Per My Last E-mail #1

The only one of these that won't actually have a "last e-mail" to refer to.

Hi friends 👋

Thank you for signing up for the Per My Last E-mail newsletter! I hope it entertains you and gives you some new things to think about. Puja asked me to add her parents to the list after reading a draft, so I feel better about it not being completely terrible at least.

I’m taking a writing course called Write of Passage and this week’s assignment is to get 20 people to sign up for my newsletter (check. thank you!) and to send you all a personal update e-mail. This has been the hardest assignment yet for me because it means actually having to ask all of you to sign up and read what I write, but Trust the Process.

So first things first, what have I been up to?


Personal Update

✈️ Puja and I just got back from an amazing 10-day trip in Israel, first in Jerusalem, then in Akko (the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world), and finally in Tel Aviv - now officially on the list of places that I would live if I moved abroad. The weather was perfect, we stayed in an AirBnB 1 minute away from the beach, I finally learned what the scooter craze is all about, and the food lived up to the hype.

🎤 Side Note: The most excited I saw people get on the whole trip was when Don’t Stop Me Now came on at Kuli Alma. Bohemian Rhapsody has made Queen the world’s favorite band 40 years after Don’t Stop Me Now was released.

🏢 At Breather, we’re fully focused on building the newest evolution of our product, flexible office spaces, and I am really proud of the work the team has done to launch what I think are the most productive spaces available. Check out a few here, here, and here.

✍🏻 And obviously, I’m taking this writing course. I’m taking it mainly because I want to get better at making sense of the information I consume to develop my own point-of-view. The unexpected benefit so far is that it’s pushing me to be less of a wimp; assignments like this one force me to share my thoughts with people I respect (that’s you!) and get over the fear that what I’m putting out there isn’t novel or valuable. And because I have to put it out there, it’s forcing me to take the time to make my writing more novel and valuable.

🤓 The first piece I wrote for the course was an introduction to Ben Thompson, and if you check it out, I would love your feedback.

🏀 Outside of the course but now up on my site, I pulled together a bunch of the best content I could find on the Process - the Sixers journey from mediocre to terrible to really good - and packaged it into a course, quizzes and all. If you’ve ever wanted an online degree in an obscure basketball-related topic, this is your chance.


What I’ve Been Reading and Listening To

OK, phew. Done with the personal update piece. Thanks for bearing with me. From here on out, this newsletter will be a curated list of the things that I’m reading, listening to, watching, thinking about and writing. A few from this week:

📚 Why books don’t work by Andy Matuschak

Matuschak argues that “Books are surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge,” and that we can and should make new forms instead. As someone who reads a lot and absorbs about 5% of what I read, this one hits close to home.

🚀 The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex on LeVar Burton Reads

If you loved Reading Rainbow, you’ll love LeVar Burton reading you short stories on his podcast.

🤖 AGI Has Been Delayed by Rodney Brooks

I read ‘The Singularity is Near’ by Ray Kurzweil in college, and was convinced that robots would be smarter than humans in my lifetime. Brooks argues that, based on an insider’s prediction that driverless cars will be integrated onto our roads over the next 30-50 years, we will not see human-level AGI until 2200 or 2300.

📉 Uber IPO Woes Stem from a Lack of Innovation by Bradley Tusk

Bradley Tusk, an early Uber investor and advisor and one of the people behind De Blasio Mode, argues that while Dara Khosrowshahi’s softer approach works with the media, Travis Kalanick’s more ambitious and innovative approach might have worked better with public market investors.

💸 The Uber IPO by Acquired

The Acquired podcast does deep dives on tech M&A and IPOs. This episode goes over the history of the taxi industry, Uber’s story and what will make Uber’s IPO successful or unsuccessful in the coming years.

Fun fact: Henry Allen started the first taxi company in NYC in 1907. In 1908, his drivers went on strike to be treated like employees, even though they were essentially independent contractors. History repeats itself.

🌎 AR Will Spark the Next Big Platform - Call it Mirrorworld  by Kevin Kelly

I’m cheating a bit here, because I read this a couple of months ago, but Mirrorworld is an eye-opening glimpse at what the world could look like in a decade and beyond by one of tech’s best writers.


🐲 What We Need from the Game of Thrones Finale by Wired

Books, Uber and the future of humanity are interesting or whatever, but today is really all about the Game of Thrones Finale. The Wired staff discusses what they need to see out of the finale to feel satisfied with how the series wraps up. Spoilers, obviously.


What’s next?

👯 If you’ve seen the Shen Yun posters and you’re like me, you’ve probably asked “How is a dance performance paying for omnipresent advertising?” I’m working on a post comparing Shen Yun to VC-backed startups and hope to have it out by the next newsletter. Have any thoughts on this topic? Let’s discuss.

Thank you for letting me embarrass myself and for reading this far. If you have any feedback, advice, or thoughts on what I should be sending, let me know!

Packy