June 2016 Articles

An interesting look at Apple’s mergers and acquisitions strategy.

Apple’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy is misunderstood. Consensus has settled on the view that Apple needs to change its rigid philosophy towards M&A and begin using its $233 billion of cash to buy larger competitors and find new sources of revenue. These suggestions are misplaced. Apple’s M&A strategy has actually seen quite a bit of change over the years, and there is evidence that we are about to see even greater change going forward. Apple’s investment in Didi Chuxing marks the official start of Apple M&A entering a new phase as the company pivots into transportation.

Sexual assault and rape are not a joke, they are serious crimes.

I remember attending an vigil called Take Back the Night for victims of sexual assault in college. At the time, I didn’t know what sexual assault meant or how it affected the people it touched. I stood with my friend and classmate while small ribbons were pinned to a wreath in remembrance and community.

The fact that I didn’t know what sexual assault was despite being an adult on a college campus is unacceptable. For anyone reading this who may be unclear, my alma mater’s Sexual Assault Resource Center helpfully provides these definitions.

Defining the Different Types of Violence

Sexual assault and rape

Sexual Assault - an umbrella term that encompasses all unwanted sexual behaviors, including rape. Under this umbrella, everything from nonconsensual kissing and fondling to forced oral, anal, or vaginal sex, is an act of sexual assault.

Rape - any sexual intercourse without a person’s consent. Rape includes instances where sex is forced, and/or against a person’s will, and/or occurs while a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g. incapacitated by alcohol or drug use). It includes forced oral, anal or vaginal penetration, and penetration with a foreign object.

Relationship violence

Relationship Violence (Dating and Domestic Violence) - are terms that refer to a pattern of behavior that is used to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. The violence can be physical, sexual, verbal/emotional, economic or psychological. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt or injure someone.


Stalking - a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear.

Stories of Violence

I’m nearly 30 years old now and have heard and been close to too many stories of sexual assault. I have a very different understanding and perspective than I did early in college.

On Friday, June 3rd, Katie J.M Baker at BuzzFeed News posted a statement from a victim of sexual assault. It is one of the most powerful stories from a victim I’ve read. Extremely well written while also honest, expressive and unforgiving.

Here is an excerpt that begins her statement describing the night of the assault.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

And an excerpt from the middle of her story:

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

Please read her whole statement.

I think UCSD’s Center for Advocacy, Resources, and Education (CARE) says it best: “Be there… as a friend to support. as a bystander to intervene. as a Triton to change the culture. Be there to take a stand against sexual violence.”

Good talk by Jessica Livingston of Y-Combinator at the Female Founders Conference.

Part 1, an announcement from Jessica:

I want to start off today with some personal news. After working on Y Combinator for 11 years, I’m going on sabbatical for the next year. I want to focus on some projects and, to be honest, I’m a little tired. YC is one of my favorite things in the world, but it’s also all-consuming, and it’s hard to work on something all-consuming for 11 years without a break. I also want to spend more time with my sons. They’re 7 and 4 now, and I won’t be able to get these years back.

Part 2, her keys on how not to fail, including:

  1. Make something people want.
  2. Stay focused.
  3. Don’t worry about being a woman.
  4. Measure your growth.
  5. Know if you’re default alive.
  6. Keep expenses low.
  7. Fundraising gets harder.
  8. Unicorns

As a follow up to my article on sexual assault, Dave Pell did tremendous job curating a diverse collection of opinion pieces. His short article, When Justice Ain’t is reproduced below in its entirety. Well worth reading each of the four articles he links to.

The Stanford rape case has surfaced many critical issues, including the very different experiences and treatment of defendants who enjoy some of society’s key advantages. From Rachel Marshall in Vox: I’m a public defender. What if my clients got the same treatment as Brock Turner?

“I am filled with furious anger – both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.” Joe Biden writes an open letter to the Stanford victim.

