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1 year ago
Apples Top 100 Meeting: Steve Jobs's Secret Agenda's Lessons
Jobs' secret emails became public due to a litigation with Samsung.
Steve Jobs sent Phil Schiller an email at the end of 2010. Top 100 A was the codename for Apple's annual Top 100 executive meetings. The 2011 one was scheduled.
Everything about this gathering is secret, even attendance. The location is hidden, and attendees can't even drive themselves. Instead, buses transport them to a 2-3 day retreat.
Due to a litigation with Samsung, this Top 100 meeting's agenda was made public in 2014. This was a critical milestone in Apple's history, not a Top 100 meeting. Apple had many obstacles in the 2010s to remain a technological leader. Apple made more money with non-PC goods than with its best-selling Macintosh series. This was the last Top 100 gathering Steve Jobs would attend before passing, and he wanted to make sure his messages carried on before handing over his firm to Tim Cook.
In this post, we'll discuss lessons from Jobs' meeting agenda. Two sorts of entrepreneurs can use these tips:
Those who manage a team in a business and must ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals, upholding the same principles, and being inspired by the same future.
Those who are sole proprietors or independent contractors and who must maintain strict self-discipline in order to stay innovative in their industry and adhere to their own growth strategy.
Here's Steve Jobs's email outlining the annual meeting agenda. It's an 11-part summary of the company's shape and strategy.
Steve Jobs outlines Apple's 2011 strategy, 10/24/10
1. Correct your data
Business leaders must comprehend their company's metrics. Jobs either mentions critical information he already knows or demands slides showing the numbers he wants. These numbers fall under 2 categories:
Metrics for growth and strategy
As we will see, this was a crucial statistic for Apple since it signaled the beginning of the Post PC era and required them to make significant strategic changes in order to stay ahead of the curve. Post PC products now account for 66% of our revenues.
Within six months, iPad outsold Mac, another sign of the Post-PC age. As we will see, Jobs thought the iPad would be the next big thing, and item number four on the agenda is one of the most thorough references to the iPad.
Geographical analysis: Here, Jobs emphasizes China, where the corporation has a slower start than anticipated. China was dominating Apple's sales growth with 16% of revenue one year after this meeting.
Metrics for people & culture
The individuals that make up a firm are more significant to its success than its headcount or average age. That holds true regardless of size, from a 5-person startup to a Fortune 500 firm. Jobs was aware of this, which is why his suggested agenda begins by emphasizing demographic data.
Along with the senior advancements in the previous year's requested statistic, it's crucial to demonstrate that if the business is growing, the employees who make it successful must also grow.
2. Recognize the vulnerabilities and strengths of your rivals
Steve Jobs was known for attacking his competition in interviews and in his strategies and roadmaps. This agenda mentions 18 competitors, including:
Google 7 times
Android 3 times
Samsung 2 times
Jobs' agenda email was issued 6 days after Apple's Q4 results call (2010). On the call, Jobs trashed Google and Android. His 5-minute intervention included:
Google has acknowledged that the present iteration of Android is not tablet-optimized.
Future Android tablets will not work (Dead On Arrival)
While Google Play only has 90,000 apps, the Apple App Store has 300,000.
Android is extremely fragmented and is continuing to do so.
The App Store for iPad contains over 35,000 applications. The market share of the latest generation of tablets (which debuted in 2011) will be close to nil.
Jobs' aim in blasting the competition on that call was to reassure investors about the upcoming flood of new tablets. Jobs often criticized Google, Samsung, and Microsoft, but he also acknowledged when they did a better job. He was great at detecting his competitors' advantages and devising ways to catch up.
Jobs doesn't hold back when he says in bullet 1 of his agenda: "We further lock customers into our ecosystem while Google and Microsoft are further along on the technology, but haven't quite figured it out yet tie all of our goods together."
The plan outlined in bullet point 5 is immediately clear: catch up to Android where we are falling behind (notifications, tethering, and speech), and surpass them (Siri,). It's important to note that Siri frequently let users down and never quite lived up to expectations.
