Highlights from that Thiel/Trump piece

One could have predicted Mr. Thiel’s affinity for Mr. Trump by reading his 2014 book, “Zero to One,” in which he offers three prongs of his philosophy: 1) It is better to risk boldness than triviality. 2) A bad plan is better than no plan. 3) Sales matter just as much as product.

Some Rumsfeldian level poetry…except the Rumsfeld one was easier to decide:

When I ask about the incestuous amplification of the Facebook news feed, he muses: “There’s nobody you know who knows anybody. There’s nobody you know who knows anybody who knows anybody, ad infinitum.”

Avoiding being all rainbows:

“If you’re too optimistic, it sounds like you’re out of touch,” he says. “The Republicans needed a far more pessimistic candidate. Somehow, what was unusual about Trump is, he was very pessimistic but it still had an energizing aspect to it.”

What exactly do they do?

“One of the things that’s striking about talking to people who are politically working in D.C. is, it’s so hard to tell what any of them actually do,” he says. “It’s a sort of place where people measure input, not output. You have a 15-minute monologue describing a 15-page résumé, starting in seventh grade.”

Source: Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself

American Apparel sells for $103m, not including stores

I’m always amazed at how low IRL companies get valued. But: retail, manufactoring, and a history of funky management:

But fashion wasn’t the only thing to change; the retail business changed, too. The economic downturn was hard on the fashion industry as consumers cut back on spending. And brick-and-mortar stores have struggled as online retailers bite into their sales and target demographics. That can be especially harmful for brands like American Apparel, whose the business model is to open a bevy of stores and rely on foot traffic. “There are too many stores in too many places,” explained Cohen. “Everybody doing business in brick-and-mortar is migrating in some way, shape, or form to the internet. Everyone is seeing a chronic decline in the productivity of their real estate.”

It doesn’t include the stores:

All of this helps explain why the $88 million Gildan deal could be viewed as arguably the last great American Apparel marketing feat. Even with all its financial and legal woes, the company still attracted 12 bids. (Sources told Reuters that Amazon and Forever 21 were considering purchasing as well.) And while Gildan won’t be purchasing any of American Apparel’s 110 U.S. stores—which were also up for sale—the company was willing to pay nearly $90 million just for intellectual property and some equipment. That’s quite a feat given that the brand was built on the premise of selling such basic designs.

Still, that brand, tho.

Link

Gary Gruver interview on scaling DevOps

I always like his focus in speeding up the release cycle as a forcing function for putting continuous integration in place, both leading to improving how an organization’s software:

I try not to get too caught up in the names. As long as the changes are helping you improve your software development and delivery processes then who cares what they are called. To me it is more important to understand the inefficiencies you are trying to address and then identify the practice that will help the most. In a lot of respects DevOps is just the agile principle of releasing code on a more frequent basis that got left behind when agile scaled to the Enterprise. Releasing code in large organizations with tightly coupled architectures is hard. It requires coordinating different code, environment definitions, and deployment processes across lots of different teams. These are improvements that small agile teams in large organizations were not well equipped to address. Therefore, this basic agile principle of releasing code to the customer on a frequent basis got dropped in most Enterprise agile implementations. These agile teams tended to focus on problems they could solve like getting signoff by the product owner in a dedicated environment that was isolated from the complexity of the larger organization.

And:

You can hide a lot of inefficiencies with dedicated environments and branches but once you move to everyone working on a common trunk and more frequent releases those problems will have to be address. When you are building and releasing the Enterprise systems at a low frequency your teams can brute force their way through similar problems every release. Increasing the frequency will require people to address inefficiencies that have existed in your organization for years.

On how organization size changes your managerial tactics:

If it is a small team environment, then DevOps is more about giving them the resources they need, removing barriers, and empowering the team because they can own the system end to end. If it is a large complex environment, it is more about designing and optimizing a large complex deployment pipeline. This is not they type of challenges that small empowered team can or will address. It takes a more structured approach with people looking across the entire deployment pipeline and optimizing the system.

The rest of the interview is good stuff. Also, I reviewed his book back in November; the book is excellent.

Link

Five years of declining PC sales

For the year, Gartner estimated shipments at 269.717 million, down 6.2 per cent year-on-year, with each of the major manufacturers except Dell reporting falling sales.

Gartner says high-end PCs are doing well, but of course, are a smaller market:

There have been innovative form factors, like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This high end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth.

There may less volume, but it’d be nice to know how that effects profits in the notoriously slim margin PC business.

Meanwhile, on overall, global IT spend:

Companies are due to splash $3.5tr (£2.87tr) on IT this year, globally, although that is down from its previous projection of three per cent.

See some more commentary of that forecast.

Link

A real corporate meeting, avoiding triggering The Boss

This anecdote from a story on Sears struggles is spot on strategic thinking for most corporate meeting:

There, two mid-level employees were preparing a presentation for the CEO, Eddie Lampert, when their boss rushed in with some last-minute advice.

On a chart pad he wrote three words.

“He looks at the presenters and says, ‘Do not say these words to that guy,'” according to a former Sears executive who described the meeting to Business Insider. “That guy” meant Lampert, who would soon appear on a giant projector screen at the front of the room, beamed in live from a home office inside a $38 million Florida estate – 1,400 miles away from headquarters.