In the Daily News, Shaun King shares the details of a similar case with a very different outcome. How race affects sentencing

Do we have enough data to connect this single case to broader societal problems and open a discussion about sexual assault, race, fairness in the legal system, and the way we treat victims? Hell yes. Do we have enough data to be publicly calling for the expulsion of a judge based on a single case about which we know only what we’ve read? Hell no. And even if we did, it’s not clear that we should. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern with a very interesting take: Justice for None.

Terrific essay by Justin O’Beirne looking at Apple and Google maps through a cartographic lens.

Both are the default mapping apps on their respective operating systems (Android and iOS).

And both are in a race to become the world’s first Universal Map”Š–”Šthat is, the first map used by a majority of the global population. In many ways, this makes Google Maps & Apple Maps two of the most important maps ever made.

Who will get there first?

And will design be a factor?

In this series of essays, we’ll compare and contrast the cartographic designs of Google Maps and Apple Maps. We’ll take a look at what’s on each map and how each map is styled, and we’ll also try to uncover the biggest differences between the two.

Hat tip to Nick Heer at Pixel Envy

Major news in the world of carbon capture and storage.

For years, scientists and others concerned about climate change have been talking about the need for carbon capture and sequestration.

That is the term for removing carbon dioxide from, say, a coal-burning power plant’s smokestack and pumping it deep underground to keep it out of the atmosphere, where it would otherwise contribute to global warming…

Among the concerns about sequestration is that carbon dioxide in gaseous or liquid form that is pumped underground might escape back to the atmosphere. So storage sites would have to be monitored, potentially for decades or centuries.

But scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and other institutions have come up with a different way to store CO2 that might eliminate that problem. Their approach involves dissolving the gas with water and pumping the resulting mixture – soda water, essentially – down into certain kinds of rocks, where the CO2 reacts with the rock to form a mineral called calcite. By turning the gas into stone, scientists can lock it away permanently.

Perspective from Ben Thompson on the future of podcasting and monetization.

A major challenge in podcast monetization is the complete lack of data: listeners still download MP3s and that’s the end of it; podcasters can measure downloads, but have no idea if the episode is actually listened to, for how long, or whether or not the ads are skipped. In a complete reversal from the online world of text, the measurement system is a big step backwards from what came before: both radio and TV have an established measurement system for what shows are watched, and the scale of advertising is such that surveys can measure advertising effectiveness. Thus the direct marketing advertisers: they can simply do the measurement themselves through coupon codes or special URLs that measure how many people responded to a podcast ad. It’s not totally efficient – some number of conversions forget the code or URL – but it’s something.

It also won’t scale. For the advertisers that exist the implication of measuring by code or URL is that every single podcast needs customized support, limiting advertising opportunities to bigger podcasts only. More importantly, there simply aren’t that many advertisers with the sort of business model that can justify the hassle. The real money in TV and especially radio is brand advertising; brand advertising is focused on building affinity for a purchase that will happen at some indefinite point in the future, so the focus is less on conversion and more on targeting: knowing in broad strokes who is listening to an ad, and exactly how many people. For podcasting to ever be a true moneymaker it has to tap into that – and that means changing the fundamental nature of the product.

…Twist-offs have gained varying levels of acceptance with the wine-buying public, and actually provide a reasonable alternative to natural cork.

Wine is ‘alive’ in the bottle and minute levels of oxygen are necessary for it to ‘live.’ It’s just a matter of how much oxygen. Natural cork can and does usually lead to a slow evolution in wines by allowing tiny amounts of oxygen into the bottle. But a cork can sometimes allow too much oxygen into the bottle leading to oxidization of the wine resulting in an undesirable nutty flavor. Inside the metal twist-off cap there’s an inner plastic liner that provides the seal with the bottle. This seal can actually be produced to allow a controlled level of ‘breathe-ability’ for wine makers. This control would seem superior to the unknowns associated with natural cork.