Regarding MobileMe, see Bullet 6 Jobs admits that when it comes to cloud services like contacts, calendars, and mail, Google is far ahead of Apple.
3. Adapt or perish
Steve Jobs was a visionary businessman. He knew personal computers were the future when he worked on the first Macintosh in the 1980s.
Jobs acknowledged the Post-PC age in his 2010 D8 interview.
Will the tablet replace the laptop, Walt Mossberg questioned Jobs? Jobs' response:
“You know, when we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. As vehicles started to be used in the urban centers and America started to move into those urban and suburban centers, cars got more popular and innovations like automatic transmission and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. And now, maybe 1 out of every 25 vehicles is a truck, where it used to be 100%. PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.”
Imagine how forward-thinking that was in 2010, especially for the Macintosh creator. You have to be willing to recognize that things were changing and that it was time to start over and focus on the next big thing.
Post-PC is priority number 8 in his 2010 agenda's 2011 Strategy section. Jobs says Apple is the first firm to get here and that Post PC items account about 66% of our income. The iPad outsold the Mac in 6 months, and the Post-PC age means increased mobility (smaller, thinner, lighter). Samsung had just introduced its first tablet, while Apple was working on the iPad 3. (as mentioned in bullet 4).
4. Plan ahead (and different)
Jobs' agenda warns that Apple risks clinging to outmoded paradigms. Clayton Christensen explains in The Innovators Dilemma that huge firms neglect disruptive technologies until they become profitable. Samsung's Galaxy tab, released too late, never caught up to Apple.
Apple faces a similar dilemma with the iPhone, its cash cow for over a decade. It doesn't sell as much because consumers aren't as excited about new iPhone launches and because technology is developing and cell phones may need to be upgraded.
Large companies' established consumer base typically hinders innovation. Clayton Christensen emphasizes that loyal customers from established brands anticipate better versions of current products rather than something altogether fresh and new technologies.
Apple's marketing is smart. Apple's ecosystem is trusted by customers, and its products integrate smoothly. So much so that Apple can afford to be a disruptor by doing something no one has ever done before, something the world's largest corporation shouldn't be the first to try. Apple can test the waters and produce a tremendous innovation tsunami, something few corporations can do.
In March 2011, Jobs appeared at an Apple event. During his address, Steve reminded us about Apple's brand:
“It’s in Apple’s DNA, that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the results that make our hearts sink. And nowhere is that more true that in these Post-PC devices.“
More than a decade later, Apple remains one of the most innovative and trailblazing companies in the Post-PC world (industry-disrupting products like Airpods or the Apple Watch came out after that 2011 strategy meeting), and it has reinvented how we use laptops with its M1-powered line of laptops offering unprecedented performance.
A decade after Jobs' death, Apple remains the world's largest firm, and its former CEO had a crucial part in its expansion. If you can do 1% of what Jobs did, you may be 1% as successful.
1 year ago Draft
This is a draft
1 year ago
Clean Food: Get Over Yourself If You Want to Save the World.
I’m a permaculture farmer. I want to create food-producing ecosystems. My hope is a world with easy access to a cuisine that nourishes consumers, supports producers, and leaves the Earth joyously habitable.
Permaculturists, natural farmers, plantsmen, and foodies share this ambition. I believe this group of green thumbs, stock-folk, and food champions is falling to tribalism, forgetting that rescuing the globe requires saving all of its inhabitants, even those who adore cheap burgers and Coke. We're digging foxholes and turning folks who disagree with us or don't understand into monsters.
Take Dr. Daphne Miller's comments at the end of her Slow Money Journal interview:
“Americans are going to fall into two camps when all is said and done: People who buy cheap goods, regardless of quality, versus people who are willing and able to pay for things that are made with integrity. We are seeing the limits of the “buying cheap crap” approach.”
This is one of the most judgmental things I've read outside the Bible. Consequences:
People who purchase inexpensive things (food) are ignorant buffoons who prefer to choose fair trade coffee over fuel as long as the price is correct.
It all depends on your WILL to buy quality or cheaply. Both those who are WILLING and those who ARE NOT exist. And able, too.
