More on Society & Culture
4 months ago
Don't treat Elon Musk like Trump.
He’s not the President. Stop treating him like one.
Elon Musk tweeted from Qatar, where he was watching the World Cup Final with Jared Kushner.
Musk's subsequent Tweets were as normal, basic, and bland as anyone's from a World Cup Final: It's depressing to see the world's richest man looking at his phone during a grand ceremony. Rich guy goes to rich guy event didn't seem important.
Before Musk posted his should-I-step-down-at-Twitter poll, CNN ran a long segment asking if it was hypocritical for him to reveal his real-time location after defending his (very dumb) suspension of several journalists for (supposedly) revealing his assassination coordinates by linking to a site that tracks Musks private jet. It was hard to ignore CNN's hypocrisy: It covered Musk as Twitter CEO like President Trump. EVERY TRUMP STORY WAS BASED ON HIM SAYING X, THEN DOING Y. Trump would do something horrific, lie about it, then pretend it was fine, then condemn a political rival who did the same thing, be called hypocritical, and so on. It lasted four years. Exhausting.
It made sense because Trump was the President of the United States. The press's main purpose is to relentlessly cover and question the president.
It's strange to say this out. Twitter isn't America. Elon Musk isn't a president. He maintains a money-losing social media service to harass and mock people he doesn't like. Treating Musk like Trump, as if he should be held accountable like Trump, shows a startling lack of perspective. Some journalists treat Twitter like a country.
The compulsive, desperate way many journalists utilize the site suggests as much. Twitter isn't the town square, despite popular belief. It's a place for obsessives to meet and converse. Journalists say they're breaking news. Their careers depend on it. They can argue it's a public service. Nope. It's a place lonely people go to speak all day. Twitter. So do journalists, Trump, and Musk. Acting as if it has a greater purpose, as if it's impossible to break news without it, or as if the republic is in peril is ludicrous. Only 23% of Americans are on Twitter, while 25% account for 97% of Tweets. I'd think a large portion of that 25% are journalists (or attention addicts) chatting to other journalists. Their loudness makes Twitter seem more important than it is. Nope. It's another stupid website. They were there before Twitter; they will be there after Twitter. It’s just a website. We can all get off it if we want. Most of us aren’t even on it in the first place.
Musk is a website-owner. No world leader. He's not as accountable as Trump was. Musk is cable news's primary character now that Trump isn't (at least for now). Becoming a TV news anchor isn't as significant as being president. Elon Musk isn't as important as we all pretend, and Twitter isn't even close. Twitter is a dumb website, Elon Musk is a rich guy going through a midlife crisis, and cable news is lazy because its leaders thought the entire world was on Twitter and are now freaking out that their playground is being disturbed.
I’ve said before that you need to leave Twitter, now. But even if you’re still on it, we need to stop pretending it matters more than it does. It’s a site for lonely attention addicts, from the man who runs it to the journalists who can’t let go of it. It’s not a town square. It’s not a country. It’s not even a successful website. Let’s stop pretending any of it’s real. It’s not.
2 months ago
When Investment in New Energy Surpassed That in Fossil Fuels (Forever)
A worldwide energy crisis might have hampered renewable energy and clean tech investment. Nope.
BNEF's 2023 Energy Transition Investment Trends study surprised and encouraged. Global energy transition investment reached $1 trillion for the first time ($1.11t), up 31% from 2021. From 2013, the clean energy transition has come and cannot be reversed.
BNEF Head of Global Analysis Albert Cheung said our findings ended the energy crisis's influence on renewable energy deployment. Energy transition investment has reached a record as countries and corporations implement transition strategies. Clean energy investments will soon surpass fossil fuel investments.
The table below indicates the tripping point, which means the energy shift is occuring today.
BNEF calls money invested on clean technology including electric vehicles, heat pumps, hydrogen, and carbon capture energy transition investment. In 2022, electrified heat received $64b and energy storage $15.7b.
Nonetheless, $495b in renewables (up 17%) and $466b in electrified transport (up 54%) account for most of the investment. Hydrogen and carbon capture are tiny despite the fanfare. Hydrogen received the least funding in 2022 at $1.1 billion (0.1%).
