435: Constellation Software, Twitter vs Threads, Mr. Beast, Air Travel, EVs, CANDUs, OpenAI, TSMC, and Trent Reznor
"Keep the art separate from the artist."
History doesn’t repeat itself, but human nature remains the same. -Ken Burns
🔌🚘🔋🔋⏳ I’ve been interested in electric cars for around 20 years.
In a past life, I closely followed developments in the industry and even got to attend the press-only days of the Detroit Auto Show a few times.
It was there that I met Elon Musk in late 2009 or early 2010.
I joked with him that he should have brought a Falcon 5 to the Tesla booth to attract more attention and we had a brief chat about the specs of the rocket.
That was two years before the Model S was out. They only had the Roadster then, and very few people knew Tesla or SpaceX. I still remember when the Roadster was announced in 2006, I was one of the few people blogging about it (yes, it was the heyday of blogs back then).
Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen was in Detroit the last time I went. We talked about the aluminum frame of the Model S.
Anyway, that’s a tangent. What I’m really trying to say is that I’ve been waiting a long time to go electric.
We’re finally about ready to replace our 2010 Toyota and after a lot of research, the plan was to get a Kia EV6. However, there’s no supply and the waiting list in Canada is 1-2 years. I suspect it could take less than that if the new Hyundai/Kia plant in Georgia comes online soon, but who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So I’m starting to think that maybe the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. 🐦⬛
I could be patient and wait for the EV6, but our only vehicle being 13 years old is starting to worry me a little. It has no mechanical issues, but the actuarial math isn’t getting better… Because one of my main considerations for upgrading is safety, I don’t want to wait any longer than necessary.
After looking at what is available, I’m starting to think that the Tesla Model Y AWD Long-Range makes sense. It’s significantly more expensive than the EV6 AWD Long-Range, but it does have a few advantages over it (more cargo space, glass roof, Supercharger network, etc).
But something feels strange.
A few years ago, I would’ve been *overjoyed* at the idea of getting a Tesla. But today, Musk has done so much to tarnish the brand — or at least make me confused about it — that I have to convince myself that it’s still a great EV and I can buy one without it being some kind of statement about Musk. That shouldn’t have to be the case, but here we are…
Keep the art separate from the artist.
📝 🗓️ 🎂 According to Substack, I have published 500 times on this steamboat. 🚢
If you’re wondering why it’s more than the Edition number, it’s because it includes podcasts and un-numbered special editions like interviews.
I’ll just steal David Senra’s (📚🎙️) tagline and say: 500 down, 1000 to go!
🏦 💰 Liberty Capital 💳 💴
✨ Constellation Software’s ✨ Median Acquisition Size Over Time 🐞🪰🐞🪰🦗🐌
Since IPO, the company has grown from a minnow to a $56bn CAD market cap by acquiring hundreds of vertical market software companies — and that’s not counting the market cap of the partial spin-offs of Topicus/TSS and Lumine.
Pretty much anybody else in their place would’ve done steadily larger acquisitions to deploy the ever-increasing amounts of capital they needed to reinvest, but Constellation has an overdeveloped sense of discipline. They stuck to very small ones and instead found ways to ramp up the number of them because they take hurdle rates and ROIC very seriously.
The graph above is even more impressive when taking into account a few things: If it was adjusted for inflation, it would be even flatter, and software valuations have gone up a lot since 2005, so they’ve been fighting that headwind too (small VMS valuations haven’t gone up as much as hypergrowth SaaS, but the space is definitely better understood today than in 2005).
🐦 🧵 Twitter, Threads, ActivityPub, and Bringing the Band Back Together 🎸🎺 🕶️
The internet is fragmenting.
That has been going on for some time, but now it’s hitting home as my preferred social network is constantly innovating new ways of chasing away users. It’s death by a thousand papercuts.
I’m now getting more spam on Twitter than I’ve *ever* gotten before, both in DMs and in the timeline. The algo timeline is near unusable (I’ve long been on the chronological one, but most people use algo, so making it worse matters), and Musk is clearly too thin-skinned and impulsive to be in charge of a social network. He can’t help but be the main character all the time, which is exhausting for everyone…
Here are some highlights:
The internet is still so young that it’s still momentous to see a social network of some scale and lifespan suddenly lose its vitality. The regime change to Elon and his brain trust and the drastic changes they’ve made constitute a natural experiment we don’t see often. Usually, social networks are killed off by something exogenous, usually another, newer social network. Twitter went out and bought Chekhov’s gun in the first act and use it to shoot itself in the foot in the third act. [...]
Instagram would be the social network for the … beautiful people, cool people. Twitter was for the uncool, the geeks, the wonks, the wits, the misfits. Twitter was honest and unmerciful, sometimes cruelly so, but at its best it felt like a true friend. [...]
It’s not clear there will ever be a Twitter replacement. If there is one, it won’t be the same. It may look the same, but it will be something else. The internet is different now, and the conditions that allowed Twitter to emerge in the first place no longer exist. [...]
I’ve met more friends in the internet era through Twitter than any other social media app. Some of my closest friends today first entered my life by sliding into my DM’s, and it saddens me to see the place emptying out. [...]
If Twitter’s journey epitomizes the sentimental truism that the real treasure was the friends we made along the way, then the story of its demise will begin the moment we could no longer find those friends on that darkened timeline.
The bird app has changed my life in many ways, most of them vastly positive. I’ve made true friends, discovered great books/podcasts/TV shows/films, learned skills, etc.
If I could press a button and bring back the old Twitter — with all its flaws — I would. There was something powerful about having so many interesting people locked together in the same room.
We had something special, and I don’t think we ever truly appreciated it at the time — it’s only when it’s gone that we’ll realize what we lost.
A New Hope 🌟🕸️
There is A New Hope out there. It’s not Threads specifically, but the open standard ActivityPub on which it is built, along with Mastodon and Bluesky.
I hope that all these networks get federated together.
If they get enough traction, maybe even Twitter will be forced to join the standard so that we can all pick our favorite front-end, our favorite UI, moderation rules, algorithm, etc, but still have the ability to follow and communicate with people everywhere without having to juggle 5 different apps (because that’s just madness — you wouldn’t want 5 email clients).
At this point, it seems to be the only way to get the band back together.