People who are unwilling and unable are purchasing garbage. You're giving your kids bad food. Both the Earth and you are being destroyed by your actions. Your camp is the wrong one. You’re garbage! Disgrace to you.
Dr. Miller didn't say it, but words are worthless until interpreted. This interpretation depends on the interpreter's economic, racial, political, religious, family, and personal history. Complementary language insults another. Imagine how that Brown/Harvard M.D.'s comment sounds to a low-income household with no savings.
Dr. Miller's comment reflects the echo chamber into which nearly all clean food advocates speak. It asks easy questions and accepts non-solutions like raising food prices and eating less meat. People like me have cultivated an insular world unencumbered by challenges beyond the margins. We may disagree about technical details in rotationally-grazing livestock, but we short circuit when asked how our system could supply half the global beef demand. Most people have never seriously considered this question. We're so loved and affirmed that challenging ourselves doesn't seem necessary. Were generals insisting we don't need to study the terrain because God is on our side?
“Yes, the $8/lb ground beef is produced the way it should be. Yes, it’s good for my body. Yes it’s good for the Earth. But it’s eight freaking dollars, and my kid needs braces and protein. Bye Felicia, we’re going to McDonald’s.”
-Bobby Q. Homemaker
Funny clean foodies. People don't pay enough for food; they should value it more. Turn the concept of buying food with integrity into a wedge and drive it into the heart of America, dividing the willing and unwilling.
We go apeshit if you call our products high-end.
I've heard all sorts of gaslighting to defend a $10/lb pork chop as accessible (things I’ve definitely said in the past):
At Whole Foods, it costs more.
The steak at the supermarket is overly affordable.
Pay me immediately or the doctor gets paid later.
I spoke with Timbercreek Market and Local Food Hub in front of 60 people. We were asked about local food availability.
They came to me last, after my co-panelists gave the same responses I would have given two years before.
I grumbled, "Our food is inaccessible." Nope. It's beyond the wallets of nearly everyone, and it's the biggest problem with sustainable food systems. We're criminally unserious about being leaders in sustainability until we propose solutions beyond economic relativism, wishful thinking, and insisting that vulnerable, distracted people do all the heavy lifting of finding a way to afford our food. And until we talk about solutions, all this preserve the world? False.
The room fell silent as if I'd revealed a terrible secret. Long, thunderous applause followed my other remarks. But I’m probably not getting invited back to any VNRLI events.
I make pricey cuisine. It’s high-end. I have customers who really have to stretch to get it, and they let me know it. They're forgoing other creature comforts to help me make a living and keep the Earth of my grandmothers alive, and they're doing it as an act of love. They believe in us and our work.
I remember it when I'm up to my shoulders in frigid water, when my vehicle stinks of four types of shit, when I come home covered in blood and mud, when I'm hauling water in 100-degree heat, when I'm herding pigs in a rainstorm and dodging lightning bolts to close the chickens. I'm reminded I'm not alone. Their enthusiasm is worth more than money; it helps me make a life and a living. I won't label that gift less than it is to make my meal seem more accessible.
Not everyone can sacrifice.
Let's not pretend we want to go back to peasant fare, despite our nostalgia. Industrial food has leveled what rich and poor eat. How food is cooked will be the largest difference between what you and a billionaire eat. Rich and poor have access to chicken, pork, and beef. You might be shocked how recently that wasn't the case. This abundance, particularly of animal protein, has helped vulnerable individuals.
Industrial food causes environmental damage, chronic disease, and distribution inequities. Clean food promotes non-industrial, artisan farming. This creates a higher-quality, more expensive product than the competition; we respond with aggressive marketing and the "people need to value food more" shtick geared at consumers who can spend the extra money.
The guy who is NOT able is rendered invisible by clean food's elitist marketing, which is bizarre given a.) clean food insists it's trying to save the world, yet b.) MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE THAT GUY. No one can help him except feel-good charities. That's crazy.
