Thoughts on CDixon’s What’s Next in Computing Piece

I follow Cdixon on Twitter. He’s an investor at A16Z. I wanted to

I’ve been reading his post What’s Next in Computing. and figured it was worth adding something about the nature of EDA’s open source progress. The piece is worth a sit down and read.

He makes a good key point that I wanted to expand upon.

Moore’s Law and SOCs.

“We are now entering an era in which processors and sensors are getting so small and cheap that there will be many more computers than there are people.

There are two reasons for this. One is the steady progress of the semiconductor industry over the past 50 years (Moore’s law). The second is what Chris Anderson calls “the peace dividend of the smartphone war”: the runaway success of smartphones led to massive investments in processors and sensors. If you disassemble a modern drone, VR headset, or IoT devices, you’ll find mostly smartphone components.

In the modern semiconductor era, the focus has shifted from standalone CPUs to bundles of specialized chips known as systems-on-a-chip.”

The Next Generation of EDA

What I think is worthy of mention is the growth of Fabs, Foundries, open source software(SPICE etc..) and the ability of a small group of chip designers to produce mixed-signal chip fully functional prototypes in a package without spending $100K+ on EDA Software, of which there’s only 3 players: Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor Graphics. I’ve met people on the r/chip_design subreddit who have created chips for actual products for basement prices. <$10K

I was part of company working in this space to change the way chips are designed. There’s one such company in the bay area producing 180nm Mixed Signal analog chips for less than $5K to get to silicon.

I believe EDA software is the blocking element. It lives in the stone age.

Version control, forking, etc.. and a lot of the paradigms of software design have not been given to the world of chip designers. They live as if in an anachronism and our chip design education is in the stone ages.

On a side note, Moore’s law is arguably a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s also worth adding that exponential growth doesn’t happen in the physical world, it happens on S-curves, like every other technology.

Why I Don’t Necessarily Hate Shkreli

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The skinny on Martin Shkreli, the acquirer of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Raise a couple of hundred million.
Buy orphan drug. (Drugs with less than 3000 patients)
Insurance companies +FDA won’t pay for or certify the viability of cheaper foreign generics/biosimilars.
Make Insurance companies foot the bill.
If the patient doesn’t have insurance, give it away for free or mostly nothing.

By law, the federal government cannot negotiate prices with drug companies. I think, this is something that has to be modified to some extent. This is the elephant in the room.

At the time of Shkreli’s major announcement and well prior to it, it seems that patients could buy Daraprim online from Canada at $2.50/pill.

To Work in Web is to Be Constantly Behind the Curve

To work in web is to be constantly behind the curve.

I didn’t think I’d be in this position for such a long time, but that’s the nature of the game. I’ve been at the game for a few years now. I love the game. It’s in my blood. I’m not remotely talented, but I’m obsessed.

I know I’m pretty good at what I do, not because of intelligence or anything extraordinary, but because taking a vacation from doing web things isn’t on the plate as an option for me. I just love what I do that much.

It’s a downregulation of dopamine type thing. It’s been a downhill battle ever since I made my first web property that got converting traffic. In web, I’m barely even a failure. 

Now I’m putting my skillsets to good use on HDPHealth to try to make an impact on the drug development pipeline and on the lives of those with chronic illnesses.

My sea of work…

  • Used Google Analytics for over 450 websites in the last 4 years.
  • Owned/transacted/conducted over 500 domain names.
  • Built over 700 landing pages.
  • Signed up for over 3400 apps according to gmail.
  • Paid subscriptions to over 250 services at a time.
  • Written 300+ blog posts and Quora Posts.
  • Driven over a few billion page views.
  • Received over 3 Billion Page views and I stopped tracking it a while ago.
  • Sent out over 10M tweets and 2M direct messages via twitter bots.
  • Downloaded over 10,000 mobile apps.
  • Sent 100M emails.
  • Scraped, crawled, and manipulated over 60M pieces of data.

Tomorrow there’s 15,000 web and mobile apps coming out. I used to have the naïveté to believe that I was ahead of the curve.

There’s no such thing in web.

There is only behind the curve.

Ux-er, Designer, Programmer, Advertiser, Marketer – Web’s Great Abstraction.

15,000+ web and mobile apps come out every day. The trend is very clear, the hardest tasks on web are quickly becoming abstracted. The barriers to entry have become absurdly low for people who are non-technical.


Don’t think you can design graphics? Not true. You can use Canva.
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I can train high school kids to design killer advertisements. All the thinking around color swatches etc… is abstracted. Check out this advertisement we created in seconds for LinkTexting. 

Ramp Up Your Downloads!!!!!!

UX God or Goddess?  

Don’t think you know UX? Not true. You can use ProductHunt and + IXDChecklist to learn a lot about UX. There’s 15,000 web and mobile apps that launch every day. Do SWOT analysis and you’ll know the behavior of millions.

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A Heuristic Checklist for Web and Mobile UX.

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Discover and analyze thousands of apps in different industries. You’ll become a wizard in no time flat.

Industry Insider? 

