The Diff is a newsletter tracking inflections in finance and tech. Our goal is to track the companies and trends that will matter more over the next five years, rather than just keeping tabs on what's happening day-to-day. Finance and tech are two broad industries that both happen to be very meta industries: they're a layer on top of the rest of the economy, and on top of human behavior. They're also good laboratories for understanding broader trends; when industry cycles are fast, as in software, you can learn things that might take decades to become apparent in a slower industry. Finance has the convenient feature that asset prices react almost instantaneously to news (not always the right way, of course), so you can get a real-time reading on what people are thinking in response to what's changing in the world.

Today, large institutions are mostly designed for a much simpler world with faster productivity growth. Outside of computers and communications, scientific progress has slowed abysmally since the mid twentieth century. Meanwhile, in government, media, and education we’ve moved backwards; we’re less efficient and less effective than ever before, despite shinier tools and lavish spending. But the obligations institutions have—whether they’re formal ones like government transfer programs or informal ones like a company’s commitment to its customers, employees, and suppliers—are all designed around a higher-growth world. This naturally leads to conflict.

Some of that conflict will play out between legacy sectors and more dynamic ones, and plenty of it will happen within those sectors. We are still early to the trend of software getting deeply embedded into every company’s processes, and to the financialization of everything.

Pundits like to talk about how the pace of change has never been faster. They’re right, but in the wrong sense: the pace of fundamental change is slowing down, so unpredictability represents less progress and more chaos.

What is The Diff About?

And some narrower, more time-sensitive trends:

Who Writes The Diff?

The Diff was founded by me, Byrne Hobart. I’ve worked in tech (digital ad agencies, Yahoo, 21.co) and finance (SAC Capital/Point72, 7Park Data, M Science). I’ve been investing in public companies since middle school, and writing online since high school.

Jack Wiseman joined in August 2021 to work on research, operations, and new ventures including recruiting.

Who Reads The Diff?

Readers skew towards the two fields I write about: technology, particularly software, and finance, especially hedge funds. Readers include hedge fund managers, tech company founders, venture capitalists, and 1.5% of the Forbes 400.

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