Strategy @ Google | Formerly tech equity research @ Bernstein Research. All opinions expressed are my own, and do not represent Google's
12 added to My Authors
Oct 6 • 10 tweets • 4 min read
1/ This episode of @AcquiredFM was impressive: it might actually be the most thorough history of AWS ever published (take it from someone who spent a *lot* of time studying early 2000s IT infrastructure at my last job)
a. AWS was spare Amazon.com holiday capacity
b. AWS was Tim O'Reilly's idea (Web 2.0 APIs, but for infrastructure)
c. AWS was Andy Jassy's extension of SOA
d. AWS was Ben Black's idea
Jun 20 • 12 tweets • 5 min read
1/ IMO, the most interesting thing about the ongoing blowup of the quick commerce sector - Gopuff, Getir, Gorillas, JOKR, etc. - is that pretty much all of this already happened 20 years ago with Webvan, the online grocery darling of the first tech bubble
A few quick thoughts... 2/ For those who don't remember, Webvan was the first real online grocery delivery startup of the internet era
There aren't really any postmortems available publicly, so this 2001 HBS case study is probably the best history you can read on it hbsp.harvard.edu/product/602037…
Jan 18 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
1/ Every time I hear about the "metaverse" becoming the next internet (ugh), I don't think about the history of the internet - instead, I think about the history of the information superhighway
Aka the half-baked, corporate, also-ran version of the internet beaten by the web 2/ The birth of the consumer internet was arguably in late 1994, when Netscape launched. But something you realize after cursory historical research is that by 1993, virtually every important person in media and tech knew *something* approximating the internet was going to emerge
Dec 12, 2021 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
1/ Something I think about a lot: when it comes to tech history, it's just as important to not "overlearn" the lessons of the past as it is to learn them at all
A good example: this 2009 Bernstein report on Twitter & Facebook, "The Ruinous History of Pre-Business Internet Deals" 2/ In retrospect, investors "overlearned" the lessons of history from the tech bubble. By the late 2000s, the collapse of AOL, Yahoo, and other Web 1.0 properties had "proven" it was impossible to make money advertising on general-use social platforms
Oct 30, 2021 • 10 tweets • 5 min read
1/ There's a well known anecdote from The Everything Store about Jeff Bezos visiting Harvard Business School in 1997. The students told Bezos "you really need to sell to Barnes and Noble and get out now"
Less well known: you can read the actual 1997 HBS case study from the class 2/ It's easy to laugh at predictions in retrospect - but with the information available at the time, would you have known better?
1/ I always joke that predicting the future of tech is way easier than most people think... the hard part is making any money off those predictions
This 2001 paper ("Big in Japan: iMode and the Mobile Internet") is one of the best examples I've ever seen- core.ac.uk/download/pdf/3…2/ Looking back, the modern smartphone era didn't begin until the launch of the iPhone in 2007
But this paper makes it clear: even in 2001, it was obvious to pretty much everyone that the future of the internet was going to be mobile
Jul 6, 2021 • 11 tweets • 4 min read
1/ In 1968, former ARPA director J. C. R. Licklider published "The Computer As A Communication Device"
Given it was written right before the launch of the ARPANET, this is basically the founding document of the internet
And its predictions hold up remarkably well! 2/ For context: Mitchell Waldrop has called JCR Licklider "computing's Johnny Appleseed." As an ARPA director in the 60s, he basically funded half of the projects that became the internet
This paper was the brainchild of him & protege Bob Taylor, who later led Xerox PARC
Mar 27, 2021 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
1/ A fun piece of tech history that I came across today: an online copy of Microsoft's 1986 IPO prospectus. At just 52 pages, a light piece of weekend reading!
2/ At its March 2006 launch, AWS was probably the 4th or 5th cloud service run by a Fortune 500 firm
HP launched its Flexible Computing Service in Nov 2005
Sun Grid went into beta in 2004
IBM launched "Linux Virtual Services" in 2002!