Don’t think you can learn a lot about an industry quickly? Not true.
You can ask questions on over 6000 subreddits, to millions of Quorans, and see hundreds of Slideshare presentations on customers and industries.
Website Builder? 
Don’t think you can learn to make a website? Not true. There’s hundreds of landing page builders. Wix, Weebly, Strikingly, Instapage and they take minutes to use and get a page going. 

Programmer Extraordinaire. 
Don’t think you can code something up? Not true. You can pseudo-code complex apps with Zapier, Blockspring, and Google Sheets.


Don’t Send a Human To Do a Machine’s Job: A Note to Sales Teams

I see something on the horizon of sales that will change everything. In the USA, there are something like 18 Million sales people. We are a country of sales people.

I see something exciting, because I’m addicted to apps.
Every day, I am witness to the largest demo day on the planet. Over 15,000 web and mobile apps launch each day. 

In the valley, my only discernible skill is that I’ve used more web and mobile apps than most people. 25,000+ at my last count. There’s no replacement for raw passionate obsession.

Automation Is Something Founders Care About

2 or 3 founders a week approach me to talk shop about automation. You see there’s a very real problem in Silicon valley and it’s the ratio of outbound:inbound sales folks in a company. Outreach can be extremely automated.

Right now, there’s over 1000+ Marketing and Automation technology companies.
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If your VC is telling you that you should hire lots of outbound Sales Account Executives/Sales Development Representatives(SDR), be cognizant of the realities. If your VP of Sales knows less than 10% of the companies on that chart…….they should start studying it.

Ratio of Outbound:Inbound Sales Folks
A ratio of 1:10 ratio of outbound:inbound SDR’s is extremely viable for companies pursuing huge markets with tons of customers.

Automation is Beautiful. It’s Real. Everything is Abstracted. 
You see, the level of automation we can have is surreal.

I’ve built an entire outbound CRM using Zapier. For the price of one Eastern European outsourced developer and a Zapier subscription, I can replace armies of outbound sales folks.

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With tools like PathWright, I can train someone from High School to do epic things.

But wait, this isn’t human enough? It doesn’t matter, there’s even an API for adding human context. Don’t you worry. 🙂

Using BuzzSumo, I can automate small talk.

“Oh Hey Jenny, I saw your tweet about X.  {Buzzsumo(input unique keywords from article that Jenny tweeted, return interesting article)} is something you might find interesting.”

You see, there’s no escaping what’s the reality. There’s many non-technical and technical jobs that will be replaced by API’s, crawlers, and code.

There’s even a programmatic human component for those 80% robotic, 20% human tasks. Check out API’s like 2Hive.

Google Sheets as a Database

Want to build a ghetto-quick non programmer required database and process leads? Just use Zapier to pipe the data into a google sheets.

Then pump BlockSpring Google Sheets Add-On all over it.

Don’t send a human to do a machine’s job. 

In short, if you dream about apps the same way I do, tweet me.

If you’re fascinated with automation, want to empower your sales team, or want to nerd out about apps let’s chat.

Sometimes, Being Vicious is Necessary.

Sometimes, being vicious is necessary, especially for early stage founders. Here, I share a few stories of how companies were vicious in their approach to acquiring users.

Reddit faked comments in the early days.
Youtube & Vkontakte hosted pirated content knowingly.
In the early days, iOS apps juiced their valuations with vanity invite metrics that entailed invite-walls that juiced downloads to access full functionality of apps. (invite 50 people to use full app features). Some of these were acquired for 8 figures plus.
Paypal created a bot that bought goods on eBay and then, insisted on paying for it using PayPal.
Rentoid bought and rented the items themselves.
Dating networks seed enough fake accounts on both sides to start the demand.
AirBnB allegedly created a bot & fake email addresses that would automatically respond to posts on Craigslist.
Marc Benioff of SalesForce hired fake protesters to disrupt his biggest rival’s conference and commandeered all the taxis at the event to deliver a 45-minute pitch about his own product. In another instance, he cancelled his keynote at the Oracle Conference and drew crowds to his own speech at a nearby restaurant.

Negotiation 101

Today, I left 40 dirhams on the table while negotiating for a watch. It was the perfect weather for negotiations, hot. (Middle of Ramadan as well.) I had some well intentioned friendly fire interference in the negotiation, but it was only ~$10USD.

There’s a lot of stuff I learned about negotiating in India, so I figured I’d share a few tips that have been helpful for me.

  1. If they’re smiling, you’ve lost.
  2. Never speak too loudly, just enough to make them sweat that the other customers can hear your low prices.
  3. Never bring in a previous price to the negotiation. That sets a bottom floor and should only be used as a last resort.
  4. You can never say a number low enough to insult the sales person.
  5. If you’re clearly a foreigner, you’ve already been swindled. No matter how good of a negotiator that you think you are, you’ve ultimately lost. The question becomes how much less you were swindled than someone else from your native country in the same position.
  6. If you haven’t walked out at least 5 times, then you’ve probably already lost.
  7. Any allies should follow your swift movements upon exit. They should be waiting outside for you to create a sense of urgency.
  8. The bigger the line of customers behind you, the more you should bottleneck the negotiation by taking your time, and preventing other customers from getting to the front. This makes the other side sweat bullets. (Welcome to the world of 3rd world style negotiations.)
  9. Once you get to the register, you can squeeze them for even more with second thoughts. The game isn’t over. Keep pushing. Make sure the credit card is in their hand before chiming in and saying ‘wait.’ Why is it X price? I think it’s too much. I’m having second thoughts.’
  10. Never nod your head. Ever. You should be shaking your head left and right the entire time as if you feel like you’re in the middle of a shakedown and you know you’re getting swindled.
  11. A single positive emotion shown to the other side means you’ve lost ground. Remember that time you got picked last in gym class? Run through that scenario in your head while negotiating to make yourself look not happy. Your smile is an expensive delta between the price they have in their head and the price you want it to go down to. They have to EARN your smile.

