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The DL - MS Build Highlights, How to Sabotage Your Company, Vogue x Amazon, and American Generosity

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Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.
 
May 26 · Issue #49 · View online
The DL
Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.

This week’s issue covers highlights from Microsoft’s virtual Build conference, how to sabotage a company (according to the CIA), Amazon’s collab with Vogue, and stats to see how generous you are.

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Microsoft Build Highlights
Microsoft hosted their annual developer conference, Build, as a 48 hour virtual event last week. You can watch all the keynotes and sessions here on-demand and read their announcement summaries here.

Here are four things I found interesting that tell you where Microsoft is headed over the next few years:
  1. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare - Microsoft is packaging Microsoft 365, Dynamics, and Azure into vertical cloud solutions with industry-specific data models, connectors, and workflows. Healthcare is first, and looks like financial services and energy could be next
  2. Fluid Framework - Fluid is a set of open source building blocks for text, tables, lists, and charts that can be used across apps. Seems like a low-code/no-code UI layer for Microsoft apps to compete with products like Notion and Coda. Try out the preview here
  3. Softomotive - Microsoft is continuing to enhance their Power Automate/RPA offering by acquiring Softomotive, which allows customers to build automated workflows using a “drag and drop” interface with macro and web recorders (screenshots here)
  4. AI Stuff - Last but not least, there are 26 mentions of AI on Microsoft’s Build summary, from edge AI, to OpenAI’s “supercomputer,” to Project Bonsai, to a bunch of new Azure ML services. Clearly, AI has been (and will continue to be) an important area of investment

Overall, not a surprise to see cloud, productivity, automation, and AI as key areas of investment. More interesting, however, is how Microsoft is piecing different products together as “solutions” (e.g., healthcare cloud) and the integrations between products (e.g., charts outside of Excel).

How to Sabotage Your Company
omg, just reading this list gives me so much anxiety
omg, just reading this list gives me so much anxiety
One of my favorite “mental models” is inversion. When you’re making a decision, instead of figuring out how to do something, figure out all the things you shouldn’t do and avoid them. (In Charlie Munger’s words, “tell me where I’m going to die, so I don’t go there.”)

So if you’re trying to run an effective organization you avoid this list of eight ways to sabotage an organization from the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual. Also, next time you are revisiting old decisions in a committee with more than five people, just remember… one of them is probably a spy sabotaging your organization. 😂

Vogue x Amazon
Amazon customers don't like $295 t-shirts? 😂
Amazon customers don't like $295 t-shirts? 😂
Wow - fashion in Seattle! Vogue x Amazon is a real collab! A couple weeks ago, they launched “Common Threads,” an Amazon storefront to support independent American designers who have been impacted by COVID.

The NY Times covered the launch with an article on Amazon’s history in the fashion world from flash sales, to private label, to showcasing luxury brands. Amazon has never done particularly well with brands, but let’s see what happens now that people are only shopping online.

(PS - here’s the link to the shirt that got the 1-star review)

Other stuff Dan's talking about
Alms race, lol
Alms race, lol
💸 How generous are Americans? - Most households give ~1.6% of their income, and higher-earning groups tend to donate more (except for the richest 5%). Good reminder to check in on Jack Dorsey’s $1B Google Sheet
📝 Notes from the Times - Fun set of Google Docs that the NY Times editors put together with recommendations, advice, diaries, and other thoughts from quarantine
Knots - In case you want to feel like an idiot today… Here’s one of those stories about an unsolved math problem that a grad student accidentally solved as homework. Props to this article for trying to explain the problem, but I still don’t get it 😅
🍕 Delivery stories - Interesting pair of stories around how Chuck E. Cheese and Applebee’s are starting “ghost restaurants” for delivery and how to take advantage of “Pizza Arbitrage” on Doordash

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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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