The Lede

What a crazy week on the streaming front. But let’s be honest… deep down inside, we’ve all known there are too many streaming services already, haven’t we? So, this felt inevitable. The point of streaming was to have a superior UX at a lower cost than traditional cable. That was it. Arguably, neither goal has been achieved. The news this past week just laid that bare for everyone to see. Those results also mean executives inside the big media companies will face more challenging questions about their strategies. After all, it’s no longer crazy to question the wisdom of Netflix’s model.

  • Netflix is not a tech company: Benedict Evans wrote this piece in 2019, and he shared it again in the wake of the Netflix earnings. The key point: “[Netflix] used tech as a crowbar, and the crowbar had to be good, but it’s actually a TV company.” Start here to make sense of the news.
  • WTF Netflix? W/ @loudmouthjulia - Techmeme Ride Home: If you listen to one thing about this week’s news, this is the one I’d recommend. Julia Alexander has a good perspective as an analyst working with Netflix competitors. I’d also suggest listening to the Decoder interview she did that I linked to two weeks ago. The gist of this - content strategy is at the heart of success in this business, as is the flywheel Disney pioneered between content and ancillary revenue. What is Netflix’s answer here? Have the traditional media companies figured out streaming before Netflix figured out media? They also have some good insights into the CNN+ saga. Good stuff.

Reads

  • The Marketplace 100: 2022: A16Z releases a ranking of “the best consumer-facing marketplace startups & private companies” every year, now. Good read. I hadn’t heard about all of the highlighted companies in the piece, so educational for me.
  • How Anitta megafans gamed Spotify to help create Brazil’s first global chart-topper: When is gaming the algorithm an act of love from dedicated fans vs. a violation of terms of service? How should a service combat tactics like this from super fans? Some interesting details in this story.
  • Success and Failure at Pebble: I found my Pebble the other day, and was tempted to give it to my son to try out. Hard to believe their Kickstarter launched way back in 2007. This is an honest look at why they failed written by the founder.
  • Back to the Future of Twitter: Ben Thompson proposes that Twitter can be more valuable by divorcing the utility of the service from the consumer monetization. The proposal turns Twitter into a protocol-as-a-service company, in a way. This is actually a really interesting idea, with some thorny bits left unexplored. I’d love to see this fleshed out some more. It’s a very Web 2.0 protocol, if Web 3 is all about decentralization. (see the next link for more context on that comment)

Listens

  • Chris Dixon thinks web3 is the future of the internet — is it?: Chris Dixon is one of the loudest and most compelling cheerleaders for Web3 and why crypto is really the next big wave of the Internet. I will say, I walked away with some more things to consider here. His point ultimately boils down to the fact that the blockchain as a protocol inherently is open and interoperable - that’s literally the point of how they work, so they will always be that way. If you want to compete with Alchemy, an oft-cited example of centralization in Web3, there are fewer gatekeepers there than if you wanted to compete with Facebook in the Web 2 world. I don’t know if I agree yet, but I can at least see and understand his argument there. Good listen.

Code & Tools

  • Plausible.io: I’ve been looking for privacy friendly analytics solution for this site and for my other projects. I’ve settled on this after ruling out Google Analytics, Matomo, and running something myself. It’s got a robust feature-set, allows simple proxying of the payloads and requests so ad blockers don’t trip up on it, and stores no data about individual visitors. Pricing is reasonable for a bootstrapped startup or side hustle, too.
  • Termly.io: Obviously, getting a lawyer is the right answer here, but I’m also looking at tools to manage (and maybe even create) terms of service for some of the side projects here. Does anyone have any recommendations for tools on this front that target small businesses/solopreneurs/side-hustles?
  • Warp: The terminal for the 21st century: Really interesting looking project. Basically, what a terminal app would look like if you smashed together Slack and Terminal. I’ve only played with it a tiny, tiny bit, but it’s definitely interesting. But! more interesting:
  • How Warp Works: It’s written in Rust, rendered with a stack that relies on Metal, the Mac’s underlying GPU acceleration framework. If you’re interested in native apps with cross-platform reusability keep an eye on the things folks are doing with Rust.

Maker & Home Automation

  • Shameful: Insteon looks dead—just like its users’ smart homes: I refuse to rely on proprietary tech for my smart home projects these days, after watching something similar happen with Wink. This story is nuts, and I feel terrible for people that invested into their ecosystem. Home Assistant or OpenHAB or another open source project is the way to go. For hardware, Z-Wave or Zigbee standards are the way to go. I do use wifi devices if they’re running open source firmware, with one or two exceptions now.