Weekly readings – 2nd November 2019

How Pizza Hut stopped innovating its pizza and fell behind Domino’s

Spotify Saved the Music Industry. Now What?

An interesting study on how Americans personally view success and perceived success by others

Source: Gallup

Anglo American closes in on Peruvian copper bounty

Inside the iPhone 11 Camera, Part 1: A Completely New Camera

Biology is Eating the World: A Manifesto

Venmo vs. Cash App: A Look Inside the Most Popular Consumer Finance Products in the US

Free Speech – When You Pray For Rain, You Have To Deal With The Mud Too

The debate on free speech between tech companies, specifically Facebook and Twitter, and politicians such as Elizabeth Warren is heating up and getting hotter than ever. Facebook refused to take down political ads from the right wing that the left consider fake news. Politicians led by Elizabeth Warren vehemently criticized the decision by Facebook arguing that it is helping the President win an election again.

Coming from the background that I have, I appreciate the freedom of speech in America which is enshrined in the Constitution. There is nothing better to ensure that everybody is free to voice his or her own opinion. The right in and of itself is great and good. The problem; however, lies in how people execute the right and how it is perceived by others.

When a right-winged party runs a political ads with controversial information, the party is within its right to do so. Facebook, as it claims to preserve the right to expression on its platform, chooses to honor it. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

The problem is that when you exercise your right to free speech and spread out false information on others, you rob others of the right to be perceived truthfully. In that sense, is it still acceptable? Also, it then falls onto Facebook to be the guardian of truth, the entity that decides whether a piece of information is right or false. And it’s not an easy task. Whatever Facebook does will please one part of the population and piss off the rest. Whatever is truth to one party of an ideology will be considered fake news by the opposing party.

I fear that there is no definitive answers to this debate. The Internet and Facebook enable friction-less communication of information and, as a consequence, false information around the globe. That’s the byproduct of it. I don’t see how Facebook can do one without harming the other aspect of their operation. And as explained above, I don’t see how it can please anybody in its endeavor to preserve the First Amendment, but also to police the content.

When we pray for rain, we have to deal with the mud too. That’s my mentality in a lot of issues. In this case, I think we pray hard for the rain, but we are not ready to deal with the mud

The right to speak and not to

There has been quite a story about the issue between China and the NBA. An executive from Houston Rockets tweeted his support for Hong Kong and it resulted in backlash from China. Steve Kerr, the head coach of Golden State Warriors and a regular critic of the current President and Administration, didn’t have much to say about China. Critics blast him for his selective speaking out.

I find it bizarre to see Kerr criticized. Freedom of Speech is sacred in America. As far as I am concerned, it involves the right to voice your opinion freely. Not saying anything is also a form of voicing one’s opinion. Kerr has every right to publicly talk about any issue he wants and to not say anything at all as he is well pleased.

I understand that celebrities have a platform and following that can and should be used to affect social changes. But at the end of the day, celebrities are only humans and as humans, they have rights. They reserve the right to their opinion and how they voice it, as stated in the Constitution. There is no guarantee that anything material would have happened if Kerr had spoke out. And I am not sure that basing your own opinion on that of others, especially strangers, is a good idea.

If the right to say something is sacred in America, as enshrined in the Constitution, then so is the right to not have to say anything against your will. If you were in Kerr’s place, would you appreciate being blasted for only exercising your right?

Weekly Readings – 13th April 2019

You Could Have Today. Instead You Choose Tomorrow. A great post by Ryan Holiday on living in the moment.

The Design of Apple’s Credit Card. An in-depth look on the design of Apple Card. I personally cannot wait to experience the card

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%. An interesting read on how South Korea is tackling the food waste problem, a problem that America is facing as well.

5-star phonies: Inside the fake Amazon review complex.

The Rough Stuff: Understanding Aggressive Consensual Sex. An interesting study on rough behavior in the bedroom.

Lyft vs Uber: A Tale of Two S-1’s. A look at the unit economics of the two ride-sharing companies.

How the Paradox of the Term ‘Original Series’ Explains the Video Industry (Netflix Misunderstandings, Pt. 4). If you are interested in media, technology and strategy, follow Matthew Ball. He is just awesome.

15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook. A fantastic write-up on how Facebook dealt with a barrage of scandals

Weekly Readings – 13th April 2019

The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen. A very solid post on how to create an effective sales deck. Particularly in B2B world, a sales deck is an important component of a sales process. Of course, it’s not always a break-or-make factor, but presenting a professionally crafted deck with powerful messages is certainly very helpful in landing a deal.