But AWS is the only one anybody remembers
Jan 2, 2021 • 9 tweets • 4 min read
1/ Lessons From The Tech Bubble:
Last year, I spent my winter holiday reading hundreds of pages of equity research from the 1999/2000 era, to try to understand what it was like investing during the bubble
A few people recently asked me for my takeaways. Here they are - 2/ Every document hereon comes from my former employer Bernstein Research's internal research archive, which extend back to 1994
Unfortunately, they're not available to the public (even Bernstein's client website cuts off at 2003), but happy to give more details if necessary
Dec 21, 2020 • 12 tweets • 5 min read
1/ In September 1993, then-Microsoft exec Nathan Myhrvold wrote his landmark memo "Road Kill on the Information Highway", laying out a dozen-ish predictions on the rise of the internet
27 years later, I think it's a super interesting case study. Let's evaluate the predictions - 2/ PREDICTION #1: The rise of a surveillance society - police bodycams, CCTV, 24/7 personal recording, and deepfakes
Nov 28, 2020 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
1/ One of the biggest macrohistorical tech trends that I feel like nobody talks about is the triumph of closed systems over open systems in the last 20 years
2/ Openness used to be the default. PCs beat mainframes, Windows beat Mac OS, the WWW beat AOL, etc.
As a result, industry literature from the 90s emphasized cooperation - Hal Varian's seminal 1999 book on internet economics devotes 70 pages to the art of standard setting alone
Sep 1, 2020 • 13 tweets • 6 min read
I can't post the whole report, but by popular demand, here are a few additional excerpts from my farewell note at Bernstein:
I count 95 predictions in total. A casual inspection suggests maybe... 30-ish were ultimately correct in some capacity?
So a ~32% hit rate. Predictions are hard!
Some winners in the thread:
- The 2010s become the post-PC decade; smartphones take over emerging markets
- Moore's law decelerates below 11 nm
- Social network analysis, data mining, and the "politics of information" become a core liberal issue
- Elon Musk "makes some big waves"
Sep 6, 2019 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
1/ So today I discovered the restaurant reservation app Seated, and it’s just bonkers
For those who aren’t familiar, it’s basically an reservation app for NYC/elsewhere that gives you ~20-30% back for dining at restaurants 2/ The discounts are striking in themselves, but the crazy (clever?) part is that it’s unclear all of the restaurants on Seated even know that they’re being listed on app
E.g., I make a reservation at Restaurant X, and apparently Seated has to manually *call* the restaurant??
Jul 19, 2019 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
1/ One of my favorite sub-sub-genres of business strategy literature: literally any forecast of media / telecom industry structure from the last 30 years
It’s great because it constantly reminds you that nobody actually knows anything
2/ This 2004 blog post is a quintessential example: abovethecrowd.com/2004/03/24/all…
(Yes this is the second Bill Gurley thing I’ve posted this week, but his blog is just really good)
Jul 16, 2019 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
1/ The most interesting thing I’ve read all day: Bill Gurley’s 2001 (!) obituary of the software industry’s first aborted attempt to move to subscription
THREAD: Been reading an uncharacteristically high number of business-ish books in the last few months, so figured I'd do a "hot takes" book review thread:
1/ How the Internet Happened, by Brian McCullough
I see this book hyped a lot, but it literally felt like reading a long-form Wikipedia article - not super well written + few primary sources. Still, helpful for those not familiar with early web history
Just read a sell-side note comparing legacy CPG / Amazon to legacy media / Netflix.
Half-baked Tuesday contrarian thought experiment: what would be potential reasons why Amazon private label might *not* ever disrupt CPG? Two come to mind for me:
1) Lack of focus by Amazon
Aka the same reason why traditional private label didn't kill CPG
P&G is never building its own 2-day shipping infrastructure. Meanwhile, the media networks would've eventually built their own SVOD services; this was do-or-die for Netflix in 2012
Mar 31, 2019 • 6 tweets • 1 min read
To me, the critical long-term question for $LYFT / Uber is whether they can ultimately raise price without A) killing demand elasticity & B) inviting new entrants. The latter depends on how strong ridesharing network effects are... & I’m increasingly unsure about this. 3 issues:
1) Ridesharing networks are local, not national.
This one is obvious to anybody’s who’s taken Via or Juno in NYC. Not necessarily a dealbreaker - Yelp is local too and they’ve been fine + there are some advantages to a national ridesharing network too (i.e. when I’m traveling)