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3MinSB - Issue #45: Unbundling

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3MinSB

January 14 · Issue #45 · View online

Thoughts on life and the everyday.


Hello world and welcome back!
In one of my earlier issues, I posted an infographic on the companies and services that didn’t exist 20 years ago. For the most part, they’ve come to define our social lives, media intake, and day-to-day living. The ‘There’s an App for That’ meme was introduced when apps were just small extensions of daily capabilities - looking at upcoming weather or simply tapping on piano keys. Just a few years later, the apps have altogether replaced our capabilities and established a foothold of convenience for each unique need. The first wave of such apps was built on social networks, breaking down physical bounds, and extending our social reach. The behemoths that exist today have grown far beyond this simple network, creating a collection of entities and services, all connected through linked subscription/bundling platforms. The result has been user lock-in, forcing users to maintain some subscription so they don’t miss out on a dependency that’s necessary for another part of life (how hard is it to give up an iPhone when you have a Mac, iPad, and iCloud?)
Yet more recently, there’s been a shift away from this bundling and consolidation of services. Amazon, Facebook, Apple have shown that they can ‘do it all’ in their respective space. They’ve created suites of services that work in tandem (E.g. Apple One) allowing them to focus on the longer-term strategy of acquiring and maintaining users without having to fully optimize and prioritize all products. Yet such general suites of apps don’t always solve problems of niche user groups, opening up spaces for specialized applications, built for a specific use case and a targeted subset of users. While larger companies cannot prioritize certain user groups, hungry startups can break into the space, pouring their attention on the underserved groups and wants. All companies live by some value proposition that drives their success (or failure), and while economies of scale favor the giants, curated and crafted customer experiences in a niche space can only be sustained by smaller teams with a limited scope of work. Their goal is not to grow and capture the likes of all, but rather to provide the best experience for a subset of a subset of a user group, usually still hundreds of thousands of people.
This unbundling has become apparent across media and print - news has continually broken down further in the last century as more targeted media services (think FiveThirtyEight for data-driven news, The Athletic for sports, Substack for newsletters). Such services differentiate themselves through a number of factors, whether it be price, genre, or simple medium of communication.
The same unbundling effect can be seen in online learning platforms. While sites like Udemy and Coursera have dominated, newer methods of learning have quickly taken form (think Masterclass for edutainment, or Monthly for immersive 30-day courses). As virtual learning becomes more heavily adopted, learning platforms will adapt and become more tailored to student needs and niches (Quick shoutout to my friend Garrett who founded a company tackling this problem, reimagining what it means to learn as a high-schooler). I encourage you to think about some of the other industries that have been undergone segmentation and unbundling - it is a natural counter to growing powerhouses yet deserves attention. The effect has its pros and cons, and while the newer services often focus on one area of growth, it creates decision fatigue when choosing one of many services.
I just recently started a new book called Loonshots which discusses the balance required for finding success in the unexplored territory of thought - the necessary structure to nurture high-risk experiments that could change the world while preserving those that keep the progress consistent. It’s a fascinating read so far and I see similarities between the mentality of a Loonshot idea and rocket-ship startup pursuit. Excited to see how such a trend plays out.
Round 45!

What I'm Reading
If you’ve kept up with my newsletter to this point, you’re familiar with Naval Ravikant. I’ve linked multiple podcast episodes and articles about his methods and areas of focus, and continually revisit some of his older work. I recently re-read his ‘How to Angel Invest’ blogs and thought I’d share.
Venture capital and startup investing have become increasingly more relevant for me, both because of the fundamental opportunity to create new growth (and wealth) as well as the mindset and frameworks that top VC’s/angel investors hold. At the seed stage, there are no financials that can dictate expected return and success. There is a need for an understanding of people, strategy, conviction, and a space that may not exist at that point. I feel that even if I never go down that path, there are lessons to be learned reading about how such decisions get made and bets get placed. The articles are fairly long, though are broken down by section.
How to Angel Invest, Part 1
How to Angel Invest, Part 2
What I'm Watching
I’ve always had a love for piano/instrumental renditions of most anything, and many of my favorites stemmed from some blockbuster movie or series. Most of us are familiar with John Williams and Hans Zimmer, but I’ve never actually seen the process of incorporating the music into films. I find film scoring similar to a flawless application design - it does not divert the user’s attention as much as it enhances the scene of the story. This documentary is unlike any documentary I have seen before - highly recommend.
Score: A Film Music Documentary
What I've Using
Two of my resolutions for this year were documenting life and cooking more, but I quickly found difficulty in keeping a running journal of my food throughout the days (and weeks). I could create a static list in Evernote and manually note the dates, or add the images to a Calendar app, but found both approaches tedious. My roommate recommended Day One, which is built as a journal but with better means of documentation. I created a ‘Food’ journal, and while I’m still experimenting with features, it’s been an intuitive way to visualize my food journey. The filters at the top allow for viewing the posts as you wish - purely visual, by location, or by date.
Thank you all for reading! Until next week.
-SB
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