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“Today you…Tomorrow me”
Thoughts on a classic Reddit post.
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Today, we’ll talk about one of my favorite Reddit posts ever.
Also this week:
Microsoft’s $10B deal with OpenAI
How Netflix chooses its TV shows
iPhone and the greatest 2x2 matrix ever
The North Sea economy
And some wild memes (including Prince Harry)
One of the most iconic posts on Reddit is known as “Today You, Tomorrow Me”.
The post was written 12 years ago and in response to an Ask Reddit question: “Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker?”
In the post, a person named u/rhoner explains why one incident convinced him to try to give a helping hand whenever he could:
During one period, u/rhoner experienced a lot of car problems and was disappointed in the lack of help from other people (such as passers by and gas station attendants).
In the incident that changed everything, he blew out a car tire and the only person that stopped to help was a Mexican immigrant who had “his whole family of 6 in tow”
The Mexican immigrant was likely a wage labourer but still put aside 4 hours of his day to help fix u/rhoner’s car
As a thank you, u/rhoner secretly slipped the family a $20 bill.
Here is where the story hits hard:
“But we aren't done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale [they gave me] cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My fucking $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won't take it.
All I can think to say is "Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor" with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:
"Today you.... tomorrow me."
In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won't accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:
"Today you.... tomorrow me."
It’s an incredible story (even Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian says it’s his favorite Reddit post).
Anyways, I mention it because someone blessed me with a “today you, tomorrow me” moment last weekend.
I was at the library with my son. After grabbing some books, I sat down in one of the kid’s chairs and felt a pop in my lower back. I had experienced this pain before: during my 20s, I injured my lumbar region on many occasions while trying to be a hero on deadlifts.
This instance didn’t feel as bad at first, so I shook it off and we walked back towards our car. However, after 10 meters, my lower back completely gave out and I crumpled to the ground. My son thought I was joking and started laughing.
An older lady quickly came by and asked if everything was OK. It wasn’t. I had sprained a muscle in my lower back and literally was unable to stand up.
My car was so close, though. Like 30 meters away. I asked her to just help my kid with his library books while I crawled to the car. And there I was, literally crawling on all fours past dozens of people on a busy street, which caused a lot of confusion (and my kid was still laughing).
However, the pain became so excruciating that I couldn’t make it. Next step: the lady called her husband, who drove down to the scene and proceeded to grab my car and drive it to where I was laid out.
This couple had zero reason to assist me, but they did: burning an hour of their Saturday morning to help a complete stranger and his kid get back to their car.
When I pulled myself into the car, I thanked them and asked if I could get their phone number. The lady said “it’s, ok, you’ve got the next one.”
Translation: "Today you.... tomorrow me."
Luckily, the position of my driver seat was actually manageable for my spine, so I gingerly drove the car home before my wife helped me into the house (at this point, my son was no longer laughing and understood the situation; but he did start calling me "Mr. Owwwie Man", which is objectively hilarious).
As of this email send, I’m pretty close back to normal. But why am I telling this story? Because my life has become so digital that it has been ages since I’ve had such random in-real-life interactions. The couple’s generosity was a salient reminder that people will sacrifice and help a complete stranger — who they will likely never meet again — with no expectation of anything in return other than "Today you.... tomorrow me."
Perhaps more importantly, there is incredible bank security footage out there of me looking like Leonardo DiCaprio from “The Wolf of Wall Street” after taking too many Quaaludes.
PS. Please take care of your lower back…when it goes out, you can’t move anything (although, I did have a blast recording the latest Not Investment Advice podcast while lying down)
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Links and memes
Microsoft is mulling a $10B investment in OpenAI. Talks are ongoing and the details are fascinating since OpenAI was originally founded as a non-profit before pivoting to a “capped-profit” company (investors had their profits capped at something like 100x).
Here are the latest details.