The pad with the three words was out of sight of Lampert’s video feed. One of the words on it was “consumer.”

The stakes were high. If any of those words were uttered in front of Lampert, the two presenters would “get shredded” by the CEO, whose frequent tirades had fostered a climate of fear among the company’s most senior managers, said another person – this one a former vice president.

These two and other executives say “consumer” can trigger Lampert. He wants employees to instead refer to shoppers as “members,” which is his term for customers who are enrolled in Sears’ Shop Your Way rewards program.

It was at that moment, as the executive attending the meeting watched fellow employees anxiously censor themselves in front of Lampert, that he realized he needed to flee the sinking 123-year-old company.

That perfectly captures how much energy you need to spend on seemingly ridiculous details to be successful in corporate environments, not only in caustic ones, but pretty functional ones as well. I love chronically this type of tacit corporate knowledge.

The rest of the article is great background on how older companies are struggling to modernize with plenty of anonymized sources telling gritty, but helpful stories.

451: Mesosphere momentum, container usage

From Jay Lyman:

Mesosphere says it is adding enterprise customers and building up deal sizes. The company has also grown its number of employees to 200, up from 150 in March. Mesosphere declined to comment, but 451 Research estimates its annual revenue is in the $25m range.”

And, from a recent survey on container usage:

Our Voice of the Enterprise (VotE) Software-Defined Infrastructure, Workloads and Key Projects survey, conducted in April and May, indicates that out of 718 enterprise IT decision-makers polled 23.7% have implemented containers. By comparison, 25.1% have implemented Software-Defined Networking, 26.7% have implemented Software-Defined Storage and 92.9% have implemented server virtualization.

Source: Mesosphere rises where containers and big data come together in the enterprise

Seeking the simple answer considered harmful

“This ties to our species’ well-documented, frequently harmful distaste for uncertainty. All too often, people latch recklessly onto easy and straightforward answers that happen to be quite wrong. It’s yet another human foible Trump has expertly exploited, and is himself victimized by.

“That’s one of the real prices we pay for not being comfortable with uncertainty,” said Lewis. “We end up seeking out charlatans, people who will tell us with total certainty stuff that is unknowable, and so you end up with bad financial advisers or quacks in medicine — and Trump, who appeals to that need for total certainty, and seems to preserve it in himself by never acknowledging he made a mistake.””

Source: “Michael Lewis on the Psychological Quirks Trump Exploited to Become President”

Snarkily summarizing Trump’s press conference

But the questions kept coming back to Russia, and to the ways that its bad behavior was really all Hillary Clinton’s fault. He mocked her for having travelled to Russia, when she was Secretary of State, with a red plastic “Reset” button as a prop. “There’s no reset button,” Trump said. “We’re either going to get along or we’re not.” He was talking about Putin. But watching Trump on Wednesday was a reminder that, after an ugly campaign, there are no reset buttons to be found at Trump Tower, either, not even ones painted gold. And in nine days Trump moves into the White House.

Some fine tone while at the same time summarizing the highlights.

Link

Word of mouth trumps facts

I recently met with the CEO of a large shoe retailer who said something that resonated with me. To paraphrase, he said, “If I show content that has Kanye West in a pair of our sneakers, along with a link to buy the sneakers, that’s going to be much more successful than an ad explaining why that sneaker is great.” He was referring to the rise of sneaker culture and how stars can have a big impact.

But the flip side is that people believe what they perceive to be “authentic.” We are living in a society where perceived authenticity holds greater weight over right or wrong. Although Google is only a voice command away, we are increasingly less likely to check the veracity of someone who we believe is telling the truth.

Moreover, we are likely to continue believing our friends even after hearing a contradictory truth from someone we don’t know.

With commodity goods like shoes, much of that seems fine: there’s little functional difference between them except the intangible, subjective “feature” of brand that exists only in people’s heads.

On the other end where there are more factual differences between products – let’s say things like bluetooth headphones, cars, computers, and dishwashers – wading through all the comparing fact claims is exhausting and getting a trusted friend to recommend something is valuable. Or, there’s sites like The Wirecutter for people who like to read.

Link

451: Container market to be $2.7B by 2020, from $762m in 2016

451-container-market-2017-01-09

451 Research estimated this week the application container segment reached a robust $762 million in 2016 and is forecast to grow at a 40-percent compound rate over the next four years to $2.7 billion.

And, on usage, from an April/May 2016 survey:

451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Software-Defined Infrastructure Workloads and Key Projects survey conducted in April and May 2016 showed that of the roughly 25% of enterprises we surveyed who use containers, 34% were in broad implementation of production applications and 28% had begun initial implementation of production applications with containers.

I’m somewhat suspicious that there’s $762m in container software and services sales, but who knows, really?

I haven’t read through their entire cloud enabling technologies market sizing yet, from Dec 2016, (basically, private cloud software and services, any things used by *aaS vendors, not the actual public cloud services, which are another market) , which is more than just containers. That market is pegged at $23bn in 2016, going to $39bn in 2020:

2016 CET Market Monitor - Public Cloud vs. CET.png

More on 451’s blog.

Source: “Container Market Pegged at $2.7B by 2020”