Per My Last E-mail #2
Shen Yun, Fire Rainbows, Loonshots + Links & Listens
Hi Friends 👋,
Welcome to the Memorial Day edition of Per My Last E-mail. I hope all of you are on a beach somewhere not checking e-mail. But if you're looking for something to keep your brain lightly engaged while you sunbathe (or sit in traffic on the way home), I've pulled together a few of the best things that I have read, listened to, and written this week.
(Editor's Note: Reading this while listening to my pick for Song of the Summer, 2019: I Don't Care by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber)
What do Shen Yun and Startups Have in Common?
My Latest Post: Startup Economics Lessons from Shen Yun’s Ad Empire
Shen Yun has fascinated me from the moment I first saw their subway ads and began noticing their posters everywhere. This week, I dove in and explored the math behind Shen Yun's ad spend and what it can teach us about startup economics.
My Beach Read
🌝 I'm about half of the way through Loonshots by Safi Bahcall and I'm picking up more insights per page than I can remember getting from any book I've read in the past year.
One of the most fascinating things that I’ve learned from Loonshots is that the US Government used to tap celebrities and CEOs as spies, using their industry knowledge and ability to gain access to important people to help win wars. Did you know that Polaroid Founder & CEO, Edwin Land, helped create the first spy plane, the U-2, and the use of digital photography in satellites, in the 1950s? Or that world-famous pilot Charles Lindbergh used his cachet to convince a German engineer to hand over the designs to Germany’s jet engines to the Americans during WW2? We didn’t learn about these episodes until documents were declassified many years later. I wonder which current CEOs and celebrities are undercover spies right now.
To spread stories like these and help people retain the book’s lessons for nurturing loonshots and keeping companies innovative as they grow, I am planning to put together a quick Loonshots course like the one I did for the Process. Start reading now so that you're ready for the quizzes when they come out in a couple of weeks.
15 Minutes of Fire Rainbow Fame
🔥🌈 I took this picture of a type of rainbow I’d never seen before on the beach in Avalon yesterday. I tweeted the picture with the caption, “I’ve never seen a rainbow like this. What is it?” Not really expecting an answer, I learned that this is a Circumhorizontal Arc, or Fire Rainbow. More surprisingly, local and national news desks somehow discovered the picture and reached out for permission to use it in their coverage of the fire rainbow. So far, the picture has been used in articles and segments from Gothamist, ABC 6 Philadelphia, NBC4 New York, CBS 3 Philadelphia (TV segment), PIX11 New York, a whole bunch of local ABC and CBS affiliates, NJ.com, Accuweather, and the Ocean City Patch, with more outlets sliding into my DMs by the minute.
Long story short, I’ve used up my 15 minutes of fame on a fire rainbow picture. Twitter is a wild place. 😂
Links & Listens
🏩 Oral History of the Booking.com Acquisition by Skift
With so many people traveling this weekend, it seems like an appropriate time to learn about how Priceline's acquisitions of two relatively small European travel booking platforms created the $100 billion OTA juggernaut that is Booking.com.
🏆 The Vertical Brand by Web Smith
If you know me (and most of you on here do), you know that the two things I am most obsessed with are Philly sports and startup strategy. This article checks both boxes, diving into how Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin's company, Fanatics, has become "one of the most successful digitally native brands on the market by protecting intellectual property, achieving manufacturing superiority, and emphasizing industry-leading fulfillment operations."
Michael Rubin just seems like a great guy. Check out his interview on Pardon My Take here.
💻 How Does Quantum Computing Work by Andy Matsuchak and Michael Nielsen
Andy is the same person who wrote the Why Books Don't Work article that I posted last week. I'm quickly becoming obsessed with his work. This one uses the "experimental mnemonic medium, which makes it almost effortless to remember" the principles of Quantum Computing. I wouldn't say that it's effortless or that I am now an expert in Quantum Computing, but I love Matsuchak's explorations of new methods of learning and retaining information.
Interviewed on David Friedlander’s Change Order Podcast, MetaProp co-founder Zach Aarons gives an insightful and entertaining overview of the PropTech space. If you’ve ever wondered what I do, listening to this will get you a step closer. h/t to Dror for the recommendation.
🎓 I’m working on my capstone project for the Write of Passage course, a deep dive into Natively Integrated Companies: companies who are born from day 1 with a focus on owning and integrating supply and demand (think Harry’s, Sonder, Breather, Epidemic Sound, and Away) instead of owning demand while modularizing supply (like Uber, AirBnB, and Facebook). It’s very much a work-in-progress right now, so if you have any ideas on this topic and want to chat, let me know.
Lastly, if you found this interesting and know someone else who would, please forward it to them or tell them to subscribe here. I would really appreciate it!
Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day Weekend!