424: Sherwin-Williams, OpenAI Plans & Bottlenecks, Nvidia, Japan, Meta, Demographics, Antibiotics from AI, and Apple's VR Headset
"Humanity progresses by learning from what others are doing"
The 1918 epidemic was called the "Spanish Flu" because neutral Spain was one of the only places where newspapers reporting about the disease weren't censored.
🧠😢 No disease is fun, but Alzheimer's stands out as a particularly cruel one.
On Friday, I went for a walk to get some fresh air and listen to the latest episode of the Rational VC podcast (with Jim!).
A very nice lady walked up to me and asked if today was Friday or Saturday. “I have some medication to take”. I told her it was Friday, and we ended up talking for a bit. She clearly was lonely and looking for human connection…
She told me about her brother who owned a construction company and how he had built most of the houses on the street where we were standing. She said she was looking for her car, but then remembered she didn’t have a car anymore because of her Alzheimer’s...
I made sure she was okay and escorted her to her home, but felt very powerless to help. Even our nice chat was going to be forgotten soon, and she would go back to feeling trapped in the isolation and confusion of that horrible illness.
Man, I hate this disease so much. My wife’s grandmother has it and my grandma had it before she died. I will throw a big party on the day we find a cure for that one, and you’re invited.
☔️☀️⛅️❄️📲 This may seem like a small thing, but it’s a small thing that I use every day, so it matters.
Weather apps are an interesting design playground and data visualization challenge.
There will never be one weather app to rule them all, as different people are wired to prefer information to be displayed in different ways — but I want to share my current favorite in case you have similar preferences to me.
I had never even heard about it until a few months ago, and after extensively testing it, it has earned a spot on my phone’s home screen.
It’s called Mercury and is only available on iOS (sorry to my ‘droid peeps):
I love that it shows info through curves AND icons + numbers.
At a glance, I can see what the next day and week looks like. If I want more detail, I can tap to see the forecast details for that specific day. There’s very little clutter.
When precipitation is expected, a new graph appears (you can see it on the screenshot on the right) to show when and how much rain or snow is expected over the next hour.
The trade-off for this clean UI is that it’s not for weather-fanatics who need every imaginable detailed radar and barometric pressure map. It’s not what I’m looking for personally, but if you’re a glider pilot, this probably isn’t for you!
🏦 💰 Liberty Capital 💳 💴
🎨 Sherwin-Williams Deep Dive 🕵️♂️
My friend MBI (💎🐕) removed the paywall on his Sherwin-Williams deep dive.
If you were looking for a sample of his work, I recommend you check it out. It’s a good analysis and it’s an interesting company. I’m somewhat familiar with it because I studied it some years ago and bought some stock in 2016, though I don’t own it anymore (if I recall correctly, I sold it when we bought a house).
Here’s how I’d summarize one of the core drivers of the company’s competitive advantage in my own words:
You may think that paint is a commodity, but there are few enough scaled players with distribution muscle in each geography that competition isn’t eating away all the profit. Because the cost of the paint tends to be a relatively small percentage of the total cost of a job (with most of it being labor), even if a customer saved a bit on paint, it wouldn’t move the needle much.
Because painters tend to be the ones picking the paint brand, and they put a premium on service and saving time, which Sherwin-Williams is very good at with its own stores in North America (unsurprisingly their most profitable segment).
Here’s the deep dive: