Eradicating Disease by 2050

I’ve been reading a lot about death and disease lately. It was surprising to learn that 56 million people died globally in 2012. Over 60% of those deaths were attributed to noncommunicable diseases. Only 9% of deaths were caused by “injuries.”

We can drastically reduce the death rate if we’re able to eradicate disease.

I previously thought this accomplishment was 50-75 years away with current medicine and research resources. However, the more I learn about nanobots, the more bullish I become on disease eradication becoming a reality by 2050. Even Ray Kurzweil appears to be a believer.

The impact of disease eradication is hard to predict. There are positives (longer life expectancy, healthier population, etc) and negatives (over-population, potential food shortage, etc). What if we have colonized Mars by then? How about if our bodies build immunity to disease but become susceptible to a larger existential threat?

We may not completely understand it until we get much closer. Either way, the possibility of preventing the leading cause of death is exciting stuff. I hope I’m fortunate enough to have it happen in my lifetime.

The Death of Sportscenter

ESPN’s Sportscenter was the default television program in my house growing up. My brothers and I would watch the same segment 2-3 times a day. There were intense negotiations with my mom for extra TV time so we could watch the Top 10 highlights. We couldn’t get enough.
My free time has decreased over the years but my love for sports has never waned. That said, it hit me last week that I haven’t watched a Sportscenter segment in weeks. I realized that despite this I still have a decent understanding of top highlights and recent developments in major sports.
I’ve been consuming sports through social media. @HouseOfHighlights (Instagram) gives me all the highlights I need to see. @ESPN, @ESPNStatsInfo, and @Sportscenter (Twitter) give me live updates and statistics. VICE Sports (Facebook) provides the human interest pieces that make sports special. The key development is that I’m now consuming sports on my schedule, in the way that works best for me.
Live sports are still held hostage by cable television but I predict that will change in the next 3-5 years through a combination of online streaming, virtual reality, and mobile apps. You can see this developing already with Snapchat’s College Football Story and online streaming of high school games. Imagine the disruption that occurs when I get a VR experience of the Super Bowl from my couch. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.
As eyeballs continue to shift from TV to mobile, ESPN and their partners need to rapidly innovate to hold our attention. The barrier to entry in sports media is eroding to zero. The people who create the most engaging, easiest to consume mediums will win. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel Is So Much More Than A Fratstar

Evan Spiegel is a cocky frat-star who got lucky when he created an app to receive naked pictures.

This is the public perception of the Snapchat Chief Executive and it looks like it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Numerous leaked emails from Michael Lynton, Sony Entertainment CEO and Snapchat board member, reveal a side of Spiegel that has previously been hidden behind closed doors.

After reading through the emails, it quickly becomes obvious that Spiegel has matured into a thoughtful, strategic leader who has a deep understanding of his business and the larger industry. He appears to be a bold, forward thinker who is interested in creating a valuable service with long-term sustainability. It is impressive to see considering how much the media has scrutinized the 24 year old.

For example, Spiegel shows strong conviction in the Snapchat monetization strategy in an email to Mitch Lasky, another board member:

You’ve seen the data – we have high engagement and high retention product with tremendous growth ahead of us. Monetizing the business now only makes a stronger case for the permanence of our product. I think most important thing I want to communicate to you is that this is not an emotional decision and is not about “proving it” – this business needs to make money. The argument of grow now, monetize later doesn’t make sense because we have reached abnormal levels of growth and our monetization product is value-added. I’d rather not burn another $100mm of OPM before we find out whether or not we have a business. If we can build profitable biz w Twitter-scale, 30-person headcount, and major growth ahead we are not going to have a problem attracting additional capital. (This does not preclude necessity of building a much larger team).

Not exactly what you would expect from a clueless bro, huh? The saying “never judge a book by it’s cover” seems to be fitting here.

I expect Evan Spiegel to be taken much more seriously going forward. These emails show that the one-time fraternity social chair has matured and evolved. It will be exciting to see how his continued growth impacts Snapchat’s success in the coming years.

The Slow, Painful Death of Voicemail

Voicemail is slowly dying.

The staple functionality is being used less and less by younger demographics. As these demographics become older, the overall usage of voicemail continues to drop. So how did one of the most important features of telephone communication enter this downward spiral?

The largest contributor has been the adoption of additional forms of communication. For example, when voicemail was first introduced, SMS messaging wasn’t around. There was no way to tweet at someone or leave a comment on their Facebook wall. People have historically migrated to the most efficient, friction-less forms of communication. Could you imagine writing a letter and sending it through the mail today? How about sitting on the phone for 2 minutes to tell someone a short message? I can’t.

