78: My Thoughts on Good Video Games, Intel's Peaceful Transition of Power, TSMC, Elastic, ❄️ Snowflake & Alteryx, Jim Simons, Qualcomm Buys NUVIA, Alibaba's EV?!, Plaid

"this probably isn't the reaction you want to see on your departure..."

If you are the dealer
I'm out of the game
If you are the healer
It means I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory then
Mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

—Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

👾 I don’t think most people realize this, but most really good video games are much cheaper than bad ones.

This is because you spend so much longer playing and replaying a good one, so your price-per-hour goes through the floor compared to a mediocre or bad game, especially vs those that are bad enough that you quickly give up and never play them through even once.

I mean, how much will ‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ and ‘Mario Kart 8’ have cost me per-hour of entertainment — mostly for my son, but also for me — when all is said and done? They’re almost free…

⨳ I'm excited to say that I've made my first ever private investment, and it's in Koyfin.

I've been DM'ing with Rob for years, and living in the product daily, and I love what they've built and can't wait to see how it keeps evolving.

If you have any interest in anything financial and you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for? And it’s free, so no excuses!


Investing # Business

Intel Goes from Bob to Pat

Intel on Wednesday said CEO Bob Swan would be succeeded by VMware Inc. chief Pat Gelsinger effective Feb. 15. Mr. Gelsinger, who was once Intel’s technology chief, has served as CEO of the business-software provider since 2012.. (Source)

If you're a CEO leaving a company, this probably isn't the reaction you want to see on your departure...

It certainly can’t hurt to get a more technical, more product-focused person in charge. Swan always seemed more of a finance guy (he originally was CFO), and we’ve seen how well letting the finance people run a tech company worked at IBM… (sick burn, right?)

But this is just the beginning of a difficult process if Intel is to turn around and retain the throne a while longer, as it is under attack on the x86 side from AMD, and on the ARM side from… everybody else.

TSMC: Capex as Far as the Eye Can See

While Intel is trying to get it together, TSMC is taking steps to solidify its position as the world’s silicon workshop:

After posting a record $17 billion in capital expenditure last year, the semiconductor foundry plans to boost that figure by 37% in 2021. That’s a rate of growth not seen since the company’s rebound from the global financial crisis in 2010. At the upper end of its $25 billion to $28 billion forecast, and based on estimates for revenue this year, TSMC will post a spending-to-sales ratio that will surpass 50% for the first time in a decade. Also known as capital intensity, this number came in at 37.9% last year, the median of the past decade. [...]

TSMC may want to front-load spending instead of spreading it out. The most obvious reason would be that clients need the capacity now, not tomorrow. There’s such a shortage in output that carmakers are slowing production because they can’t get the chips they need. (Source)

For more details: Mule went through most of the earnings call highlights here.

(“Mule” has to be an Asimov reference, right?)

The Elastic Strikes Back

Or should I have made a “snaps back” elastic joke? You can only stretch things so far, right? Ugh.

Clearly aimed at AWS, Elastic changed the licenses it will use going forward with the open part of its stack, moving closer to what MongoDB has been doing:

We are moving our Apache 2.0-licensed source code in Elasticsearch and Kibana to be dual licensed under Server Side Public License (SSPL) and the Elastic License, giving users the choice of which license to apply. This license change ensures our community and customers have free and open access to use, modify, redistribute, and collaborate on the code. It also protects our continued investment in developing products that we distribute for free and in the open by restricting cloud service providers from offering Elasticsearch and Kibana as a service without contributing back. [...]

The SSPL allows free and unrestricted use, as well as modification, with the simple requirement that if you provide the product as a service, you must also publicly release any modifications as well as the source code of your management layers under SSPL.

Here’s an arrow aimed straight at AWS’ heart:

With the shift to SaaS as a delivery model, some cloud service providers have taken advantage of open source products by providing them as a service, without contributing back. This diverts funds that would have been reinvested into the product and hurts users and the community.

Similar to our open source peers, we have lived this experience firsthand, from our trademarks being misused to outright attempts to splinter our community with “open” repackaging of our OSS products or even taking “inspiration” from our proprietary code. [...]

We expect that a few of our competitors will attempt to spread all kinds of FUD around this change. Let me be clear to any naysayers. We believe deeply in the principles of free and open products, and of transparency with the community. Our track record speaks to this commitment, and we will continue to build upon it.

You can read Shay Banon’s blog post here.

❄️ Snowflake Partners with Alteryx

This integrated offering allows Alteryx's market-leading data prep, analytics and no-code, low-code data science capabilities to leverage Snowflake's compute, elastic scaling and secure data sharing capabilities [...]

