The Electric Barbarians at the Gate

The Rivian R1T earned the J.D. Power award for most satisfying ownership experience among Premium Battery Electric Vehicles. But, what is perhaps more surprising is who came in second and third. The Mini Cooper EV came in second and the Kia EV6 ranked third. The Tesla Model 3 came in fourth. Tesla didn’t even finish on the podium. Speaking of Tesla…

Tesla held their investor day yesterday and though they claim the Cybertruck will begin manufacturing this year, I remain skeptical. It’s been 3.25 years since the unveiling of the Cybertruck, but more importantly, according to a NY Times article (link), Tesla has run into physical challenges with building the Cybertruck, that may prove extremely expensive to overcome – if not impossible. $TSLA currently has a forward PE ratio of 51.9, and honest to goodness, someone needs to explain to me how the current stock price and PE ratio is justified. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I think Tesla is just another car company whose first mover advantage is EVaporating. The Electric Barbarians have breached the gate.

So there’s a former military officer who tells the story about his career. He was worried a little bit about promotions. Is he getting promoted fast enough. His career, right? And one day he just woke up and changed and he said,

“I’m not going to take care of my career anymore. I’m going to take care of my people. And the moment I did that, everything changed because they wouldn’t let me fail.” – Lloyd Austin III

Mr. Austin retired from the Army as a four star general and was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of Defense on January 22, 2021.

Take care of your people and they won’t let you fail. To that end, Forbes published an article on the impact that managers have on the mental health of their employees.

New data suggests that for almost 70% of people, their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor—and it’s equal to the impact of their partner.

Here’s a random thought: Why don’t more companies don’t have a Chief Medical Officer?

Wartime Consigliere

Random thoughts on the future of “Search”:

If I were on the board at Alphabet, I would immediately bring back Larry Page and Sergei Brin as CEO and President of Google. Remember that scene in The Godfather where Michael informs the family’s longtime consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) that he is “out” as consigliere? Michael says to him, “You’re not a wartime consigliere, Tom”. The thing is, whether they realize it or not, Google is at war.

Two weeks ago in an interview with FT, Satya Nadella said the following: “From now on, the [gross margin] of search is going to drop forever. There is such margin in search, which for us is incremental. For Google it’s not, they have to defend it all.” I don’t know where you grew up, but where I come from, those are fightin words. I’m just reading between the lines, but it sounds like Nadella is willing to do whatever it takes to win Search AND, in doing so, take down Google Workspace & Google Cloud – rivals to Office and Azure respectively. IMO, Nadella wants it all back and he’s going to make Google defend every square pixel of search.

One more thing: I predict MSFT will convince Apple to switch the default search engine on iOS from Google to Bing. Why? Because the ghost of Steve Jobs still walks the halls of Apple, and some grudges never die.

At least one of you reading this is thinking “I’ve never seen The Godfather”. You need to fix that immediately!!!

Finally, to whom it may concern, I’d be happy to join the board at Alphabet. I know things, I never lose at bar trivia, and I’m a lot of fun at parties. 🙃

Professional Software Engineers

Food for thought: 

Last October (2021), the White House Office of Science and Technology released an RFI to gather research to develop an “AI Bill of Rights.” 

WIRED: Bill of Rights AI

Similarly, the government of Chile passed a law in 2021 establishing “the rights to personal identity, free will, and mental privacy.” Like Thanos, the regulation of Privacy & Big Tech is…inevitable. However, we need to revisit an even more important discussion, one that in my option, cuts to the heart of “the news headlines”.

Should Software Engineers be required to obtain a license, which gives them “permission to practice”? For example, to receive a Professional Engineer (PE) license, “an individual must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board.”

State and Federal laws require civil engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc., to be licensed. Why? Because doctors, lawyers, and engineers perform activities deemed dangerous to individuals or the general public. For this reason, law, medicine, and engineering require licensed professionals to adhere to a Code of Ethics.

Can software algorithms cause harm to individuals? We should talk about this, but Facebook’s own internal research seems to say ‘yes’:

WSJ: The Facebook Files

Can mortgage loan algorithms be written poorly and cause harm to the public? There is growing evidence that seems to say ‘yes’: 

The Markup: The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage Approval Algorithms

Is it concerning that [insert name of company or institution] ‘s website accidentally exposed their customers’ names, SSNs, and PHI this past [insert day of week]?

For reference, here is a code of ethics from the Association for Computing Machinery.

ACM Code of Ethics

Professional Software Engineers…that could be a thing.

SFDC used Slack to buy Slack

How meta is this? The acquisition of Slack was negotiated on Slack. Salesforce’s CFO Amy Weaver was quoted as saying “Our law firms were in Slack channels, our investment bankers, we did all of our diligence within Slack. So we literally bought Slack on Slack.…Most of the people involved, certainly the law firms, had not used Slack before,”

I love this. I wonder how many Slackmojis were used during redlines? 🙃 Slackmojis are a more efficient form of communication. Knock on wood if you’re with me.

