10: Corporate Dark Arts, Bill Gates & Instagram Reels, and Tom from MySpace

“What is the most important thing you could be working on in the world right now?"

“What is the most important thing you could be working on in the world right now? And if you are not working on that, why aren't you?” —Aaron Swartz


Investing & Business

-Jeff Green on Cord-Cutting & Connected TV

From The Trade Desk Q2 quarterly conference call:

Our research suggested that 11% of US households would cut the cable TV cord by the end of the year. That's about triple the rate of cord cutting that we've come to expect the last few years. That cord cutting rate rises to 18% for the very coveted 18- to 34-year-old demo.

And the #1 reason households would keep cable TV? Live sports. 60% of them cited live sports as the primary reason they hang on to cable.

And you don't have to take my word for it. Fast forward 3 months, Roku recently issued its annual survey into TV viewing trends. And according to their research, 32% of U.S. households have now cut the cord or never had it, and a further 25% are shaving their cable TV costs. 45% of those cord shavers said they expect to fully cut the cord by year-end. The #1 reason? Cost savings. In the current environment, many households are looking at their home entertainment costs and their cable TV bill as often the most expensive part of their TV content lineup.

But related to that, the #2 reason: access to free streaming TV services. As more broadcasters make their content available through AVOD services, the cost equation for many households is something of a no-brainer. And according to the same survey, even if live sports make a comeback, less than 1 in 5 cord cutters said they'd rethink their decision because those same sports events are now available over streaming services. [...]

whatever assumptions you have about the shift towards connected-TV and how many years it would take, you can throw those out because COVID has changed everything

-Instagram Reels

There’s increasingly complaints about Instagram, which I didn’t use to see a few years ago when it seemed like it could do no wrong. Sarah Frier wrote this piece for Bloomberg detailing how complex and confusing the platform is becoming as it tries to cram more and more functionality and “new” features into the interface.

You probably want to post to your Feed by hitting the “plus” on the main screen, but if you swipe over to one side, you can also post to your Story, which disappears within 24 hours, or your Reels, which show up on the Explore page but also in your profile. If you wanted to do video but didn’t want to use Reels, you could use Live, post it to IGTV, or on your main feed, but the main feed has a time limit. Also, you could post videos to your Close Friends category, or everyone who follows you, or people you individually select. If you want Stories to last longer than 24 hours, you could add them to your Highlights…


I need to spend more time thinking about what is truly mission-critical for various businesses, who supplies these products and services, and which ones are in market with long-term secular tailwinds, with top-notch management teams, good cultures, long re-investment runways (at high ROIIC), etc.

Various terms become trendy in investing, but I feel like “mission-critical” hasn’t had its day in the sun yet. Maybe someday…

-Corporate Dark Arts Podcast

Mike from Non-Gaap (@NonGaap on Twitter) spoke with Andrew Walker of Yet Another Value Blog about the corporate dark arts (I don’t think he’ll ever run out of material, on that topic).

You can listen to the podcast here.

Or watch the video:

-Amazon May Turn Sears & J.C. Penney Stores Into Fulfillment Centers

Simon Property Group Inc. has been exploring with Amazon the possibility of turning some of the property owner’s anchor department stores into Amazon distribution hubs, according to people familiar with the matter. [...]

Amazon fulfillment centers wouldn’t draw much additional foot traffic to the mall, though some employees could eat and shop at the mall. (Source)

-Good Interview with Ajay Banga, MasterCard CEO

I enjoyed this podcast conversation. It’s not so much about MasterCard as about Ajay and his life story and personality, but he also gets pretty deep into his view of what a successful company culture should be and his leadership style.

Science & Technology

-Analysis of 1 Billion Leaked Logins & Passwords

Here are some stats based on various leaked credentials:

  • 1 Billion credentials boil down to 168.919.919 passwords, and 393.386.953 usernames.

  • Most common password is 123456. It covers roughly 0.722% of all the passwords. (Around 7 million times per billion)

  • Most common 1000 passwords cover 6.607% of all the passwords.

  • With most common 1 million passwords, hit-rate is at 36.28%, and with most common 10 million passwords hit rate is at 54.00%.

  • Average password length is 9.4822 characters.

  • 12.04% of passwords contain special characters.

  • 28.79% of passwords are letters only.

  • 26.16% of passwords are lowercase only.

  • 13.37% of passwords are numbers only.

  • 34.41% of all passwords end with digits, but only 4.522% of all passwords start with digits.

  • 8.83% of the passwords are unique - they were only found once.

    • Their average length was 9.7965 characters.

    • Surprisingly, just a fraction of these passwords are meaningless.

    • Only 7.082% of these passwords contain special characters - Rest matches ^[a-zA-Z0-9]$

    • 20.02% of these passwords are letters only, and 15.02% is only lowercase.

      • Average length for lowercase-unique passwords were 9.3694 characters.

-Bill Gates is Taking the Gloves Off…

A new interview with Bill Gates where he sounds a lot less diplomatic than he has in previous months. I think he’s getting tired of all the crap…

You would expect the CDC to be the most visible, not the White House or even Anthony Fauci. But they haven’t been the face of the epidemic. They are trained to communicate and not try to panic people but get people to take things seriously. They have basically been muzzled since the beginning. We called the CDC, but they told us we had to talk to the White House a bunch of times. Now they say, “Look, we’re doing a great job on testing, we don’t want to talk to you.” Even the simplest things, which would greatly improve this system, they feel would be admitting there is some imperfection and so they are not interested. [...]

The irony is that this is a president who is a vaccine skeptic. Every meeting I have with him he is like, “Hey, I don’t know about vaccines, and you have to meet with this guy Robert Kennedy Jr. who hates vaccines and spreads crazy stuff about them.”

Wasn’t Kennedy Jr. talking about you using vaccines to implant chips into people

Yeah, you’re right. He, Roger Stone, Laura Ingraham. They do it in this kind of way: “I’ve heard lots of people say X, Y, Z.” That’s kind of Trumpish plausible deniability. Anyway, there was a meeting where Francis Collins, Tony Fauci, and I had to [attend], and they had no data about anything. When we would say, “But wait a minute, that’s not real data,” they’d say, “Look, Trump told you you have to sit and listen, so just shut up and listen anyway.” So it’s a bit ironic that the president is now trying to have some benefit from a vaccine. [...]

But people aren’t getting their tests back quickly enough.

Well, that’s just stupidity. The majority of all US tests are completely garbage, wasted. If you don’t care how late the date is and you reimburse at the same level, of course they’re going to take every customer. Because they are making ridiculous money, and it’s mostly rich people that are getting access to that. You have to have the reimbursement system pay a little bit extra for 24 hours, pay the normal fee for 48 hours, and pay nothing [if it isn’t done by then]. And they will fix it overnight.

Why don’t we just do that?

Because the federal government sets that reimbursement system. When we tell them to change it they say, “As far as we can tell, we’re just doing a great job, it’s amazing!” Here we are, this is August. We are the only country in the world where we waste the most money on tests. Fix the reimbursement.

Read the whole thing here.

The Arts

-Fausto Melotti in his studio


Melotti has such an interesting physiognomy, he should always pose with his art, he makes it more interesting…

Photo by Ugo Mulas. Source.


-Tom From MySpace

This one is kind of random, but it turns out that Tom from MySpace is a pretty good photographer. He posts his work on his Instagram account. It hasn’t been updated in a long time, but I enjoyed many of his shots.