Nassim Taleb’s brief explanation of his Fragility concept

Amazing short video of Nassim Taleb of “Black Swan” fame explaining is Fragility concept from his current book “Antifragile” at +DLD Conference in Munich a few weeks ago. Much to ponder here.

Just posted it as tangentially relevant to our in depth discussion of Microsoft and its new CEO Satya Nadella over here: Satya Nadella’s “ascendance” to the Microsoft throne

…because it explains why very large companies like Microsoft are at once more efficient, but also vastly more fragile!

Satya Nadella’s “ascendance” to the Microsoft throne

While this WIRED post about Satya Nadella’s “ascendance” to the Microsoft throne starts out positive enough, there are many things to be concerned about underneath that surface (pun intended)…

“…But the choice of Nadella is a statement that, in the coming years, cloud computing will be a more crucial field to dominate. After all, cloud services ultimately feed the mobile as well as the gaming world, providing a way for software developers and businesses to build and host and operate the mobile applications that run on a world of smartphones and tablets.”

Except Microsoft isn’t dominating ANYTHING in the Cloud when it comes to either mobile apps or other startups. Amazon is. Google is putting up a fight with Compute Engine, and there is a host of smaller, more nimble Cloud PaaS (Platform as a service) and [X]aas (something/anything as a service) players out there innovating and winning customers. Rackspace. Heroku. Firebase. MongoHQ. And on and on.

Why would any startup or app developer choose to jump on the Microsoft B2B (really Big B to Big B…) bullying train…?! Maybe some clueless Big Corp CTOs or midlevel managers will still be buying Microsoft stuff “because choosing IBM Microsoft never got anybody fired…”?

To wit (WIRED): “…What Microsoft doesn’t have is a brain trust with much experience working at the giants of Silicon Valley — companies like Apple and Google and Facebook and Twitter, which have come to define the modern world in ways that Microsoft does not. That includes not only Nadella but his lieutenants. But, for better or for worse, Microsoft typically doesn’t mix well with those steeped in the new Valley culture.”

This header commentary from TIME here struck me as similarly odd:
plus.google.com/+TIME/posts/7iqY88izfz4
“His profile’s been low, but he’s been a key player for the tech giant.”

A key player in what? MSFT’s drift into obsolescence…?! In the creation of propaganda to try and make Microsoft Azure’s share in cloud computing appear more substantial than it really is? (See here: gigaom.com/2013/04/29/say-what-microsoft-azures-a-1-billion-business/ )

Also extremely (probably the most) worrisome? Bill Gates’ video statement here: Bill Gates welcomes Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO where he “intones”:

1) Microsoft accomplishments from the 1980s…?!?!

2) The platitude that the industry is changing… you don’t say…

3) That Microsoft is having “a challenge” in mobile computing… (and Gates strangely stumbled over that term).

Ahahahaha… in truth Microsoft is NOWHERE in mobile, either in smartphones or tablets. Both Windows Phone / Nokia and Windows 8 / Surface have failed thus far.

Recall that Microsoft had to buy Nokia (at a firesale price after MSFT plant… I mean ex-MSFT-er Steven Elop hollowed out Nokia’s already “burning platform” to a mere shell of its former self…) to keep its smartphone “strategy” alive AT ALL.

Recall that the Microsoft Surface has been largely D.O.A. just as predicted:
plus.google.com/+alexschleber/posts/QuqxGmxbtaw

4) So what’s left then of the vaunted “Devices and Services” strategy that Gates almost religiously intones in the video?

Says Gates: “…even building a new platform… a CLOUD PLATFORM that connects to all sorts of different devices”. Yikes! Gates has been out of the game for over a decade in many ways, and his view of reality appears dangerously time-warped here.

Has anyone told him that the days of Microsoft’s bullying train are long gone? E.g. recently Microsoft’s own (businesses and consumers, those few that still need PCs…) customers have been forcing the company to backtrack on its Windows 8 “Touch Interface for desktops, like it or not…” strategy:
plus.google.com/+alexschleber/posts/QuqxGmxbtaw

6) But MOST WORRISOME of all is what he says next! – “I’m thrilled that Satya has asked me to step up, substantially increasing the time that I spend at the company… I’ll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups… and it will be fun to define this next round of products working together…”.

YIKES! Precisely the thing that any outside CEO candidate was dreading, and likely making moving both Ballmer and Gates off the board a precondition for anyone to even consider the challenge (compare here: www.mondaynote.com/2013/12/08/microsoft-ceo-search-stalemate/ ).

Now Gates will be MORE INVOLVED again instead, yet somehow he doesn’t have the stomach for returning as CEO full-time himself.

This more than anything else makes me question if we’ll get to see much change at Microsoft at all, visionary or otherwise. If Gates had such great and modern-day relevant ideas for #mobile , etc. before, he could have easily communicated those to Ballmer circa 2008-2010, when now it really is much too late in the game…

7) And then again even Nadella intones all of the Microsoft tropes we’ve heard from Ballmer in recent times, “devices and services”, and “experiences”…
theverge.com/2014/2/4/5377318/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-first-letter-to-employees

“…As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.

We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.”

Things, empower, software, platform. That all sounds exceedingly vague…

Maybe to become the leader of what I have for a while considered to be a Cargo Cult, you have to have been brought up inside of that cult…

( >> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult “… the apparent belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to” the same results as the culture/technology being copied… e.g. Microsoft trying to be Apple with the Surface by copying a “hip” tone in ads…, etc.)

Even last week when Nadella’s likely promotion to CEO was first leaked, I was struck by the meandering, NO-CLARITY-OF-VISION tone of him talking about MSFT’s cloud offerings and strategy.

I guess this is how you learn to talk when you had to report to Steve Ballmer everyday…

GTD / Productivity related news – persistent quality issues at Evernote?

In GTD / productivity related news – interesting take on persistent quality issues at Evernote experienced by some of its most loyal users: Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant

Already has prompted Evernote CEO to respond personally, and acknowledge some of the failings:
jasonkincaid.net/2014/01/evernote-responds/

In reality, these so far have been the typical phase transition from more forward-/future-oriented startup to established business with a more boring, backwards-looking, quality-control, “Six Sigma” point of view. (Aside: A lot of founders appear to find this ill-suited to their character and exit around this point…)

Similar to what is expressed here by +Simon Wardley:
blog.gardeviance.org/2013/05/in-search-of-two-better-terms-chaotic.html