2019 Year in Review

Two Truths and a Take, Season 1 Finale

Welcome to the Season Finale for Two Truths and a Take, Season One. Not much new here, except a look back at all of the posts I wrote over this past year, and what have been some of the recurring themes. If you missed any of these issues (including a few I’ve starred as among my favourites) now’s the time to catch up! Enjoy the new year, and I’ll see you in a couple weeks.

“Startups aren’t economically sensible; they need all the help they can get":

The founding murder and the final boss | September 18

The social subsidy of angel investing | November 27

Stone soup, diversification, and the alchemy of venture | December 6

Abundance (and its consequences):

Cooking as a service | May 9 * This was one of my favourite posts of the year, and I hope you enjoyed it too. Food is a great bellwether for what’s going on in our lives, and the ongoing reinvention of food production, preparation and consumption can show us a lot about how our world is changing around us.

Would you accept cheaper rent in exchange for an Amazon purchasing quota? | June 12

Netflix, positional scarcity & the Red Queen’s Race | September 25

Everything is amazing, but nothing is ours | October 26

What people are like:

Secrets about people: a short and dangerous introduction to René Girard | April 28

The Audio Revolution | October 17 *I spent more time working on this post than any other one, and I hope you read it - including some actionable advice at the end that I am following myself, and am happier for it.

Internet crowds and personal space | November 15

Theory posts:

Positional scarcity | September 7

Disruption theory is real, but wrong | October 3

Bitcoin posts:

Crowds, power and Bitcoin | May 13

Facebook’s crypto strawman | June 19

All the other kids with their pumped up BTCs | June 26

The trillion dollar lawsuit | November 7 *The post that made more people mad than any other this year. Is this story a conspiracy theory? Well, I mean, sure it’s a conspiracy theory. But it’s a conspiracy theory I think is kind of true! I’m sure that I, and everyone else, have elements of this story wrong. I don’t think we’ll ever really know the real truth about what happened. But, really, who cares if it’s true - it’s true now.

Transportation and housing:

What happens if building more housing doesn’t work? | May 22

Why I don’t love Light Rail Transit | September 12  *This post was a real odd one out, in that it didn’t fit with any other themes and is really about a total side interest of mine that has little to do with the theme of this newsletter. But it’s an interesting problem, and one that affects a lot of people.

The car bundle | November 26


Billy Joel, American Kayfabe Master | May 2

Google Chrome, the perfect antitrust villain? | May 30

A midsummer night’s term sheet | July 14 *This was obviously fun to write, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it if you haven’t already.

The players are the artists; the game is the venue | August 10

OuiWork? The quick case for WeWork as an actually disruptive business | August 16

Five writing tips | October 5

Ten predictions for the 2020s | December 17


An interview with Jonathan Hsu of Tribe Capital | July 14

An interview with Zachary Sun of Tierra Biosciences | August 2

An interview with Casey Newton of The Verge | August 2

An interview with Brent Beshore of adventure.es | October 10

An interview with Jamie Catherwood of OSAM & Investor Amnesia | November 7

And finally, here are some reading links for your Sunday:

Only yesterday: a retrospective of the tech decade | Saku Panditharatne

Hunting for new drugs with AI: an overview | David H Freedman, Nature

China flight systems jammed by pig farm’s African swine fever defences | Mandy Zuo, SCMP

Shopify: a StarCraft inspired business strategy | NonGAAP Mike 

The 2020 FinTwit Long/Short Stock Picking Contest

Seed investors are favouring enterprise startups, and other conclusions from YC Data | Eric Feng

Happy new year, and see you in January!