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Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter might make the internet a lot less fun. Later, net neutrality.
The Hustle Tues, Nov 22

Net neutrality is on the chopping block

Back in February, the FCC — spurred by the Obama administration and a record 4 million public comments following John Oliver’s rant — set net neutrality rules to ensure equal access to the internet.

But, after Donald Trump recently named two long-time net neutrality opponents, Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison, to oversee telecom policy at the FCC, there’s reason to believe those rules will soon be dismantled.

“Explain it to me like I’m 5”

Sure. Basically, net neutrality rules ensure that all content and services are treated equal, no matter who creates it.

To put it another way, internet service providers (Comcast, Verizon, AT&T) are prohibited from doing things like charging websites (Netflix, YouTube) special fees to deliver content to consumers based on self-interest.

For example…

Since Comcast owns 10% of Hulu, it would make sense for them to intentionally hurt the download speeds of Netflix, a competitor.

For one, it would put cooties on the Netflix user experience and probably lead to a lot of new people sitting at Hulu’s table in the cafeteria thanks to the lack of buffering (aka. the spinny circle of death).

Plus, considering over 23 million people rely on Comcast for internet, it would effectively strongarm Netflix into paying a premium to bring those speeds back up and be treated fairly.

Okay, so telecom behemoths want these rules squashed then?

That’s correct. Which is why they’re thrilled about Eisenach and Jamison getting the nod — particularly Verizon, who has been paying Mr. Eisenach to underwrite their work, and Sprint, who Jamison previously worked for as a lobbyist.

Meanwhile, techsters like Facebook and Google who rely on these cable companies to be their “pipes,” are probably not the happiest campers right now.

Now, before you start blaming all of this on Donald Trump…

Don’t, because it’s not really his fault.

It’s easy to point the finger and, like most of the media, blame the “evil president elect doing the evil thing to help the evil corporations!”

But, the fact is that Republican lawmakers have strongly opposed these rules for a while, with dozens of bills put forward over the years to try and weaken or kill them.

So whether Donald Trump, John Kasich, or Jeb freakin’ Bush had won the presidency, net neutrality would have had the same massive target on its back. Doesn’t make it any less scary, though.

 
Do you feel 5 yet?
 

Imagine using Google Maps indoors…

Now stop imagining. Thanks to recent advancements in smartphone capabilities, wireless infrastructure, and machine learning, that’s about to become a reality very, very soon.

What’s changed?

Let’s start with our smartphones. Companies like Apple and Google have made Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard on pretty much every device, meaning all of our phones are now “location aware.”

In addition, the introduction of a new wireless infrastructure makes it plausible and cost-effective to deploy BLE at scale.

For example, BLE used to require physical, hockey-puck sized beacons to be placed every 20ish feet to detect users. Now, companies like Cisco are rolling out products that make setup and operation super easy.

The third advancement has been in machine learning, which has improved BLE’s indoor location accuracy to the one-meter range.

Let’s imagine how this could be used…

Hotels could automatically check people in the second they walked through the door, then give them step-by-step directions to their room.

Hospitals could help patients easily find a wheelchair or the jello in the cafeteria.

Department stores could help shoppers locate a staff member, thus eliminating that awkward “Hey, do you work here? I was just wond — oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, you definitely don’t.”

And companies that are obsessed with analytics (all of them) are going to have an absolute field day with this.

Hey intern analytics guy, how long does our average male customer between the ages of 24 and 30 spend in the shoe section before walking over to the pants section on Thursdays before 8 p.m. during a rainstorm?

Very important questions! That they’ll be able to answer in a matter of months.

 
So future
 

Total recall: spread the world

Sabra issued a recall for almost all of its hummus products due to Listeria. Might want to inform your roommate who drunkenly finishing off the dip last night.

Listeria, which sounds more like a disease that afflicts old-timey prospectors than Whole Foods shoppers, is a bacteria that can cause fever, muscle aches, and *whispers* diarrhea.

But, outside of shipping everyone in the country a bottle of Pepto, what is Sabra actually going to do about all this nasty hummus?

How recalling works

In 2015, the FDA recalled over 9,000 food products, but unless the food is found to contain “known poisons,” (dangerous, but also a sick band name) companies aren’t legally required to act on them. Less than comforting.

Once the poisons are known, the next — and most expensive — step is to actually get the product off the shelves and out of the mouths of consumers.

If the food has already been shipped to stores, the company has to pay all of them to replace, throw out, or ship back the food. Past that point, however, it’s on the grocery stores to notify customers of any serious recalls that might affect them.

Lucky for Sabra…

They’re probably covered. In fact, recalls are so common that nearly 78% of manufacturers have “recall insurance” just for this occasion.  

Unfortunately, this won’t necessarily protect them from their damaged reputation, which can result in huge losses like in the case of Chipotle, whose stock is still down 45% from last October before their infamous E. Coli outbreak.

We’re guessing that Sabra will be able to pull itself out of this one, but in the meantime, we’ll be grieving the loss of our office hummus tub.

 
Rest In Pita
 

Genalyte wants to be the “good guy” of blood testing

Biotech company Genalyte, which just raised $36M from Khosla Ventures & Redmile Group, claims they can run 128 different blood tests from a single prick of blood. Even more shocking, they think it might actually work.

But, with VCs still laying low after Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes didn’t turn out to be the knight in shining turtleneck we all hoped for, it seems surprising that some firms are already coming back to the scene of the crime.

That is until you realize $36 mil is a proverbial “blood drop” in the bucket for Khosla and co. And, to Genalyte’s credit, they seem to be on the straight and narrow.

Can they prove it?

Since the average medical device company takes 3-7 years just to get through FDA approval), only time will tell.

However, Genalyte appears to be doing things the right way by running legitimate medical tests on their technology… we know, groundbreaking.

That being said, there are so many similarly ambitious companies out there that it’s hard to know who to back or trust.

For example, Helix raised $100M this fall to create ultra-personalized products from your DNA profile (think wine that pairs well with your tastebuds, not just your food).

Not quite there, but aspiring really hard right now…

It’s easy to get worked up about promising early-stage med-tech, but in reality, these projects are the ultimate long-game.

All we can hope for is that these companies take the high road, like Genalyte appears to, rather than perpetuating junk science for the sake of sales (ahem, Theranos).

Until further notice, seems like Fast Company said it best: The biggest challenge facing these companies is “getting science to catch up to [their] ambitions.” How hard could that be?

You heard ‘em scientists. Turn up your bunsen burners or whatever and stop slacking.

 
Microscopes and lab coats
 
 
a few good reads
 

Superagents Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel are Building the Future of Hollywood (Fast Company)

If you’re even remotely interested in the entertainment industry, the future of content distribution, or what the life of a “superagent” looks like, read this. And yes, Ari Emanuel was the inspiration for Entourage’s Ari Gold character.

Why VCs Sometimes Push Companies to Burn Too Fast (Y Combinator blog)

Thanks in large part to misaligned incentives, it’s better for A VC firm to push a company to demonstrate success or failure quickly, rather than move slowly… which in many cases, results in empty bank accounts.

The Spy Who Added Me On LinkedIn (Bloomberg)

Russia successfully influenced America’s 2016 presidential election through hacking, proving that the country’s espionage efforts have evolved. But you know the spies who we used to hear about during the Cold War era? They’re still around, too.

The Tao of Boyd: How to Master the OODA Loop (The Art of Manliness)

John Boyd is considered one of the greatest military strategists ever, and one of his biggest contributions to the world is the OODA Loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It’s a strategy that can help anyone (a person, a business, an army) handle conflict and thrive.

 
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