Powered by glolg
Display Preferences Most Recent Entries Chatterbox Blog Links Site Statistics Category Tags About Me, Myself and Gilbert XML RSS Feed
Sunday, Oct 23, 2016 - 23:45 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Monkey Business II

[N.B. See original earlier in the year]

"A scheming, robotic liar with a lifelong appetite for power and an entourage riddled with anti-Catholic bigots."

- Archbishop Chaput on Crooked Hillary,
after her campaign's true opinion on Catholicism was leaked


The third and last presidential debate is done, and THE TRUMP swept it, of course (even the Clinton News Network couldn't keep the lid on that one). With time running out and their ammunition about expended, the Hillary campaign is slowly crumbling (just like its leader) - with spurious accusations of cat-catching fading into the background, attention cannot help but turn to all the worms crawling out of the Democrats' rotting woodwork.

Take just one example: recall all the one-sided liberal outrage at "violent incidents at TRUMP events" (note sneaky use of passive voice for plausible deniability on who's actually inciting said violence)? Well, Project Veritas video evidence - backed up by Wikileaks - has confirmed that Clinton operatives were directly responsible for the bloodshed. Even the notably-biased "PolitiFact" website couldn't manage to refute this, and given that the spook involved was fired, one can only suppose that the charge of undercover provocation is, indeed, true (and apparently, it worked so well that the Catholics are next)

One can just imagine how loud the outrage would have been, had GOD-EMPEROR devotees so much as knocked a Hillary sign over - but, how did the mainstream media react?


Consider - TRUMP talks some locker room cock, and CNN, NBC, ABC, the NYT, etc all rushed to splash it all over their headlines, before the day was out. Now, faced with watertight evidence that Hillary agents are exploiting the homeless and mentally ill to make TRUMP supporters look bad, these news outlets are instead dragging their feet on it, before pushing it into a corner, while redirecting the focus to how TRUMP said that he'll consider whether to accept the election results as-is... but wait, didn't the Democrats contest them in 2000 too? And more importantly, isn't there fresh evidence of Democrat voter fraud on a massive scale (now officially under review)?

And why can't the dead vote?
*gasps* You aren't bigoted against corpses, are you? Necrophobe!

(Source: truthfeed.com)

This crap, my dear readers, is exactly why the mainstream media is losing credibility hand over fist, and why distrust of the establishment is continually growing. Even so, it's often hard to even recognize when one is being unfairly influenced.

Take the election polls: in their September 13 report that had GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP and Crooked Hillary in a dead heat, Reuters/Ipsos polled 36% Democrats and 28% Republicans, or 43%-33% with lean (let's ignore the fact that party affliation according to Gallup has consistently been about 31% Democrat, 28% Republican for the past few years). Then, after barely more than a month, Reuters/Ipsos reported a 4% Crooked Hillary lead amongst likely voters... but with 40% Democrats and just 26% Republicans among the polled (!), or 47%-33% with lean! What arrant bullshit is this?!

No, I tend to snigger at conspiracy theorists myself, but when pollsters rely on samples that bear no resemblance to known underlying distributions, one has to begin doubting the motivations of those behind the numbers. Indeed, to push the fictitious "Hilldawg is win" narrative, Reuters/Ipsos have been slowly - but surely - increasing the percentage of Democrats, and decreasing that of Republicans, in their polls.

But, despite the deck being stacked so shamelessly against him, TRUMP is actually winning in three national polls, including the IBD/TIPP one that has been the most accurate of them all over the last few elections, but of course you won't hear the mainstream media playing it up. Instead, CNN is trying to keep individuals from reading Wikileaks for themselves (remember how the Church did the same with the Bible? Or how Hillary wanted to drone Assange... wait, the US admitted to pressing Ecuador on him?), and Hillary's Correct The Record paid shills are dutifully batting down any and all pro-TRUMP facts and comments on the supposedly-nonpartisan politics and politicaldiscussion subreddits.

As they will eventually find, you can't fight the TRUMP CARD
[N.B. TRUMP channels Lincoln at Gettysburg!]

Well, I for one am not concerned. It's obvious that a GOD-EMPEROR can take care of himself, and if misguided Hillary supporters are lulled into complacency, so much the better. TRUMP continues consolidating his party behind him, with a majority of them preferring him to the unreliable Paul Ryan as the future of the Republican party (yes, Paul Ryan sucks). And, going by their latest US$6 million donation to the cause, World Wrestling Entertainment appreciates how TRUMP has catapulted their style onto the world stage. MAGA!

