Mary Meeker, Trump, Clinton & Kotlikoff

Who the hell is Laurence Kotlikoff you ask? I'l get to him in a minute.

First, Mary Meeker's annual State of the Internet address happens this week at Re/Code's Code Conference. I can't wait to see the ~200 page slide deck. It's an annual gem that I rank up there with the Berkshire Hathaway annual letter, the video archives of Steve Jobs presentations, the mother of all demos by Doug Englebart and many others. If you have a must read/watch paper, book or presentation then please post in the comments.

Meeker's Internet Trends gem is best consumed annually so you can really see the trends year over year (much like annual pilgrimages to the Consumer Electronic Show). As I mentioned in my answer to this question, “If I gave you $40,000 to start a business, what would you start?”, I would start with Mary Meeker's research on product/market trends. It's good. I'm looking forward to see updates around:

  1. Tech impact on security, education, healthcare, financial & government over the last year. More.
  2. Can daily usage of digital media go even higher from 5.6 hours per day per adult? Likely.
  3. Will there be a change in top 10 mobile apps used? 6 of them are message apps. Doubtful.
  4. Faceback and Twitter down again amongst young users? Probably for Twitter.
  5. New things: more drones, VR/AR, Unicorn valuation, Uber and regulatory tensions, wearables, enterprise, cohort analysis, freelancers, new mobile apps/services I haven't used, China, India,  ... 

As much as I enjoy the annual tech updates, four years ago Meeker turned her data hounds to the state of the country in a memorable presentation called USA, Inc. You can also find the original 2011 full report here. It made a lasting impression on me and included many painful to read points including:

  1. Tax dollars go to: 56% Entitlements, 20% Defense, 18% Other, 6% Interest
  2. Expenses greater than revenue in all but 5 of the last 47 years
  3. Social Security, Medicare and Medicate make up 74% of the entitlement number
  4. Entitlements are biggest long term liabilities ($36 trillion and off the books of public debt held)
  5. American healthcare cost larger than all other OCED countries combined
  6. Only 49% of American households pay federal income tax
  7. ... AND 46% of American households receive some sort of government payment
  8. Entitlement and interest expenses will exceed revenue by 2025

I'm reminded of the USA, Inc. paper and presentation while listening to the dribble of the current presidential front runners. Funny, but they don't seem to be addressing any of the big issues (BTW did you see last weeks SpaceX video? Talk about BHAG!). Is this really the best that we can do? No significant discussion of the fiscal gap, improving educational ranking, investment in infrastructure and R&D, fixing taxes, fixing entitlements, fixing healthcare, improving social issues and more. 

I ran across this paper for 2016 presidential write in hopeful, Laurence Kotlikoff. I got the reference from Scott Burns in his weekly finance column. It is well worth the hour or two to read through it. A few of the highlights from the first third.

  1. Savings rate is horrible
  2. Middle class is shrinking
  3. Federal Reserve printed $813B from 1913 to 2007. Since then? $3 trillion. Wow.
  4. $13 trillion in debt. Other obligations are off the books. Adding only social security brings total to $39 trillion.
  5. We're told we owe $18 trillion, but the fiscal gap is really closer to $200 trillion. In either case, imagine if you ran your household finances this way. You would be dead broke.
  6. Quote from the paper. "Our employers are not our friends, they are not our parents, and they are not our government. They should not be deciding what healthcare we receive, how much we can save on a tax-sheltered basis, how and with whom we invest our savings and, thanks to these decisions, what we pay in taxes."

I'll stop there because I think I have more than enough bulleted lists in this post. Check out the various links if you are interested in reading more. An exercise for those that are highly motivated. Assume that you have an income of $100,000. What would be your credit card debt if you operated at the same fiscal gap as the USA? And no ... you can't print more coin to pay it off.

Make America Great Again ... For the Kids!

And don't miss Mary Meeker's annual report this week.


I'm Going to Apple's WWDC Conference!

OK ... I'm not really going in person, but doesn't it count if I just watch the WWDC videos?

I really did go to a conference last week and you know what? it was pretty fun! I'm going to another one in three weeks (Viva Las Vegas Baby!). Look me up if you're there.

You must be asking ... WHY?

Last week I was invited to the GalaxZ16 (a customer community focused conference by local company Zenoss). The venue was right across the street from where we live in Austin. So I woke up early (for me) and walked across the street to catch the CEO talk and two keynotes. They were all pretty good. I especially liked Brian Kelly (Chief Security Officer at Rackspace). There is a lot of change in the IT space, especially as the proliferation of all things with IP addresses explodes (IoT). Fixed perimeters just won't cut it anymore. Security is misunderstood by most and Kelly (with the help of dozens of others) has published a free ebook that describes the problem (& solutions) in a high level format geared toward C-level executives and Board of Directors. It's worth a look and you can get it here.

A few of the notes I wrote down included:

  1. 5 million events recorded at customer. Only 28 deemed important to monitor. (Zenoss is a monitoring company)
  2. Better together. Zenoss believes in a best of breed partner ecosystem & customers forever.
  3. Cloud actually provides a way to INCREASE security.
  4. Despite challenges, security is the reason you will move to cloud.
  5. Complexity is the enemy of security.
  6. Take the appliances out behind the shed and shoot them.
  7. There is no perimeter with IoT like there is with hierarchical architecture.
  8. Going back to distributed model. SDN, SDP.
  9. All of this should move back to semiconductor from the appliance. 
  10. Only 60,000 CISSPs exist (and gainfully employed). There are 50,000 additional openings.
  11. 92% of companies using cloud based services are happy using them and will expand cloud usage.
  12. Lack of Resources/Expertise is #1 Cloud Challenge. Security is #2.
  13. ... followed by Compliance, Managing Multiple Cloud Services, Cost, Private Cloud Complexity, Governance, Performance.

I liked the keynotes so much that I returned for a couple sessions in the afternoon and then met up with an old friend for happy hour. Learned a few new things, met a few new people, met some old friends and I have a new book to read. All in a space where I can learn more. Inspiration comes from the intersection of different spaces (and people) in new ways. I came away with a few things to think about.

In three weeks I'll make a brief appearance at Infocomm. This one will be more in the wheelhouse of what I've done for the past decade. I'll certainly see old friends. Will I see anything new? I'm optimistic, but I haven't heard about anything groundbreaking yet. But as I consider the next act, I need to see if there is something there. The gap year is over in 4 months so the search needs to start now to see what's next. Remember it's "Hell Yeah, or No". In the spirit of "Hell Yeah", I've told my wife to go ahead and book out 2017 as a hedge. I know she'll do an awesome job! 

Conferences. They are one way to start to find the next thing. Fortunately you can access a lot of conference content through streaming, but you miss the human touch. That's missing a lot.

There are some wickedly weird conferences out there. A couple of my favs are SxSWi, WDS, PopTech, Entrepreneurs’ Un-Convention ... and of course my small conference in Breckenridge, CO this summer (email me if interested).