In the News 06.11.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
Saturday 7th November, 2015
We spend a lot of time advising startups. Though one-on-one advice will always be crucial, we thought it might help us scale Y Combinator if we could distill the most generalizable parts of this advice into a sort of playbook we could give YC and YC Fellowship companies.
Then we thought we should just give it to everyone.
This is meant for people new to the world of startups. Most of this will not be new to people who have read a lot of what YC partners have written—the goal is to get it into one place.
There may be a part II on how to scale a startup later—this mostly covers how to start one.
Your goal as a startup is to make something users love. If you do that, then you have to figure out how to get a lot more users. But this first part is critical—think about the really successful companies of today. They all started with a product that their early users loved so much they told other people about it. If you fail to do this, you will fail. If you deceive yourself and think your users love your product when they don’t, you will still fail.
The startup graveyard is littered with people who thought they could skip this step.
It’s much better to first make a product a small number of users love than a product that a large number of users like. Even though the total amount of positive feeling is the same, it’s much easier to get more users than to go from like to love.
Read the rest of this article at Startup Playbook
Truffles, Caviar, and Cristal: A Tale from the Mythic Days of Magazine Expense Accounts
In this adaptation from the forthcoming collection and posthumous memoir The Spectacle of Skill, the late Robert Hughes offers his delightful if bittersweet recollections about what life was like at Time magazine in the latter decades of the 20th century. For 31 years, Bob reigned as the magazine’s chief (and, as he dryly notes, only) art critic. Hughes, who left Time in 2001 and died in 2012, notes the pleasures of working at a magazine when editors ran what they thought readers would appreciate knowing about, rather than editing for the biggest number of page views. The best kind of reader is open to the passions and curiosities of editors, and Hughes was lucky to have worked with one of the best in Henry Anatole Grunwald. Grunwald ran Time from 1968 until 1977, before ascending to the 34th floor of the Time & Life Building, where, beginning in 1979, he ruled the entire Time Inc. magazine empire before becoming U.S. ambassador to Austria.
Hughes is especially nostalgic about the company’s generous expense accounts, and it is impossible to run into colleagues from those days without lapsing into tales of expense-account bravado (the correspondent, for example, nicknamed “42” because he would dine at the 21 Club twice a day, or the British-born writer who would eat solo at a now-defunct restaurant that specialized in English food and write off as his dining companion the five pounds of English sausage he had the staff pack up for him to bring home). But none of these stories can beat Bob’s account of a dinner in Paris, as described in this adaptation.
Read the rest of this article at Vanity Fair
The Cop At The End Of The World
On a map of Australia, Birdsville is situated toward the middle of the country, yet its remoteness is so absolute that it might as well be on another planet. Established in 1881, the town abuts the edge of the Simpson Desert, an enormous expanse that consists of more than 1,000 sand dunes. That a town was built here at all is testament to either human willpower or outright folly. It is not quite self-sufficient, as most goods are either trucked in via hundreds of miles of snaking gravel tracks dotted with roadkill kangaroos and carrion birds, or flown in via the twice-weekly mail service.
On windy days, the red dust from the desert blows across the town’s few dozen buildings, adding a fine film of rusty grit that bonds itself to every surface. On hot days — which is most of them — bush flies revel in the stark stillness, incessantly seeking out the moisture of sweaty human skin.
In Birdsville, if you want to buy a coffee, you have one option: the Birdsville Bakery. If you want to visit a restaurant, you have one option: the Birdsville Hotel. If you want to buy alcohol, you can do so from either place. If you fall ill, you’ll be treated at the Birdsville Clinic, and flown nearly a thousand miles to the state capital if you can’t be fixed there. If you want to buy basic groceries, you’ll have to settle for whatever Birdsville Roadhouse has in stock. If you want to see a film or live music, you’re in the wrong town. Birdsville State School has five students. The kindergarten has three. There are no teenagers. There is no crime. There is, however, a police station. It is manned by an officer who chooses not to carry a gun, because he has no need to.
Read the rest of this article at Buzzfeed
Meet One Of The World’s Most Ground Breaking Scientists. He’s 34
As the dish of steamed chicken feet clattered onto the table, an impish toddler drummed with her chop sticks. Nobody in the noisy restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown gave a second glance at the man dressed in a polo shirt and jeans enjoying dim sum with his little girl, wife, and mother.
No one could have guessed that Feng Zhang, at 34, is widely considered the most transformative biologist of his generation, a double threat to win a Nobel Prize in the near future. Or that his discoveries could finally bring cures for some of the greatest causes of human suffering, from autism and schizophrenia to cancer and blindness. Or that he has touched off a global furor over the possibility that a genetics tool he developed could usher in a dystopian age of designer babies.
At that moment, Zhang was simply a young father, husband, and son struggling to explain what drives him, why it isn’t unusual for him to arrive home from his lab at 1 or 2 or even 3 in the morning.
He thinks it’s important, he told a reporter he had invited to join him for brunch. He enjoys it, he wants to carry on the work of mentors who invested in him, he … “The autumn leaves,” his mother, Shujun Zhou, piped up.
Zhang was 11 when he and his mother left China and settled in Des Moines, Iowa. A few years later, when he was in high school, she often waited in her car for hours while he worked late in a gene therapy lab. Driving home in the gathering dark one autumn evening, mother and son were struck by the sight of falling leaves, dead and dying after lives measured in mere months. They spoke about how little time anyone has, she recalled, and how easy it is for a life to disappear without the slightest trace that it had ever been. “It just seemed important to me to try my best to make a difference,” Zhang said.
Read the rest of this article at Stat
In the last interview before his passing in 1991, longtime Bond titles director Maurice Binder observed that Bond sequences were the likely precursors to the modern day music video, in that they blended experimental filmmaking and pop culture into a format perfectly suited for pop music. From the ‘60s onwards, the Bond theme song, and its title sequence by proxy, have become synonymous with rock n’ roll’s biggest (or sometimes, trendiest) acts, and in doing so lent credibility to the MTV-led music video explosion of the early-to-mid-’80s.
In only a few years’ time, music videos had Bond title sequences beat at their own game, with the popularity of the format attracting first-string talent, new ideas and technologies. Fierce competition between record labels, increasingly eccentric musical acts and unprecedented album sales afforded directors heavy creative license and control over their product. Acknowledging the format’s reach, Bond’s production company EoN joined the circus, commissioning videos for their theme songs independent of the film’s title sequence, often loaded with scenes from the film itself, thus doubling as trailers.
Ironically, their first such venture was a title sequence itself: For Your Eyes Onlyin 1981, directed by Binder, featuring Sheena Easton performing her theme song from within Bond’s world. EoN’s first proper music video was Rita Coolidge’s All Time High, the theme song for Octopussy (1983), beginning a trend that would become a cornerstone of the franchise’s marketing campaign.
It was on Binder’s final Bond film, License to Kill (1989) that EoN commissioned Daniel Kleinman to direct the video for Gladys Knight’s theme song of the same name. A veteran music video director with over a hundred videos under his belt, Kleinman’s experimental techniques and affection for technology seemed a perfect match for the job, and while he never met Binder while working on the video, his influence was very apparent, employing several telltale 007 title sequence tropes including window mattes, scale-independent compositions and sultry femme fatales.
Read the rest of this article at Art Of The Title