Ashley Deemer, demystifying the two different spellings of Doughnut:

Donut: The classic, laid back, non-assuming, humble friend. Generally speaking, cheap and no-frills. Fried and more often than not served in a nondescript white bag or pink box. Your best friend who knows all your secrets and would never tell a soul. Tried and true.

Doughnut: The fancy, rich dough cousin with the latest iPhone and over a thousand Instagram followers. Funky, innovative flavors. Maybe baked or something else insane like gluten-free (God forbid). Slightly bougie but likable. The cool kid in high school everyone wants to be friends with.

I love a good donut. Doughnuts are great too.

I spent five hours at the Donald Trump rally in Sacramento, California, on 1 June. I spoke to and overheard dozens of the rally’s attendees, not as a journalist but as one ticketholder to another — I was dressed in jeans, workboots and wore a Nascar hat — and found every last one of the attendees to be genial, polite and, with a few notable exceptions, their opinions to be within the realm of reasonable. The rally was as peaceful and patriotic as a Fourth of July picnic.

And yet I came away with a host of new questions and concerns. Among them: why is it that the song Trump’s campaign uses to mark his arrival and departure is Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer?” Is it more troubling, or less troubling, knowing that no one in the audience really cares what he says? And could it be that because Trump’s supporters are not all drawn from the lunatic fringe, but in fact represent a broad cross-section of regular people, and far more women than would seem possible or rational, that he could actually win?


Sam Altman ·

I’m going to say something very unpopular in my world: Trump is right about some big things.

He’s right that many Americans are getting screwed by the system. He’s right that the economy is not growing nearly fast enough. He’s right that we’re drowning in political correctness, and that broken campaign finance laws have bred a class of ineffective career politicians. He may even be right that free trade is not the best policy. Trump supporters are not dumb.

But Trump is wrong about the more important part: how to fix these problems. Many of his proposals, such as they are, are so wrong they’re difficult to even respond to.

Even more dangerous, though, is the way he’s wrong. He is not merely irresponsible. He is irresponsible in the way dictators are.

Infrastructure is necessary for communities to be successful. Access to the internet has become one of those necessary infrastructure needs. Madeline Kane has a story about a NGO called NetHope that installs wifi access points in refugee camps.

UNHCR has been setting up refugee camps around the world for six decades, but only recently has it begun stressing the importance of internet connectivity. “Refugees need wifi,” UNHCR camp manager Marie Beniot told me back in April, on opening day at Lagadikia camp. Among the first questions asked by the Syrian families unpacking their suitcases in Lagadikia was “when will we get wifi?”

Their need is far from frivolous. The only way for refugees in remote camps to book appointments with the Greek asylum office is via a Skype line, open one hour per day for each language. People also use the web to contact friends and family who have been separated by closing borders or left behind in home countries. Facebook groups spring up to help people find jobs and places to live. WhatsApp and Facebook are the top two services accessed from camp networks.

Wifi is essential because few refugee families can afford a data plan. Many say they have all but exhausted their money and worry about conserving it for an indefinite stay in Greece. The average stay in a refugee camp globally is 17 years.

I’ve read many of these scenarios before. Bad actors wreak havoc on a city/state/nation by exploiting devices connected to the internet (think everything from lawn sprinklers to traffic lights and the electric grid). It’s a reminder to everyone that cyber security is important, especially as more devices are connected to the internet and therefore vulnerable to hackers.

There’s a lot of talk about “disruptive innovation”. So much so that I took a crack at defining innovation two years ago.

From Clayton Christensen (author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, building on his 1995 article titled Disruptive Technologies that first introduced us to “disruptive innovation”):

First, a quick recap of the idea: “Disruption” describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. Specifically, as incumbents focus on improving their products and services for their most demanding (and usually most profitable) customers, they exceed the needs of some segments and ignore the needs of others. Entrants that prove disruptive begin by successfully targeting those overlooked segments, gaining a foothold by delivering more-suitable functionality–frequently at a lower price. Incumbents, chasing higher profitability in more-demanding segments, tend not to respond vigorously. Entrants then move upmarket, delivering the performance that incumbents’ mainstream customers require, while preserving the advantages that drove their early success. When mainstream customers start adopting the entrants’ offerings in volume, disruption has occurred.

Well worth the read to remind and ground us on what disruptive innovation really is and is not.

I’m not the most well versed person on gun violence in the United States. And I’m certainly not the person with the policy expertise to suggest a policy solution. But what I learn troubles me and I want to recognize that there is a problem and that change of some kind must occur to reduce the number deaths in our country from guns.

Mass Shootings

As defined by the Gun Violence Archive, a mass shooting is defined as “FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location not including the shooter.” Based on their definition, there were 1,002 mass shootings in 1,260 days (January 1, 2013 to June 14, 2016). The Guardian turned this data into an infographic. At the time of publication (morning of June 14th) the two shootings that would occur that day had not yet been reported; hence the difference between their title (1,000 mass shootings in 1,260 days) and reality (1,002 mass shootings in 1,260 days). Source: Gun Violence Archive: Mass Shootings

Mother Jones put together another analysis using the following methodology: “Our research has focused on seemingly indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed. We exclude shootings stemming from more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence.” Based on their analysis of shootings going back to 1982, there have been 81 mass shootings in the intervening 34 years. Comparing their reporting to the Gun Violence Archive, Mother Jones counts 18 mass shootings in the same period: January 1, 2013 to June 14, 2016. Source Mother Jones: US Mass Shootings

Gun Violence

The New York Times reported on Chicago’s violent Memorial Day weekend where 69 people were shot; six of them died. Interestingly the New York Times missed five non-fatal shooting victims in reporting their story. The Chicago Tribune has a account of all 69. That’s 0.0025% of the Chicago population that were shot, or one out of every 40,000 people (total population, 2.722 million) in a single weekend.

Some key facts reported by The Guardian in America’s gun problem is so much bigger than mass shootings:

  • The firearm death rate has hovered at about 10.4 per 100,000 since 1999, according to the CDC.
  • In absolute terms, around 33,500 lives are lost each year. That’s roughly one every 15 minutes — about the same number of people as are killed on America’s roads.
  • About 4% of deaths are categorized by the CDC as being ‘unintentional’, the result of ‘legal intervention’ (i.e. police acting in the line of duty), or of undetermined causes.
  • Almost two-thirds of deaths — a proportion that has risen since 1999 — are suicides.
  • The rest — about 11,000 a year — are homicides.
  • African Americans, who represent 13% of the total population, make up more than half of overall gun murder victims. Roughly 15 of the 30 Americans murdered with guns each day are black men.
  • A tunnel focus on mass shootings has also fueled the public perception that mental illness is driving gun violence. But experts caution that even miraculously curing all schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression in American might only lead to a 4% reduction in overall violence.

Gun Legislation

On Monday, the Senate voted no on four gun control proposals:

  1. Tighten up our background check system (Republican amendment)
  2. Expand background checks (Democratic amendment)
  3. Prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns (Republican version)
  4. Prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns (Democratic version)

Today, the House is having a sit-in to force gun-control votes.

Across Europe and the United States, law enforcement officials are struggling to reckon with attackers like Mr. Abballa and Omar Mateen, whose shooting rampage this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., left 49 dead. They are men who clearly seemed to be building toward violent acts, and whose names had surfaced in terrorism investigations, but who avoided crossing legal lines that could tip off the authorities until it was too late…

“A man is in a shop and thinks about stealing an object,” said Georges Sauveur, a Paris lawyer who has defended several terrorism suspects…“What do you do? You put him in jail?”

Mr. Sauveur added, “You can’t put him in jail unless he takes the next step and attempts to steal something.”