Tangential Tuesdays #48

🧀Dinner parties, My best investment of the year, Sun Microsystems, Local services

Hi team, we skipped last week’s Tangential Tuesday. Realistically, consider this newsletter semi-regular from now on. I love writing it when I can - but I’m prioritizing other projects / life at the moment!


👨‍🍳Dinner Parties

The past few weeks my roommate and I have been hosting some small dinner parties. It’s been an absolute blast.

At least in my circles in SF - having groups of people over to your house for dinner seems to be a relatively uncommon occurrence. But that’s part of what makes them so special.

Dinner parties are the perfect venue to bring people together for so many reasons:

  • Less pressure to drink (everyone eats)

  • Quieter than a restaurant/bar

  • No time pressure (you can stay at my house as long as you want)

  • Cheap!

  • Cooking builds bonds

I could go on and on.

… I think I need to write the millenial/gen Z guide to hosting a dinner party.

Here’s what the summary would be:

  • It literally doesn’t matter if you have matching plates or enough chairs for everyone. No one cares, they are just happy to eat delicious food in someone else’s house.

  • Don’t make something you’ve never made before. I’ll admit that I’ve broken this rule before but do so at your own peril. Keep it simple. You don’t want to be stressed when your guests come over.

  • Ask your guests to help. Either with making drinks or grating your cheese and really anything. Cooking brings people together 😃

  • Just do it! If you’re like me you’ll probably never feel like you’re prepared enough or your house is clean/nice enough. After hosting 1 dinner party I suspect you’ll be addicted.


My Best Investment of 2019

On a related note, the best “purchase” I’ve made this year has been moving to a nicer apartment with my roommate Yash. Prior to moving, I was skeptical that spending more money on housing would actually make my day to day measurably more delightful.

About 1.5 months into it - I can definitely say that it has. It’s crazy how much my change in housing has permeated every aspect of my life. I sleep better (less street noise), I have more time (shorter commute), I am more social (I can host dinner parties now!), I am calmer (my roommate and I keep our place fairly clean).

Probably the biggest change is having a tight-knit relationship with my roommate Yash. I was friends with my previous roommates, but we led very different lifestyles. Although it wasn’t obvious to me, it might sound obvious to you: Living with someone that shares the same values as you makes a HUGE difference.

The point of all this is not necessarily that you should go splurge on housing because it will improve your quality of life. It might, but it might not (although I do think housing is very important).

The point is that if you’re fairly cheap (like me) - don’t be afraid to experiment with purchases you can reasonably afford that you think might move the needle for you. The hedonic treadmill is real, but some things in life are worth splurging on 🤷‍♂️.


☀️ Sun Microsystems: A Look Back at a Tech Company Ahead of its Time

“And then I said, the other thing is we did all of this crazy innovation. We were light years ahead of our time. Sun was always way too early, whether it was doing cloud computing or open source or whatever. We were way ahead of our time, too far ahead of our time, because of the brilliant people we had that could look over the horizon…”

InfoWorld reported that before the formal event, Bill Joy said mobile data networks had now transformed society, which got him remembering specific times when Sun had made early attempts at technologies that others later perfected. The site credited Sun with “a range of open source software technologies still popular today,” including the Java programming language and the Jenkins CI/CD platform. Sun had tried both natural language processing and, with Java ME, even programmable smartphones. “But the hardware was just really nascent at the time,” Joy said.

And McNealy remembered how Sun had shared the Network File System (NFS) protocol for storing and retrieving files over a network, back in 1984. InfoWorld quotes him as saying “We didn’t invent open source but we [made it] happen. We were the leader of that parade.”

I know almost nothing about Sun Microsystems other than that they were crushing it until they weren’t. This was a fun look back on the companies culture and legacy.

I can’t help but be a little skeptical that maybe some of these memories paint the company in an overly rosy light, but I don’t doubt that they were well ahead of their time in many ways…


👷‍♂️ Local Services In 2019

I published this long article summarizing my thoughts and what I see as the problems and opportunities left to be solved in the space.

Honestly, I don’t expect any of you to read all of it. It’s pretty boring. I wrote it to document my thoughts more than anything else.

BUT there are a few interesting parts I’d like to share with Ya’ll:

“platforms are powerful because they facilitate a relationship between 3rd-party suppliers and end users; Aggregators, on the other hand, intermediate and control it.” - Ben Thompson

^ The quote above captures the crux of the problem better than anything else I’ve seen. All of the major players in local services are trying to be aggregators.

But none of these marketplaces have been able to successfully control the relationship between the customer and the service provider. There is still so much offline, real-world messiness for the customer and service provider.

This leaves them in an awkward in-between state of a platform that’s trying to be an aggregator, in many cases the worst of both worlds.

Most existing companies have focused their energy attacking the center of the grid (open/managed marketplaces). I suspect in the coming years we’ll see a ton of companies popping up the will attack the edges (True platforms, Income Sharing/Royalty, and Full-stack).

If you don’t understand what I mean by any of these terms, I’m sorry. I wanted to keep the summary short. Read the article here.


🦄 WeWork, SoftBank, and why venture firms may have to slow down their pacing in 2020

One comment on that, Connie, because I think it’s a really good one: When I started, in the ’90s, it used to be a five-year fund cycle, which is why most LP docs have a five-year commitment period for VC funds. You literally have five years to commit the capital. In the internet bubble, it shortened to about three years, and in some cases it shortened to 12 months. At Mobius, we raised a fund in 1999 and a fund in 2000, so we had the experience of that compression.

Cult of personality a lot of times masquerades as thought leadership . . . [but it tends] to be self-reinforcing around the awesomeness that is that person or the importance that is that person, or the correctness of the vision that person has. And what happens with cult of personality is that you very often, not always, but very often, lose the signal that allows you to iterate and change and evolve and modify so that you build something that’s stronger over time.

This is a thoughtful commentary on what’s happening with WeWork and Soft Bank. Although it’s tempting to think so at times, the partners at Soft Bank are not idiots. The founder of WeWork is obviously very intelligent and talented. But human nature is complicated.

Read the article here.


Personal

  • Going to be traveling a lot starting early in 2020! Looking forward to spending a few months (mostly) just hanging in the city 😃

  • Mushroom foraging szn is starting 🍄

  • I can no longer say “I just graduated” 😮. 13 months in SF went by fast.

Piano progress:


Thanks for reading. Until next week 😘

- Taylor

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