Tings Newsletter #12
Who am I? I'm Michael Karnjanaprakorn, the founder of Skillshare and Otis. I'm currently taking some time off before my next thing. Every month, I send out a newsletter about life, work, and random things.
I suffer from severe cat allergies, making it impossible for me to be in the same room as a cat without sneezing. But my wife is a cat lover and convinced me to try getting a bengal cat, known to be the most hypoallergenic. She researched and found a new allergen reducing cat food called Liveclear made by Purina. It takes about a month for the food to start working. At first, I was skeptical. But it ended up working! And now I’m living a sneeze-free life with our new bengal cat Opal. 🤯
Breakthroughs in new technology tend to start slow and then exponentially accelerate. What may initially seem like a simple toy can quickly become a powerful piece of technology. This is exactly what we're seeing with the new GPT-4 AI capabilities. Here are a few of the amazing things it can already do: handle your taxes, sue spam callers, turn a basic sketch into a working website, and even discover new drugs. 🤯 🤯
My ultimate use case is planning a trip. Some people love trip planning, but I don’t enjoy it. With GPT-4, you can get really specific: "make me a detailed, day-by-day itinerary for a road trip from X to Y, emphasizing small towns and nature. For day 2, create an hourly itinerary with breaks for meals, coffee, and sightseeing. Provide multiple options for food." 🤯 🤯 🤯
We saw a run on crypto exchanges (such as FTX), after people learned that the money was being leveraged and funneled illegally. Now, we’re seeing a run on traditional banks (like SVB), due to the bonds being underwater on the asset side of the balance sheet. When the money supply contracts, banks begin to collapse. Although discussions mostly revolve around rate hikes, it's equally important to keep a close eye on the money supply. Inflation and the money supply are connected.
It's been a wild time in the world of crypto. Balaji Srinivasan (former CTO of Coinbase) recently made a $1M bet that Bitcoin will reach $1M within the next 90 days due to hyperinflation. This would be a 40x increase from its current value. I think there is less than a 1% chance of this happening within the next 90 days, but a 50% chance of it happening within the next 10 years.
The Fed and other entities are providing a massive bailout to the entire banking industry. This along with the endless money printing, is tied to Balaji’s hyperinflation bet, which he believes is happening — now. He sees Bitcoin as a “hedge against hyperinflation, monetary debasement, bank freezes, and wealth seizure.”
I've been pondering a question: is there anything "good" left on the internet? With companies focusing on OKRs and content optimizing for CTRs and virality, the internet has been reduced to the lowest common denominator. It's two ends of the spectrum: filled with clickbait, outrage, extremist views OR generic, boring, listicle content that's designed to appease the algorithm. Here’s an example: if you search for "best pillow" on Google, you'll find a bunch of SEO-optimized websites (with a ton of click ads) and generic copy that forces you to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page because that is what the Google SEO algorithm prefers. What happened to reviews from real people?
Here’s why it’s hard. As a company scales, they take less risks and move more slowly. Here’s a great breakdown in this article Dysfunctions of FAANG, “Google has 175,000+ capable and well-compensated employees who get very little done quarter over quarter, year of year. Like mice, they are trapped in a maze of approvals, launch processes, legal reviews, performance reviews, exec reviews, documents, meetings, bug reports, triage, OKRs, H1 plans followed by H2 plans, all-hand summits, and inevitable reorgs. The mice are regularly fed their “cheese” (promotions, bonuses, fancy food, fancier perks).” 🤮
An exception to this is YouTube, which is one of the few remaining websites from the early 2000s that still has good user-generated content from real people. This is why I love the Internet! There’s a long-tail niche for everyone: silent camping videos, bengal cat training, and UFC fight analysis breakdowns. Whatever you find interesting, there’s someone creating content for it. (Side note: It still has cringe-worthy videos such as "How did you get your first million dollars?")
This is why I believe that Google will not come out on top in the "AI" wars against Microsoft. It would require a major cultural shift within the entire organization to increase speed, which is almost impossible. While a small team might be able to move quickly, it’s not the same as a whole organization that has a culture of execution, experimentation, and risk-taking. I am not suggesting that Microsoft has everything figured out, but changing a company culture requires a massive effort.
“I’m often asked about the worst leadership advice I’ve ever been given. By far the worst is hire great people and get out of their way”. Alignment > Autonomy. 💯
Speaking of listicles, life advice usually get a lot of clicks, so they kept popping up on my feed. But here are some good ones: 40 Things I Wish I’d Known at 40, 40 Lessons from 30 Years, and Life Hacks. This advice resonated with me: “Express Your Personality. Those who succeed at the highest level, manifest their unique character through their discipline.”
Love this advice from Kevin Dahlstrom (@Camp4): “take the time to write out your desired "end state" lifestyle.” Some of my favorites from his list include "intellectually challenging work done on my terms," "at least one active creative/personal project," and "financial assets that fund this lifestyle indefinitely."
Consider using "Life/Work Balance" instead of "Work/Life Balance". This approach views work as just one aspect among 10+ different categories, including health, family, money, etc. Putting 100% of your energy into the work bucket can negatively impact the other areas of your life. Yes, there are times when you need to go all-in on work, but doing that over a long period of time is unsustainable.
This idea is tied to the concept of "dying with zero" (available on Amazon). This book discusses the idea of optimizing for a return on investment in the creation of memories, which he calls "memory dividends." Rather than working more years to make more money that may never be used, you can focus on creating great experiences in life. Best ROI.
There’s new research on money & happiness: The study found that money does appear to boost happiness for most people, up to earnings of $500,000, and not at $75,000. I knew it!
The Full Swing show on Netflix is a great example of storytelling. You don't need to enjoy golf to appreciate the interesting storylines. The show follows PGA players and their inevitable battle with LIV Golf. Additionally, you gain an appreciation for how much golf (and all professional sports) is a mental game, rather than just a physical one.
I've recently gotten back into collecting sports cards, specifically UFC cards. I took a break from collectibles after my last company was so focused on it. When you're passionate about something, and you have to do it for work, it's easy to lose that passion. It's been so much fun to dive back into it now.
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Until the next one…