JDR’s Newsletter – #12 (Quarterly Report, Minor changes, Pokemon Go and Yahoo)

Hello there,

This is a (roughly) weekly newsletter experiment containing links to things I’ve written and made, plus links to other interesting articles, reports and essays I’ve come across.

In case you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so through Tinyletter. You can find an archive of this and previous issues of my newsletter at news.jdr.fyi.

Thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

My blog posts and articles

Does The Internet Have An Image Problem? Maybe (my site)

This is another post from my blog’s archives, from May 2015. I explore the history and current state of the explosion in digital photography and image transmission over mobile and hardwired networks. Starting with a history of the cameraphone and winding up with a discussion of global bandwidth share taken up by images and video, this one was a lot of fun to write.

Fun facts:

  • It’s estimated that 5.7–6 trillion photos were taken in 2015.
  • If you were to print out all the photos posted to Instagram every day, you’d be able to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in one workweek
  • There are now 20–25 times more photo-taking devices in circulation today than in 1999.

What a Chat Bot Taught Me About Being Human (Techli)

I wrote this all the way back in 2011 when I was a staff writer for Techli, but I thought I’d share it here for two reasons: chatbots are hot and everyone seems to avoid talking about the primitiveness of the technology, and it’s a peek into what my writing was like when I was just starting out.

Twelve weeks of newsletters!

Skip to the next section if you don’t care for navel-gazing administrata.

It’s now been 12 weeks since I started this newsletter. Despite some occasional delays, I’ve managed to keep my promise of publishing it weekly.

Here are some updates about the state of the newsletter.

Quarterly Report for Q1 of my newsletter

TLDR: People besides my parents and close friends like my newsletter.

In the interest of being transparent about the progress of this little “experiment”, I decided to compile and publish a report about it. In it, I share charts and graphs depicting various metrics most people keep very close to the chest.

Announcing some minor changes

TLDR: I am rebranding this newsletter to “The Rowley Report”. If you receive it via email, basically nothing will change for you except the subject lines.

There are a couple of minor tweaks and changes I’m planning to implement over the next week or two. Here’s what I was thinking:

  • I am re-branding the newsletter. This is the last edition that will be called “JDR’s Newsletter – #xyz”. Future editions will be published as “The Rowley Report”.
  • I will no longer number the newsletters in the subject line. Edition numbers will now be kept at the bottom.
  • Instead of cross-posting this newsletter to the feed on my website, I will instead be publishing it to a Medium publication at http://rowley.report/. (As of the time of writing, I haven’t set that up yet, but I have the domain.) I will migrate all old copies of my newsletter from my main domain (JasonDRowley.com) to the feed on that site. I will continue to publish blog posts and other content as usual on my main site.

If you receive this newsletter via Tinyletter, you will continue to do so. You will not need to also subscribe at Rowley.report.

Of media consolidation and net neutrality

News broke on Sunday that Verizon agreed to a $5 billion deal to acquire Yahoo!, which is (somewhat improbably) still the #5 most visited site in the world according to Alexa. This comes one year after the telecoms giant acquired AOL, owner of media properties like The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget.

I think that Fortune writer Kevin Fitcuard’s analysis of the AOL acquisition holds true for the Yahoo deal as well: Verizon, like most mobile carriers, has basically saturated the market for wireless signups and is now looking to acquire advertising technologies and the media outlets that draw in eyeballs.

As an aside, one of the most notable casualties of the decline of Yahoo! is Tumblr, from which its parent company just wrote off another $482 million in good will value. In light of the fact that Tumblr is basically worth nothing, NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway commented that Tumblr was the biggest tech M&A debacle of the past decade.

Next up on the consolidation front: Keeping an eye on Comcast’s bid to acquire the 600 MHz wireless spectrum as the cable conglomerate vies for a spot in the mobile broadband market.

The market didn’t see Pokemon Go coming

One of the most surprising things to me, in light of news stories about Pokemon Go raking in huge amounts of money, is that the company officially raised only $25 million in venture funding, the majority of which came from Google, Nintendo and the holding company for Pokemon’s brand assets.

Back when news of Nintendo’s investment broke in October 2015, there was basically zero reaction from the stock market. Seriously, go back and look at the historic chart of Nintendo’s stock price in Japan or its ADR here in the States.

Bupkis. There’s not even an appreciable jump in volume to speak of, despite that investment news being the among the first stirrings of Nintendo’s interest in entering the incredibly lucrative mobile gaming market.

In other Pokemon Go news, video game industry blogger and enthusiast “ZhugeEX” published an in-depth 5000 word essay about Pokemon Go. If you haven’t read anything about the crazy, bonkers success of that game yet, ZhugeEX’s piece is a good place to start. (Or you could go back to last week’s newsletter and check out the links I suggested.) His site also has good commentary on the Chinese video game industry.

Also, if you haven’t listened to the latest episode of Exponent, Ben Thomson and James Allworth unpacked the humble brilliance of Nintendo’s move to partner with Niantic. They also mentioned Box CEO Aaron Levie’s amazing tweet about Nintendo’s mobile strategy.

Other news and links

Best of

If you’re at all a fan of food, or if you watched the first season of Mind of a Chef on Netflix, you’ve heard the name David Chang, chef-proprietor of Momofuku and founding editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Well, Chang just wrote a piece for Wired magazine about his grand unifying theory of deliciousness, and it is exquisite.

Related: It is chanterelle season in Chicago and elsewhere around the country. I personally picked a few pounds of these wild mushrooms over the past couple of days and will be going back into the forest throughout the week. Consider reaching out to your local mycological society/club and go on a fungus foraging foray with them!

Tech news & industry commentary

There is new, raw footage of car companies reacting to the recently unveiled second part of Tesla’s master plan. In all seriousness though, I think Uber and Lyft should also be included in that video because it seems like Elon Musk is gunning for part of their business.

Elle magazine, the beauty and lifestyle magazine, recently published its list of women in tech to watch in 2016. My two cents: it is really great to see women in technology get attention from the broader press.

Consulting firm McKinsey published the summer reading lists of seventeen top CEOs. Major takeaways from the list: JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon is delightfully stereotypical, I like Reid Hoffman’s general taste in books, and two CEOs are reading Joshua Cooper Ramo’s The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune and Survival In the Age of Networks.

With the launch of its new Social functions, Tinder slowly begins to fold in the IP and product strategy it acquired from Humin.

In a time of historically low interest rates, one bank is proposing to pay interest on deposits in the form of mobile data credits.

Product and traction

HERE’s head of growth, William Gill, published an extensive guide to generating your own numerical model to add some analytical rigor to customer acquisition projections. Entrepreneurs and investors should give this one a look.

In a fascinating article for ConversionXL, Alex Burkett explores the design elements of a “luxurious” user experience, first by offering a number of counterexamples and then delving into specifics. He incorporates a lot of expert feedback and opinion.

NYC based digital product director Adam Ghahramani gives ten reasons why companies should consider writers for product manager roles. My favorite: “Reason 5: Writers Know How to Pivot and Kill”.

Version One VC’s Angela Tran Kingyens compiled her book on marketplace businesses down into a 58-slide deck and shared it on Slideshare. Her book was in a list of other resources I compiled and shared last month.


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