How Rippling Raised a $45M Series A — Without a Pitch Deck. What I like about this is that the company took a refreshing approach by using a memo instead of a pitch deck. Don’t get me wrong. There is a great deal of effort and time needed to craft a great pitch deck. Yet, as a fan of writing, I appreciate Rippling’s fresh approach.

Amazon – 2018 Letter to Shareholders. This kind of letters reveals quite a bit of information on a company.

Uber S-1. This one is quite dense. I may write something about it in next week or so. But if you are interested in the ride-hailing company, it will be a good weekend read

Disney Investor Day. A lengthy yet informative presentation by Disney on its brands and of course, the highly anticipated Disney+. I think they did a good job announcing the service. The price is just $7/month or $70/year and the service will be available in the US in November 2019. Disney+ gives users access to an incredible library of content from Marvel, Lucas Film, Pixar, Disney and National Geographic. A few original content will be available within the first year as well, including a few Marvel series. I think Disney+ will be a tough competitor to Netflix because it has great content, brand and a marketing expertise that is as legendary as the brand. Additionally, it has different income sources such as parks, hotels or merchandise that can help Disney fund the first few years of Disney+ to sign up users, a luxury that Netflix doesn’t have. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily a zero-sum game. Plus, execution matters. Disney may have a lot of things going on for them, but if they don’t capitalize on that, it won’t matter.

Public Transit

Landing in Austin, I immediately went to Uber and Lyft apps to look for a ride to Austin Downtown. Each came back with an estimate of $20 for a ride. I thought, well, it is what it is. In my defense, it is kinda a trained reaction after living for a while in America, where public transportation can be disappointing in some cases. Anyway, I decided to give it a try and ask the Information Desk about buses to Austin downtown. It turned out that buses run every 15 mins, even on Saturdays and most Sundays from and to the airport. The charge? $1.25/person/ride. It took me only 25 mins to reach Austin downtown, not much different from the estimated time of an Uber/Lyft ride. But I saved $19.

Imagine how much money & time we could collectively save from using more public transportation and less personal vehicles. No more scrambling to find a parking slot, no more parking fees in your building, no more car insurance and safer transportation. A well-designed public transportation network will be a great investment of tax payers’ money and a spoon for low-income folks who should not be forced to buy a car for daily commute.

In Omaha, one of two biggest cities in Nebraska, if not the biggest, there are more bus routes from downtown than other parts of the city and on the weekdays. If you live reasonably far out, no matter the direction, from the city center, there is no bus at all. On the weekends, there is only one bus every half an hour or every hour. To popular places such as Social Security Administration or DMV, there is usually one bus every half an hour, even on the weekdays, and it usually involves transiting from another bus. Trust me, it’s hugely frustrating and unnecessarily time-consuming. On top of that, drivers in Omaha are terrible. I don’t know about drivers in other cities, but a busted car front is not an unusual sight there. If you are not an experienced driver, it can be dangerous and daunting. Oh and it is even worse in the winter. My boss told me on Friday, the first day of winter, that she had to turn around and come home after 2 miles because there were a lot of accidents and the roads were too slippery.

P/S: After telling me about the bus, the lady at Austin Airport’s Information Desk promptly gave me a quarter for my bus ride. Talk about first impression from a new city!



National Park Visits – Stats and Tableau Dashboard

I decided to take on the challenge of making a Tableau dashboard on which data on national park visits can be found. The intention is to show that Tableau has some cool features that allow the communication of complex data in an easy-to-digest way. Others have done a phenomenal job visualizing the data. See here for some inspiration. My dashboard covers a lot more ground, but lacks the aesthetics and creative flair that others possess.

Data can be found here:

A few notes on how to use the dashboard:

  • You can choose which park type to look at. Once you click on a value, the map will change accordingly and so will the table next to it that shows specifically the parks belonging to that category
  • Next the parks’ names, there are values shown as “abc”. Hover your mouse over them to get the specific values for each park
  • You can choose aggregating methods (Sum, Max, Min…)
  • You can choose to look at either Recreational or Non-recreational visitors
  • Of course, there is a slider that allows you to choose specific time frame
  • You may want to use a laptop to look at the dashboard. My experience of using a phone didn’t go very well


Enjoy! Hopefully you’ll find it useful