Week 12: Discounting the Future, SEC Investigations and Visiting Founders

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 2, Autumn quarter

Covered in this issue:

  • Rational decision making. Why and by how much discount the future?
  • In search for a strategic fit – those sweet moments when stars actually align for a while. Resulting competitive advantage that holds due to the complexity of interdependencies. Cases: CapitalOne (data driven mass-personalisation) and Lincoln Electric (super productive manufacturing).
  • Real-Life Ethics: Guest Michael Marks on being bullied by huge OEMs while Flextronics CEO. And should a SEC-inestigated company throw an innocent CFO over board to settle? Role of the board in backing the CEO.
  • Guest selling their story: Smule co-founders Jeff Smith & Ge Wang. Andrew Mason of Groupon.
  • Peer-organized public company valuation training.
  • Analysis of a persuasive argument: 1 man turning 11 jurors around in the 12 Angry Men movie. The case of Silicon Valley’s most effective networker.
  • Cash flow reporting. And intangible assets, especially software.

And here on to the full notes: Read the rest of this entry »


On Tackling Really Hard Problems

It’s been almost two weeks since I attended a bunch of sessions and some social events around the annual Singularity Summit, held by Singularity Institute, this time in New York.

And for the ultrabrief context of what they are about:

The Singularity represents an “event horizon” in the predictability of human technological development past which present models of the future may cease to give reliable answers, following the creation of strong AI or the enhancement of human intelligence.

Since the flight back and on following business travel in Europe I’ve been taking 30 minutes here and an hour there with an intent to capture the thoughts the event sparked for me. Each time I’ve run into a writers block and failed to post.

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Using Your Voice

With Estonian parliamentary elections coming up on March 6th, I agreed to participate in the “Minu hääl” (“My Voice”) TV ad campaign by the Electoral Committee, featuring a bunch of celebrities (from music, theatre and such) and a few people from the street (like some elderly and your’s truly).

These are not party ads, e.g not urging you to vote for anyone in specific, but to just remind you to go and vote. Especially as with our notorious e-voting (with both chip-enabled ID cards, but also mobile ID’s as a new thing this time!) it is just a 3 minute effort from wherever you happen to be.

I liked the wordplay they built this thing around – the Estonian word “hääl” meaning both “voice” and “vote”. See all the ads in the series here.


Has Your Job Expired?


If this looks familiar at all, click here: [http://www.myjobhasexpired.com/](http://www.myjobhasexpired.com/)


Minu Eesti Inspiratsioonikonverentsi ettekanne

MUUDETUD: kolisin video selle postituse “nurga taha”, kuna BOMS serveerib seda viisil, mis video iga kord lehe laadimisel automaatselt käivitab. Tüütu. Kliki allpool “Continue reading” lingil, et videot näha.

Kolmapäeval toimus Teeme Ära 2009 projekti Minu Eesti avaüritusena Inspiratsioonikonverents, kuhu mind paluti rääkima sellest, kuidas võiks tehnoloogia abiga paremini riiki juhtida.

Kõige suuremat kaasasahistamist ja -elamist tekitas kindlasti professor Marju Lauristin (video). Soovitan vaadata Valdo Kalmu räägitud Minu Eesti sünnilugu ja Rainer Nõlvaku juttu rahast.

Ja videovaenulike huvides postitan siia ka oma esinemises kasutatud jutupunktid, toimetamata kujul:

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Interviewed by TigerPrises/ArcticStartup

Talked to Toivo Tänavsuu last week on what’s happening at Skype, how is the labour market looking and how do we relate to the broader technology startup scene in Estonia. The video inteview was publised on TigerPrises and ArcticStartup.


Interview with Sten Tamkivi from Skype from Toivo Tänavsuu on Vimeo.


A little rant on values and innovation

Found a video of my five minute speech in a panel at Restart 2008 conference in November. To disrupt the overall tone of the day a bit — focusing on tangible, measurable and often plain numeric aspects of a successful (liberal) macroeconomic environment — I decided on spot that I will instead talk about the softer side of life, namely the role values and tolerance in particular play for creating an environment where innovation strives in Estonia (or anywhere).

The clip below also has my fellow panelist Rein Raud, Rector of Tallinn University continuing on the same topic of innovation and openness.

Back then, I did my original conference notes post) in Estonian, but now realized that we actually spoke in English there. So here you go:

For context, please also see the very entertaining and inspirational intro to our panel by Pekka Roine, entitled “The Only Obstacle to Innovation Is Wrong Policy Chosen by the State” (videos: part 1, part 2, part 3).

The rest of the presentations of the day are available in video too, of course.


Tihe telereede

Vabariigi Kodanikud
Eelmisel reedel juhtus nii, et [nädala keskel ilmunud arvamusloo](http://sten.tamkivi.com/2008/11/uutmoodi_ettevotjate_riik.html) järellainetuses sattusin Gonsiori tänavale ETV majja lausa kahel korral. Hommikul lindistasin intervjuu [Erisaatele](http://etv.err.ee/index.php?0545661) ja õhtul käisin [Vabariigi kodanike](http://etv.err.ee/index.php?0543615) otse-eetris.
Mõlemas tuli jutuks innovatsioon, Eesti majanduse ees seisvad väljakutsed, tööjõuteemad ja mõningal määral ka kitsamalt elu Skype’is. Aga loomulikult üsna erineva nurga all. Vabariigi kodanike auväärses vestlusrühmas jäi domineerima abstraktsem mure Eesti väärtuste pärast, sest tolerantsi ja teineteise toetamiseta ei juhtu midagi ei teadmistepõhises majanduses ega kultuurisfäärides. Erisaatele omaselt võeti seal teema ette kergemalt ja “praktilisemalt”, näiteks stuudiolaual “nokiat” otsides.
Millegipärast ei saa ETV veebist tuua videolõike blogikontekstis näitamiseks, aga nende oma veebilehel on saated siiski olemas, midagi alla laadida pole vaja:
* [Video: Vabariigi kodanikud, 28. november 2008](http://etv.err.ee/arhiiv.php?id=88102)
* [Video: Erisaade , 1. detsember 2008](http://etv.err.ee/arhiiv.php?id=88204) (intervjuu algus 9:30)


Restart konverentsilt

Veetsin laupäeva Reformierakonna majanduskonverentsil Restart. Kogu üritus ise keerles oodatult liberaalse turumajanduse ümber, aga minu suureks rõõmks sisaldas lisaks teooriale ja käsiloleva kriisi analüüsile ka palju selgeid ettepanekuid ja ideid edasminekuks. Tahaks loota, et seoses võimupartei esindajate suure osakaaluga saalis neid nüüd kiiresti-kiiresti otsast täitma hakatakse.

Minu enda sõnavõtt kukkus vist üsna kehvalt välja. Otsustasin, et kuna konkreetsetest maksu-, seaduse- jne ettepanekutest on juba paljud targemad mehed laval rääkinud, keskendun oma jutus majanduselu pehmemale poolele. Rääkisin sellest, kuidas üliliberaalses ja minimaalse riigi sekkumisega majanduskeskkonnas on siiski veel midagi, mida riik ja selle juhid peaksid üritama mõjutada: väärtused. Ja kui ma peaksin valima ühe väärtuse, mille osas Eesti on maailma tipp-innovaatoritest liiga kaugel maas, on see tolerants. Rääkisin vihast, mida minus tekitas see, et kui Postimehe toimetaja avaldab sellise rassistliku ja ksenofoobse teksti, “suurimat kvaliteetlehte” lugevad massid rõkkavad. Ja kui sellised äärmused on avalikult tunnustatud, siis mis lootus on näha meil väikesed, avatuid, maailmas läbilöögivõimelisi innovaatoreid. Välis-innovaator ei tule keskkonda, kus puudub tolerants. Ja meie oma kõige kõvemad tehnoloogid võivad vabalt lahkuda riigist kuna keskkond on nende teistmoodi olemise (innovatsiooni eeldus!) suhtes vaenulik, mitte tunnustav. Isegi kui maksud on soodsamad. Kuna aeg oli väga napp, siis jäi palju ütlemata ja saalist ei tulnud ühtki küsimust. Sestap ka tunne, et läksin ehk konverentsi ülejäänud temaatikas liiga kaugele, või ei suutnud selle seotust majandusega päris kohale viia. Peaks võib-olla rohkem lahti kirjutama need mõtted.

UUENDATUD: Avastasin YouTubest ka selle esinemise video.

Nagu juba tavaks saanud, postitan oma päeva jooksul kogunenud märkmed teistelegi lugemiseks:

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Skype 4.0 is smaller again

As promised in June, the second iteration of Skype 4.0 client is now available for download. If you got on to beta 1 and liked it or hated it, I highly recommend the upgrade to beta 2.

The past quarter has really passed fast. I’m amazed how much the 4.0 research, design, product and project management, development and quality assurance teams got through. Especially given that you have to work under timeline pressure while at the same time being called an ignorant moron (best case) on blogs, forums and random comments across the internet for creating the radically different Skype version you just released. Fortunately we also had plenty of quantified data and user testing around the world in lab environments to separate real issues from pure blind conservatism and hateful noise. Read more about the feedback stats from the official blog post.

That’s the risky transformation the software business seems to go through – applications with tens and hundreds of millions of users get launched in early beta stages, in feature incomplete iterations for feedback and mass-market testing. I am confident the better the end result will be. And if you look at beta 2, it really is powered by the feedback, (re)introducing such things as compact mode, grouping your contacts into categories, a totally revamped alerts and notifications system so you wouldn’t miss any incoming events and many more of the things you asked for.

One of the interesting ones in my circle of friends and colleagues has really been the compact mode. The loudest voices demanding Skype to take up less of their screen. Many happy campers once we enabled mode switching to give the poweruser more control of the screen estate. And funnily, a number of people who have now confessed that they’ve “sort of learned to like” the new one-window layout and really don’t want to go back…

Anyway, there is a new episode of the video series that has been taking world by the storm – Mike Explains Beta 2. In High Definition, of course:


Skype 4.0 Beta 2 for Windows
Uploaded by SkypeConversations

And there is a bunch of screenshots on Flickr. But better download the real thing and give us some more feedback.


See also: Skype 4.0 Beta 1, Beta 3