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A weekly(-ish) newsletter on commerce, media, science, tech, investing, & internet culture by Alex Taussig of Lightspeed.

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A weekly(-ish) newsletter on commerce, media, science, tech, investing, & internet culture by Alex Taussig. I am a partner at Lightspeed in Silicon Valley.

Follow along with Alex:

Drinking from the Firehose #112

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Once a year, Lightspeed gathers our investors/LPs in San Francisco to give them an update on our annual progress.

We had a good year in 2018. I'm particularly proud of all the incredible people we've added to the team (read: here & here & here). Preparing for our annual meeting, however, has left me little time to write a "big thought" this weekend.

I'll be back next week, and look forward to writing more soon.

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#commerce

Unmanaged marketplace.

Recent tragic news out of Care.com underlies the need for marketplaces to invest more in visibility and active management. When it comes to taking care of kids, more resources must be invested in verifying listings and providers. The systemic negligence here is striking.

#media

Private parts.

Mark Zuckerberg made a bold announcement to pivot Facebook in the direction of the zeitgeist around privacy and ephemerality. Notably the company already owns privacy-focused messaging service WhatsApp, but it remains to be seen if Facebook can replicate its lucrative ads-based business model in this future Zuck imagines. If Facebook lacks access to underlying data on the content of messaging, it can only be so targeted with ads.

#tech

Art is what you can get away with.

Art and AI make strange bedfellows, but don't be fooled: software is eating art too. An algorithmically generated painting, trained on a dataset of prior successful paintings by famous artists, recently sold at auction for more than $400K.

The Atlantic writes: "Bystanders in and out of the art world were shocked. The print had never been shown in galleries or exhibitions before coming to market at auction, a channel usually reserved for established work. The winning bid was made anonymously by telephone, raising some eyebrows; art auctions can invite price manipulation. It was created by a computer program that generates new images based on patterns in a body of existing work, whose features the AI “learns.” What’s more, the artists who trained and generated the work, the French collective Obvious, hadn’t even written the algorithm or the training set. They just downloaded them, made some tweaks, and sent the results to market."

#science

Close encounters.

If you're into UFOs, you probably won't want to read this account of the history of UFO sightings and their ultimate tie to the news media outlets who profit from speculation on their existence.

#culture

Mr. Robocall (video).

Robocalls could be 50% of all telephone calls you receive next year. John Oliver dug into the reasons why in his latest bit on Last Week Tonight.

Disclaimer: * indicates a Lightspeed portfolio company, or other company in which I have economic interest. I also own stock directly in AAPL, ADBE, AMZN, CRM, FB, FTCH, GOOG/GOOGL, NFLX, SPOT, SQ, TSLA, and TWLO.

Lightspeed Venture Partners, 2200 Sand Hill Rd, Ste 100, Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA Sent to ataussig@gmail.com — Unsubscribe