Video Of The Week: Nick's Barcelona Talk

My colleague Nick Grossman gave at talk in Barcelona last month. It’s in english and it is about networks, their impact on legacy industries, and where all of this is going. It’s about 25mins long.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    Thanks for sharing, great talk by Nick.The next wave of disruption will happen in the HEART & SOUL of the network itself.The mathematics of the mechanics, logic, probability correlations for huge volumes of content & economies of scale of networks are largely solved.Carlota identifies installation of 1970s semi-conductors as being the source of today’s platform deployments. However, the mathematics of the network (Graph Theory) is almost 300 years old.

    1. Twain Twain

      If we look at today’s AI and behavioral measurements, including technologies like Clarifai and Fitbit, it’s the deployment of research from the 1970s (e.g. Convolutional Neural Networks and Kahneman’s Prospect Theory).The timescale between research => deployment is shortening because incumbents like Google invest $ billions in:(1.) Academic labs; and(2.) Virtuous internal incubation at bleeding edge, e.g. Google ATAP.

  2. jason wright

    “data is the new oil” – how so?

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      This analogy is so superficial it is banal -Data enables optimisation of action where oil / energy enables action.But as you imply – you cannot cook a chicken with data, or power up a phone.

      1. Nick Grossman

        You’re right it is a lame and overplayed analogy, but I do like the superficial parallel of “platforms” sitting on top of oil/data

        1. jason wright

          the superficial has its place. helps to explain blockchain to a 12 year old ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Not sure I agree. If data is the new oil – explain to me :Especially superficially the analogy is weak – perhaps it is stronger (briefly) if you think of data as a resource.Oil is valuable because of its commodity natureBut data is no commodity exactly because the richness is in its diversity.Data does not guarantee value or insight, oil guarantees availability of work or energyEnergy (or more exactly increase in entropy) is needed as an input to achieve anything physicallyNo data is required by no physical processes as an input, but entropy is a measure of information content (but not data content)Oil is strictly limited as a resource – data is inherently unlimited.Data is conceptual and ceases to exist without an interpretationOil was created long before interpretations were available,I could go on and on – but note – I LIKED the video – just not this turn of phrase as a banal yet still misleading analogythe only strong analogy is that an ability to acquire, process and store both is necessary for many new technological processes.I could ask the same of the blockchain – is blockchain the new Oil or is it the new Data or the new database, or manned flightAn analogy truly sucks if you cannot decide what is elegant about it.

        2. Twain Twain

          New data architecture owned by the people, for the people and not incumbents? Check this out:*…KABOOM.

        3. Twain Twain

          Musk: I think the best defense against the misuse of AI is to empower as many people as possible to have AI. If everyone has AI powers, then thereโ€™s not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower.One of the arguments put forward by Blockchain movement is that no one person or small set of individuals (elected politician, central bankers, senior bank mgmt, tech incumbent) should have all the data superpower. Instead, that knowledge and power of data can be distributed, decentralized and transparent across billions of ordinary people.Fascinating times for tech and global society.

  3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Great talk,I think it is interesting to note that “incumbents” is not well defined. We are still in the age of steam, we still burn fossil fuels (and nuclear) to raise steam and turn a turbine so we can power up our phones, battery driven cars etc. The technology of stuff related to physics changes little – but …Network effects in some domains are not around communication per se, but what communication enables. So we know if we all travelled at different times there would be less road congestion. This does not require an uber or a tesla, but the economics of uber and tesla impinge on the cost of peak motoring, and hence behaviour.Could we argue that a network effect is where an individual modifies their behaviour because of the communication of, or knowledge of (perhaps by a price proxy) behaviour of others.If this is the case, the network effect is effectively defined as being “in-touch with” or simply subject to dominant behavioural drivers.This might be the informal communication of fashion or music (definitely network effect driven industries), the harder effect of component prices falling when a critical mass is reached, or the artificial boundaries of an incorporated organisation to define individual as having access to information or not via their technologies. It is a club.My argument is that the value of the network effect lies not in ownership of the data or technology per se, but in the ability to take that data and make lives easier because it exists (due to subjection to dominant behavioural drivers of participants).Meta-question – Is membership of a sports supporters club a proxy for genuine friendship discovery ?

    1. Michael Elling

      Certainly if you are a ManU fan. Not sure about all others.

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Well it was meant to provoke a reaction – I take it you are not a Man U fan ?

    2. LE

      Is membership of a sports supporters club a proxy for genuine friendship discovery ?My somewhat related thought this morning. “Are people less likely to move from small towns in the midwest to the big city if they are able to develop and connect with intellectual networks online virtually?” [1] Hard to believe there isn’t an effect like that which has or is happening.[1] Similar “single people in NYC are less likely to get into permanent relationships if they have a cat or dog and plenty of things to keep themselves occupied where they interact with or mix with other people” (as opposed to living alone in the suburbs or on a farm).

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        As a sample of 1 – I moved from London to the middle of nowhere from choice once technology made it viable.I think you are right and it will amplifyThe concept of a city is questionable from a technological perspective as/once physical nearness is non-essential/devalued -Land broadly determines production costs of all of life’s essentials and land is to be found worldwide. Beware all land is not equal !If the smart money is moving out, question why you are staying ?

