A rather sad week, with possible war on the border,news of suicides, and rising cases. Some streaks on sunlight as at least one big company keeps its promise of being debt free as compared to the massive defaults we are used to of the last couple of years.
So this week I wanted to do 2 things. The first was to keep my introduction to the week short :). My second was to have a theme of alternatives. You always have a choice. You might never be able to choose the result of that choice, but you always have a choice. Which is why today we cover articles about alternatives and pivots. If you are unhappy about leading the world’s most successful product, can you make an alternative. If there is COVID and you are among the young Indian startups, can you thrive with innovation and strategic pivots. If Intel is slowing down the pace of innovation is there an alternative to drive 5G/6G and IOT tech. If VC’s are forcing you to go down an unsustainable path of growth, do founders have another funding source, and finally if you are facing COVID, are you faltering, rebounding or seizing the opportunity.
1. I think when you reach the pinnacle of your career, but you also lead probably the most important product in the world, you can really see the difference you are making and how the world is changing because of you. And sometimes you take action. Neeva is a search engine that you pay to use. No ads, no data collection. Would you pay for it ? It is also my profile of the week as we look at Sridhar Ramaswamy who earlier headed Google’s search business across platforms.
2. In my knowledge the first time someone “pivoted” in the tech ecosystem and called it that was Paypal (could be wrong on the first to do it part). I think that time they built a messaging system and were focusing on security. Fast forward and they did pretty well for themselves. This article gives you a great summary of how a few startups have managed to flourish despite COVID, due to smart innovation and timely pivots. It is a story we all should read, some to implement, some to learn from for the future.
3. Intel’s speed in coming up with new smaller chips has been slowing continuously. Most new chips have had delayed arrivals or been shelved because of impracticality. Trump with the whole Huawei saga wants to stop China from ever getting ahead in the race, and in another article I read this week, apparently the race for 6G is speeding up. But that begs another question before you read this article. Which Chinese chipmaking company have you heard of ? What is the alternative of Intel ? If you haven’t heard of any, then I can tell you that it is by design not by anything else. A fantastic article taking you deep into SMIC (Note: FT has all articles paid, but during COVID, they have opened up their articles if you sign in for the newsletter. Do it, atleast for a month its a treasure of brilliant articles)
4. A few weeks back I wrote about the end of Blitz scaling and the end of the era of growth at all costs. But some of these changes need structural overhauls.. Money always demands returns and that leads to the cycle of unsustainable growth, more money requirements and subsequent failure. etc. Do you know that .06% of companies with VC funding become unicorns. But what if your VC didn’t ask for fast growth, didn’t want a seat on the board and the understanding was that you will build a sustainable, profitable business. The alternative for the old school VC’s is here and post COVID, founders might start lining up.
5. This week’s final article of this newsletter is a very nice study of companies in Germany and how they are adapting to covid. Because it is McKinsey there has to be a model, but the model I think can be applied to all our companies and lives (the week warrants a little philosophy). Are you straying, continuing, seizing or rebounding? Maybe a question to ask yourself
Have fun reading! Do tell me which articles you liked best or the ones you didn’t