165: Datadog's Marketing, Nvidia Trivia, Fastly vs Cloudflare, Nintendo Switched On, Robinhood, Radical Life-Extension/Rejuvenation, Hard-Drives, and 3D Dragons

"Good things will happen for all involved."

Startup CEOs are more like plow horses than racehorses. A racehorse gets pampered all week, to be taken out of the barn for a few minutes to race on Saturday afternoon; startup CEOs live 12+ hours a day behind the plow. [...]

Coming from bigger companies, I found the startup experience exhilarating and liberating. Like sailing a dinghy: direct feedback all the time, close to the metal. It's heady, like breathing pure oxygen. Many constraints but few limits.

—Frank Slootman, ‘Tape Sucks

(thanks to friend-of-the-show and OG supporter (💚 🥃) Nick E. for the recommendation)

💡🗣 One of my recurring ideas, that I keep coming back to over and over, is that on the internet, there’s many many others, but there’s always just one of you.

It’s obvious on the first level, but what makes it powerful is the implication: if you focus on helping others and providing value, eventually you'll get back as much as you provide, and then more.

To illustrate: If only 5% of people give back to you, at first it may seem one-sided when you're only connected* to 20 people (I mean real connections, not just low-intensity “follows” on a social network).

But when you're connected to 200 people, things get inverted real quick and suddenly you get back 10x what you contribute. The beauty of the model is that it scales in both directions, so your contributions can be enjoyed by thousands of people. It’s all very non-zero sum.

People usually don't get to the good part because they give up too soon, probably because it doesn't feel good to them to give more than they receive, expecting nothing in return, for a long period of time. Or they focus on taking rather than giving, and everything they do has an ulterior motive (which anyone with a good BS detector will easily sniff out).

Even if you feel like you don’t have much to contribute — I hear from so many lurkers — know that everything in life is mostly about practice and giving yourself as much learning surface area as possible.

You improve much faster in the arena, not sitting on the sidelines, and if you're doing it all in good faith and don’t pretend to be something you’re not, lots of people will point you in the right direction to learn, and help you correct your mistakes much quicker than you'd do on your own.

Work on what you can contribute rather than focus on what you’re getting — do unto others as you wish others did unto you, and all that jazz. Good things will happen for all involved. 💚💚💚💚💚

* By “connected” here I’m taking the broad view. Some connections will be more intense, such as people you talk to almost every day, while others may be people who you write to a few times a year, but they can still be great connections that enrich both people.

(h/t friend-of-the-show and supporter Mostly Borrowed Ideas (💎🐕) for being my sounding board on this idea)

📝 I’m still quite in love with Obsidian, the free multi-platform next-gen note-taking app. I feel like it keeps getting rapidly better, especially now that the mobile app is out of beta.

This love letter to Obsidian by Nick Milo says a lot of things I agree with, in a slightly more breathless way than I would, but hey, this is Youtube so you gotta have fast-paced editing and emote.

I recommend watching the video (link above), if only for his list of 8 ways in which Obsidian is changing the game. I think it provides a lot of the main reasons why this app brings so much value vs the competition (and the competition is quite good — Notion, Roam, Logseq, etc).

This is what my graph view looks like now (every dot is a separate note, and every line is a connection, such as when one note mentions the other, which is very easy to do in Obsidian with [[brackets]] — one way to picture it is by imagining that you could see a graph view of Wikipedia articles, and see which articles link to other articles):

💚 🥃 The price of a couple coffees or one alcoholic drink isn't a bad trade for 12 emails per month (plus 𝕤𝕡𝕖𝕔𝕚𝕒𝕝 𝕖𝕕𝕚𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤) full of eclectic ideas and investing/tech analysis.

The entertainment has to be worth something on its own, but for those that care most about the bottom line, there’s also optionality:

If you make just one good investment decision per year because of something you learn here (or avoid one bad decision — don’t forget preventing negatives!), it'll pay for multiple years of subscriptions (or multiple lifetimes).

As Bezos would say of Prime, you’d be downright irresponsible not to be a member, it takes 19 seconds (3 on mobile with Apple/Google Pay):

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Investing & Business

Good Taste Matters to Your Users/Customers Too (even if you’re not a consumer brand), Datadog Edition

Now that's how you name and illustrate a feature.

Datadog has something they call "Log Rehydration" for retrieving archived logs...

Isn’t that just delightful? What a great image. Even if I was an old crusty infrastructure dev guy who grew up on ftp.cdrom.com and Slackware, it would probably still make me smile a bit.

Speaking of Datadog, their Q2 was 🤯: 67% revenue growth YoY, 18% QoQ.

Nvidia Market Cap Over Time, Random Stock Trivia Edition

Nvidia spent most of the past 20 years with a market cap under $10bn, and it's now above $500bn.

What’s interesting is that it’s not like they weren’t a great company for that first 3/4, and weren’t very profitable or didn’t have a great visionary CEO and amazing technical talent.

Sometimes you push, sometimes the world pulls, and sometimes — rarely — you get a synchronized push-pull in the same direction.

