Turning and Satoshi go to a bar, Vitalik on Palo Alto Consensus, IBM+Red Hat=cloud hangover? How to steal all the bitcoins, DTC frenzy, Foxconn

"Notes for tech generalists"

[Cloud Computing]

Shoot for the stars. So if you fall, you land…on premise

Charles Fitzgerald, a Seattle-based angel investor, wrote a blog to give his very cold take on IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat or a 3000-word-long battle hymn of hybrid cloud.

Thankfully, the author breaks this must-read article into a few TD;LR, so you can actually enjoy reading it thoroughly.

#Why is this deal happening? (TL;DR mutual desperation)

Simply put, IBM…has failed to make the transition to cloud computing (and) Red Hat faces an existential threat: generational obsolescence.

You may have heard that the cloud runs on Linux. It does, it just doesn’t run on RHEL(-Red Hat’s server operating system and major revenue contributor). AWS, Azure and Google don’t pay Red Hat for Linux.

#What is hybrid cloud? (TL;DR software)

a common software model that spans both customer data center(s) and the public cloud(s). As is usually the case, software is...a typically insurmountable challenge for metal-bending legacy hardware companies.

Fitzgerald reviewed Big Four’s hybrid cloud approaches:

  • Microsoft

AzureStack is the most advanced example of hybrid cloud. Microsoft started down the hybrid path early…(and) embarked upon a cloud-first approach that extended Azure back into the customer data center.

  • Amazon

AWS, after years of dismissing any form of on-premises computing as “whacky”, “ill-advised”, and “archaic”, has recently gotten hybrid cloud religion…to the point where they plan to offer two hybrid cloud software architectures (that allows it) runs a second software stack from partner VMware.

  • Google

Google’s hybrid model is all about allowing containers to run on-premises or in the cloud…as opposed to bringing their broader set of higher-level cloud services (which are the most compelling thing about Google Cloud) into customer data centers.

  • IBM(+Red Hat)

IBM thinks hybrid cloud a kitchen sink, and hardware comes first on the list. It is anything and everything they already sell (or already resell in the case of Red Hat).

#What does Red Hat bring to IBM’s hybrid party? (TL;DR Openshift? LoL)

In Fitzgerald’s opinion, OpenShift, one of Red Hat’s applications, is the most critical part of the deal. However,

OpenShift has settled as a container platform that “brings Docker and Kubernetes to the enterprise”. The challenge is this is a very crowded space… (and) containers provide no higher-level services.

The hyper-scale clouds (which IBM is lack of) can sling containers back and forth just as well and probably better, plus they also have an incredibly rich and every-expanding array of higher-level services (e.g. things like databases which many customers find useful).

#Does this deal make any financial sense? (TL;DR No)

IBM could have bought both Docker and Pivotal at a nice premium for a quarter the price ($34 billion) of Red Hat and gotten better assets if that is the strategy.

#Does this deal “change everything”? (TL;DR not even remotely)

IBM knows they can’t compete with the hyper-scale cloud providers, so their current aspiration is to become some kind of gatekeeper whose busloads of offshore consultants in inconvenient time zones will intermediate enterprise customer interactions with the public clouds which will somehow give IBM both strategic leverage and pricing power. 

Fitzgerald ends his humor-filled article with a bold statement:

IBM’s remaining customers are the disrupted, not the disruptors. Shorting IBM’s top ten customers seems like a strong investment thesis.

However, according to a 2017 Quora answer, IBM’s top ten customers are:

  1. Microsoft

  2. HP

  3. Cisco

  4. Dell

  5. Oracle

  6. Intel

  7. Google

  8. VMWare

  9. Toshiba

  10. Nortel

Are you feeling a cloud hang over?


If Alan Turning and Satoshi go to a bar….

Mr. Nakamoto would advise Mr. Turning never agree to be on a banknote.

If you solve this math problem, you could steal all the bitcoin in the world

This problem is called P vs NP, one of the most important computer science questions of our time (Vice).

