002: Pioneer, taxing online retailers, and Dreams
Plus, Brockhampton dropped a new album.
|Lama Al Rajih||Oct 1, 2018|
Hey! This is a newsletter about what I currently find interesting in the world.
New From Me - blog posts, projects, and updates
The first Pioneer tournament ended last week! If you’re wondering how the tournament works, I wrote a blog post about it. Big thanks to Amrith and James for the feedback!
Interesting Reads - links from around the web
Your gut is connected your brain. Literally. This can help explain why stimulating certain nerves with electric currents can treat severe depression in some people (disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice).
Deep learning isn’t that deep. It’s difficult to build machines that mimic human vision. While neural networks outperform humans in narrow areas such as sorting, scientists have begun taking advantage of their weaknesses to make neural networks fail. When an elephant was introduced in one experiment, the network started making plenty of mistakes it hadn’t made before.
Instagram’s co-founders are leaving Instagram. I was never a big Instagram user, though with the last few weeks, I have been noticing that I’ve begun seeing more and more ads than ever before. I think it’s important to say that Instagram has felt more like a product than a company, which is fair to say since Facebook bought them in 2012.
Instagram has changed business more than people realize. While Shopify does control a huge market share of the e-commerce back-end (powering 300,000+ businesses!), they take a small percentage of what a merchant make every month, on top of the merchant paying Stripe fees to process credit card purchases. Instagram users, especially artists and designers (who operate on commissions), don’t even have to put their email, because they can take commissions right in their DMs. All they’re ever going to have to pay for is fees from using Cash App, Paypal, or Venmo for payments. Discoverability is another key factor that Shopify still doesn’t have (which is rather odd to me).
Aldi is rolling out their delivery service. They launched a small pilot program in Chicago and Atlanta prior to this, but this looks like the start of the grocery delivery wars.
Copenhagen is the bike capital of the world. A short, but informative post on the city’s bike culture.
I really like this thread by Pieter comparing cities most frequented by men vs women.
Massachusetts wants to tax online retailers beyond the Supreme Court limitation. After the 5-4 decision in South Dakota v Wayfair in June, which ruled that states could tax online retailers that had no physical presence in the state, many states are already looking to cash in on the potential billions of dollars in taxes that they’re losing every year because of online retailers. Not only is this brands like Warby Parker, but also giants like eBay and Overstock.com (yes, Amazon, too). Massachusetts is looking to go beyond that and tax retailers for sales prior to the Supreme Court decision. Yikes.
In My Ears - podcast episodes I enjoyed
[a16z Podcast] Technological Trends, Capital, and Internet 'Disruption'
I’ve always wanted to start a conversation-based podcast, and this podcast episode with Chris and Fred is what I’ve always imagined it to sound like.
[Product Hunt Radio] Finding the world's 'lost Einsteins' and the end of aging
Speaking of Pioneer, here’s a podcast episode with Daniel (Pioneer’s founder) and Laura Deming, who invests in health and biotech companies over at Longevity.vc.
Grinding Gears - new projects + teams I’m rooting for
I’m a really big photography nerd, and Unfold is one of my favorite photography apps. Unfold lets creatives visualize what their stories would look like before posting it Instagram, and has several different story packs users can experiment with (one of the more popular ones is the film pack). Unfold created a community of over nine million (and counting) storytellers, and made over $1 million in revenue since their launch less than 10 months ago. If you know anyone who works on the social team/is a social media manager or is a photographer, pass Unfold onto them!
This is a game changer. I loved watching Bob Ross, Inspector Gadget, and Sonic the Hedgehog on here. It only has a few channels, but (so far) doesn’t have any commercials or subscription fees. It’s not on-demand like Netflix or Hulu, but schedules the same show to run the whole day, so you can watch Saturday morning cartoons all. Day. Long. Dreams is tv for your phone.
The Graveyard - what shut down this (last) week
Google is killing Inbox. I’ve never used it, but Inbox had tended to be a better product than Gmail, but since Gmail’s features have been up to speed with that of Inbox, one of them has to go. I just hope they move the brilliant team at Inbox over to Gmail.
This has just been a terrible month for email. Slack acquired and shut down Astro, a popular email client, which upset a lot of people. That’s what you risk with acquisitions, though ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Tracks - song recommendations
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Lama (tweet tweet)