Top articles of the week | August 8

August 8, 2020

Every week, we put together a list of our top 5 articles of the past week. Happy reading!

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Don Valentine about Venture Capital and Business Tren Grifin, 25iq (reading time: 12 minutes)

Don Valentine participated in the beginnings of two significant milestones: the birth of the silicon chip and the development of the venture capital industry by founding Sequoia Capital. I listened to a podcast that covered his career and it was fascinating. This post covers 12 lessons from Don that relate to startups and technology. They are all great lessons in strategy.

Reimagining B2B Commerce with Faire Anu Hariharan and Nic Dardenne, YCombinator (reading time: 18 minutes)

During some recent client work, we’ve research the ecommerce industry and discovered an important gap between B2C and B2B. B2B ecommerce still has massive room to grow over the next few years. One of innovators in the space is Faire, a wholesale marketplace. This post dissects the company’s strategy and how it reflects on the future of commerce as well. They are some great insights into the future of retail and commerce.

The Great Acceleration McKinsey (reading time: 9 minutes)

This article contains fascinating research by McKinsey. They’ve seen a widening gap between the top vs. bottom performers in almost every industry. In addition, certain industries themselves have seen their attractiveness fall. This isn’t due only to the pandemic, it’s an acceleration of pre-existing trends that are now gathering more momentum. Where does strategy fit into all of this? Organizations that are planning ahead and making strategic moves are the ones in the best position to win.

The Four Quadrants of Conformism Paul Graham (reading time: 10 minutes)

A bit of warning that the following article is not at all related to strategy yet one that has kept me coming back to it this week. Paul Graham explains the four quadrants of conformism and how people fall into each bucket. He uses this framework to argue that independent ideas particularly in universities have been eschewed in recent years. This poses a threat to free inquiry and the generation of new ideas.

TikTok and the Sorting Hat Eugene Wei (reading time: 35 minutes)

How did an app designed by two guys in Shanghai managed to run circles around U.S. video apps from YouTube to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, becoming the most fertile source for meme origination, mutation, and dissemination in a culture so different from the one in which it was built?

This is the main question that Eugene Wei sets out to answer in this epic blog post. While the news coverage right now is primarily about the US ban of TikTok, not much more thought is given to how did they succeed in the first place? As a casual user of the app, I have to admit – it’s insanely addictive. The secret sauce comes from its algorithm and how it abstracted away from cultural differences.