China dominates investment. China spends $546 billion on energy transition, half the global amount. Second, the US total of $141 billion in 2022 was up 11% from 2021. With $180 billion, the EU is unofficially second. China invested 91% in battery technologies.
The 2022 transition tipping point is encouraging, but the BNEF research shows how far we must go to get Net Zero. Energy transition investment must average $4.55 trillion between 2023 and 2030—three times the amount spent in 2022—to reach global Net Zero. Investment must be seven times today's record to reach Net Zero by 2050.
BNEF 2023 Energy Transition Investment Trends.
As shown in the graph above, BNEF experts have been using their crystal balls to determine where that investment should go. CCS and hydrogen are still modest components of the picture. Interestingly, they see nuclear almost fading. Active transport advocates like me may have something to say about the massive $4b in electrified transport. If we focus on walkable 15-minute cities, we may need fewer electric automobiles. Though we need more electric trains and buses.
Albert Cheung of BNEF emphasizes the challenge. This week's figures promise short-term job creation and medium-term energy security, but more investment is needed to reach net zero in the long run.
I expect the BNEF Energy Transition Investment Trends report to show clean tech investment outpacing fossil fuels investment every year. Finally saying that is amazing. It's insufficient. The planet must maintain its electric (not gas) pedal. In response to the research, Christina Karapataki, VC at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a clean tech investment firm, tweeted: Clean energy investment needs to average more than 3x this level, for the remainder of this decade, to get on track for BNEFs Net Zero Scenario. Go!
2 months ago
Why Are There So Few Startups in Japan?
Japan's startup challenge: 7 reasons
Every day, another Silicon Valley business is bought for a billion dollars, making its founders rich while growing the economy and improving consumers' lives.
Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Medium dominate our daily lives. Tesla automobiles and Moderna Covid vaccinations.
The startup movement started in Silicon Valley, California, but the rest of the world is catching up. Global startup buzz is rising. Except Japan.
644 of CB Insights' 1170 unicorns—successful firms valued at over $1 billion—are US-based. China follows with 302 and India third with 108.
1% of US startups succeed. The third-largest economy is tied with small Switzerland for startup success.
Mexico (8), Indonesia (12), and Brazil (12) have more successful startups than Japan (16). South Korea has 16. Yikes! Problem?
Why Don't Startups Exist in Japan More?
Not about money. Japanese firms invest in startups. To invest in startups, big Japanese firms create Silicon Valley offices instead of Tokyo.
Startups aren't the issue either. Local governments are competing to be Japan's Shirikon Tani, providing entrepreneurs financing, office space, and founder visas.
Startup accelerators like Plug and Play in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, the Startup Hub in Kobe, and Google for Startups are many.
Most of the companies I've encountered in Japan are either local offices of foreign firms aiming to expand into the Japanese market or small businesses offering local services rather than disrupting a staid industry with new ideas.
There must be a reason Japan can develop world-beating giant corporations like Toyota, Nintendo, Shiseido, and Suntory but not inventive startups.
Culture, obviously. Japanese culture excels in teamwork, craftsmanship, and quality, but it hates moving fast, making mistakes, and breaking things.
If you have a brilliant idea in Silicon Valley, quit your job, get money from friends and family, and build a prototype. To fund the business, you approach angel investors and VCs.
Most non-startup folks don't aware that venture capitalists don't want good, profitable enterprises. That's wonderful if you're developing a solid small business to consult, open shops, or make a specialty product. However, you must pay for it or borrow money. Venture capitalists want moon rockets. Silicon Valley is big or bust. Almost 90% will explode and crash. The few successes are remarkable enough to make up for the failures.
Silicon Valley's high-risk, high-reward attitude contrasts with Japan's incrementalism. Japan makes the best automobiles and cleanrooms, but it fails to produce new items that grow the economy.
Changeable? Absolutely. But, what makes huge manufacturing enterprises successful and what makes Japan a safe and comfortable place to live are inextricably connected with the lack of startups.
Barriers to Startup Development in Japan
These are the 7 biggest obstacles to Japanese startup success.
Unresponsive Employment Market
While the lifelong employment system in Japan is evolving, the average employee stays at their firm for 12 years (15 years for men at large organizations) compared to 4.3 years in the US. Seniority, not experience or aptitude, determines career routes, making it tough to quit a job to join a startup and then return to corporate work if it fails.
