Welcome to the first non-Saturday edition of Start-up Curated. I hope to get these out on Tuesday mornings so this first one is already a day late, but we will get the kinks out over the next few weeks I promise.

Note: I am off on vacation next week, but will return with a briefing on January 5th. Have a safe and happy holiday!

This week's essay was "Contra Expertise". Last year I wrote about the importance of experience: "Experience and Progressions". The point was that some things are just too difficult to do without having actually experienced them in the real world. This new essay is the counter argument to that piece where I explore the limits to experience and why when hiring for a new role you are always trading off between experience and intelligence (and in business intelligence is USUALLY the right answer).

Onto the briefing...

Edward, Startup Curated



The Wednesday case seems the most damning. If the states have the evidence to prove what they are claiming it seems likely they will win. The big question is if they actually have that evidence - much of the document was censored and retracted (Side note: The best retraction was the code name the companies used. It was revealed to be a Star Wars character and the retracted was only four characters long. So it was clearly Yoda. Except… then I realized it could be almost any of the leads: Luke, Leia, Solo, R2D2, C3PO… At least we know Chewbacca and Vader are out).

The Thursday case will be harder to prove as Google will argue that their choices were about making the product better for users (i.e., there was no consumer harm, and NOT doing it would have created consumer harm). Meanwhile: The EU has cleared the Google Fitbit acquisition with the caveat the fitness data cannot be used for advertising targeting for ten years.


  • Twitter:The social network has ended their “2-clicks required to re-tweet without commenting experiment. They shared the results of the change - a 20% reduction in retweets, and a significant reduction in the quality of “commented re-tweets”. What were they expecting? When you add friction to a process (2 clicks instead of one), you will get a drop in activity (although 20% seems like a lot for one one additional click!). And if you push people through a funnel the marginal people who pass through will always be lower quality than the ones that did not need the push.
  • Facebook vs Apple: Just like it’s not “anti-life” vs “anti-choice”, the Apple/Facebook battle has turned into “pro-privacy” vs “pro-small business”. Facebook ran a full page ad in the WSJ, WaPo and NYTs explaining their argument. Public opinion marketing (or is it marketing to employees?). Meanwhile Apple has launched “Privacy nutrition labels" for their apps
  • Monetization Idea:No link, just a thought I had this week. For a long time many online businesses did not monetize as well in some categories ("No one is going to buy a house online?"), until it did, and then “software started eating the world.” But then the consensus was mobile that did not monetize well ("Who wants to put their credit card into a mobile phone?"). For a long time you would bit significantly lower for mobile traffic off of Google (but now Facebook mobile ads monetizes just fine). We are now seeing a similar complaint around voice ("How do you even browse via an Echo?"). Based on history, even if it is not obvious now, it seems like capitalism will find a way...
  • Subdomains in paid search: PPC Hero ran some tests to see the impact of the display URL on paid search CTR. They found a 50% bump in CTR when the actual domain vs a subdomain was used (i.e., greatdeal.marketinbs.com vs marketingbs.com). Seems too big to be true, but you should test this!
  • 6-seconds:Traditionally advertising creative was optimized for the 30-second spot. AdExchanger argues that the focus should be on making the best 6-second spots as the flagship spots instead.
  • GIPHY: The tool for finding GIFs is now the second largest search engine after Google(bigger than Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon). The link has some case studies on companies trying to build content and SEO to be found through the tool.
  • Maldives:The luxury tourist destination has launched a “Country Loyalty Program”. Regular readers know how I feel about loyalty programs, but something like this COULD work. It seems it is not just points - they have a tiered system with status benefits. There are not many details yet, but you could imagine shifting your next vacation to the Maldives if it means you can skip the line at customs…
  • Doorman Fallacy:I came across this idea from Rory Sutherland this week. The idea is that one often defines a job in such a way that automation is possible, and then it gets automated because it seems easy to automate the part you have defined. The example given is a doorman (defined job: “Open the door”). The defined job is easy to automate (“automatic doors”), but the doorman’s REAL job is to make the hotel seem higher end, and the automative door does not solve the real purpose. Not understanding the real purpose of activities can be dangerous.


AI/Machine Learning/GPT-3

COVID and the New World Order

Edward, Startup Curated


  • KPS Global:KPS is the vertically integrated market leader in the design and manufacture through install and servicing of “panels” for retailers. They are looking for a Chief Commercial Officer based in Fort Worth.
  • Confidential SaaS:$1B SaaS company in the Bay Area. Looking for a CMO to oversee a 250 person team. Email me if interested.
  • Stripe: The financial services company is looking for a head of strategy. Small team but a really cool opportunity On my list of private comapnies I would invest in if I could). As fits the with the company’s unique culture applicants should write a short memo about “an important but non-obvious opportunity that some business is overlooking” (does not have to be Stripe). Send the memo directly to the co-CEO John Collison (john@stripe.com). If you do apply, please let me know for my own curiosity.
  • Paul McCartney:Tyler Cowen at MarginalRevolution argues that McCartney may have had the best career across all functions and industries and - more importantly - the “most instructive” for us to learn from.


Keep it Simple,


Edward, Startup Curated