Highlights of the integrated solution include:

  • Alteryx automated data preparation and processing executable inside Snowflake's compute services.

  • A new scalable data loader for large-scale analytics and data science initiatives.

  • A seamless connection between transformed data and Alteryx's analytic and data science capabilities, including predictive and prescriptive analytics, data science and machine learning.

  • Ready-to-use Alteryx business solution templates that provide customers outcomes in minutes.

Source.

Jim Simons Retires as Chairman of Renaissance Tech

In a letter to clients, Mr. Simons, who will remain a board member, said, “I believe it is time: this transition has been many years in the making.” [...]

At the age of 40, Mr. Simons quit academia to try his hand at trading. He started Renaissance in a storefront office in a dreary Long Island strip mall in the summer of 1978. [...] Over time, Mr. Simons recruited renowned mathematicians and computer programmers while shifting to a more quantitative strategy. He relied on mathematical models and high-powered computers rather than intuition and instinct [...]

Since 1988, his flagship Medallion hedge fund generated average annual returns of 66% before charging hefty investor fees through 2018. After fees, the fund had an annual return of 39%. (Source)

‘50 hours of research to produce something that can be read in 5 minutes’

Something reminded me of this exchange recently, and I think anyone who does a lot of research and writing should probably periodically remind themselves that it’s just the way it works…

You Guys & Gals Know Mike, Right?

Sometimes, there’s stuff I don’t write about because I kind of assume everybody knows, or there’s not a specific recent thing that brought it to my mind… but it’s probably time I link Mike ‘NonGAAP’ and his newsletter about corporate governance (I know, sexy topic, right? But he’s good at branding, so calling it the study of the ‘dark arts’ is a good hook):


Science $ Technology

Clouds Within Clouds, Crowdstrike Edition

The scale of operations behind-the-scenes of some of the SaaS companies is really impressive.

For example, from George Kurtz. CEO of endpoint/workload security company Crowdstrike:

We handle 4 trillion events per week. These are signals that come into our platform, right? We have one of the largest Kafka clusters in the world. So we're competing with the Facebooks and the Googles, et cetera, for talent just because of the sheer scale that we operate in.

4 trillion events per week. so today starts and ends, we will have handled more events in our platform, these signals that come into our platform that Twitter has tweets in an entire year. Just to put that in perspective. So we're talking about a massive scale.

Qualcomm Acquires NUVIA for $1.4bn

NUVIA was originally founded in February 2019 and coming out of stealth-mode in November of that year. The start-up was founded by industry veterans Gerard Williams III, John Bruno and Manu Gulati, having extensive industry experience at Google, Apple, Arm, Broadcom and AMD.

Gerard Williams III in particular was the chief architect for over a decade at Apple, having been the lead architect on all of Apple’s CPU designs up to the Lightning core in the A13 – with the newer Apple A14 and Apple M1 Firestorm cores possibly also having been in the pipeline under his direction. [...]

Qualcomm now acquiring NUVIA gives them the possibility to take advantage of the start-up’s early work in the server space, possibly reinvigorating the company’s ambitions in the server space, and giving them a second shot at the market. (Source)

‘Alibaba launches electric car’

Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group Holding has stepped up its involvement in China's electric vehicle sector, launching a sedan with wireless charging under a new brand formed together with SAIC Motor, the country's largest car company. [...]

The IM sedan features a new solid-state battery from Contemporary Amperex Technology, China's largest battery maker, with a higher energy density than those in use now, as well as chips from U.S. tech group Nvidia. [...]

Taiwanese iPhone assembler Foxconn Technology Group on Wednesday announced its own joint venture with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, China's largest privately owned auto group. [...]

Alibaba, already a major investor in domestic EV startup Xpeng Motors (Source)

What Plaid Does

Good explainer post by Justin Gage on what Plaid does (this is the company that Visa has announced it won’t buy after all — I guess now they’ll just SPAC for 4x the broken deal price… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ):


Th Arts % History

‘Barcelona, Day and Night.’ by Henry Do

Photo by Henry Do. If you like, you can buy a print here.

‘pixel art studies: tea’

I love pixel art. I think it’s really cool, being able to show so much with so little.

That, and the nostalgia angle, from the games I played as a kid (King Quest 6 and Day of the Tentacle and Gabriel Knight and…).

Artist is ‘Jubilee’: Instagram, Twitter, you can buy prints here.


A million candles burning
For the help that never came..