Good morning. Hello. How are you? #485

RIP Zablozkis. Frisbee ball! MailChimp. Nice job on that solid, unremarkable keynote, Apple. QSBS Overton windows, some COVID optimism

Good morning! Hello! How are you! Looks like good ole’ Gavin Newsom managed to pull through, fairly comfortably in the end, so GOOD JOB, CALIFORNIANS. Way to save a mediocre white guy’s ass because the alternative was so much worse. Actually I don’t know if Newsom is that mediocre, he looks so horribly boring but I guess that’s the job. I remember I kinda liked him a bajillion years ago when my politics were more suspect and Wired was still in print and I paid slightly more attention to California politics and he was mayor of SF, but I feel like several pretty iffy things have transpired since then but maybe I am wrong. So, hey. Crisis averted. Good job.

Turns out Emma does, in fact, read these things to the end every day, so, joke’s on me, egg on my face, and now, in the 90 degree heat of an Indian Summer (oh god I bet we shouldn’t say that anymore, mental not to look it up today), our house will begin getting decorated for Halloween. I stand corrected.

And now for some very sad news, via Scott Beale:

A post shared by @sweetwaterny

Today is the very last day our longtime neighbors @zablozkisbar are open.
Our 17 year relationship comes to an end. Thank you for the good times & the wonderful memories.
♥️♥️♥️

This is so sad. I love that bar so much. It was on my shortlist of bars I would be going to first as soon as I could finally go back to New York. An institution. RIP, Zablozkis.

Okay. If you and I were sitting at a bar, and we started talking about the Met Gala, and I expressed my opinions, and you expressed yours, and we realized we had different opinions about the Met Gala, we might just get sort of bored, shrug, and say anyway. how’s your job? and change the topic. But we can’t really do that in a comments section, so, yeah. We are a bit stuck. In person, Emma and I had a loooong talk about it last night over dinner. It took a good long while but I think we eventually got there. My beef is not really about fashion at all. I like fashion. I started using the example of frisbees. Just to take some product that neither one of us cares much about but some people care a whole lot about, there is an entire industry around, and artists, sculptors and scientists all apply their methods to them. Imagine there was some weird Frisbee Ball where they were raising funds for a frisbee museum (fine), and you had to pay $30k to go (seems expensive for a frisbee museum but what do I know maybe they need the money, so, fine I guess) but on top of that and entirely unrelated (save for the fact frisbees were involved), the women have to commission a $60,000 frisbee, weighing thirty pounds, and lug it around with them the whole party. The men do not. And, yeah, it’s optional to lug around this frisbee, but not really, because the lugging around of $60,000 frisbees is really kind why anyone’s heard of or goes to this event.

Some people are really into frisbees. Some people spend their lives designing frisbees. Following frisbee science and, of course, related fields like frisbee games and the various frisbee athletes. I like frisbees just fine. I own a few frisbees. I still don’t really see the point of this whole frisbee ball.

Anyway.

Additionally, I got some disagreement yesterday about MailChimp. A few of my friends in the Atlanta tech scene have said that they have faith the MailChimp founders are going to “do right” by the employees. I really, really hope so. I suppose we will see. But I am dubious. I hope I’m wrong, I’ll admit it if I am, celebrate it even, since that’s my main concern here: the precedents this sets as the largest sale of a bootstrapped company ever. And I think there has been some interesting chatter about how Atlanta isn’t the Bay and equity for employees isn’t as common out there, and I certainly understand that. I guess it’s just hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who suddenly, after a decade of saying I’m never going to sell, changes their mind so fast and sells their company so quickly that there wasn’t time to set the employees up. Also, I am old fashioned and I believe that the employees who helped along the way, even if they’re no longer with you, helped make a company what it was, and any compensation from a sale should at least be something those employees had a chance to participate in, even if they declined their options.

Also: Intuit? I mean. Twelve Billion Dollars? Like, yes. I certainly understand sometimes you have to sell a company to someone slightly unpleasant, like a company that makes predatory tax software. We have fiduciary duties, and people’s lives are involved, etc. etc. But we are talking “will we clear the liquidation prefs? Who will keep these people in jobs?” Not twelve billion dollars. Was there no second bidder? Six months ago they were valued at $4 billion, and sure, I can imagine someone comes long and says “LOL you think four was a lot how about twelve” and your world is shook and you think “ok my weird no-sale hangups are seeming sillier and sillier,” but… maybe hire a banker then? Maybe look for a second bid? I mean that must have happened, right? It just seems so weird it just feels like they were like “okay Intuit’s fine” even though there was probably another bid that was kind of close? Or maybe that one was even more evil! I like Quickbooks just fine! Man Inuit needs to sell TurboTax off. Hrm maybe that’s part of the plan. Or just make it free. Okay that will be cool. Judgement reserved. But something seems…. weird.

In an effort to be more positive, I will say that hey, Apple, nice job. You had absolutely nothing earth shattering or exciting to announce at your Keynote yesterday, and you were a company buffeted in the last week by a monumental security failing and a not insubstantial legal loss, but you still got out there and the Keynote like you did every year. And yeah, the iPhone 13 is just another run of “slightly better” iphones, but, my god. Fifteen or so revisions to a product and it’s just gotten better and better, the cameras get more and more better every year, now it’s just night and day from the iPhone 1. And you are so good at getting out there and acting like this year’s model is the most amazing, best thing ever, without a hint of ennui, deja vu or sarcasm. There really is something special about Apple’s relentless incrementalism, which is kind of a weird thing to say about supposedly such a revolutionary company, but it is impressive. Every year: better camera, better battery. You get me kind of excited. Every year I buy the thing, every year it arrives and I think “yeah, I guess that’s a little bit better, but I can barely tell,” but every year I do it again, because it always is a little bit better.

