23andme

I’m in Mountain View to give a talk at 23andMe. Their latest funding round was $250M on a (reported) valuation of $1.5B. If I just add up the Crunchbase numbers it looks like almost half a billion invested at this point… Slides: Genomic Prediction of Complex Traits Abstract: We apply methods from Compressed Sensing (L1-penalized regression; Donoho-Tanner …

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Foo Camp 2016

I was at Foo Camp the last few days. This year they kept the size a bit lower (last year was kind of a zoo) and I thought the vibe was a lot more relaxed and fun. Many thanks to the O’Reilly folks for running this wonderful meeting and for inviting me. My first time …

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Who owns the future?

NewStatesman: Who owns the future? How the prophets of Silicon Valley took control In an era when politics is bereft of grand visions, bioengineers and Silicon Valley tech geeks are claiming the mantle of leadership and prophecy. But what do they want and where are they leading us? … The 20th century was shaped by …

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Productive Bubbles

These slides are from one of the best sessions I attended at scifoo. Bill Janeway’s perspective was both theoretical and historical, but in addition we had Sam Altman of Y Combinator to discuss Airbnb and other examples of 2 way market platforms (Uber, etc.) that may or may not be enjoying speculative bubbles at the …

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Crypto-currencies, Bitcoin and Blockchain

Photos from two meetings I attended last week. Some general comments on crypto-currencies: 1. Bitcoin doesn’t really solve any payment problems, unless of course you are a paranoid libertarian who hates “fiat” currencies. But why should you trust the Bitcoin Foundation any more than you trust a central bank? (See Bitcoin dynamics.) 2. Most potential users …

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Venture capital in the 1980s

Via Dominic Cummings (@odysseanproject), this long discussion of the history of venture capital, which emphasizes the now largely forgotten 1980s. VC in most parts of the developed world, even large parts of the US, resembles the distant past of the above chart. There is a big gap between Silicon Valley and the rest. Heat Death: …

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Gender trouble in the valley

This NYTimes article looks at the gender disparity in technology career success within the Stanford class of 1994. NYTimes: In the history of American higher education, it is hard to top the luck and timing of the Stanford class of 1994, whose members arrived on campus barely aware of what an email was, and yet …

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Creation, Myths and Twitter

Great article by Nick Bilton on the creation myth (and true story) behind Twitter. To see that luck plays an unimaginably huge role in life you just need to look carefully at the story behind any successful company or entrepreneur. NYTimes: … Soon, the question of a name came up. Williams jokingly suggested calling the …

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