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The DL - Black Lives Matter, AI News, Bill Gurley's Zoom Prediction, and The Battle of Helm's Deep

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Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.
 
June 8 · Issue #51 · View online
The DL
Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.

This week’s issue highlights resources to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, a story about AI in journalism, Bill Gurley’s 1994 video conferencing predictions, and an analysis of The Battle of Helm’s Deep.

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Learn, Speak Up, Do Something
Black Lives Matter. There are so many powerful stories, essays, and videos to describe how the Black community feels right now, and it’s impossible to read and watch without feeling heartbroken and outraged.

This metaphor from White Fragility really resonated with me because it underscores why everyone needs to be anti-racist to make this moment a real turning point:
Take women’s suffrage. If being a woman denies you the right to vote, you ipso facto cannot grant it to yourself. And you certainly cannot vote for your right to vote. If men control all the mechanisms that exclude women from voting as well as the mechanisms that can reverse that exclusion, women must call on men for justice.

Fighting systemic racism is a massive and complex problem, but it starts with many individuals taking small steps towards personal accountability and action. Here are a few links to start learning, speaking up, and doing something about racism in our country.

For a longer list of anti-racism resources, here is the most popular doc being shared with links to more articles, videos, and podcasts.

Microsoft Replaces Journalists with AI
According to The Verge, Microsoft is going to lay off ~50 people from its Microsoft News organization and replace them with AI.

News.exe is the company’s next-generation computer package that intends to “reimagine the way news is created and consumed.” But while Microsoft designed News to, essentially, replace journalists as the gatekeepers of the news, writers will still be providing the content.

That should not be confused with robot-writing. This is not the world of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. In fact, one of the big advantages News poses over a machine-written newspaper is that humans are far better at debunking frauds and fake news.

(In case you thought the italicized paragraphs were bad but weirdly accurate, it’s because I “wrote” it using an AI news generator from AI2)

Zoom Crushes; Bill Gurley Called It in 1994
Zoom hosted their Q1 earnings call last week, and they announced $328M in revenue - compared to analyst estimates of $202M. Apparently, this is the largest beat vs. consensus estimates in the history of enterprise software.

One of my favorite responses to this news was Bill Gurley posting a link to an equity research report he wrote in 1994. Really fun to see the predictions he made back then, like:
  • Yes, people will order PCs by phone, even though they don’t buy TVs that way
  • Yes, PCs will become multi-function devices even though people don’t use combination blender/toasters in the kitchen
  • And of course… Yes, people will use video conferencing as a sales tool even though people prefer the intimacy of meeting in person

I also love his commentary on Twitter: “Wrote about it 25+ years ago, & somehow still missed @ericsyuan as an investment. 🤦‍♂️”

Other stuff Dan's talking about
📚 Startup pitch decks - Cool website showcasing early pitch decks for startups like Coinbase, AirBnB, and Intercom. LinkedIn’s Series B deck is unsurprisingly very good
🤪 “Dumbass work” - Barry Diller, chairman of Expedia and IAC, says earnings guidance is dumbass work, so his companies won’t do it anymore
⚔️ A historian’s look at LOTR - Lol this is a pretty awesome blog analyzing the battle strategies employed at The Battle of Helm’s Deep. I knew setting up ladders to climb those walls was dumbass work…
💡 KKR’s lessons from 2008 - KKR thought they didn’t deploy enough capital in 2008, so they learned their lesson, and now they are the most active PE firm since COVID started, with $12.7B of new investments

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About me: I work as an investor at Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that has been early partners with companies like Amazon, Smartsheet, Apptio, and Redfin.
If you have thoughts, questions, or comments, hit reply! If you’re new, check out some of the DL’s top articles from the last few months:

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