The New Radical

by Alex Wilhelm

Letters From a Contrarian

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#HardLanding

As I’ve been saying: Hard landing. Today’s WSJ editorial on the unravelling of the Chinese stunning.

Guess what? If you spend far too much in inefficient ways, force growth and fuel it with artificial credit, and then cover up bad loans it doesn’t end well. Ghost cities are merely the outgrowth or rotten policy.

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Female Founders And Y Combinator

Paul Graham is back in the news, due in most part it now appears to unfortunate editing of some of his remarks. You can vet that controversy yourself. All that I will add is that Valleywag gets points in my book for giving Paul room to respond, and Paul as well for being upfront in the aftermath.

Discussing the issue on Twitter, @shanley (a digital friend of mine) asked me a few questions:

“@alex hey you should write a piece on what % of women founders YComb has funded compared to % of male founders. :)” Link

And:

“.@alex Why are no journalists writing about what percent of women Ycombinator and other VCs actually invest in?” Link

@Shanley objected to Paul’s response to the controversy, saying that “proof is in the $$$, not the comments,” regarding his investment decisions.

It’s an interesting point. We have access to data that allows...

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Bitcoin $750? YOLO

Bitcoin is now more interesting to watch than pornography, which on a Monday at work is really saying something. Bitcoin recently spiked to $750 on the Mt.Gox exchange. According to the BTC-e exchange, Bitcoin is trading for a more modest $607 per coin.

Google trades for more than $1,000 per share, but Bitcoin is now worth more per unit than Apple stock (~$518).

I have no idea what is going on. However, I can report that inbound interest is so large that if you attempt to buy Bitcoin through Coinbase, it will politely inform you that you can’t have any damn Bitcoin until Friday. Well, fine then.

The Bitcoin boom of the past few days has been large enough that other currencies are seeing their value rise as, presumably, Bitcoin owners look to diversify their holdings. Litecoin, for example, has essentially doubled its value today.

Call it Bitcoin leakage. Alright, have a chart:

...

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Rep. Sam Johnson Of Texas Is Not Quite A Student Of History

Rep. Sam Johnson is a veteran, and former prisoner war. He has thus suffered privation in the name of preserving and protecting the American Experiment far greater than I ever will endure myself. For that, I thank him.

However, the good Representative appears to have at least a piece of his American history in twist, and as such I’d like to point out a few salient details that could go a long way towards clearing the air, and respecting the religious liberty that is so deeply codified into the document that details the rules for this our, again, American Experiment.

Rep. Johnson recently wrote a short entry in response to the Air Force Academy - Johnson served in the Air Force - changing its rules so that uttering the phrase “so help me God” when stating Cadet Honor Code is now optional. This is in keeping with the religious rules of this country such that you are...

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Email And Pitches And PR

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hanging out with the PR industry more than usual. This kicked off after I was on a panel the other week at a PR shindig talking about, well, PR and technology writing.

It’s been nice, really, as people in PR tend to be courteous, and willing to have a drink and a laugh. So there’s that.

I want to make two quick points that have come up through my recent conversations that are worth scribbling down, if you’ll allow me the moment:

  1. Pitching. PR denizens always want to know what “works.” Often the answer is: Nothing. Nearly nothing that I write is based on pitches. I honestly can’t recall the last time that I wrote an article following a blind pitch that caught my eye.

    This almost surprises some people in PR, as if they thought that most of what I wrote was originally borne as the idea of someone else. No, not...

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TechCrunch

Since I’ve joined the TechCrunch crew, I’ve been asked a similar set of questions by quite a few people. I love you all, but repeating myself is becoming dull. So, here are some answers:

Q: How is it going at TechCrunch?

A: So far everyone has been exceptionally kind and welcoming. I’m having oodles of fun, and dig my new coworkers. Also, there is free jerky in the office, which is a key perk.

Q: Ugh, Alex, TechCrunch? I freakin' hate TechCrunch!

A: I really don’t get this one. Some people appear to have a personal animus for TC that confuses me. It’s a group of very smart, hardworking people, who really give a shit about what they do. They love this stuff.

Every news outlet is different, of course, and TC does grant its writers a bit more flexibility than others to stretch their legs. I personally love this, and think that it adds to the site’s...

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Parsing The $900M Surface RT Writedown

Today Microsoft dropped a $900 million bomb onto the tech world in the form of a writedown stemming from “inventory adjustments” regarding the Surface RT tablet hybrid.

Holy ouch.

That cost the firm $0.07 per share, and given that investors didn’t quite know that it was coming, it helped Microsoft miss expectations, and firmly decline 6% in after-hours trading. That’s what, around $18 billion in evaporated market capitalization? Not all Surface RT related, of course, but that $900 million was no small part of the generally weak report.

Office 365 is doing great, as an aside. It’s on a $1.5 billion run rate now, up 50% in just a few months.

But the Surface RT charge is almost comically large. How was it calculated? From what did it stem? Twitter acquaintance of my Jay Yarow has some news via Microsoft:

The charge reflects the new market value of the...

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About those Nokia Windows Phone sales figures

Ingrid has the latest on Nokia’s financial performance:

More negative numbers for Nokia today, as the company reported its quarterly earnings for Q2, but it also noted sales of 7.4 million Window Phone-powered Lumia devices getting sold — the most in any quarter yet.

Nokia remains an unhealthy company mired in a messy struggle to rebuild its business from the ground up as a public company. It’s no small task. Quarterly pressure from disgruntled investors remains high.

Though it might prefer at the moment to be a private firm, Nokia is public, granting us access to its performance data. The company is kind enough to release the number of Windows Phone handsets it sells each quarter. As Ingrid stated above, Nokia moved 7.4 million of its Windows Phone-based Lumia devices in its last three month period.

Third-party data indicates that Nokia controls roughly 85% of the...

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Brute force inbox zero

It’s time. I’m writing this as short chronicle.

I have had bad email management since I joined Gmail either in late middle school, or early high school. The time to fix this is now.

I hereby swear to be more inbox proactive. However, I cannot pay for past sins without a complete revival.

Current inbox status:

Inbox

So I did this, and it worked. Took Gmail about 2 minutes of “Still Working” to get it done. New inbox:

New2

How about that.

A

ps. If I owe you an email, email me. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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The Not-Curious-Case-of-The-Next-Web-Retweet-Curve

In response to this article on Forbes, I shall lean on the New York Times:

Zee Kane, the chief executive of The Next Web, said the company was aware of the accounts but had never paid for fake followers or retweets. He said a likely explanation was that the company had created a tool, called spread.us, that allows people to automatically tweet its content. He said the company stopped marketing that tool eight months ago because it did not add quality traffic to the site.

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