Tomorrow’s Advance Man – Marc Andreessen’s plan to win the future.

Big profile of @Pmarca in The New Yorker last weekend:

“…I’ve been totally determined to be on the other side of that dynamic by being here, because success in software follows a power-law distribution. It’s not Coke and Pepsi and a bunch of others; it’s winner take all. Second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is you’re fired.”  – Marc Andreessen

Every company is becoming a tech/software company these days. What people are ignoring is that software markets have a tendency to become winner-take-all or winner-takes-most markets. Traditional Michael Porter style “competing” doesn’t necessarily transfer.

Mediocristan vs. Extremistan

The beauty of hackers is that they force us to evolve and improve

Keren Elazari at TED – “Why we Need Hackers”

“For the past three decades, hackers have done a lot of things, but they have also impacted civil liberties, innovation and Internet freedom, so I think it’s time we take a good look at how we choose to portray them, because if we keep expecting them to be the bad guys, how can they be the heroes too? My years in the hacker world have made me realize both the problem and the beauty about hackers: They just can’t see something broken in the world and leave it be. They are compelled to either exploit it or try and change it, and so they find the vulnerable aspects in our rapidly changing world. They make us, they force us to fix things or demand something better, and I think we need them to do just that, because after all, it is not information that wants to be free, it’s us.”



Vendor Directory Update & News

9/23/14 – Directory Update – adds 13 vendors to list:
AnyLogic, Ayasdi, Aylien, DataFox, Innovaro, Lumify, mattermark, Panjiva, PlexiNLP, QGIS, Semantic Research, SocioWorks, WhoKnows

Vendors in the News

(DataFox) – Using Artificial Intelligence to Uncover Non-Public Company Data
(Quid) – Journey Through the Brain: MIT Neurotech
(Aylien) – Aylien’s new natural-language add-on lets you analyze (and summarize) text in Google Drive
(IBM Watson) – Mining the Medical Literature Explosion
(Luminoso) – The Best and Worst Airlines — According to Twitter
(Digital Reasoning) – Machine Learning Platform Slices and Dices Human Chatter for Insider Threat Detection

Peter Thiel: Competition is for Losers

Billionaire rockstar tech-investor Peter Thiel is making the media rounds in promotion of his new book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Thiel was a cofounder of PayPal and Palantir, in addition to being the first outside investor in Facebook. An outspoken libertarian, Thiel has courted controversy for his political and philanthropic activities; most recently, Thiel has been widely identified as the inspiration for the Peter Gregory character on HBO’s hit sitcom Silicon Valley.

This week The Wall Street Journal published an adaption from Thiel’s new book in an oped titled “Competition is for Losers”, Thiel closes with:

So why are economists obsessed with competition as an ideal state? It is a relic of history. Economists copied their mathematics from the work of 19th-century physicists: They see individuals and businesses as interchangeable atoms, not as unique creators. Their theories describe an equilibrium state of perfect competition because that is what’s easy to model, not because it represents the best of business. But the long-run equilibrium predicted by 19th-century physics was a state in which all energy is evenly distributed and everything comes to rest—also known as the heat death of the universe. Whatever your views on thermodynamics, it is a powerful metaphor. In business, equilibrium means stasis, and stasis means death. If your industry is in a competitive equilibrium, the death of your business won’t matter to the world; some other undifferentiated competitor will always be ready to take your place.

Perfect equilibrium may describe the void that is most of the universe. It may even characterize many businesses. But every new creation takes place far from equilibrium. In the real world outside economic theory, every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot. Monopoly is therefore not a pathology or an exception. Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.

Tolstoy famously opens “Anna Karenina” by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: Each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition.

As with everything he writes, the essay is thought provoking.

Entrepreneurship is the launching of surprises

“Entrepreneurship is the launching of surprises. The process of wealth creation is offensive to levelers and planners because it yields mountains of new wealth in ways that could not possibly be planned. But unpredictability is fundamental to free human enterprise. It defies every econometric model and socialist scheme. It makes no sense to most professors, who attain their positions by the systematic acquisition of credentials pleasing to the establishment above them. Creativity cannot be planned because it is defined by information measured as surprise. Leading entrepreneurs—from Sam Walton to Larry Page to Mark Zuckerberg—did not ascend a hierarchy; they created a new one. They did not climb to the top of anything. They were pushed to the top by their own success. They did not capture the pinnacle; they became it.”

-George Gilder

Move fast, and break value-networks.

HUMINT Videos and Podcasts

Thought I would share some videos and podcasts that I have recently listened to on the subject of human intelligence (HUMINT) collection and management. All the material is from experienced intelligence practitioners from the government side.

The first of which is from AuroraWDC’s IntelCollab webinar series, and is titled “How Internal Human Intelligence Networks (HUMINT) Develop External Primary Sources”. The guest presenter is Todd Gleghorn, a former Naval Intelligence Officer and current civilian Staff Intelligence Officer at the US Department of Defense.

Learning objectives:

1.    Establishing collection modalities to generate the most ROI for your HUMINT investment
2.    Comparing the traditional HUMINT collection paradigm and considering an alternate paradigm
3.    Learning to methodically map your organization’s Subject Matter Expert (SME) network
4.    Overlay your SME network map with the different organizational lines of effort (LOEs) to begin identifying cross-cueing internal and external collection opportunities

Link to video

I appreciated Todd’s slides on internal network mapping. Network concepts and science has been conspicuously absent from much of the competitive intelligence field – yet at the same time it has come to play a prominent role in government intelligence operations and analysis over the last 15 years. Todd suggests that CI practitioners utilize a program like IBM i2 Analysts Notebook to; I agree, but would note that open-source network analysis and visualization tools like Gephi and Node-XL are more in line with the average CI functions budget.

The second item is a podcast from the The Art of Charm with Robin Dreeke author of “It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone”, and chief of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program.

Today, we’ll discuss:

  • Pretty much nothing about being the chief spy catcher for the FBI

  • …and a lot about how to build trust and rapport

  • How to get paranoid/sketchy people to trust you

  • How to refrain from judging others and why this is so powerful

  • Attaining our goals with people in the face of our own emotional resistance

  • How to build tolerance of others avoid becoming collateral damage of other people’s insecurities

I highly recommend both Dreeke’s book and becoming a regular listener of The Art of Charm.

Finally, I recently discovered the YouTube account of author and former CIA officer TJ Waters who is has producing a vlog series on human intelligence and influence.  Waters was actually a competitive intelligence practitioner for years before he joined CIA in the wake of 9/11.

Here are two videos on elicitation techniques from the series: