System Two

A curated selection of daily business, entrepreneurship and finance content, with the occasional offbeat piece

Recent posts

Mon Jul 7, 2014

Want to Know What Marc Andreessen’s Magic on Twitter is? Hint - It’s Not Tweetstorming

Mark Suster:

Even before the Tweetstorm phenomenon, Marc was favoriting, RT’ing, sparring with people, @replying to random folk who reached out to him. In the first 2 weeks I even saw a few people on Twitter say, “Is that the real Marc Andreessen?” He was writing to people. Many people. Any people.

He was doing what many public figures fail to do on Twitter: He was engaging.

This to me is the real magic of Marc Andreessen on Twitter. Not replying to anybody on Twitter is like speaking on stage at a conference and then sneaking out the back without shaking any hands. People want to see you speak but they REALLY want to meet you. Even if just for 60 seconds.

Sun Jul 6, 2014

Israeli High Tech Gets Aggressive

Adam Fisher, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, TechCrunch:

Israel has always taken a disproportionate share of global media attention. This has long held true in international politics, where Israel would prefer a little less attention, but also in high tech where the media attention on startup success has often been overstated and anecdotal.

Handshaking Promotes Cooperative Dealmaking

Juliana Schroeder, Jane Risen, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton, HBS Working Knowledge:

A simple handshake can have large consequences for a negotiation. In this paper the authors suggest that handshakes before negotiations—or the lack thereof—serve as subtle but critical indicators of negotiators’ social motives. In particular, handshakes signal willingness to act cooperatively during negotiations.

Key concepts include:

  • Simply shaking hands before negotiations can increase cooperation at the bargaining table.
  • The social ritual of shaking hands can have positive effects even in antagonistic settings such as negotiations between parties in conflict.
  • A simple everyday ritual such as a handshake can create positive outcomes not just for individuals, but for parties in conflict.

Sat Jul 5, 2014

The Two Entrepreneurial Paths to Monopoly

Joshua Gans, writing for Digitopoly:

Now the disagreement between Andreessen and Thiel goes beyond just economic issues. One of them likes competing while the other really doesn’t. To each their own on that one. But on the economics and entrepreneurial strategy point I am not sure there is actually a fundamental disagreement. I think Thiel and Andreessen are talking about two different things: both of whom could be considered monopoly in the 100 percent of a market sense.

What Happens When the Amish Get Rich

Jen Banbury, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek:

These days, you can go to an Amish trade show in a well-lit, air-conditioned convention center, and e-mail directly with an Amish businessman. They’re not only getting modern, though: Many are getting rich. An ethic of simplicity is not the same as a vow of poverty. The restrictions in the Ordnung are carefully considered and meant to keep Amish humble, family-oriented, and in service to God. There are even dictates about the maximum size a business should be. But no curbs exist on the accumulation of wealth. “Entrepreneurial spirit cultivated on the farm is going into full bloom in American capitalism,” says Donald Kraybill, a sociology professor at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., who has written 12 books on the Amish. “At heart, they are capitalist.”

On the Road - Illustrated Scroll

Weekend treat.

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road turned into an illustrated scroll: one drawing for every page of the novel by Paul Rogers.

How the 'PayPal Mafia' redefined success in Silicon Valley

Conner Forrest, TechRepublic:

It’s a pretty rare occurrence that a startup will make it from inception to exit. What is decidedly less common is that startup reaching an exit upwards of $1 billion dollars. Yet even more extraordinary is that exit becoming the catalyst for a revitalization of a local economy and a specific type of investing.

Despite astronomical odds, this is what happened when PayPal sold to eBay in the summer of 2002 and the PayPal team members went on to found some of the most important startups – and make some of the most strategic investments – of all time.

Fri Jul 4, 2014

Tech aesthetics - Twitter has log cabins and Facebook has graffiti — what do the offices of tech giants tell us about the future of work?

Kate Losse, writing for Aeon Magazine:

Social networks have changed radically during the past 10 years, and so have their offices. Second Life, which created a virtual world online, was one of the first social networks to thrive in the years after the 1999 dotcom crash, by allowing tech workers to escape mundane reality for elaborate fantasy. Facebook, the dominant social network of today, offers a different sort of escape. Instead of a fantasy realm, it offers users an idealised version of their own lives. And this contrast is reflected in the office design of the two eras, which moved from the nondescript industrial aesthetic of the early 2000s to the heavily stylised offices of 2014. Today’s tech office is designed not as a utilitarian workspace for its workers but as a personalised, curated space that expresses individual identity.

Liquidation preferences, short-term vs long-term greedy

Ciarán O’Leary, partner at Earlybird:

The point is basically that liquidation preferences are less about downside protection and more about preventing lob-sided outcomes, aligning interests to some extent, allowing for faster investment decisions under information asymmetry (avoiding lengthy due diligence), etc. This is why good VCs don’t care about downside protection but do care about liquidation preferences.

How To Price a Forest, and Other Economics Problems

John Steele, writing for Nautilus:

Gross Domestic Product is the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a year. It is, today, the standard snapshot of a country’s economy. But does it deserve this position? After all, it focuses on economic activity while ignoring many of the consequences of that activity, economic or otherwise.

Cambridge economist Sir Partha Dasgupta has long argued for a broader measure of a country’s wealth, and has worked on some of the most difficult challenges involved: How do you assign a dollar value to a forest? To human capital? How do humans understand long-term planning, and the effects of their actions on fellow citizens?