fuzzy and the Techie’. It’s an apt read for this weekend considering the interesting Google memo. One day in the near future we will not consider the ability to 'code’ a superior skill. It’s the trajectory of all expertise and something I’ll dive into in a blog post coming soon.
1. Kooba is the music genome project for books. It’s pretty awesome! 
2. ESRI has a cool tool that allows you to make your pictures into stories with maps. Great way to share your travelogues! 
Till next time. Please send any book deals, literary agents or just book recommendations to me at 
I’m not joking about the book deals ;)
All the best!
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