        1. LE

          There are two parts to this. One is ability to earn an income. The other is ability to connect with like minded individuals. There are also tipping points involved and satisficing “good enough”.Let’s take a guy similar to our own falicon at AVC for example. A computer programmer (what we used to call coders) that iirc lives in a small town in NJ. Back in the day a guy like falicon might be trapped working in IT for some local company with a bunch of mediocre and non very challenging or skilled coworkers. Forgetting for a second that I believe he has a family and coaches kids sports let’s say he was actually early 20’s for the purposes of this discussion. So he thinks “there is a better life out there in the big city (both professionally and socially) and I am going to go find it!” So he leaves his small town and heads to either NYC or the Bay area where there is a density of both professional and social opportunities. The best and the brightest, those motivated and not shackled that can head west or to another center of commerce. Now however, he can (as you mentioned) do much work and find opportunity all online (and doesn’t need to work in IT with mediocre co-workers) but he can also socialize online and be a member of groups where he can raise and nurture his mental curiosity. The fact is that while doing the online thing is not as good as being in the right place in person (online relationships are just different) it’s close enough to scratch the itch and keep him located in the small town. Not that there won’t be people heading west or east. Just that there is most certainly less of them. [1][1] How much who knows. I could also argue that there is more knowledge of opportunity and where it is then there was 30 years ago when the only way you would know is if someone told you what was going on or if you happen to read the right magazines.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I believe there will be more and more opportunities outside the big hubs. Not for telecommuting, but because the economics support it.

          2. LE

            Yes but the fact is there is much less opportunity for serendipity when you are not in close physical proximity to a concentration of similar individuals or for that matter those that are different (which is just as helpful). [1][1] 365 chance meetings per year better than 3 or 4.

  4. Twain Twain

    The data architecture piece has 2 underpinnings:(1.) Innovations in physical hardware, e.g. Quantum computers such as Google’s D-Wave; and(2.) Innovations in software.Google sees Quantum Computing as “learning how to fly”:*…QC has implications for all mechanics, logic & probability-based algorithms, including Merkle trees of Blockchain.*…There’s software innovation ahead to move us forward from these legacy maths algorithms which have been with us since the days of Aristotle, Euclid etc.This innovation also impacting upon Machine Intelligence and the ability of the machines to understand the meaning in our Natural Language (which the legacy logic, mechanics and probability approaches can be applied to correlate huge volumes of content but can’t deal with for context, coherently).

    1. Twain Twain

      Also, I don’t see D-Wave as being akin to a flying machine. The analogy is more that of going from a family saloon to a Ferrari.For data flight, some fundamental maths needs to be solved first. Fundamental maths relating to modeling quantum phenomena for how the human mind deals with data.This is one of the hardest of hard problems in systems intelligence. It’s a “Holy Grail”.

  5. Twain Twain

    I like Blockchain and can see its utility beyond FinTech. A lot of people focus on cost savings afforded in the Clearing & Settlements piece.But there’s much more interesting consumer-related areas where Blockchain would be amazing must-have.

  6. Richard

    Let’s not forget “the comeback”, just a few years ago it looked like apps would dominate UX. Today apps, save uber and music, seem tired and more cumbersome than the web (e.g,, producthunt).

    1. Amar

      Please elaborate on that thought Rich. Specifically producthunt as an example of the “tired and more cumbersome” observation. I am curious to hear it fleshed out.

      1. Richard

        Like many of this community product hunt is part of my morning coffee routine. Ihave the product hunt app on my phone but never open it. I find The barrier to entry of the the app just two high. I find it effortless however to open product hunt on the web allowing me to quickly skim through the days hunted. Why? I’m already in the web doing useful things. Do I want to change my clothes and jump into the app for a 5 minute swim? Nope.

        1. Amar

          Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ That makes sense. We are all viscerally experiencing the cost of continuous context switching. These days I use email subscription to keep up with blogs I care about. Been a while since I popped open my RSS reader. Email is not going away, might as well optimize around it.

  7. Aviah Laor

    The notion of NEW set of incumbents is important. Technology changes faster than the basic human dynamics, and new tech could be just a more efficient way to boost the same old paradigm of value sharing and value creation. After all, some of the first evidence of human writing, thousands of years ago, are actually tax reports.

  8. george

    Nicely done NG, very informative!The theory and relative importance of data makes absolute sense but I try not to predict the next 15 years, that’s nearly impossible.One point to make about the information age; over the past 30 years, several major paradigm shifts have occurred (Apple-Microsoft-Google-Facebook-Amazon-Uber) and there’s no doubt, data has become a valuable part of everyone’s platforms. However, I’m not quite sure that the blockchain aligns with “new” incumbent values or business ideology – it’s seems truly better suited to operate in a centralized environment. Perhaps a better fit for government(s) and large institutions that need an efficiency engine.

  9. William Mougayar

    I’d like to hear more about the Data Architecture part.