One More for the Road 📧

A slightly shorter newsletter this week as I'm on the road for Spring Break. Though, of course, it's less of a "break" and more of a 'Spring Extra Parenting and Logistics Time'. Mainly I still can't get over how many school breaks they have in Europe. Kids aside, the impact on working parents doesn't quite compute in my head yet. I know there are sub-schooling industries that pop-up around these breaks, but most people also just seem to travel during them. It's nice, of course, but my perhaps stereotypical American brain can't help but wonder what this means for productivity. At the very least, it's crippling my own productivity!

Oh well. Another round, if I must. Ciao.

Drinking a Birra Messina Cristalli di Sale
Sent from Sicily


Fewer People Are Using Elon Musk’s X – It's not just the Sensor Tower data, which can be suspect at times due to their methods, it's that so many different data sources all say the same basic thing: people are abandoning Xitter, either quickly or if we're being generous, slowly. Yet the company keeps saying the opposite without actually giving any verifiable data. Since they're no longer a public company, they don't have to, but the whole thing feels off and icky. What is the end game here? It keeps feeling like we're getting closer as the company continues to flail about, testing any and every idea to try to figure out what it should be now.

Dune Part 2: Annotated – If you've seen the movie and feel the need to dive deeper into why director Denis Villeneuve made certain choices versus the book, Max Read has you covered in depth here. After reading this, I'm now fairly convinced that Villeneuve should have made the book into three movies, with Dune Messiah being a potential fourth film (the second book is much shorter than Dune). I know this sounds a little wild, and Peter Jackson sort of ruined this notion by over-extending (quite literally) The Hobbit, a relatively short book which should have been one movie, not three. But I'm still convinced the third act of Dune Part 2 is just too condensed and overwhelming. And there was a lot of narrative meat cut from the bone to make it all work in under three hours.

Apple's Longtime Steve Jobs Disciple Defends Its ‘Walled Garden’ – There's not too much new in this profile of Apple Fellow Phil Schiller, though this is fun: "Inside Apple, he came to be referred to as Jobs’s 'mini-me' due to the manner in which he often mirrored the company co-founder’s perspective." It's not exactly a secret that Schiller is behind a lot of the strategy for the way Apple responds (or doesn't respond) to all of the App Store criticisms, backlash, and legal threats – I mean, he's often quoted, quite colorfully, in Apple's press releases on the matter. But the recent vibe, at least externally, is definitely that it might help the company if he wasn't quite so combative in this particular arena... Might he be too close to it all? After all, as noted, he's one of the key people who convinced Jobs to allow third-party apps on the iPhone, thus birthing the App Store.

Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison – The maximum sentence was 110 years. The federal prosecutors were looking for 40 to 50 years. Bankman-Fried's defense wanted 6.5 years. Kudos to Katie Haun (who was, of course, a federal prosecutor before becoming an investor in this space) who was awfully close in her prediction last November. He'll be 57 years old when he gets out (though undoubtedly will serve less time if he behaves – which he wasn't exactly doing leading up to and during the trial). Feels like the end of a whirlwind hyped up era for crypto, where grifters became billionaires overnight.

My Missives...

Apple’s Practical Fight
At its core, the DoJ’s case against Apple seemingly would seek to undo a lot of what makes the iPhone the iPhone. Which is equal parts worrisome, weird, and wild. And so at the highest level, of course Apple is going to fight back against this. At the same time,

Why isn't Apple does some obvious stuff to save itself? Follow the money...

A Decade Under the Influence of Satya Nadella
Exactly 10 years ago I sent the tweet above. First and foremost, it’s wild that it has been 10 years. So long ago, that they were still called “tweets”.1 Second, my god what a decade Satya Nadella and Microsoft have had. On that day, Microsoft held an event in

From $300B to $3T in 10 years after a decade of stagnation...


“'Let’s cut this sophomoric stuff, it’s not N.Y.U. anymore.' One time I asked him to do something just to humor me, and he said, 'Joel, this whole damn movie is just to humor you.'”

-- Joel Coen recalling what M. Emmet Walsh said to him on the set of Blood Simple, the Coen Brothers first feature film, which Walsh agreed to act in despite being paid "little more than little more in compensation than a per diem stipend". Walsh, one of the great character actors, passed away last week at age 88.

Some Thoughts On...

🇪🇺 The EU's official probe into big tech

📖 Kurt Vonnegut's 'Harrison Bergeron'

🍏 WWDC 2024 AI, AI, AI, AI, AI Edition

📱 The EU enticing Apple to pull their devices

😎 Meta's soon-to-be-updated AI smartglasses


  • It looks like the AI news app from the founders of Instagram, Artifact, may not be shutting down after all, but just sort of running in maintenance mode
  • After the bankruptcy scare a couple years ago, it looks like Alamo Drafthouse, perhaps the only good cinema chain left in the US, is now up for sale. Uh oh...
  • How much would YouTube be worth as a stand-alone company? Perhaps $400B, reckons analyst Michael Nathanson. Peter Kafka does the math: that would be Netflix, Paramount, Warner Bros Discovery, and Fox combined. Or, if you prefer, Comcast and Disney, combined. Wild.
  • Salesforce apparently paid more than $20M to license the name, image, and likeness of Albert Einstein a decade ago, for their AI product. Founder Marc Benioff also bought (which redirects to the Salesforce AI home). A nice NIL deal – the proceeds go to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which Einstein helped establish and left his IP to upon his death – but I feel like today he could get more! I mean Matthew McConaughey gets paid $10M a year to be a "creative adviser" to Salesforce! What I want to know is if Dr. Know also needed such a deal in Steven Spielberg's AI movie (before AI was cool).
  • Those new iPads the world has been waiting on for over a year and a half now? They've been seemingly pushed until May, as the software isn't ready, sadly.
  • It's Pliny the Younger season again, the 20th to be exact, and that means a special anniversary edition, if you're near the Russian River in Sonoma and willing to wait in line for upwards of six hours.
  • The sculptor Richard Serra passed away this week. His friend/contemporary the painter Chuck Close had the great quote about him: “It’s a goddamn good thing he’s a great artist, because a lot of this stuff wouldn’t be tolerated.”
  • Dan Wang, "an expert on China’s technology sector" gives his perspective on how China likely views this whole TikTok situation in the US. One idea: they might (quietly) like it because it gives them cover to keep censoring, pointing out that even the US does it now.
  • Apparently a new white, disc-less Xbox Series X nears – but it looks much worse than the leaked "Brooklin" cylindrical version. I still don't get Microsoft's strategy here...
    • Speaking of gaming hardware, $400,000 worth of Playdates have gone missing, it seems. That sucks for Panic, the indie company which makes them. Thankfully, I finally secured mine a few weeks ago. Thoughts soon!
  • Daniel Kahneman, the economics icon, passed away this week at age 90. Beyond "Thinking, Fast and Slow", he's directly or indirectly responsible for much of what is known as "behavioral economics". While he was happy to give Richard Thaler the title of 'father' of the field, he would note (in an interview for his obit 8 years ago, no less), "I’m the grandfather of behavioral economics."

One Write Thing...

Without realizing it, this is pretty much exactly what I do when writing.