Fastly Loses a Top 10 Customer After Q2 Service Outage (looks like Amazon)

One of Fastly’s top 10 customers has not returned its traffic to the company’s infrastructure [after the Q2 outage]


Funny because when the outage happened, the stock went up — people joked that it had taken an outage to remind the market that so much of the internet was dependent on this $6bn market cap company… Guess now it’s less funny.

Per the CDN Planet tool that looks at which CDN(s) various sites are using, it looks like the lost top 10 customer is probably Amazon, who’s back on just its own CloudFront CDN (h/t friend-of-the-show and cultural ambassador Muji (💾).)

It’s a good reminder that content delivery networks (CDNs) are mostly a commodity product, and providers are interchangeable in most cases.

Cloudflare sidebar:

What makes Cloudflare so strategically smart is that they started with CDN (and DDoS protection), but rapidly levelled-up to other services.

The CDN was a key part of the strategy because it allowed them access inside the perimeter of ISPs all around the world, by making it win-win for the ISP to have Cloudflare servers inside their data-centers (reduces their bandwidth costs, improves performance).

But once in there, they built a bunch of other higher-value services that are more differentiated and sticky, and can be bundled together.

I tweeted this recently about Cloudflare:

They’re bonkers. Boundless ambition. Like, oh, we’ll just reengineer the whole freaking Internet. Nbd

And Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, liked that tweet despite not being tagged in it. They truly see everything online!

Update: I haven’t had time to dig into their Q2 yet, but the numbers at a glance are 🤯. Firing on all cylinders.

Nintendo Switch Catching up with Wii

Incredible numbers, especially considering that the system is still selling well despite coming out in 2017 and competition from a new generation for the PS and Xbox. Also a good reminder of just how insane the Wii phenomenon was.

I don’t think the recent Switch refresh with the OLED screen is going to set sales on fire, since it’s a fairly minor refresh, and I can understand why Nintendo didn’t want to do a huge spec bump… You don’t want to make “Switch” games run too different on two systems that are considered to be the same thing.

I hope Nintendo’s next generation will be a kind of a Switch 2 and keep a very similar form-factor, because there’s a time to experiment, and there’s a time to refine. What are the odds that they can best the Switch by going in a totally different direction?

Seems to me like if they just improve everything about it — faster CPU and GPU, more RAM, better screen, longer battery life, more reliable joycons — and focus on just making great games, they’re golden for many more years.

But if they gamble on some totally new form-factor and miss, they could have another lean period like the Wii U (total unit hardware sales: 13.5 million).

Some individual game numbers:

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - 37.08m
Animal Crossing: New Horizons - 33.89m
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - 24.77m
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - 23.20m
Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield -21.85m
Super Mario Odyssey - 21.40m
Super Mario Party - 15.72m
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!/Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! - 13.57m
Splatoon 2 - 12.45m
Ring Fit Adventure - 11.26m


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Science & Technology

Radical Human Life-Extension/Rejuvenation + What Can We Learn From Long-Lived Animals

I enjoyed this podcast with bio-gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, who’s the chief science officer at the SENS Research Foundation (disclosure: I’ve donated money to them and their prior org over the past decade — I think they’re doing great high-risk/high-reward research that deserves more funding and attention because it could alleviate so much human suffering):

Frontline Hard-Drives, Casualty Report

Mechanical, spinning-platter hard drives are increasingly being replaced by solid-state, flash-based SSDs in pretty much every device that most people interact with, but when you need vast amounts of cheap storage, the old warriors are still on the frontlines.

Backblaze is a cloud online backup company (I use them for my off-site automated backups — wrote about them in the intro of edition #22, and urged you to have a good backup system more recently in edition #142), and they periodically release stats on the sea of HDDs that they use. Always fun to see which models are impossible to kill and which appear to be flawed (though be careful to look at sample size too).

These are the latest numbers:

Note that three models have zero failures.

They aren’t deployed in huge numbers, but the HGST has a couple hundred thousand units and an average age of 21 months, so that’s not nothing! The Seagate only has 80k units, but at almost 75 months of age! That’s ancient!

Also kind of incredible that a single drive can now hold 16 terabytes of data. When I started playing on my dad’s 386 DX 25 mhz with 4 megs of RAM, the hard drives of the day mostly were in the low-hundreds of megabytes range.

The Arts & History

3D Painting of Dragon in Epoxy

This is seriously some of the coolest art I’ve seen in a long time.

I originally saw this one here (which may be a better video to see the details — but I can’t embed it here), but the ones in the video above are similar.

When I saw the concept, it immediately made complete sense, but I would never have thought to come up with doing a kind of hand-3D-printing in transparent epoxy with paint.

It’s basically taking a few basic ingredients, and turning them into something that just looks like magic. Very cool.

If you want one, but don’t have the patience/skills to make one, I found some here on (where else but) Etsy:

The same artist also has many kinds of fish in resin bowls.

🎶 Elijah Nang’s Japan-infused Instrumental Hip Hop Beats

File under “instrumental music to read/work to”.

I recently discovered this album by Elijah Nang, and have been listening to it quite a bit over the past few days (along with his other albums, but I’d recommend starting here).

Convenient links:

Let me know what you think.

I think it’s important to keep expanding one’s musical horizons after our teenage years/young adulthood. Too many people just get frozen in time, and miss out on what would be a great part of their life. 🎶