Also wrong: a foodie telling a kid he can't eat a 99-cent fast food hamburger because it lacks integrity. Telling him how easy it is to save his ducketts and maybe have a grass-fed house burger at the end of the month as a reward, but in the meantime get your protein from canned beans you can't bake because you don't have a stove and, even if you did, your mom works two jobs and moonlights as an Uber driver so she doesn't have time to heat that shitup anyway.
A wealthy person's attitude toward the poor is indecent. It's 18th-century Versailles.
Human rights include access to nutritious food without social or environmental costs. As a food-forest-loving permaculture farmer, I no longer balk at the concept of cultured beef and hydroponics. My food is out of reach for many people, but access to decent food shouldn't be. Cultures and hydroponics could scale to meet the clean food affordability gap without externalities. If technology can deliver great, affordable beef without environmental negative effects, I can't reject it because it's new, unusual, or might endanger my business.
Why is your farm needed if cultured beef and hydroponics can feed the world? Permaculture food forests with trees, perennial plants, and animals are crucial to economically successful environmental protection. No matter how advanced technology gets, we still need clean air, water, soil, greenspace, and food.
Clean Food cultivated in/on live soil, minimally processed, and eaten close to harvest is part of the answer, not THE solution. Clean food advocates must recognize the conflicts at the intersection of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, the disproportionate effects of those conflicts on the poor and lower-middle classes, and the immorality and impracticality of insisting vulnerable people address those conflicts on their own and judging them if they don't.
Our clients, relatives, friends, and communities need an honest assessment of our role in a sustainable future. If we're serious about preserving the world, we owe honesty to non-customers. We owe our goal and sanity to honesty. Future health and happiness of the world left to the average person's pocketbook and long-term moral considerations is a dismal proposition with few parallels.
Let's make soil and grow food. Let the lab folks do their thing. We're all interdependent.
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1 year ago
Why personal ambition and poor leadership caused Google layoffs
Google announced 6% layoffs recently (or 12,000 people). This aligns it with most tech companies. A publicly contrite CEO explained that they had overhired during the COVID-19 pandemic boom and had to address it, but they were sorry and took full responsibility. I thought this was "bullshit" too. Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and others must feel similarly. I spent 10 years at Google, and these things don't reflect well on the company's leaders.
All publicly listed companies have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders. Dodge vs. Ford Motor Company established this (1919). Henry Ford wanted to reduce shareholder payments to offer cheaper cars and better wages. Ford stated.
My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business.
The Dodge brothers, who owned 10% of Ford, opposed this and sued Ford for the payments to start their own company. They won, preventing Ford from raising prices or salaries. If you have a vocal group of shareholders with the resources to sue you, you must prove you are acting in their best interests. Companies prioritize shareholders. Giving activist investors a stick to threaten you almost enshrines short-term profit over long-term thinking.
This underpins Google's current issues. Institutional investors who can sue Google see it as a wasteful company they can exploit. That doesn't mean you have to maximize profits (thanks to those who pointed out my ignorance of US corporate law in the comments and on HN), but it allows pressure. I feel for those navigating this. This is about unrestrained capitalism.
When Google went public, Larry Page and Sergey Brin knew the risks and worked hard to keep control. In their Founders' Letter to investors, they tried to set expectations for the company's operations.
Our long-term focus as a private company has paid off. Public companies do the same. We believe outside pressures lead companies to sacrifice long-term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations.
The company has transformed since that letter. The company has nearly 200,000 full-time employees and a trillion-dollar market cap. Large investors have bought company stock because it has been a good long-term bet. Why are they restless now?
Other big tech companies emerged and fought for top talent. This has caused rising compensation packages. Google has also grown rapidly (roughly 22,000 people hired to the end of 2022). At $300,000 median compensation, those 22,000 people added $6.6 billion in salary overheads in 2022. Exorbitant. If the company still makes $16 billion every quarter, maybe not. Investors wonder if this value has returned.
Investors are right. Google uses people wastefully. However, by bluntly reducing headcount, they're not addressing the root causes and hurting themselves. No studies show that downsizing this way boosts productivity. There is plenty of evidence that they'll lose out because people will be risk-averse and distrust their leadership.