A History of Innovators: To Grow Really Big, Do Something Small Absurdly Well.

Studying Innovation History is fun. 
For the last 20 years, I’ve studied over 1000 inventors and creators. It started with my first shitty invention at the age of 6- an infinite loop solar panel tied to a flashlight and a book given to me by my grandfather about inventors. It grew into a brute force fascination into understanding the mechanics of how inventors and innovators go from zero to X.

Single Functionality as A Starting Point. 
To grow really big as a venture or tech with a lot of reach, do one thing absurdly well for a small group of people.

People Normally Distribute. 
Most groups of people ‘normally distribute’ and for whatever reason, 100 seems to be a statistically significant enough size. If you can make a small group of people super happy, you can usually grow from that.

Some Prime Examples
I chose a few of my favorite stories of founded companies as examples…..

HP started as a company that only makes precision audio oscillators.
Nintendo started off as the best damn playing cards for gangsters.
Motorola made the best battery eliminator for radios.
Coca Cola started as a pharmacists product who laced booze with cocaine.
Sharp started as a pencil making company. They made a really cool pencil called the Ever-ready sharp. I have a poster of it in my home office.
Kotex made the first high fidelity wound dressings for World War 2.
Dow started making potassium bromide and bleach initially.
Toyota started as a handloom company.
Bose’s first loud speaker dispersed 22 small mid-range speakers over an eighth of a sphere and was a commercial failure, followed by the creation of the model 901, in which eight identical mid-range drivers (with electronic equalization) were aimed at the wall behind the speaker while the ninth driver was aimed towards the listener. The pentagonal design was groundbreaking and beautiful engineering. This product feels indistinguishable from Magic.
Johnson & Johnson made the first ready to use surgical dressings after hearing a speech from Joseph Lister, or so it goes.
P&G – Procter and Gamble started as a joint venture to collect fat to make candles+soap.

If you have any other good founding stories, please tweet them to me @datarade.

What Creators Know About Patents.

What Creators Know About Patents.

Great creators know that patents are mostly a human video game of sorts that they are required to partake in. They create things because they have a disease of the soul that makes them feel sick if they’re not creating things. Patents are not necessary for a resourceful creator’s success.

Great products that are used by millions of people generally allow us to discover new ideas, concepts, and problems that we couldn’t have seen before without their existence.

The World’s First Shrimp Peeler.

Take for example the case of the meteoric rise of the Shrimp industry and its derivative inventions.

In 1949 James Lapeyre stepped on a piece of shrimp and the skin came undone from the shrimp. He used this knowledge and invented the world’s first shrimp peeler and blew up and unlocked the capability of the shrimp industry.

The Conveyor Belts Started Rusting.

Millions of pounds of shrimp were being pulled into the peelers and the conveyor belts started rusting from the salt.

The resultant invention was plastic modular conveyor belts which were rolled into Intralox, a billion dollar company, that has changed the way conveyor belts are manufactured and optimized. Intralox now services 60,000 customers.

“In 1949, Intralox founder J.M. Lapeyre[3][4] invented an automatic shrimp-peeling machine [5][6] that changed the industry. J.M. patented his shrimp peeler and 190 other inventions during his lifetime. He also founded four companies — all based on his inventions. Intralox, one of those four companies, registered the first patent for modular plastic belting in 1970.”

The basic idea is that distributed products with lots of users cause new problems to emerge.

The Realities of Patents.

The future is a world where patents don’t exist, where the consummate creators can build on top of previous inventions without the nuances of having to close licensing deals with emotional figureheads.

Patents are government granted monopolies of the previous century that humanity must overcome.

Necessary Ingredients for Greatness: Doggedness, Chutzpah, Grit, and Obsession.

Necessary Ingredients for Greatness: Doggedness, Chutzpah, Grit, and Obsession.

Being successful takes an immutable understanding of current patterns in life and obsession.

Myshkin Ingawale built 32 prototypes before coming up with an anemia diagnosis solution using electroplethysmography as the backbone technology.

Edison once said “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Henry Ford and Walt Disney both went broke 5+ times before succeeding.
Goddard was told his ideas didn’t work in stratified space.

Jack London was rejected several hundred times.

Sony’s first rice cooker, well it was absolute shit(yeah, I got a hold of one in Mumbai). Akio Morita built the business slowly but surely.

The inventor of the dyson vacuum had 4000+ failed prototypes.