Dear Google, please add the following feature…

As far as I can tell neither MSFT PowerPoint nor Google Slides has an option for multiple (online) presenters. How is that not already a feature? It’s 2021 and (remote) presenters have to say “next slide please” during a presentation followed by the inevitable “too far, please go back one slide.” Personally, I like to make the “beep” noise…you know, from the 80s filmstrips with accompanying cassette soundtrack with beeps to cue the next slide? It was such a treat when the teacher chose you to run the filmstrip. Knock on wood if you’re with me. Back to my original point, “remote presenter mode”! I’ll type up the JIRA Epic if you need me to, just tell me who to email at Google 😂

Run it again

They say that you should write everyday, to and for yourself. And by they, I mean a bunch of Roman and Greek philosophers who have been dead for two thousand years. But, I reckon a lot of what they wrote back then is still true today. So, after almost a year’s hiatus I’m rebooting my blog…again. These are my writings, these are my thoughts, and these are my opinions…get your own. But, if you need to, and if it helps you, feel free to borrow them.

More random thoughts on Fitness+

So that’s interesting, Apple unveiled Fitness+ today priced at ~$10 a month or ~$80 a year. Apple has roughly 100 million iPhone users in the United States. That figure doesn’t take into account, iPad users or whether Fitness+ will work on Mac OS Safari, but let’s stick with 100 million users in the US – it’s a nice round number. If Apple can convert just 6% of their install base, that’s almost half a billion dollars of incremental and recurring revenue.

Oh and by the way, the Apple Watch Series 6 now has an oxygen sensor which is already being tested to determine whether it can be use to detect early symptoms of Covid-19:

Apple Watch + iPhone = Medical Device

The key takeaway for me is that it reaffirms the idea that Apple is getting into the healthcare business. That’s probably another trillion dollars in market cap waiting to happen.

A medical device that monitors my health and well being, that could detect early symptoms of Covid or other diseases – right on my wrist and in my pocket.

It’s like living in the future.

Apple is definitely building a Search Engine

In my humble opinion, Apple is definitely building a search engine. Much has been written about the updates to Applebot’s support page, but what I found most interesting was this job posting

Specifically, the use of the words Semantic Search and Knowledge Graph. Historically, SIRI search has more or less been a federated search engine that pulls results from other “search engines” including Yelp, Apple Maps, App Store, Wikipedia, and Google. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the job posting, but, my take is that Apple is building it’s own search index and Knowledge Graph.

Why wouldn’t Apple build it’s own search engine? Well, for starters, Google pays a TON of money to Apple to be the default search engine on iOS. But, over the past several years Apple’s services revenue and “other” revenues have significantly increased, thus making the money paid by Google, dare I say, expendable. Speaking of services…

The other interesting thing to think about is the upside for Apple. Apple wouldn’t be trying to build a search engine that competes with Google, in the sense that, Apple is not trying to sell ads. Apple makes money by selling iPhones, iPads, accessories, Macs, and services, which now include Apple Music, TV, and News. So, why does that matter? Apple doesn’t need to or want to sell your data to advertisers, which is why Apple is able to take such a strong position on data privacy. In theory, Apple’s search engine would be customized and personalized based on your search history, location history, news articles, podcasts, music, contacts, health, documents, emails, etc. and that information would ONLY be known to you and your devices – never sold to advertisers. In effect, an Apple (SIRI) search engine could make the ecosystem that much more powerful.

It’s like living in the future.

Random thoughts about fitness

It’s no big surprise that exercise equipment companies have benefited tremendously from the pandemic. During their most recent earnings call, Peleton reported that they ended the year with 1.09 million connected fitness subscribers – who pay $39 a month. Another 316,800 people paid for Peleton’s $12.99 digital (app) subscription which offers both live and on-demand classes. And that got me thinking 🤔 why is Nike giving away it’s content on the Nike Training Club app for FREE? And while we’re at it…

  • Why hasn’t Nike made a move to develop in-home exercise equipment or purchase a company like Mirror – who was recently acquired by lululemon?
  • Where are the Nike “MasterClass” workouts that offer tips and instruction from notable world class Nike athletes?
  • There’s a CrossFit on every corner, but, where are the Nike branded gym facilities with huge murals of Lebron and Air Jordan on the walls along with licensed and certified Nike instructors? The gyms would, of course, also double as stores to try out and buy shoes, clothing, and equipment.
  • And what better way to finish a workout by drinking a Nike chocolate protein shake to help promote recovery.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a reach, but it occurs to me that Nike could send it’s stock into the stratosphere by building a recurring revenue model through content, gyms, and personal training. Shoes, Clothing, Equipment, Nutrition, why not push into every stack in the vertical? How is this not already a thing? I’m over-simplifying, but, I do think there’s a tremendous opportunity for Nike in a post-pandemic world.