The company's approach also stinks. Finding out that you no longer have a job because you can’t log in anymore (sometimes in cases where someone is on call for protecting your production systems) is no way to fire anyone. Being with a narcissistic sociopath is like being abused. First, you receive praise and fancy perks for making the cut. You're fired by text and ghosted. You're told to appreciate the generous severance package. This firing will devastate managers and teams. This type of firing will take years to recover self-esteem. Senior management contributed to this. They chose the expedient answer, possibly by convincing themselves they were managing risk and taking the Macbeth approach of “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly”.
Recap. Google's leadership did a stupid thing—mass firing—in a stupid way. How do we get rid of enough people to make investors happier? and "have 6% less people." Empathetic leaders should not emulate Elon Musk. There is no humane way to fire 12,000 people, but there are better ways. Why is Google so wasteful?
Ambition answers this. There aren't enough VP positions for a group of highly motivated, ambitious, and (increasingly) ruthless people. I’ve loitered around the edges of this world and a large part of my value was to insulate my teams from ever having to experience it. It’s like Game of Thrones played out through email and calendar and over video call.
Your company must look a certain way to be promoted to director or higher. You need the right people at the right levels under you. Long-term, growing your people will naturally happen if you're working on important things. This takes time, and you're never more than 6–18 months from a reorg that could start you over. Ambitious people also tend to be impatient. So, what do you do?
Hiring and vanity projects. To shape your company, you hire at the right levels. You value vanity metrics like active users over product utility. Your promo candidates get through by subverting the promotion process. In your quest for growth, you avoid performance managing people out. You avoid confronting toxic peers because you need their support for promotion. Your cargo cult gets you there.
Its ease makes Google wasteful. Since they don't face market forces, the employees don't see it as a business. Why would you do when the ads business is so profitable? Complacency causes senior leaders to prioritize their own interests. Empires collapse. Personal ambition often trumped doing the right thing for users, the business, or employees. Leadership's ambition over business is the root cause. Vanity metrics, mass hiring, and vague promises have promoted people to VP. Google goes above and beyond to protect senior leaders.
The decision-makers and beneficiaries are not the layoffees. Stock price increase beneficiaries. The people who will post on LinkedIn how it is about misjudging the market and how they’re so sorry and take full responsibility. While accumulating wealth, the dark room dwellers decide who stays and who goes. The billionaire investors. Google should start by addressing its bloated senior management, but — as they say — turkeys don't vote for Christmas. It should examine its wastefulness and make tough choices to fix it. A 6% cut is a blunt tool that admits you're not running your business properly. why aren’t the people running the business the ones shortly to be entering the job market?
This won't fix Google's wastefulness. The executives may never regain trust after their approach. Suppressed creativity. Business won't improve. Google will have lost its founding vision and us all. Large investors know they can force Google's CEO to yield. The rich will get richer and rationalize leaving 12,000 people behind. Cycles repeat.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2013, Nintendo's CEO said he wouldn't fire anyone for shareholders. Switch debuted in 2017. Nintendo's stock has increased by nearly five times, or 19% a year (including the drop most of the stock market experienced last year). Google wasted 12,000 talented people. To please rich people.
1 year ago
I met a man who in just 18 months scaled his startup to $100 million.
A fascinating business conversation.
This week at Web Summit, I had mentor hour.
Mentor hour connects startups with experienced entrepreneurs.
The YC-selected founder who mentored me had grown his company to $100 million in 18 months.
I had 45 minutes to question him.
I've compiled this.
Founder's name is Zack.
After working in private equity, Zack opted to acquire an MBA.
Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a prominent school, he decided to become one himself.
Unsure how to proceed, he bet on two horses.
On one side, he received an offer from folks who needed help running their startup owing to lack of time. On the other hand, he had an idea for a SaaS to start himself.
He just needed to validate it.
Since Zack's proposal helped companies, he contacted university entrepreneurs for comments.
He contacted university founders.
Once he knew he'd correctly identified the problem and that people were willing to pay to address it, he started developing.
He earned $100k in a university entrepreneurship competition.
His plan was evident by then.
The other startup's founders saw his potential and granted him $400k to launch his own SaaS.