Microsoft has already put in $3B into OpenAI
Most of the investment has been in the form of Azure cloud credits (of note, OpenAI used to be one of Google Cloud’s largest customers — spending $120m in 2019 and 2020)
Microsoft is considering a new $10B investment at a $29B valuation
There is a cap on profits but Fortune says Microsoft could stand to make as much as $92B (while other investors have a potential profit pool of $150B)
When OpenAI makes a profit, here’s how the money will flow
it will first pay out “first close partners” (which may include early investors like Khosla Ventures and Reid Hoffman’s foundation)
Then: 75% of profits go to Microsoft until it gets back $13B (while the other 25% goes to employees and other investors up to their caps)
Then: 49% of profits go to Microsoft and 49% employees/investors up to their caps (with the OpenAI nonprofit parent getting the other 2% of profits)
Then: if all profit caps are met, 100% of funds flow to OpenAI nonprofit parent
Per The Information, there is a potential enticement to get more outside investors interested: the cap on profit — aka return on investment — could increase by 20% every year starting from 2025.
A question around the deal is “if the OpenAI business is so great, why are they giving up so much equity to Microsoft”? AI researcher Gary Marcus posits that OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman knows he has something monster in his hands but it’s not clear if it will ever fulfill its lofty financial expectations. Therefore, it may be a good time to sell to a larger player with resources (remembering how expensive it is to train and run these models in the cloud).
On a related note, Byrne Hobart writes that generative AI may be like the steel industry: “Important, ubiquitous, but also chronically unable to generate good long-term returns for investors.”
The greatest 2x2 matrix ever: Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone on January 9th, 2007 (the phone would be released in June of that year).
His keynotes are legendary and my favorite part of that 2007 presentation was when he displayed a 2x2 matrix with the following axes.
”smart” / “not so smart”
“hard to use” / “easy to use”
In a complete shocker, Jobs put the iPhone in the top right of the 2x2 matrix.
As I mentioned last week — when talking about the worst tech predictions ever — the iPhone has sold 2B+ units and made $1T+. It’s the greatest consumer product ever, which makes Jobs matrix the greatest 2x2 matrix ever (and, therefore, the format should be retired forever).
How does Netflix choose TV shows? The New Yorker has an in-depth profile on Netflix’s Head of TV Bela Bajaria.
The article is full of creative metaphors on how Netflix chooses its slate of shows:
The ideal show is like a “gourmet cheeseburger” that is “premium and commercial” at the same time (eg. Bridgerton)
Netflix is like a “universal power adapter”, porting successful shows from one part of the world to another.
Netflix wants to “replace all television” with content that’s comparable to HBO, FX, AMC, Lifetime, Bravo, E!, Comedy Central etc.
Related to the previous point, Netflix is oriented around “saying yes [to projects] in a town that’s built on saying no”. Their wide net approach has been called “Walmart-ization” that prioritizes voracious acquisition over curatorial discernment.
Honestly, that’s a pretty depressing collection of North Stars. But, if you’re trying to replace “all of TV”, then I guess that means everything we watch (and “everything” means a whole spectrum of quality).
The potential of the North Sea economy: With Europe transitioning away from Russian energy, the development of renewable energy in the North Sea could be huge for the continent.
Here’s a great article from The Economist:
The North Sea has always been economically significant. Bordered by six countries—Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway—it is where many important shipping routes intersect. Its strong tides, which sweep nutrients to its shallow seabed, are a boon for fishermen. In the 20th century oil and gas were discovered beneath its floor. At their peak in the 1990s Britain and Norway, the two largest North Sea producers, together cranked out 6m barrels of crude a day, half as much again as the United Arab Emirates does today. One Scottish field, Brent, lent its name to the global price benchmark. As that bounty runs out—and demand for what remains dwindles amid concerns about climate change—the turbulent body of water is finding lucrative new uses.
The biggest bet is on a resource of which the sea has an infinite amount—awful weather. With average wind speeds of ten metres per second, the basin is one of the gustiest in the world.
In sum: Massive wind farms not run by Putin are superior to gas lines run by Putin.
And here some good tweets…
Prince Harry has been on a media tour (talk shows, Netflix special) in the lead-up to his book “Spare”. Stories from the book leaked and blew people’s mind: 1) Harry said he killed 25 enemy combatants in Afghanistan; 2) he had a frostbitten dick at William’s wedding; 3) he lost his virginity in a field to an older woman…..
Anyways, the autobiography sold 1.4m copies on its first day (the fastest selling non-fiction book ever and second only to Harry Potter). Meanwhile, his ghostwriter J.R. Moehringer — who made $1m for the book — is a ghostwriting god and also did Phil Knight’s “Shoe Dog” and Andre Agassi’s “Open”.
Finally, I have probably 3000 bullets points in Google Docs that are similar to the note in this next tweet: