206: Cloudflare & AWS CEO Interviews, Tesla, Are You Playing to Win the Actual Game?, Flexport CEO on Global Logistics, Ford & Rivian EVs, and Global Solar Power Capacity

"hopefully this time the stove turns out to be cold"

Don’t ask people for advice, ask them what they do. 

—Cal Newport

🐦 Following-up to what I wrote in edition #204 about using Twitter’s reverse-chronological timeline rather than the algorithmic one:

Friend of the show and supporter (💚 🥃) Andy made a good point, something I should’ve included in that piece, but simply didn’t think of it at the time.

Another good way to keep track of accounts that may be less visible, either because the algo doesn’t highlight them (not “high engagement” enough) or they don’t tweet often, or maybe because they’re located in timezones on the other side of the planet and they always tweet when you’re asleep…

You can turn notifications on (that little 🔔 icon on someone’s profile) so that you don’t miss what your fave 🐣 are saying.

Andy mentioned having a hundred accounts with alerts. I have way fewer than that, maybe 10-15..?

But I find it a great tool — some accounts have such high signal-to-noise and share such insightful things that anything that reduces how much of their stuff I miss is very valuable.

It’s also why I spend so much time sharing these tips about how to get more out of the interest graph (aka Twitter): I feel like many people could get so much more out of it by curating their follow lists well, switching to chrono-timelines, putting alerts on their very fave accounts, post more of what they learn and give as much value to the community as possible (over time you’ll get back way more than what you give), etc…

It’s very non-zero sum and win-win, and things with those characteristics should be encouraged.

🐧 Speaking of Twitter, I like this tweet by Visakan Veerasamy:

So true.

Having been online since the days of local BBSes in the 1990s, I’ve seen this over and over again. Some people just pass by, at least under a certain name.

As transients, they have less skin in the game and won’t invest as much into relationships and communities.

Others are growing roots, spreading good vibes around them, helping others and contributing without holding back.

I try to have my radar up for the latter kind, and find it a lot more rewarding to build relationships with them.

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Investing & Business

Playing to Win, Playing the Actual Game

Friend-of-the-show Cedric Chin (👋 🇸🇬) has a good piece about making sure that the game you’re playing is the real one, and not something you’ve constructed in your mind, which may prevent you form being as good as you could be if you were better calibrated:

My friend Lesley has this thing where she says “make sure you’re playing the real game, not some more complicated game you’ve made up for yourself.” [...]

when she was a player, she believed that certain methods of winning in frisbee were more legitimate than others. Preferably, you wanted to win with strategies that were technically sophisticated and elegant and difficult to do. But as a coach, she’s had to remind herself that the goal for her team is to win, not to set unnecessarily high bars for play. [...]

In the world of gaming, a scrub is someone who isn’t playing to win. [...]

A scrub is not just a bad player. Everyone needs time to learn a game and get to a point where they know what they're doing. The scrub mentality is to be so shackled by self-imposed handicaps as to never have any hope of being truly good at a game. You can practice forever, but if you can't get over these common hangups, in a sense you've lost before you even started. You've lost before you even picked which game to play. You aren't playing to win [...]

In my eyes, [John] Malone is an almost perfect example of a non-scrub — a person who saw into the game of business, and played the actual game, not some made-up, more difficult version of the game.

I put this in the business section, but I think it applies more broadly.

We’ve all probably got some un-examined beliefs that hold us back in various areas of our lives. Could be in relationships, could be when it comes to personal growth and getting over bad patterns, whatever.

It’s a silly example, but as a kid, I remember a friend who I was playing a lot of Doom with (for the young crowd: it’s a video-game of the time, the grand-daddy of modern first-person shooters).

For some reason, there were some weapons that he considered “too easy” or “cheap”, so he unilaterally decided not to use them. It wasn’t an agreement between us before starting the game — which would’ve been something else entirely — but he just stuck to the ‘more skilled’ weapons.

There’s something to admire there, and sometimes I also voluntarily played along and refused to use certain weapons… But at any time, I knew I could just play *the actual game* and crush him using the plasma gun, rocket launcher, or BFG… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Interview: AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky

Wouldn’t it be just *chef’s kiss* 👨‍🍳 if Adam’s middle name was “William”? Those initials…

“The time to market advantage that we had, in the early years — which I would say was 5 to 7 years, before others started taking what we did seriously — was an enormous advantage.”

I liked the part where he talks about the “disease” of certain organization as they become too big, they start managing to the math, growth rates and ratios, and forget to focus on “products and customers”.

Ryan Petersen, Flexport CEO, on Global Logistics SNAFU

He posted one of his great threads.

Here are some of my highlights (ok, almost the whole thing):

Global supply chains are a mess. The world's logistics infrastructure has proven incapable of scaling to the demands of a global economy going through more chaotic evolution than ever. 1/

Prices for pretty much all logistics and supply chain services have reached all time highs while service levels and transit times have never been worse. 2/

In hindsight, the signs were there for years. Almost no logistics companies can show you where your freight is in real-time on a map. Most data is exchanged in unstructured email messages with attachments. There are almost no logistics APIs to speak of. 3/

It’s bonkers that this is still so ad hoc

The pandemic has dramatically amplified two major trends in supply chains: the rise of e-commerce and the diversification of global supply and demand. 4/ [...]

In the old world, brands were in charge, and more specifically, a small number of brands who could afford the mass media buys required to push their products through a limited number of retail channels. 7/

Customers didn't have much choice: they bought the products they saw on TV because those were the only ones available in the stores by their house. 8/ [...]

In the Sears catalog era I grew up in, a single distribution center in Memphis or all Louisville could serve the entire country. Three week delivery times was good enough. 11/

In the e-commerce era, companies that want to have reasonably shipping costs need to position 5-6 distribution centers across the country to achieve 2-day delivery, several dozen for next day, and hundreds of sites for 2-hour delivery. 12/

The optimization problem that falls out of this is beyond the capabilities of even the best demand and S&OP planning departments working with analog logistics and supply chain providers. 13/ [...]

And the fact is, most logistics teams are ill-equipped for the magnitude of the problems they face. They're trying to solve multi-variate optimizations of complex dynamic systems on the back of data stitched together in Microsoft Excel from dozens of analog service providers. 17/ [...]

The glass half-full view is: Imagine how much improvement can be made to this system, and how great global logistics could be if brought up to 21st century best practices!

Logistics is the circulatory system of the world economy, and it's got a pulmonary embolism. 18/

There's good news in all this, which is, there has never been a better time to solve problems in logistics. As Chesty Puller said, "We're surrounded. That simplifies the problem. They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides...They can't get away now." 19/

Great quote. That’s the spirit!

The history of the last 50 years in Silicon Valley shows that the organizations best equipped to solve problems are startups. The night is coldest just before the dawn. We believe we're on the cusp of a golden age of logistics and supply chain technology companies. 20/ [...]

Every legacy logistics and supply chain company that doesn't elevate technology development to a C-level role at least on par with the CFO will be replaced a more agile, tech-first innovator. Most either can't or won't do it. 22/

This is a huge market. Global Trade is 47% of GDP and logistics is 15%. And if you take the pie chart of GDP and divide it by the number of hours of computer programming that have been applied, this must be the biggest slice of all. 23/

He also announced that Flexport is ready to invest in logistics startups, with details here.

🚗⚡️🔋 Ford & Rivian | Ford & EVs 🤔

Ford Motor and Rivian no longer plan to co-develop an electric vehicle, the companies confirmed Friday. [...]

“When you compare today with when we originally made that investment, so much has changed: about our ability, about the brand’s direction in both cases, and now it’s more certain to us what we have to do. We want to invest in Rivian — we love their future as a company — but at this point we’re going to develop our own vehicles”

Ford still has a 12% stake in Rivian (for how long?).

[Ford] CEO Jim Farley has announced that the automaker is planning to produce 600,000 electric vehicles per year by the end of 2023, which will double the number of EVs it originally intended to manufacture. According to Automotive News, production will be spread across the Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and E-Transit.

Hmm. Ever since I heard an interview with Farley on a podcast recently, I’ve updated my priors on Ford’s potential in the space. He seems to get it. I don’t know if he can get the aircraft carrier to turn around and go full-steam in the right direction, but I think he’s likely to try. It’ll be interesting to see.

BUT

600k/year is a lot, and I’ll believe it when I see it (I sure hope a bunch of gigantic battery factories are being built by their suppliers), because I’ve seen grandiose statements by automakers on EVs for over 10 years, and like the cat, I’ve learned — hopefully this time the stove turns out to be cold, though 🐈‍⬛.

Interview: Matthew Prince, Cloudflare co-founder

I enjoyed this interview with Prince, I think he does a good job of explaining how they think about their position in the internet/cloud ecosystem, and how they’re laddering up.

The part about pushing every commodity service toward its marginal cost and focusing on were they add more differentiated value makes a lot of sense, especially since unlike the other big cloud players, they look at things more as a network fabric that interconnects everybody else, rather than being primarily a destination for data and compute (though they increasingly offer some of that too — but they’re very much trying to make it easier for everyone to go multi-cloud and use the best service from each player and tie everything together.. through Cloudflare’s network, of course).

Interview: Eric Markowitz on Tesla

A thoughtful conversation about Tesla as an investment. Who knew that was possible?

Kudos to friend-of-the-show and supporter Andrew Walker (💚 🥃) for pulling it off with Eric Markowitz. (they also talk about Spotify a bit)

Why do we create better portfolios for our kids?

I feel like I keep quoting Liviam lately, but he keeps asking good questions, so what choice do I have ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My answer:

It forces us to think long term.

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Science & Technology

Solar Power Capacity Around the World

Here’s another way to slice & dice the data:

Source.

h/t friend-of-the-show and OG supporter Nick Ellis (💚 🥃 🎩)

That’s my kind of humor…


The Arts & History

Use of Color in James Bond (Skyfall vs Spectre)

I’m not a big fan of James Bond, but I’m a fan of Roger Deakins, and I enjoyed this thread about the contrasting approach (literally) to color use between cinematographers Roger Deakins, who worked on Skyfall, and Hoyte Van Hoytema, who did photography on Spectre (both films were directed by Sam Mendes, so this is one less variable that changed between films).

Makes me want to spend more time thinking about the use of color in my favorite films and TV shows 🤔

h/t John Gruber (👁)