2019-02-11 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • Calling their customers "entrepreneurs," Patreon's CEO Jack Conte says that the company's business model (a 5% fee of their customers' sales) is insufficient and that "the reality is Patreon needs to build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business." Patreon has raised $105.9M since 2013, compared with Kickstarter's $10M raised since 2009 and Indiegogo's $56.5M raised since 2008; those discrepancies would presumably bring a different set of investor pressures. As a Patreon user (on both sides of the marketplace) myself, I'm not particularly sympathetic to Comte's arguments: Their creator tools are simply not suited for anything resembling "entrepreneurship," and in my interactions with Patreon employees I see no indication that they take that shortcoming seriously.
  • Tesla will acquire Maxwell Technologies, which “has struggled for decades to find a way into the automotive market” and makes lithium-ion capacitors.
  • Craig Cannon on the podcast ecosystem (in particular the lack of discoverability) in the context of Spotify's recent acquisitions. See also my 2017 interview with Craig, which touched on similar subjects.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • Thanks to everyone for responding to my question about mean time between failure of mechanical & computer parts last week. The consensus was that due to a) the relatively short history of computers, b) the fact that we live (and die) in a mostly mechanical context, and c) the high rate of change in computer equipment (and therefore the tendency to scrap parts that are out of date, regardless of whether or not they're actually broken), our understanding of how mechanical stuff fails is *probably* more well developed. Two good links on the computer side, though: One paper on errors in DRAM and one on hard disk failures, which found relatively low correlations between operating temperatures and failure rates. See also this good teardown of LED lightbulbs, with explanations on both the engineering and business reasons why they typically fail well before the 100,000 hours we were originally promised they'd last.

     I'll add a hypothesis here: Knowledge about the failure modes & lifetimes of mechanical components is more likely to exist in national and international standards bodies (ASTM, ISO, ASME, etc) than similar knowledge about computer components (which is often owned by individual companies). The corollary, of course, is that systems for improving reliability & decreasing failures in mechanical components are less likely to be open source & free for anyone to access.

     As someone who works in both the physical and digital worlds, I'd love to develop these ideas; get in touch if you have thoughts.
  • John Dimatos on the history of crowdfunded micromobility projects.


An interactive tool for exploring Manhattan's daily/weekly population migration patterns.

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