To understand this problem, we need to know

In computer science, easy problems usually fall under the banner of P. This means that they can be solved in "polynomial time," (or) in a reasonable period of time. Much more difficult are the NP problems, which computers are unable to solve in a reasonable time frame. For practical purposes, NP problems might as well just be unsolvable by computers. (Vice)

Vice listed some examples of NP problems:

Protein folding: The process through which proteins in a biological organism obtain their structure. Better insight into this process could help us recognize or even hinder mutations, which could cure certain forms of cancer.

Optimized route finding: An optimized travel route through 15 different cities without visiting the same city twice? A hard nut to crack.

The perfect chess game: A game of chess has infinite possible moves, such that even a supercomputer with incredible capacity cannot determine a perfect tactic. Many mathematicians consider this problem so difficult that they don't deem it an NP problem, but rather consider it completely out of the realm of possibility.

Gizmodo also points out:

Sudoku is an NP problem—hard to solve, easy to check.

Another important example today is factoring large numbers into prime numbers (and) this exact idea is the basis of modern encryption, which relies on generating security keys that are easy to verify but hard to crack.

Therefore, according to theoretical computer scientist Scott Aaronson:

If someone proves P=NP, the first thing they should do is steal $200 billion in bitcoin. The second thing they should do is solve all of the other Millennium Prize Problems,”

Quantum computers were expected to solved N vs NP problem but hasn’t lived up to its hype. Instead,

quantum computers might solve some P problems in a shorter time or move some NP problems into the quantum generalization of P, called BQP or “Bounded-Error Quantum Polynomial Time.”

Feeling mathematical? Here is your chance to become a billionaire

Twitter user Kumar notified us:

But he also pointed out:

you'd need more energy than the sun(I think) to compute it.

Also, to note, the value of bitcoin resides in its encryption. That means the moment you cracked it, your coins might as well be worthless.

But at least you know your cat is dead.


Nationalize the internet?

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Kevin Munger, an assistant Professor at Penn State, challenges the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” internet and call it Palo Alto Consensus, a term borrowed from Washington Consensus, which failed to deliver its promise that there is a unique universal set of rules for economic growth.

According to Kevin Munger,

The Palo Alto Consensus held that American-made internet communication technologies (both hardware and software) should be distributed globally and that governments should be discouraged from restricting speech online.

And he argues

What’s becoming clear is that there is no single optimal digital communication hardware and software for the entire world, just as there is no single optimal set of economic reforms. But there may be an optimal arrangement for each country, fit to its specific political, cultural and economic context.

Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian programmer who famously co-invented Ethereum, objected:

... the ability of social media to create *positive-sum* niche bubble communities like x-risk research, effective altruism, life extension research, rationalism.... (and those are just the ones *I* care about)

"The result hasn't been.... a world that's closer together." I'd challenge that assertion to the max.

Vitalik ends his tweet threads with a strong note:

If internets were national, I think the probability of WW3 happening would be *significantly* higher.


If you know what you want

DTC(direct to consumer), America’s new mail catalog business, is seeing an unprecedented growth. According to CB Insights, DTC consumer brands have raised about $1.5 billion in 2018 alone.

A few notable events in the world of DTC:

And why the DTC frenzy now? LightSpeed’s Jeremy Liew believes

The answer is the Facebook and Google duoploy in online advertising. Market is now so efficiently priced that it is very hard for startup brands to reach scale through paid social. One of the few channels still open and able to reach scale is Organic Social, (of which) celebs and influences have a real advantage.

Until we see a new scaleable customer acquisition channel emerge, expect to see a lot more brands launched by celebrities.

Are you sure you want that?

Blue Apron said to add Beyond Meat to its menu this summer and its stock rocketed more than 50% after the news was announced .

Dan Frommer, founder and editor in chief at The New Consumer commented:

Blue Apron still feels like TiVo to me: Popularized a format that is simply too easy for companies with better distribution (and in this case, taste and brands) to copy. Meal kits will always exist, and a community-based advantage is possible. But hard to see this as much beyond savvy trend-chasing.

CONTRAST also shared notes on the controversy of plant-based meat. Read it here.


How to sign your email

Nilay Patel, editor in chief of The Verge, shared one of his email exchanges with Foxconn.

Tech influencers, including Walt Mossberg and Ben Thompson, responded to the futuristic combo of AI, 8K, and 5G. But more people claim they got inspiration in how to sign their email:

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