The decline of the mainstream media is hardly limited to the States, surely. In Singapore, The New Paper is set to be merged with My Paper, going from a paid model (that has seen daily circulation plunge from 100000, to barely 60000, in the past six years), to being a free daily. Personally, this is a good development - in this new economy, it's a bit too much to expect people to pay for their propaganda, don't you think? (Okay, okay, I liked TNP's infographics and sports coverage, especially the Neil Humphreys columns)

Quite ironically indeed, the "union" representing Singapore Press Holdings journalists were apparently only informed of the planned job cuts half an hour in advance, and had to turn to Yahoo! News to get the story of their plight out. Lesson to be learnt here - loyalty to the establishment won't save you, once your usefulness runs out.

It appears that The State's Times is confident that their funding won't be yanked, them being the national mouthpiece broadsheet and all, from how they presented the results on a government-commissioned survey on the (f**ked-up) proposal to reserve presidential eligibility by race. First, the survey results:

If this indicates anything at all, I'd say that it obviously shows that our wise citizens, regardless of race, are broadly united in recognizing that reserving the Presidency by ethnicity is a shit idea that smacks of barefaced political expediency. Seriously, none of our communities are supportive of the move - not the Chinese, not the Malays, not the Indians, nobody. And, I hasten to add, for very good reason.

Cue The State's Times headline on this data:

Survey: Support for reserved elections varies across races

...are you kidding me?

Well, our Law and Home Affairs Minister has apparently drawn the short straw here, as he tried to frame the main takeaway from these findings as being that "race matters in elections". He's by all indications a smart man, this must be very hard on him. The silver lining is, if he keeps a spin of this magnitude up, our energy needs will be met for the foreseeable future.

By the way, respected academic Cherian George has chipped in on the issue, and believes that in "a straight fight between Halimah Yaacob and Tan Cheng Bock, Halimah would win hands down". Let's just say I'd be down for it, but from how things are going, it's increasingly looking like a blank protest vote might be the only acceptable action for the coming Presidential elections... if it's even held.

Chaos Monkeys (A Short Review, Part I)

(Source: amazon.com)

Some weeks ago, upon hearing that the firm of H.L. Ham wasn't doing too badly, I squeezed some dividends out of Mr. Ham, and patronized the campus Co-op (just in case they have decided to complete their conversion into a fashion store). The selection came to two books, one of which is the above - Antonio García Martínez's Chaos Monkeys.

Yes, plenty of keyboards were involved.

I'll admit it, I picked it for the hoodie monkey, "Silicon Valley" and "Money Machine" (the tagline on my edition), and it didn't disappoint. No, I bought it not knowing what to expect (unlike you, now that you're reading this), and what I got was excellently engaging - if often appropriately vulgar - writing.

So, Martínez. Remember My Life As A Quant, that we reviewed here back in February last year? Martínez has evidently read it too, as he cites it in a footnote in the very first chapter. Back in 2005, he finally decided that he had had enough of making barely above minimum wage as a physics grad student at Berkeley, and quit in his sixth year to follow in Derman's footsteps at Goldman Sachs (he begins his habit of dispensing juicy side nuggets of information by revealing that Elisha Wiesel, only son of famed Holocaust survivor Elie, was his boss - and that he was likely responsible for losing all of his dad's foundation money, by investing it with Madoff; Martínez was not sympathetic, which we'll see a lot of.)

Like Derman, he quickly found that the quants were pretty small fish as Wall Street went, but also that small money there was still quite a lot. Even as a lowly quant, he found himself involved in some of the low-level debauchery celebrated in films such as The Wolf of Wall Street, fondly recalling a White Castle burger-eating contest (heavily bet on, of course). Anyway, he put in a few years at Goldman, before the financial crisis - and witnessing just how little loyalty meant - saw him move back to Cali to join a startup called Adchemy.

[N.B. An aside: nowadays (compared to, say, Derman's time), Big Tech appears to be approaching finance in terms of general attractiveness for STEM PhDs. Startups, in comparison, are a lot more hit and miss... as we'll soon see.]