Even if your product is buggy and undocumented, US customers will migrate to a cheaper, superior one. Japanese corporations demand perfection from their trusted suppliers and keep with them forever. Startups need income fast, yet product evaluation takes forever.
Japanese business failures harm lives. Failed forever. It hinders risk-taking. Silicon Valley embraces failure. Build another startup if your first fails. Build a third if that fails. Every setback is viewed as a learning opportunity for success.
4. No Corporate Purchases
Silicon Valley industrial giants will buy fast-growing startups for a lot of money. Many huge firms have stopped developing new goods and instead buy startups after the product is validated.
Japanese companies prefer in-house product development over startup acquisitions. No acquisitions mean no startup investment and no investor reward.
Startup investments can also be monetized through stock market listings. Public stock listings in Japan are risky because the Nikkei was stagnant for 35 years while the S&P rose 14x.
5. Social Unity Above Wealth
In Silicon Valley, everyone wants to be rich. That creates a competitive environment where everyone wants to succeed, but it also promotes fraud and societal problems.
Japan values communal harmony above individual success. Wealthy folks and overachievers are avoided. In Japan, renegades are nearly impossible.
6. Rote Learning Education System
Japanese high school graduates outperform most Americans. Nonetheless, Japanese education is known for its rote memorization. The American system, which fails too many kids, emphasizes creativity to create new products.
Immigrants start 55% of successful Silicon Valley firms. Some come for university, some to escape poverty and war, and some are recruited by Silicon Valley startups and stay to start their own.
Japan is difficult for immigrants to start a business due to language barriers, visa restrictions, and social isolation.
How Japan Can Promote Innovation
Patchwork solutions to deep-rooted cultural issues will not work. If customers don't buy things, immigration visas won't aid startups. Startups must have a chance of being acquired for a huge sum to attract investors. If risky startups fail, employees won't join.
Will Japan never have a startup culture?
Once a consensus is reached, Japan changes rapidly. A dwindling population and standard of living may lead to such consensus.
Toyota and Sony were firms with renowned founders who used technology to transform the world. Repeatable.
Silicon Valley is flawed too. Many people struggle due to wealth disparities, job churn and layoffs, and the tremendous ups and downs of the economy caused by stock market fluctuations.
The founders of the 10% successful startups are heroes. The 90% that fail and return to good-paying jobs with benefits are never mentioned.
Silicon Valley startup culture and Japanese corporate culture are opposites. Each have pros and cons. Big Japanese corporations make the most reliable, dependable, high-quality products yet move too slowly. That's good for creating cars, not social networking apps.
Can innovation and success be encouraged without eroding social cohesion? That can motivate software firms to move fast and break things while recognizing the beauty and precision of expert craftsmen? A hybrid culture where Japan can make the world's best and most original items. Hopefully.
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29 days ago
Because of this covert investment that Bezos made, Amazon became what it is today.
He kept it under wraps for years until he legally couldn’t.
His shirt is incomplete. I can’t stop thinking about this…
Actually, ignore the article. Look at it. JUST LOOK at it… It’s quite disturbing, isn’t it?
Me: “Hey, what up?” Friend: “All good, watching lord of the rings on amazon prime video.” Me: “Oh, do you know how Amazon grew and became famous?” Friend: “Geek alert…Can I just watch in peace?” Me: “But… Bezos?” Friend: “Let it go, just let it go…”
I can question you, the reader, and start answering instantly without his consent. This far.
Reader, how did Amazon succeed? You'll say, Of course, it was an internet bookstore, then it sold everything.
Mistaken. They moved from zero to one because of this. How did they get from one to thousand? AWS-some. Understand? It's geeky and lame. If not, I'll explain my geekiness.
Over an extended period of time, Amazon was not profitable.
Business basics. You want customers if you own a bakery, right?
Well, 100 clients per day order $5 cheesecakes (because cheesecakes are awesome.)
$5 x 100 consumers x 30 days Equals $15,000 monthly revenue. You proudly work here.
Now you have to pay the barista (unless ChatGPT is doing it haha? Nope..)
The barista is requesting $5000 a month.
Each cheesecake costs the cheesecake maker $2.5 ($2.5 × 100 x 30 = $7500).
