Mar 15

Life is a Game of Skill: In Zero to One is Peter Thiel is Half Right

Zero to OneIn Zero to One Peter Thiel states that your life isn’t a lottery ticket and goes on to make the case that skill and not luck is behind great achievements. And while I agree with a lot of what he says, I don’t believe that luck and skill are mutually exclusive. A game of luck is one in which you can’t lose on purpose; an example is a lottery, once you’ve bought the ticket there is no way for you to lose on purpose. Contrast that with a game like poker where one can lose on purpose if one wishes.

By that definition, your life is a game of skill.

So in this I agree with Thiel, but it is the next step where I believe we part ways. In his book he argues that skill is the dominant factor and he stories about people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs to back up this claim. He also mentions people who believe luck is dominant; after mentioning folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet he decides to ignore their opinions that luck plays a large factor. Without taking anything away from the brilliance of the people who believe skill is dominant, I think it also behooves us to recognize that good timing and luck also play huge roles in their stories. Skill and hard work can make you a millionaire, to become a billionaire you have to get a bit lucky.

I see two benefits to this worldview, the first is that it says that hard work is rewarded and we can take credit for some of our success, but it also tells us to be humble around our greatest achievements since there are probably external factors that have helped us along.

Mar 15

Seedcamp Podcast

Carlos brought the latest batch of Seedcamp companies by the office on Monday, they are an impressive group, and afterwards we sat down and recorded an episode for his podcast. In it we discuss a bit about my background, security funding, technical founders, and the CTO summits; it isn’t too long at 24 minutes. I hope you enjoy it.

Mar 15

My Umbrella Just Crashed: Why Consumer IoT is Going to Suck

Marc Andreessen was right that “software is eating the world” but he forgot to mention that most software sucks. So what happens when you have a crappy app tied to an object that used to “just work”? You get an umbrella that keeps sending you push notifications about how you’ve “found” it.

kisha-smart-umbrella-16539Like everyone on the planet, I lose umbrellas. So I recently bought a Kisha smart umbrella; it uses bluetooth to pair to my phone and lets me know when I left it behind. This sounds like an awesome idea, unfortunately the app is a bit buggy. While I gave it access to my location, it still doesn’t know what city I’m in, so it can’t tell me the weather. Also, the pairing seems a bit flakey, so every once in while it believes I’ve left it behind even while I’m in the same room.

While I expect that Kisha will iron out these bugs, this brings to the forefront the problem with consumer IoT (Internet of Things) devices. It is going to be quite some time before an IoT operating system and notification system get built that find the right balance of features and noise. I really don’t want to have a personal relationship with my umbrella. Four push notifications in a single day seems a bit much, and this is only one device. How will we deal when we are carrying 10-20 connected devices that each want to alert us every time they might be useful.

Perhaps the answers is an IoT ecosystem that lets us control how our devices interact; a digital device concierge if you like. The problems is that thus far we have seen very few systems that really do a good job mediating information for us. Just look at the state of email software to get an idea of how tough a problem this really is.

I fear that things are going to get very bad before they get better. I see a world in which we complain about the frequency at which we must interact with our belongings: “Man, my garbage can just won’t stop asking me to take out the trash and my toaster is in a fight with my scale over my carb levels.”

If you’re working on an IoT dashboard let me know, I want to get ahead of this thing before IoT spam becomes a problem in my life.

Mar 15

Totally Crazy – My GF Got Her Dog to Let Her Into the Apartment

This just blew my mind today, I expect it will blow yours too.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 2.37.20 PM

I fully expected to be going back home with my keys to let Jeannie in.