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The Clown Car Is Back, Baby
How are things at Twitter? Great, thank you! Also, don't ask. Never ask.
My only regret is that there’s work to do. Like actual work. Like meetings to be in. People to see. Life to live. I sincerely wish this whole Twitter fiasco had happened over a long holiday break so I could just follow it in real time. Because it’s the most entertaining the internet has been in some time. It’s like a goldmine of content that got dropped on a clown car.
Yes, a large part of it remains depressing. A lot of people lost their jobs. But come on, none of those people could possibly be wanting to work through this. Would you? Would these people?! Everyone will find other jobs. The only downside is that those jobs will not have the eventual stories to tell that this one will, from just this week alone.
To me, this all would still seem to follow “Elon’s Razor” — that is, the most entertaining scenario is the most likely. But my other, more dire, thought is currently this: what if Elon Musk, in realizing that he, in fact, would be forced to buy Twitter one way or another just resigned himself to cut costs as quickly as possible while trying to grow the user base as quickly as possible so as to flip it back to the public market with minimal loss of capital? I mean, there’s going to be a large loss of capital regardless, because the market conditions are just different from when the original offer came about. Still, it’s better to lose, say, $20B rather than $45B?
But in trying to execute the above plan, everything is going wrong. It’s just a legitimate comedy of errors. The clown car is back, baby.
The Good Stuff
Apple continues to play their dangerous game with regard to their in-app payments cut. And it’s pretty clear that it’s going to backfire — likely sooner rather than later. They should be trying to get ahead of it, and engendering goodwill, but instead they’re digging in. Good luck.
Steven Levy asks us to take a step back to note that while always difficult, a downturn is a natural market occurrence and actually, all the companies we now know and love arose from the ashes of past downturns. This time will be no different, as hard as that is to see, in the moment.
A fun history of the IPA — the pale ale which, yes, gets its name from India, but had little to do with the continent beyond the British soldiers drinking it en route to the country. The US, of course, has subsequently taken over the market in ways both good and bad.
I like this framework from economist George Gilder:
“Wealth is most essentially knowledge,” Mr. Gilder says. “Let’s face it, the caveman had access to all the materials we have today. Therefore, economic growth is learning, manifested in ‘learning curves’ of collapsing costs driven by markets.” Yet these learning curves get waved away by economists. Mr. Gilder says information, not materials, drives growth: “Crash a car and all its value disappears, though every molecule remains.”
This is from almost a year ago, but seems perhaps even more important today: the pandemic highlighted many things about our lives and work before and it also charted a path for what should matter and what we should focus on. One of those things should be the written word.
“Silver is an ethereal white. It almost has no colour – or every colour – while titanium or nickel are so very warm, and stainless steel is so very cold and blue.”
— Jony Ive, with a very Jony Ive description of a natural material, to which he wrote a love letter, naturally. (I also enjoyed his guide to Jackson Square in San Francisco as part of his seeming Financial Times takeover.)
The Quick Stuff
A year late, but a rather fascinating Q&A with Kenneth Branagh. 🎭
This $400 Lego set is for adults, not kids. And I’m all about it. 🧱
I know that basically all musical artists are selling their catalogs right now in a red hot market, but doesn’t it seem a little early for Justin Timberlake to be doing it?! 💿
Did you know the massive wine brand Cakebread exists because an auto mechanic with a side passion for photography agreed to a photoshoot assignment in Napa Valley one day? After he took classes from and eventually befriended Ansel Adams, no less? I did not. 🍷
The new Zelda game is coming in May of 2023 and the Nintendo Switch, the console on which it will play exclusively, will be over six years old. And no one will care about that, which is sort of wild. The value of IP. 🕹️
Speaking of, the first Super Nintendo World — the theme park — in the US looks like it will be opening slightly before that Zelda launch… 🍄
Why is Venice not underwater right now? This is why. 🌊
The author Michael Lewis recently spent six months with FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried. To which I say: Sweet Jesus, what timing! 🕙
The Sounds of My Youth
Cineworld Nears Bankruptcy as Theater Comeback Lags
Some thoughts on Netflix’s latest lackbuster ‘The Gray Man’
Inside the Reign of George R.R. Martin
COVID finally found me…
Some thoughts on Apple’s ‘Far Out’ iPhone 14 Event
What is up with the iPhone 14 Pro cases?