01 November 2020

Welcome back to the Week That Was series where I highlight a few things from the interwebs which I thought were interesting, noteworthy and probably worth your time.

Articles📝, Tweet(s)📱, Videos🎥, Charts 📈 all fair game with or without attendant commentary.


🤝💰 Stripe x Paystack


An extraordinary exit for the young Paystack founders after Silicon valley online payments infrastructure giant Stripe acquired the startup for a cool $200m. A fantastic milestone not just for the team but both the international investor community and the African startup scene. Watch this space.

Co-Founder & CEO Shola Akinlade with a few words.

A great vote of confidence from one of the smartest leadership teams one earth, spearheaded by the inimitable Collison brothers.

Patrick Collison’s conversation with Tyler in 2017 is worth a (re)visit to get a sense of the calibre of the individual and why such a bet is so meaningful.




📽️🤒 Box Office

Steven Shoemaker put together an informative (and sobering) look at the covid-induced collapse in box office numbers over the last 8 months.

Extremely dire for cinemas and it’s forcing Hollywood to make stark decisions; postpone big movie releases for a year or two or go VOD/Streaming and likely seal cinema fates for good (+ lock in billions in losses).

Box Office

Full Tableau viz here


🙌🎢 Hype Cycles

Although underlying dynamics may be breaking up it’s predictive potential, the Gartner Hype Cycle is still be a decent framework for analysing adoption of innovations over the last few decades.

Good presso showing how one’s understanding of complex information can benefit greatly from viewing data from a fresh perspective.


₿🐂 How It’s Going

You may recall the bold foray by(🔒)📝 MicroStrategy’s treasury into BTC. CEO Michael Saylor gave an update on his own personal holdings and…. wow

Michael Saylor

It’s probably bad OpSec to broadcast that your personal holdings are likely worth: 17,732 x $13k ~ $230 million.

Interesting to see traditional players making major digital asset moves as the reality of the situation continues to sink in.


How It Started



How It’s Going




That JPM unit - called Onyx - now employs a 100 people and the business believes it’s close to positive comemrcialisation.


🔀 Bifurcation

Covid is having radically different effects on different people, nations, companies etc. The below are a case in point:

  • Amazon reportedly just hired a quarter of a million people in the last quarter



  • Incredibly, videocalling platform Zoom is now worth more than ExxonMobil🤯. Founder Eric Yuan’s net worth (which had already gone gangbusters from IPO through the huge 2020 moves) has almost doubled again in the last quarter.


🤼‍♂️🥊 Final Round

With the Hunter Biden October Suprise seemingly failing to move the needle in the same way the Comey letter did against Hilary Clinton in 2016 - POTUS DJT’s re-election chances continue to wane.


The routes to victory for the incumbent now appear to require either:

  • Extraordinary amounts of Preference Falsification (the act of misrepresenting one’s actual opinion in the face of perceived social pressure)
  • A litigation-heavy 2000-esque contested election potentially going all the way up to the Supreme Court (where the newly establish GOP majority could factor)
  • An even larger margin of error in polling models across the board than in 2016 (which would be a reverse of the correction trend seen in 2018 - when polls were essentially spot on)

All things are possible, but continue to look more unlikely for the sitting president. But only time will tell.

Anyway, here are some more outside probabilities from the 538 model



🗣️ Refutation

From Roko’s Thread about arguments and their refutations.

You tell a lot about whether something is true by what kind of arguments those who oppose it make. People opposed to an idea have a very strong incentive to refute the central point if they can. When they don’t, they are sending a strong signal that the thing is true.



🦠🧼🖐💦⚕ Greenzone


As we noted last week, the numbers were not looking good and it was pretty clear a number of governments would be taking actions. Lockdowns are back - many aren’t happy.

Nov 1 - Cases


What continues to be stark are the conspicuously different outcomes in the US & Europe versus the Asia-Pacific countries (and to a large degree around half of the African continent).

Asia Pacific C19

To quote Tomas Pueyo

Its true beauty: It’s a myth-buster:

  • “Only authoritarian states can stop it” ➡️ SK TW NZ AU JP
  • “Only islands can stop it” ➡️ CN VT TH
  • “Only rich countries can stop it” ➡️ TH VT
  • “Anglo-Saxon countries are too free” ➡️ NZ AU



Two highly recommended visual-heavy aides exploring how C19 spreads in various contexts and why masks work

📝 NYT – Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How.

NYT Masks


📝 EL PAÍS – A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air



💬 Quotes

“Perdition awaits at the end of a road constructed entirely from good intentions, the devil emerges from the details and hell abides in the small print.” ― Iain M. Banks, Transition

🏰 Ungru Manor

The ghost of Ungru Manor in Estonia

Ungru Manor

The story from Atlas Obscura

Created as a near-perfect copy of Merseburg Castle in Halle, Germany, the manor that remains today was built in the 1890s on the site of a manor that had been there since the 1500s. As the story goes, the son of Ungru’s owner visited Merseberg Castle and fell in love with the princess there. He proposed, but the princess was so fond of her father’s castle, she claimed that she was going to stay there forever, so the son returned home and vowed to recreate the German castle for her. He went back to Estonia and began construction, building out most of the structure including most of the exterior and its 11 gables. However before the interior could be finished, word came that the princess had died. The son himself died not long after in 1908. The house was left incomplete and without an owner.


🎨 Hagege

A couple Logan Maxwell Hagege pieces I enjoyed

Hagege 1


Hagege 2


Hagege 3


🌌 Planetary Orientation

With this Alex Cherney image (published by NASA) rotated to a landscape orientation, you can picture the orbital plane of the Solar System, called the ecliptic & Earth’s place within it. Plus, you can see how our solar system is tipped about 60 degrees relative to the plane of our galax.

Orbital Plane

Credit: Massimo


Meanwhile 300 million kilometers away OSIRIS-REx locks up it’s smaples and heads back to Earth (scheduled return Sep. 24, 2023).


💾 Oh…and one more thing

What 5 megabytes of computer data looked like in 1966: 62,500 punched cards, taking four days to load

5 Meg



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