dynamically stable systems -- my tribute to Jane Jacobs


I've always been inspired by Jane Jacobs' observation of cities and economies. Her thesis in her work, The Nature of Economies was around dynamically stable systems and how they avoid collapse.  

Efficient ecosystems do four things, she said:

  • bifurcate
  • create positive feedback-loops
  • ensure negative controls
  • adapt to emergency

It occurred to me after hanging with my friend (and Summit roommate!) Leyla Acoroglu:

^^ my awesome Summit roomie


...that we all live in many independent and efficient ecosystems everyday.  Our world, of course, the largest and most common denominator ecosystem that we all share.

The environment, atmospheric conditions, our garbage production and carbon emissions we know and collectively acknowledge affect us now and will affect us in the future.


We're each individually members of concentric circles - institutions of learning, groups of friends, people bound by shared interest or property.  They are, though, not as independent as we may think they are.  They need common denominators to function, people to bind them.

They are, in fact, more like interconnected concentric circles with multiple points of crossover and connection.


Bifurcation happens when we begin to identify in different circles or groups...technologist, teacher, athlete, mom...our individual identities (chosen and unchosen) begin to allow us to see similarity and difference in each other. My friends who are having babies are joining a new group 'mother' - which will now be an identity they share with mothers all over the world.

When we receive positive feedback that these groups are working (mommy groups, lobbying groups, athletic endeavors like a marathon), we double-down. Technology is like this too: we find a market-segment need and solve for it.

With regard to technology, Uber is a perfect example of these first two steps in Jane's theory.  Bifurcation occurred when Uber's co-founders observed a need in the market: a cab to their location in Paris. The trial runs for Uber perfectly mimicked the market conditions we'd hope for: since Uber's founders basically disregarded the established Taxi and Limousine Commissions that govern local taxis, they were able to receive positive feedback fairly quickly validating this was a worthy idea. The positive feedback loop was validation enough to continue to grow this emerging company...Thusly, ensuring negative controls were in place. By the time the government and regulating bodies came to call, Uber was a profitable company - able to hire the talent they need to keep Uber in major cities.  Therefore, adapting to emergency has become second nature to this company that seemingly can know no bounds...

Back to mommy friends, the groups we create for ourselves in small and large help us to create dynamically stable systems...and ones that we feel safe in.  

inspired thinking

some of my favorite guys are on this interview saying some REAL truths

my friend and former colleague, Brad Stone's book about Amazon but really about business and people.

here it is in the iTunes store!

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.29.00 PM
Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.29.00 PM

what i'm reading...oct-nov 2014

eric schmidt's important distillation of 'business nirvana'

i think this is a more important conversation than we realize. today, we have the power of technology, unrivaled communication tools and more computing power available to us than ever before.  but we get bogged down. and in our own way. the 'old way' of doing things befalls us...all the time. ALL.THE.TIME.  think of the last time you thought a person shouldn't get ahead because they haven't 'put their time in.'  working well is working responsively, quickly, adeptly no matter how much experience or hierarchy you have in your company.  key element to success: hiring well so that the people every (metaphorical and literal) room are delivering the best final product: whatever your product is.

Hello, World!

My friend Ashley wrote this rad piece on MindBodyGreen about the truth about multi-tasking  (no surprise endings here, y'all: no one can do it well).

The new frontier on music development is upon us.  My (future) children will be making music on instruments I've never dreamt about.  And there seems like a lot of white space here for me to play in. (My favorite kind of place to make a mess in).  #wontbewhiteforlong

(Watch this space)

^related: when did AppAnnie become like the Nielsen of apps and let me know when they're raising their next round? k, thanks, bye.

some of my favorite guys are on this interview saying some REAL truths

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.27.15 PM
Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.27.15 PM

two people whose opinions matter deeply debate the issue of our time.


Dirge Without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,— They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

"Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Collected Poems. © Harper Perennial, 2011.

my friend and former colleague, Brad Stone's book about Amazon but really about business and people.

here it is in the iTunes store!

and for all those curious about what ACTUAL books i'm reading - here's the latest screenshot of my iBook collection. send me yours!

till next time, y'all - let me know what YOU are reading!!

serendipity knowing a good idea when you see one and then realizing gratitude when you're sitting at the table with the founders. 

or put a different way..."luck is preparation meeting opportunity." - the wise one, Oprah.

the name, Adipose

The Adipose Fin represents a fin on a fish that has long been misunderstood to be a useless piece of fatty tissue but may in fact, be quite important to some fish.  It has repeatedly evolved a skeleton across many different species of fish who are not related (Catfish, Salmon, Trout, etc.) : offering a new understanding into tissue types and convergent evolution.  Adipose fins, therefore, represent a new model for exploring the evolution of vertebrate limbs and appendages. "It's pretty incredible that a structure which is incredibly common could be so misunderstood," Stewart said. "Our finding, that adipose fins have evolved repeatedly, shows that this structure, long assumed to be more-or-less useless, might be very important to some fishes. It's exciting because it opens up new questions."

Read the full report here from Science Daily, oh ye of disbelief.


So, why the name for our company?

Well, we're of the disposition that companies ought to think through sales and marketing strategies concurrently with their growth

...(not after they IPO or a significant capital raise).

We've heard the tales of companies like Twitter losing money rapidly before their IPO and heard from many an optimistic Wall Street analyst say "because they haven't yet started actively working on revenue models, there's tremendous upside! much more than Facebook - who has revenue models and sales teams in place and therefore, less potential upside in the future."

This is bubble thinking.  Here's why:

- Twitter counts 60% or more of its traffic from mobile devices each month.  Mobile advertising is still very undefined. If we're at our infancy with digital and banner ads, we're at the point of conception with mobile ads in 2014.  A few things are certain, though, about mobile advertising:

  • It should cost more than traditional advertising.  (A mobile device has become your most intimate possession: with you at all times.  This precious experience has taken mind share from others you used to focus on - TV, magazines, books, etc.) More engaged minutes should dictate a higher CPM.
  • In Q4 Twitter reported an average CPM increase of $1.49 up from 97 cents in the previous three months.  This is not a good CPM. It is much harder to drive a price up than it is to bring it down.  Starting at 97 cents doesn't give us tremendous room to charge existing advertisers more money and puts the burden on Twitter dramatically increasing the number of users to make this a profitable enterprise.

- We have an irrational market dictating the value of a company like Twitter in a very short-term, news-oriented way.  I believe great businesses are built over time and with careful consideration towards revenue, growth and profit.  In fact, history supports this with companies like GE, Apple, and Exxon all building profitable businesses over the long term.

- The irrational market believes that with this increased liquidity, Twitter will get to work on the hard work of finding advertising dollars and partnership deals throughout the world.  The fact, though, is, we now have a lot of smart people who were, at one point affiliated with Twitter who are now #filthyrich and it's unclear who's left to actually execute on sales and revenue strategy.

So...what does all this have to do with Adipose?

At Adipose, we will help your business think about revenue, sales, modeling and financial forecasts before any life changing event.

We think the companies that will succeed in riding out any market volatility will be the ones with clear revenue streams structured well in advance of any liquidity event in the public or private markets.

We think once you're worth a couple hundred million dollars, it may be too late to run around doing hundred thousand or million dollar ad deals...but the truth is: that's where the long-term, stable, bill-paying, business-building money is.

a co-investment firm is born


at Adipose, we're focused on changing the way advertising is produced.  we're passionate that companies can find more innovative ways to connect with new audiences.

people are coming online faster than ever before and are consuming media in profoundly new ways.

we seek to work with companies that understand these trends, are first movers in their space, are willing to iterate over and over again to move with the future - not against it.

we're a co-investment firm because we're putting our muscle to work for you. we work alongside your team. we get in the sandbox and play with you.  we're your pinch hitter and the catalyst to your company growth.

join us in this brave new world.