Featured Posts

Here are a few posts that I’ve chosen to highlight. If you’re checking out this blog for the first time, these are the posts I’d recommend.

Taylor Swift, iOS and the Access Economy: Why the Normal distribution is vanishing. The world is full of Normal distributions – those mound-shaped, Gaussian arrangements of natural phenomena that range from our height to our purchasing preferences. In this post, I tackle a big idea: the notion that our transition from a world governed by scarcity to a world governed by abundance will see these normal distributions vanish. From cell phone purchases, internet browsing and living preferences, we’re increasingly seeing decisions being dominated by one single factor, leading to two-tier distributions that are quite foreign to an older, scarcity-based world. One consequence of this could be the Access-Economy type movement I’ve written about previously (see below); what might be others?

Software eats healthcare, for dummies. Once day, software will have fundamentally transformed healthcare – liberating constraints and reorganizing business models on the way. But we’re not there yet. In this post, I talk about why this hasn’t happened yet, how bundling and unbundling will be the key forces required to make this work, and what could happen when it does.

Dropbox: the first dead decacorn.  This post requires little introduction (aside from the title) other than that, well, a lot of people liked it and a lot of people hated it. Enjoy.

The colour wheel of tech. Sometimes cool ideas come from unexpected places. In this post, what started out as a fun exercise mapping tech companies onto the Magic the Gathering Colour Wheel turned into some very interesting insights about the major players in the tech world – what makes them tick, where they struggle, who they love, and who they despise. I look at seven companies that are building the future and setting the agenda of tech – Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon and Uber – and fit them into a brand new circular framework that you’ll have to see for yourself. One of my favourite posts in some time, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Posted on July 20, 2015.

How Apple escapes disruption. There’s been a back-and-forth debate over the last several years over whether or not Apple and the iPhone will inevitably be disrupted by cheaper, modular competitors like Android. Empirical evidence now strongly suggests this is not the case: Apple is lapping the field, putting more distance between itself and its competitors every quarter. Yet most answers as to how this consistently happens aren’t satisfactory, as they don’t explain the solution in terms of disruption theory. In this post, I break down my reasoning as to how Apple escapes disruption, and why it represents a triumph – and not an exception to – the theory of disruptive innovation. Posted on March 9, 2015 (Apple Watch announcement day, no less).

The rise of the access economy. In this post, I talk about what I think will be the the next big thing in the post-mobile internet world: the access economy. The access economy is what emerges when access to something becomes cheap, reliable, convenient and satisfactory enough that ownership of that thing no longer exists: a powerful force that explains what’s happening with companies like Uber, Airbnb, Elance, Netflix, and even Starbucks. More so than just about any other post I’ve written, this piece reflects my view of where the world is headed, what it’ll look like in twenty years, and how to prepare for that new reality. Posted on February 2, 2015.

Bundling, Unbundling, and the future of health care innovation. In this post, I talk about one of the most insightful quotes about the internet: Jim Barksdale’s “Bundling and unbundling” maxim. This principle helps explain how complex ecosystems like the internet can evolve, and how to think about improving these systems on multiple levels. I talk about how this type of thinking can be applied to health care innovation, and what kinds of questions we should ask when we assess whether something has been a success or failure. Posted on October 29, 2014.

Theatres of the absurd: how to get startup ideas. What originally started as a quick thought-of-the-day turned into my first breakout post after it was featured on Mattermark Digest. I give my thoughts about a peculiarly tricky question to answer: how do you come up with good startup ideas? Posted on October 15, 2014.

Term sheets: VCs versus record labels. This was a very fun post to write: having acquired some experience with investment term sheets in the startup world, I revisit my days in a touring musical group and break down the mechanics of a record deal. Posted on March 31, 2014.

Is grad school useful for young entrepreneurs? Guest post from the TandemLaunch blog. This is a post I wrote as a guest contributor to the TandemLaunch blog, about a rather important subject for young, motivated people who want to be smart and do great things: should you go to grad school? In this post I talk a bit about my experiences (which were quite positive), three warnings about drawbacks to carefully consider, and three important benefits that make it worth the effort. Posted on  December 10, 2013.

A killer app for back pain patients Although not the best-written post I’ve ever made, this was the original idea for Backtrack, written out quickly as the ideas were coming to mind. It’s fun to look back on this post and see how my ideas- and subsequently, the company- evolved form there. Posted on September 12, 2013.

A problem with science: Disruptive vs. Sustaining Research This was the very first post I wrote on this blog- I had just graduated with my Master’s degree and moved on from the Stone lab; the ideas that led to Backtrack were swimming around in my head but had not yet crystallized. This post explains some of the reasons why I don’t see myself having a career in research (at least, not the way research is currently conducted), and outlines what I think are the main problems with the way academic research is carried out today (spoiler: the problem isn’t a lack of funding.) Posted on September 3, 2013.

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