Also, I will give you props on your environmental efforts. After the top-tier companies of Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia and the like, for the big boys, industrial behemoths, you really do seem like you’re trying and that is a rarity.

There is a thing called Qualified Small Business Stock that is kind of a part of my life because I am an ex-VC and ex-tech investor. It is kind of an insane thing, basically lets you get all of your returns from doing early tech investment in small companies tax free if everyone checks a few boxes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I fucking LOVE QSBS, and I am deeply thankful for it, but it’s also kind of BS. And the Biden administration sort of things so too, and they’re gonna change QSBS laws, and segments of the tech world are freaking out. It looks like, right now, they’re only going to change QSBS laws after the first $400,000 of returns so, LOL, not my problem, I’ll be fine. It also looks like they’re going to change it effective this month which is kind of a crazy thing to do if you’re a tax law creator since, you know, there are people out there who have, right now, made unchangeable decisions about their stock and impending IPOs or sales or whatever, who will now take a not-insubstantial tax hit.

All of that is a normal every day part of the revenue component of a bill as large as the infrastructure bill, so that’s fine. I suspect that, in the end, they’ll change the effective date to 12/31 or something, which will have its own set of problems, but they’ll be more fair, more manageable. But a thing that struck me was this quote:

"I don't object the the idea of removing the tax exemption going forward, but a lot of people planned around this who aren't being grandfathered in," says venture capitalist Mike Daube

Wait… You don’t? I mean, I don’t, but I thought I was, you know, somewhat alone in my love of taxes amongst my former VC peers.

And then I realized, hrm, you know what? Maybe Democrats are getting better at playing this Overton Window game. Maybe the tax preparers knew an effective date in September was hard core, but figured they’d do it anyway, to condition and prep the tech community, so they would end up thinking and saying things exactly like Mike Daube here just said, so that, you know, the tech world accepted the sweet, sweet nectar of QSBS was going to be restricted, and now we’re just arguing over the date. And maybe that means the Democrats aren’t as completely useless at this sort of Republican tactic as we thought.

Or maybe it was a typo and this is all wishful thinking har har.

Still, though. I can’t find anything on Google for “Mike Daube VC” but if you are real, and you do exist, Mike Daube, you’ve gained a fan today.

This article, from June, about the rot at the core of the internet is really good. Literal rot, that is, not metaphorical, or I suppose, like, more concrete metaphor than poetic? I mean, like, link-rot and not, like, soul-rot. As a neurotic archivist, really spoke to me. The part about how a large percentage of the links in our legal and scientific papers are broken is especially alarming. Some good ideas about how to fix it. Wonder if there’s something as an individual we could do to help.

And, finally, look at this good news, from my daily, neurotic checking of a host of COVID stats. This graph shows the total COVID hospitalizations in the state of NC:

I mean, it’s still a bit soon, but it looks like maybe we’re hitting a peak. I like hospitalizations, it feels like the hardest to fudge or confuse. It’s sort of a trailing indicator, but I’m okay with that. It’s concrete. And, of course, mild cases of COVID aren’t what we’re all scared of.

The peak in the winter wave was just under 4k hospitalized. So it seems like maybe we’re not going to get there? That is promising.

Oh and! This!

There has been a paucity of solid information about the timeline for kids being vaccinated. Back in the spring, Pfizer said something along these lines: we expect the data for 5-11 in September, and will apply for EUA right away and that will maybe take three weeks, then the whole thing all over again a month later for kids 6mo to 5. But since then, there has been very little news, and a lot of chatter implying that this timeline might be out the window.

SO, good news from Pfizer, at least! Of course, EUA has to be granted, but I swear to god woe betide any administrator that stands in the way of a quick EUA, assuming positive data, of course. Caveat caveat, no one here is saying rush things through unsafely. But. Man. I’m thrilled to see things are still on track. SO EXCITING.

Let’s do a mix. Justa mix. Lots of new stuff, some old stuff, continuations of my recent Sparks and Billy Squier kicks, the original version of a Carpenters song I recently learned about and am obsessed with, and a Broken Social Scene song that’s been going through my head on repeat for the last, mmm, imagonnasay eighteen hours or so. Oh I guess the Her Space Holiday song is old but I just learned about it. Emma asked me a few days ago what band had the best fans, and that was hard for us to answer but it reminded me that in the 1990’s I was convinced Her Space Holiday had the hottest fans, and it got me wondering what happened to them/him. I wish he’d make more music. The lyrics on this EP seem to allude to him having a kid, so, you know, good for him, and, man, I can understand if that is harshing your musical output vibe. Maybe someday.

Oh and V; is old too, just learned about them from my friend Vicky. A really good Boston (before my time) punk/post-punk band. The lead singer was Susan Anway, who then sang on the first Magnetic Fields albums and who recently passed. This V; album is shockingly good I am sad I hadn’t heard of them sooner.

Oh god, the Jane’s Addiction is old too. Ha. You know what? Never mind, this album is a solid mix of old and new I take it back.

Nice talk, let’s not argue about the Met Gala anymore it stresses me out. Have a lovely Wednesday, miss you guys, stay in school, don’t do drugs, save Ferris.