The monthly cost of running your bakery, including power, is about $5000.
Assume no extra charges. Your operating costs are $17,500.
Just $15,000? You have income but no profit. You might make money selling coffee with your cheesecake next month.
Is losing money bad? You're broke. Losing money. It's bad for financial statements.
It's almost a business ultimatum. Most startups fail. Amazon took nine years.
I'm reading Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Creation of a Global Empire to comprehend how a company has a $1 trillion market cap.
Many things made Amazon big. The book claims that Bezos and Amazon kept a specific product secret for a long period.
Clouds above the bald head.
In 2006, Bezos started a cloud computing initiative. They believed many firms like Snapchat would pay for reliable servers.
In 2006, cloud computing was not what it is today. I'll simplify. 2006 had no iPhone.
Bezos invested in Amazon Web Services (AWS) without disclosing its revenue. That's permitted till a certain degree.
Google and Microsoft would realize Amazon is heavily investing in this market and worry.
Bezos anticipated high demand for this product. Microsoft built its cloud in 2010, and Google in 2008.
If you managed Google or Microsoft, you wouldn't know how much Amazon makes from their cloud computing service. It's enough. Yet, Amazon is an internet store, so they'll focus on that.
All but Bezos were wrong.
Time to come clean now.
They revealed AWS revenue in 2015. Two things were apparent:
Bezos made the proper decision to bet on the cloud and keep it a secret.
In this race, Amazon is in the lead.
They continued. Let me list some AWS users today.
More. Amazon was unprofitable for nine years, remember? This article's main graph.
AWS accounted for 74% of Amazon's profit in 2021. This 74% might not exist if they hadn't invested in AWS.
Bring this with you home.
Amazon predated AWS. Yet, it helped the giant reach $1 trillion. Bezos' secrecy? Perhaps, until a time machine is invented (they might host the time machine software on AWS, though.)
Without AWS, Amazon would have been profitable but unimpressive. They may have invested in anything else that would have returned more (like crypto? No? Ok.)
Bezos has business flaws. His success. His failures include:
introducing the Fire Phone and suffering a $170 million loss.
Amazon's failure in China In 2011, Amazon had a about 15% market share in China. 2019 saw a decrease of about 1%.
not offering a higher price to persuade the creator of Netflix to sell the company to him. He offered a rather reasonable $15 million in his proposal. But what if he had offered $30 million instead (Amazon had over $100 million in revenue at the time)? He might have owned Netflix, which has a $156 billion market valuation (and saved billions rather than invest in Amazon Prime Video).
Some he could control. Some were uncontrollable. Nonetheless, every action he made in the foregoing circumstances led him to invest in AWS.
8 months ago
Thanks to a recent development, solar energy may prove to be the best energy source.
Perovskite solar cells will revolutionize everything.
Humanity is in a climatic Armageddon. Our widespread ecological crimes of the previous century are catching up with us, and planet-scale karma threatens everyone. We must adjust to new technologies and lifestyles to avoid this fate. Even solar power, a renewable energy source, has climate problems. A recent discovery could boost solar power's eco-friendliness and affordability. Perovskite solar cells are amazing.
Perovskite is a silicon-like semiconductor. Semiconductors are used to make computer chips, LEDs, camera sensors, and solar cells. Silicon makes sturdy and long-lasting solar cells, thus it's used in most modern solar panels.
Perovskite solar cells are far better. First, they're easy to make at room temperature, unlike silicon cells, which require long, intricate baking processes. This makes perovskite cells cheaper to make and reduces their carbon footprint. Perovskite cells are efficient. Most silicon panel solar farms are 18% efficient, meaning 18% of solar radiation energy is transformed into electricity. Perovskite cells are 25% efficient, making them 38% more efficient than silicon.
However, perovskite cells are nowhere near as durable. A normal silicon panel will lose efficiency after 20 years. The first perovskite cells were ineffective since they lasted barely minutes.
Recent research from Princeton shows that perovskite cells can endure 30 years. The cells kept their efficiency, therefore no sacrifices were made.
