Why subscribe?

The Diff is a 3-5x/week newsletter covering inflection points in finance and technology. I aim to answer a simple question: in a few centuries, when historians reach a consensus on what was happening today, what will they believe?

Here’s what I believe: in 2020, our institutions are designed for a much simpler world with faster productivity growth. Outside of computers and communications, scientific progress has slowed abysmally since the mid twentieth century. Meanwhile, in government, media, and education we’ve moved backwards; we’re less efficient and less effective than ever before, despite shinier tools and lavish spending.

Pundits like to talk about how the pace of change has never been faster. They’re right, but in the wrong sense: the pace of fundamental change is slowing down, so unpredictability represents less progress and more chaos.

Who Reads The Diff?

My readers skew towards the two fields I write about: technology, particularly software, and finance, especially hedge funds. Readers include hedge fund managers, tech company founders, venture capitalists, and 1.25% of the Forbes 400.

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What You’ll Get

I’ve been writing online for a long time. A long time—I started using stock message boards in middle school and launched my first finance blog in high school. Most of my best writing has appeared on Medium. The highlights:

  • Peak California: 93k readers, #1 on Hacker News, posted on TechMeme. This piece argues that expensive real estate in the Bay Area benefits big, cash flow-positive tech companies over cash-poor startups.

  • The 30-Year Mortgage is an Intrinsically Toxic Product: #1 on Hacker News, this piece argues that buying a home is a bad personal finance decision—doubling down on the local job market—and as a side effect, it distorts the global yield curve.

  • The Slow-Motion Trainwreck Facing the Meal-Kit Industry: #1 on Hacker News. The core thesis here is that Blue Apron’s funding validated the market, prompting competitors to show up and go after their customers—which raised customer acquisition costs and churn, collapsing the CAC/LTV calculation that the business was predicated on. Blue Apron went public four months later and has since lost 98% of its value.

  • What is We!? Understanding the WeWork IPO: “Best summary I've read, by a mile, of the perplexing, slippery, and creative real estate/tech company called WeWork.” — Brent Beshore. “Holy crap.” —Nic Carter. “[B]y far the best thing I've read on WeWork.” —Joe Weisenthal.

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