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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #43: Narcoantennas, VC Squeeze and Godel’s Theory


Polymathic Monthly

April 9 · Issue #45 · View online

A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

  • ‘a new Yiddish word has been invented: oysgezoomt, “over-exposed to Zoom,” as in “Ich bin azoy oysgezoomt!” (“I’m so done with Zoom!”)’. A Yale professors Zoom journal. She speaks for us all. And, as she comes to learn, most things that matter happen outside of those scheduled Zoom meetings/classes.
  • The Venture Capital model, where money is given to a company in exchange for part ownership in said company for future returns, is under scrutiny. Has been for a few years. Questions about whether the model works beyond just the top funds. Questions about pattern-matching to the point of ignoring diverse founders and opportunity. GoingVC, in this 30 page report, asks the question ‘is the VC Juice worth the squeeze?’.
  • And, based on analysis of past exits, has the time come to abandon the incubator factory complex that the Techstars and YCombinators of the world made popular? (disclosure: I’m an alumni of a few incubators/accelerators)
  • April Underwood has led product development for Slack and for Twitter. So she knows a lot about how to serve millions of users with products that delight. She shares some lessons about product thinking.
  • There was a time, between 2010-2012, when if you asked me my fave startup I would have said Palantir. That opinion changed a long time ago and this long post reveals why.
  • Why does Europe, and especially France, lag behind in tech? Turns out there is a link between that fact and how it selects/trains its ‘elite’ (a word that is in itself indicative of the problem here). It’s a great dive into the politics, education, lack of entrepreneurship and cliques that run France and how they keep ‘the rest’ out. All to the demise of the France they strive so long to hold the same…
  • But France will probably look to stories like this one about the spectacular failure and hubris of ScaleFactor to justify why its ways might be better. While I disagree that failure is to be prevented in startups, I do wish Austin (my adopted home) would work on fixing the strike divide between the large tech companies that have outposts here and the (for the most part) smaller startups that are more hype than substance. ‘Fake it till you make it’ should not equate to blatant lies and deception. 
  • James Baldwin’s 1962 New Yorker coming of age essay, Letter from a Region in my Mind.’ where he talks about the streets of Harlem, finding Dostojevski, Elijah Mohammed, (capital letter T) Time, non-violent protest, taking the land, the myths that bound (and still bind) his country, and the never-ceasing presence of the Church (as guide, accomplice, denier, judge) in the lives of black people. [Longread].
  • Silicon Valley, as represented by Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, gives anyone not in Silicon Valley a lot of reasons to dislike Silicon Valley. Especially because Silicon Valley has failed to give us the inspiration it promised in the time we need it the most. Unless you consider being an employed resident of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos on Mars. Lyta Gold brilliantly argues that our tech giants have their science fiction fantasies all incorrectly interpreted.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service is the business model of companies like American Tower Corp. It’s profitable and is the underlying reason why more cellular carriers can jump into the market without needing to own their own cell towers. But what do these companies do when drug cartels decide to piggyback off those cell-towers? Welcome to the world of Narcoantennas. 

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