No electrical or chemical engineer here, thus I can't explain how they did it. But strangely, the team said longevity isn't the big deal. In the next years, perovskite panels will become longer-lasting. How do you test a panel if you only have a month or two? This breakthrough technique needs a uniform method to estimate perovskite life expectancy fast. The study's key milestone was establishing a standard procedure.
Lab-based advanced aging tests are their solution. Perovskite cells decay faster at higher temperatures, so scientists can extrapolate from that. The test heated the panel to 110 degrees and waited for its output to reduce by 20%. Their panel lasted 2,100 hours (87.5 days) before a 20% decline.
They did some math to extrapolate this data and figure out how long the panel would have lasted in different climates, and were shocked to find it would last 30 years in Princeton. This made perovskite panels as durable as silicon panels. This panel could theoretically be sold today.
This technology will soon allow these brilliant panels to be released into the wild. This technology could be commercially viable in ten, maybe five years.
Solar power will be the best once it does. Solar power is cheap and low-carbon. Perovskite is the cheapest renewable energy source if we switch to it. Solar panel manufacturing's carbon footprint will also drop.
Perovskites' impact goes beyond cost and carbon. Silicon panels require harmful mining and contain toxic elements (cadmium). Perovskite panels don't require intense mining or horrible materials, making their production and expiration more eco-friendly.
Solar power destroys habitat. Massive solar farms could reduce biodiversity and disrupt local ecology by destroying vital habitats. Perovskite cells are more efficient, so they can shrink a solar farm while maintaining energy output. This reduces land requirements, making perovskite solar power cheaper, and could reduce solar's environmental impact.
Perovskite solar power is scalable and environmentally friendly. Princeton scientists will speed up the development and rollout of this energy.
Why bother with fusion, fast reactors, SMRs, or traditional nuclear power? We're close to developing a nearly perfect environmentally friendly power source, and we have the tools and systems to do so quickly. It's also affordable, so we can adopt it quickly and let the developing world use it to grow. Even I struggle to justify spending billions on fusion when a great, cheap technology outperforms it. Perovskite's eco-credentials and cost advantages could save the world and power humanity's future.
2 months ago
How to Produce Enough for People to Not Neglect You
Internet's fantastic, right?
We've never had a better way to share our creativity.
I can now draw on my iPad and tweet or Instagram it to thousands. I may get some likes.
With such a great, free tool, you're not alone.
Millions more bright-eyed artists are sharing their work online.
The issue is getting innovative work noticed, not sharing it.
In a world where creators want attention, attention is valuable.
We build for attention.
Attention helps us establish a following, make money, get notoriety, and make a difference.
Most of us require attention to stay sane while creating wonderful things.
I know how hard it is to work hard and receive little views.
How do we receive more attention, more often, in a sea of talent?
Advertising and celebrity endorsements are options. These may work temporarily.
To attract true, organic, and long-term attention, you must create in high quality, high volume, and consistency.
Adapting Steve Martin's Be so amazing, they can't ignore you (with a mention to Dan Norris in his great book Create or Hate for the reminder)
Create a lot.
Eventually, your effort will gain traction.
Traction shows your work's influence.
Traction is when your product sells more. Traction is exponential user growth. Your work is shared more.
No matter how good your work is, it will always have minimal impact on the world.
Your work can eventually dent or puncture. Daily, people work to dent.
To achieve this tipping point, you must consistently produce exceptional work.
Expect traction after hundreds of outputs.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams says repetition persuades. If you don't stop, you can persuade practically anyone with anything.
Volume lends believability. So make more.
I worked as an illustrator for at least a year and a half without any recognition. After 150 illustrations on iStockphoto, my work started selling.
With 350 illustrations on iStock, I started getting decent client commissions.
Producing often will improve your craft and draw attention.
It's the only way to succeed. More creation means better results and greater attention.
Austin Kleon says you can improve your skill in relative anonymity before you become famous. Before obtaining traction, generate a lot and become excellent.
Most artists, even excellent ones, don't create consistently enough to get traction.
It may hurt. For makers who don't love and flow with their work, it's extremely difficult.
Your work must bring you to life.
To generate so much that others can't ignore you, decide what you'll accomplish every day (or most days).
Commit and be patient.
Prepare for zero-traction.
Anticipating this will help you persevere and create.
My online guru Grant Cardone says: Anything worth doing is worth doing every day.