E593: News Roundtable! Twitter hearts, PropF fails, Google-Android antics, IPO dangers, unicorn obsession, smartwatch stalls, self-driving cars

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Amir Efrati of The Information and Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg join Jason today to break down the latest tech news. Twitter’s new heart and its meaning; Prop F failure, Airbnb dominance, and San Francisco’s housing crisis; Google’s solution to its fragmentation; Android antics; smartwatches and why the Apple Watch hasn’t taken off with consumers; Square’s IPO and the dangers of filing for an IPO too late; why journalists are obsessed with unicorn companies; how self-driving cars will impact companies like Uber, how long we have to wait until mass adoption, how Uber will handle growing in China and India; Jason’s 2019 mayoral campaign — and much more.

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SHOW NOTES:

  • 0:55 – 2:55 Welcome to TWIST! People love the News Roundtables and we’re gonna do them more often
    • Amir Efrati – The Information – @amir
    • Eric Newcomer – Bloomberg – @EricNewcomer
  • 2:56 – 9:14 Twitter ditched the star and went with the heart
    • Jack Dorsey is willing to piss off the core user base in order to get new users
    • The change is symbolic, doesn’t change the product in a meaningful way
    • Amazed non-journalists use Twitter
    • Used the star to recognize the existence of the tweet, bookmarking tool
    • Heart is a “bridge too far… I’m not hugging you.”
  • 9:15 – 12:54 Major problem with Twitter is you can’t have a normal discussion anymore
    • Previously, you could have an open conversation
    • Social media sites tend to have an arc where, eventually, the trolls and the mentally ill take over
    • Gamergate is an example – it’s unclear what it means to be pro- or anti-Gamergate, or even if you can be pro- or anti-
    • The debate is poorly framed when you only have 140 characters
  • 16:45 – 24:14 Prop F failed – victory for Airbnb
    • Jason didn’t vote
    • Hotel lobby was somewhat quiet but the Hotel Workers Union came out in favor of it
    • Prop F would’ve restricted how often you could rent out your property
    • proposition was reflective of how Airbnb operates and the housing crisis in San Francisco
    • showcased the issue of local governance versus the ballot
    • would’ve encouraged people to rat on their neighbors and to collect the penalties from their neighbors
    • proposition wouldn’t have solved the real problem – the city needs more housing
  • 31:33 – 40:57 Google has three fragmentation problems
    • Hardware – different from phone to phone
    • Platform – consumers aren’t updating to the latest Android
    • Customization of operating systems
    • Solving the first two problems with an emphasis on chip designs, starting with Chromebooks
    • No intention of becoming a hardware company, but wants to set high standards, paint the picture of what the future would look like
    • 80% of the market is Android
  • 40:58 – 48:48 Smartwatches
    • People don’t wear the Apple Watch, influencers aren’t wearing it
    • It’s a 1.0 product, too expensive
    • Apple Watch isn’t reduced screen, but extra screen
    • Did Apple get a free pass on the Apple Watch launch because the iPhone is so popular? – Folks aren’t critical that the Watch didn’t match the hype
    • Cyanogen – Microsoft supports Android, but Windows could buy Cyanogen
  • DarthJarJar – theory on Reddit that Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be the villain – might come back
  • 50:44 – 56:11 Order 66 – The Great Unicorn Purge
    • Obsession amongst journalists – seems like they want to take them down
    • Really, they’re asking, “What comes with all the hype?” – scrutiny is going to be proportional to the hype
    • About 150 unicorns worth about $250 billion
    • Unicorns aren’t transparent – are they executing on their business plan?
    • Instacart is one unicorn people are struggling with – folks have a hard time seeing how the math works – low margin business, adding costs to the process
  • 56:12 – 1:03:15 Valuations and IPOs
    • Xiaomi valued at $50 billion, but not really
    • Xiaomi is doing great things in China because there’s no Google yet in China – can’t do much outside of China
    • Dropbox is bigger than Box in valuation and revenue
    • Possibility of overestimating the lifetime value of some of the technology
    • Go public too late, then the market won’t buy into the paradigm shift
  • 1:03:16 – 1:12:16 Uber
    • Jason said he has not sold any shares and never will
    • Early investors have more rights than later investors
    • Uber is struggling in China and India – has already won the U.S.
    • Google isn’t No. 1 everywhere either, specifically Russia, China and South Korea
    • Uber’s drivers take most of the revenue
    • Uber and Bill de Blasio – hail mary of an opinion piece, weird he came out against Uber
  • 1:16:30 – 1:18:48 Panelists: any new favorite apps/startups? Amir: Ditty
    • App that turns your words into a song
    • Add your own video with it
    • Takes popular songs and puts your words into it
    • Amir made one with the lyrics, “Hardware is hard. People think they get it. Nope.”
  • 1:18:49 – 1:22:45 UberPool
    • It’s super cheap – $6 for a trip
    • How long can they have a passenger in the car?
    • Jason did the math and it’s way cheaper than using Luxe
  • 1:22:46 – 1:25:29 Self-driving cars
    • They drive better than people but the bar is much higher
    • Closer to 10 years than 5 years before mass adoption
    • Still struggling with issues i.e. who’s responsible if a self-driving car kills someone
    • The cars can’t drive in weather
  • 1:25:30 – 1:32:52 Investigative Journalism in Startups
    • Why isn’t there more of it?
    • Theranos a prime example – investors weren’t allowed to do their due diligence and see the technology
    • If Jason were in charge, he would set up journalists at restaurants and bars outside of Apple, Google etc.
    • Theranos
  • 1:32:53 – 1:43:32 Y-Combinator
    • There’s high pressure to fund without doing due diligence
    • Incentive for companies to cook their metrics i.e., not reveal how much of their usage/traffic is paid
    • Started with 40 and now has 120 companies – it’s too big now
    • Investors are that gullible, and it leaves companies without anyone to bat for them if there are problems that need solving
    • Jason has invested in two companies that started in his Hackathon and went to Y-Combinator, only one or two others who started in Y-Combinator
    • Zenefits, Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe a few billion-dollar, successful graduates

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  • ronP

    agreed! #fav, #like, #;), #:)…