Advertising is, arguably, the lifeblood of the Internet. Google continues to earn the vast bulk of its considerable profits from it, for example. This would be Martínez's new business. Anyway, this section of the book is where we discover just how far apart stories can be, when seen from different angles. From Adchemy CEO Murthy Nukala's telling (you can just Google for it), it was a big success. According to Martínez, well... let's just say that he probably won't be getting Christmas cards from his former boss.

Going a bit faster now. Within a year or so, Martínez realised that Adchemy was a sinking ship (his words), but he had fallen in with two of the guys there: McEachen, one of their best engineers, and Zymnis, just graduated from Stanford's A.I. Lab, and came up with an idea for a Y Combinator (yes, Hacker News) pitch: create an app that allows local store owners to advertise their inventory (by scanning the products' barcodes) directly to the consumer, who can then pick it up quickly, instead of waiting for Amazon etc to deliver.

[N.B. Come to think of it, a similar idea might have been pitched to me not that long ago, but with photo-id rather than just barcodes...]

Anyway, Martínez would realise that it was a shitty startup idea, because it required five miracles (he considers good startups as generally needing exactly one miracle; if zero are needed, it's just a regular business. More than that, and it becomes completely impossible, rather than probably so). However, the team still got an interview with the YC venture capitalists. In response, Murthy and his henchman dangled carrot and stick (McEachen had written half their code, for one), and tried to appeal to McEachen's economic commitments, and threatened Zymnis about his visa. Oh, and Martínez knocked up a pretty British trader (lucky guy)

As it was, the trio's new idea was to close the last-mile gap between advertising on Google, and small businesses. Although this might sound simple, Martínez notes that many before them had tried and failed (mostly). Despite that, the three co-founders bravely sauntered forth, and discovered that technical challenges were relatively easy to deal with, compared to people and personality problems (the chapter title says it all: like marriage, but without the f**king)

Startup Funding 101

Martínez & company's AdGrok can serve as a template for the lifecycle of a semi-successful startup, and he describes how funding typically goes. It all begins with the seed round, where the earliest investors get convertible notes - i.e. debt by the company. If the startup somehow doesn't die, and gets to further funding rounds (Series A, then B, etc), these notes can then be converted into equity, or ownership, of the company, at its implied valuation.

As Martínez observes, if it were just like this, then seed investors would be shortchanged - while they invested earlier and took on more risk, their share of the company would be calculated at fair value during the next round (where the risk has implicitly been reduced). To compensate for this, convertible notes usually have a cap, or max valuation for the purpose of calculating the stake. For example, if a seed investor had put in US$100k with a US$3 million cap, and the firm's valuation turns out to be US$10 million, he would obtain 3.3% of the equity, instead of only 1%, as a reward for undertaking more initial risk.

He also remarks that - as GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP doubtless knows - zero publicity is worse than bad publicity, for a startup. Continuing in GOD-EMPEROR vein, he then compares venture capitalists ("the final redoubt of individuals with discipline and ambition but no actual talent") with women - the more of them you seduce, the more new ones are attracted. The Matthew effect strikes again.

This is only about a third of the way in, and we come to Martínez's legal (and personal) feud with his former employers Adchemy, and in particular Murthy. Long story short, Murthy sued the AdGrok team over trade secrets and a bunch of other stuff, the specifics of which didn't matter because the intention was supposedly to drive them into financial ruin, though defense fees. Martínez quite clearly relished his telling of his outmaneuvering of Murthy here, with the help of a sympathetic laywer, and powerful friends.

Alas, AdGrok was not long for this world even so, and it would be acquired by Twitter in 2011 - or, more accurately, the team would be acqui-hired, where the main point is to obtain the human talent, rather than whatever mess they had managed to cook up thus far. It is here that Martínez parted ways with McEachen and Zymnis, with the latter two moving as a unit to Twitter (where they still are, if their LinkedIns are to be believed; Martínez happens to recommend this stalking, to gain the upper hand on new acquaintances), and himself to Facebook... which seems a natural place to break this review.

[To be continued...]

comments (0) - email - share - print - direct link
trackbacks (0) - trackback url

Next: This Mad And Maga World

Related Posts:
7 Reasons Why TRUMP Will Be The Next POTUS
War Of The Worlds
Men Against The Machine
Pregame Entertainment
Bow To The Master

Back to top

Copyright © 2006-2018 GLYS. All Rights Reserved.