The Best of NewCo Shift — Week of Nov. 21
Look, we all see the same notifications, and figure, eh, we’ll get to that. But these pieces are really worth your time.
It was a good week for new stuff at NewCo Shift. We’ve got a surfeit of thoughtful commentary on AI, Valley culture, tech regulation, the non profit and NGO world, and much more.
NewCo Shift also sources and edits extraordinary stories into Medium’s membership area, which is on a “metered paywall” similar to the New York Times. Anyone can read them, until they hit their limit. We’re including them in our roundup so you know about this great work.
Let us know what you’re interested in us covering or pitch your own stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks for reading. It means a lot to us.
In recent months Silicon Valley has become America’s public enemy #1. In this popular piece, Ankur Jain, founder of Kairos, presents the case on why it deserves this distinction. “Over $160bn in venture capital are going into startups each year — and yet most of the new innovation is driven by the latest hype cycle, not the real problems we face,” writes Jain about Silicon Valley’s purposeless fads that can raise millions — the $700 juicer, luxury buses or Uber for babies. His answer? Invest in problems that matter, and start with our vanishing middle class.
On the topic on how bad Silicon Valley is today, John Battelle, NewCo’s Editor in Chief, reviews Scott Galloway’s The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Galloway is one of a very few consistent critics of tech whose arguments are based on fundamental principles of economics and business (most folks who cover tech are, well, let’s just say conflicted). Read our full review here or buy the book.
Obvious Ventures partner Gabe Kleinman criticizes the foundation’s primary focus on ideas at the expense of talent support and operational excellence. After all, ideas are cheap. Kleinman argues that execution is where the game is played, and talented, passionate teams that are well-supported play it best — delivering the greatest impact, no matter the sector. Foundations should be bending over backwards to support their grantees’ vision and their execution, yet this is rarely the case today. How might foundations better find and cultivate — or invest in — the people to deliver this impact?
Azeem Azhar latest piece (he did a great series on AI here) deals with the regulation of autonomous weapons. Today, drones used by insurgent forces cost only a few hundred dollars. The software engineering required to make them deadly (machine vision, autonomous navigation, collision detection) is widely understood, and it’s rapidly dispersed through legitimate channels (such as ArXiv and GitHub), and increasingly can be found in commercial products. Azhar suggests that rather than throwing our hands up in despair, we should spend some time seriously raising awareness of these issues, and in turn, generate creative solutions to the problem.
In one of our Premium Articles, Luke Kanies examines why successful venture capital firms keep winning. If nearly all VC firms can’t differentiate between the best and the worst startup ideas, why are the best firms always getting the winners? The reason is likely access. Read the entire series here for a glimpse into the world of Venture Capital: