- Before Cameo, there were the Geezer teasers: schlocky action movies with famous stars. It's a similar concept, selling a brief connection to a real celebrity. But unlike cameo, it comes bundled with unnecessary additions because of the nature of the industry.
- Bloomberg goes inside Intel's difficult recent years. An over-simplistic way to frame the struggle might be that an Intel CEO needs to balance between people skills (it's hard to run an organization with 110,000+ employees without them) and technical skills. While these aren’t anticorrelated in theory, in practice there’s range restriction that makes it hard to achieve both at a given career level.
- Caleb Watney at Agglomerations on solving the vaccine shortfall. A persistent problem with Covid has been anchoring to recent experience rather than making Fermi estimates about the magnitude of problems. Sometimes, a 10x increase in funding is a drastic cut in funding relative to the problem.
- This Palladium piece is in part a profile of some Chinese political and economic thinkers, but also a profile of a media environment very different from what people outside of China are familiar with.
- Politico on someone who became a White House correspondent as part of a Roblox-related dare. Politico uses terms like "digital impersonation" to refer to this, but that doesn't really make sense: they're profiling a working journalist who happens to be pseudonymous, but the story is not "this person behaves differently from other White House reporters," it's just "this person has a different backstory." As is true in other domains, if a credential itself is the dividing line between amateurs and professionals, there's no real difference.
- A few weeks ago I asked about long-term projects undertaken during Covid. Some examples since submitted by readers: this book (note: previously advertised in The Diff), this privacy vulnerability, and the world's largest painting. There will, no doubt, be more.
- Science and Corporate Strategy: Du Pont R&D, 1902–1980 is a very detailed look at the company that brought us Nylon, Lycra, Kevlar, Teflon, Cellophane, and less fortunately leaded gasoline and freon. It's a very detailed book, and ultimately ends up being a view into how corporate and government priorities changed over generations, and how one company adjusted. Early on, they were in a move-fast-and-break-things era, where they accidentally dyed a river violet and produced some deadly (but convenient!) new compounds; by the end, R&D was increasingly focused in minimizing risks—and increasingly the bearer of bad news about side effects of all those novel compounds.
- As always, drop in links to any articles, books, blog posts, substacks etc. that Diff readers would find interesting.
- Loop-driven businesses are always interesting. Are there any newly-discovered or newly-refined loops?
- Over time, economic growth and improving technology seem to increase the maximum number of employees a given company could conceivably have, and at the same time reduce the minimum number of employees a given company could have. Which (non hedge fund, non PE) businesses get the most impressive return on headcount?