He started looking for a tech co-founder because he lacked IT skills.
He interviewed dozens and picked the finest.
As he didn't want to wait for his program to be ready, he contacted hundreds of potential clients and got 15 letters of intent promising they'd join up when it was available.
YC accepted him by then.
He had enough positive signals to raise.
He didn't say how many VCs he called, but he indicated 50 were interested.
He jammed meetings into two weeks to generate pressure and encourage them to invest.
Seed raise: $11 million.
His objective was to contact as many entrepreneurs as possible to promote his product.
He first contacted startups by scraping CrunchBase data.
Once he had more money, he started targeting companies with ZoomInfo.
His VC urged him not to hire salespeople until he closed 50 clients himself.
He closed 100 and hired a CRO through a headhunter.
Three persons started the business.
He primarily works in sales.
Coding the product was done by his co-founder.
Another person performing operational duties.
He regretted recruiting the third co-founder, who was ineffective (could have hired an employee instead).
He wanted his company to be big, so he hired two young marketing people from a competing company.
After validating several marketing channels, he chose PR.
$100 Million and under
He developed a sales team and now employs 30 individuals.
He raised a $100 million Series A.
Additionally, he stated
He’s been rejected a lot. Like, a lot.
Two great books to read: Steve Jobs by Isaacson, and Why Startups Fail by Tom Eisenmann.
The best skill to learn for non-tech founders is “telling stories”, which means sales. A founder’s main job is to convince: co-founders, employees, investors, and customers. Learn code, or learn sales.
I often read about these stories but hardly take them seriously.
Zack was amazing.
Three things about him stand out:
His vision. He possessed a certain amount of fire.
His vitality. The man had a lot of enthusiasm and spoke quickly and decisively. He takes no chances and pushes the envelope in all he does.
He didn't do all this in 18 months.
He couldn't launch his company without private equity experience.
These accounts disregard entrepreneurs' original knowledge.
Hormozi will tell you how he founded Gym Launch, but he won't tell you how he had a gym first, how he worked at uni to pay for his gym, or how he went to the gym and learnt about fitness, which gave him the idea to open his own.
Nobody knows nothing. If you scale quickly, it's probable because you gained information early.
Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I'll spend four sharpening the axe."
Sharper axes cut trees faster.
1 year ago
Yuga Labs (BAYC and MAYC) buys CryptoPunks and Meebits and gives them commercial rights
We set out to create in the NFT space because we admired CryptoPunks and the founders' visionary work. A lot of their work influenced how we built BAYC and NFTs. We're proud to lead CryptoPunks and Meebits into the future as part of our broader ecosystem.
"Yuga Labs invented the modern profile picture project and are the best in the world at operating these projects. They are ideal CrytoPunk and Meebit stewards. We are confident that in their hands, these projects will thrive in the emerging decentralized web.”
–The founders of Larva Labs, CryptoPunks, and Meebits
This deal grew out of discussions between our partner Guy Oseary and the Larva Labs founders. One call led to another, and now we're here. This does not mean Matt and John will join Yuga. They'll keep running Larva Labs and creating awesome projects that help shape the future of web3.
Here's what we plan to do with CryptoPunks and Meebits now that we own the IP. Owners of CryptoPunks and Meebits will soon receive commercial rights equal to those of BAYC and MAYC holders. Our legal teams are working on new terms and conditions for both collections, which we hope to share with the community soon. We expect a wide range of third-party developers and community creators to incorporate CryptoPunks and Meebits into their web3 projects. We'll build the brand alongside them.
We don't intend to cram these NFT collections into the BAYC club model. We see BAYC as the hub of the Yuga universe, and CryptoPunks as a historical collection. We will work to improve the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections as good stewards. We're not in a hurry. We'll consult the community before deciding what to do next.
For us, NFTs are about culture. We're deeply invested in the BAYC community, and it's inspiring to see them grow, collaborate, and innovate. We're excited to see what CryptoPunks and Meebits do with IP rights. Our goal has always been to create a community-owned brand that goes beyond NFTs, and now we can include CryptoPunks and Meebits.