The second, less obvious contributor to this trend is the decreasing likelihood that your voicemail will be listened to. Numerous times I have made the effort to call someone and refrained from leaving a voicemail, only to immediately send them a text message that relays the necessary information. I could have easily left a voicemail but I feared that the message wouldn’t be heard. (For context, I have 13 unread voicemails on my phone right now).

Lastly, many voicemail systems are out-dated and difficult to use. While iPhone users can listen to messages by tapping 3 buttons, most people are stuck calling a special number and entering their 4-digit password. This is utter chaos – remember, we live in a world where Apple replaced 4-digit passwords with our fingerprints to unlock our phones.

The world of communication is evolving quickly. There are too many human, product, and network forces acting against traditional voicemail for it to survive. I’m excited to see what comes next.

Does The CIA Hate Technology?

The Senate Intelligence Committee released their report on CIA interrogation techniques today. Many organizations and people are extremely upset for a multitude of reasons.

Some people are angered by the tactics that were used. This group of people believes the tactics were too harsh and constitute torture. Another group of people can’t believe that the United States would reveal our strategy and tactics so publicly to the world. In my opinion, both parties have legitimate grievances. I’m glad we live in a country where they can publicly share their opinions and participate in debate.

I haven’t been able to read the entire report yet, but one thing has shocked me already – there is very little use of technology.

The only explanation that I can come up with is that this was an intentional decision by the organization’s leadership. The country’s Defense budget can support the procurement and deployment of almost any technology ever created. The technology innovations have been woven into almost every other organization – from battlefield communication tools and drones to improved body armor and auto-deposit of soldier’s pay.

Examples

The CIA’s record keeping was horrendous. They were surprised to find that some detainees were in their custody. This could have been fixed with a simple inventory management system. It appears the details weren’t important as long as the facts were untraceable.

The “interrogation techniques” lacked technology’s influence as well. The most controversial, waterboarding, involved tools that you can find under your kitchen sink. Other tactics, such as standing in stressful positions or loud music, are hardly groundbreaking innovations.

Solution

I would love to see a solution created that served two purposes – allowed the United States to procure relevant, accurate information in their defense of our freedom and a transparent accountability system that could be audited by an oversight committee. It is always hard to build complex systems that serve multiple purposes but the world needs this.

The human population is evolving. Societies are changing. Transparency and accountability are no longer a convenience, they are a necessity. It is time that the tools and technology of our country’s most important organizations caught up.

A New Role at Facebook

I am transitioning to a new role at Facebook this week.

The last 9 months have been awesome. I was fortunate to work with an amazing team to grow the Facebook Pages product to record levels. It was hard, tactical work that tested our dedication to success many times. The team persisted and crushed all expectations. In the end, it was rewarding to watch our efforts empower millions of businesses to thrive. I can’t speak highly enough about each individual person – hopefully I will get the opportunity to work with them again in the future.

It was a hard decision to leave such a great situation but ultimately the right one. I’m becoming Product Manager on a new division within our Growth organization. The Facebook Growth team is one of the best in the industry so I’m excited to learn from them. I’ll be working on a number of projects that solve real world, tangible problems that directly impact people’s lives.

It’s no secret that I believe many technologists are chasing money, rather than using their skills to improve lives. I’m excited to work with another highly skilled team to tackle these really hard problems. If you’re interested in helping, ping me.

Keep an eye out for some really cool stuff in the new year. This is going to be fun.

The Mobile Apps Used By 18 College Students

College students’ mobile app usage is a great signal for which apps are gaining traction. This demographic tends to be on the cutting edge of the newest, shiniest thing. Below are screenshots from 18 college students mobile phones – lets see where they are spending their time.

Social media apps are littered across the home screens.

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This active group utilizes multiple fitness apps to keep track of their progress.

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Music apps like SoundCloud, 8tracks, and Spotify are wildly popular.

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Apps such as Dropbox, Fedex, Quickbooks, and Yammer are popular among the business-focused segment.

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Dating apps like Tinder are just as popular as emojis. Anonymous apps like Brighten are also growing in popularity.

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It is not uncommon for these students to use their background photo for daily motivation.

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Android is not nearly as popular as iOS with this group.

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More organizations, like blogs and schools, are building apps that gain traction.

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Some students leave the standard apps littering their home screen…

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…while others aggressively use folders to stay organized.

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Weather and health are important no matter what your age.

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Games are a great escape from a young adolescent life.

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Remember Passbook and Newsstand?

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With the rise of Instagram, photography apps have exploded.

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Video apps like Vine and FaceTime are popular as well.

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And since money makes the world go ’round, banking apps are a necessity.

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Its obvious that college students’ app usage is not much different than other demographics. While they may get on board with the newest social network faster, these people still gravitate towards fitness, music, banking, and photography. It will be interesting to see how these home screens change in the next 6-12 months…