I spent the first half of this week at Techcrunch Disrupt NY, which was a solid use of time. Lots of fun startups, interesting speakers, and smart attendees. Here’s some nuggets that stood out for me:
- 3 unorthodox beauty companies: Tristan Walker’s Walker and Co for minority skin/hair types, Emily Weiss’s Glossier, celebrating real beauty instead of covering it up, and Leandra Medine’s ManRepeller, celebrating her love for styles men hate.
- Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, grew up in an Israeli kibbutz, a ‘failed social experiment’ in his words. Interesting how that community driven upbringing shaped his desire to create the WeWork community.
- And create he did – they measure community manager success there for the connections they facilitate, and nothing else.
- Carly Fiorina was a much more engaging speaker than I’d expected – turns out we agree on the financial side of things. She says ‘regulation magnifies the difference between the powerful and powerless’, ‘governments are good at platform innovation, but not commercializing’ (look at Silicon Valley starting out of DARPA), and deriding the concept of a career politician, noting that it rewards people who are good at gaming the system rather than executing. (obviously touting her non-political background)
- Some great Startup Battlefield companies: Peruse.io lets you search ugly Excel docs using real English, DigitalGenius automates the customer service process with a dumb AI, Nucleus Scientific makes batteries last 6x longer, and charge 6x faster (!), and PageButt lets you copy and edit anyone’s web page super easily.
I asked a Quora question I’ve been wondering lately – if all big startups solve a fundamental human need, and we have a decent understanding of fundamental human needs by now, What billion dollar startup hasn’t been founded yet? Would love to hear your opinion.
Paul Graham’s classic essay on why Hiring is Obsolete is old but still good. Easy to forget that companies pay employees off of the value they provide to customers – why not sidestep that and just provide value to customers yourself?
Tom Rath argues meaning, not happiness is what you should strive for, while outlining the difference.
Isaiah Hankel points out that habits are the opposite of decisions because you don’t think. Thinking depletes willpower. Habits don’t.
An Expanded Maslow Hierarchy of Needs from the 1990s adds Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence needs to the top of the pyramid. Interesting – makes sense that there would be more here.
Ask Roulette looks cool – you go onstage with a stranger and ask them questions, and get some in response.
Paul Lafarge’s Right to be Lazy from 1883 is baroquely worded, but it cuts at something important – work isn’t as good as the Christians would have us believe. Tim Kreider has a more modern take on this – you may have seen it as The Busy Trap in NYT. It all reminds me of two other pieces noting how ridiculous most modern jobs are: On Bullshit Jobs and Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed. Yikes.