The Hardware Renaissance

Paul Graham:

One advantage of Y Combinator's early, broad focus is that we see trends before most other people. And one of the most conspicuous trends in the last batch was the large number of hardware startups. Out of 84 companies, 7 were making hardware. On the whole they've done better than the companies that weren't.

They've faced resistance from investors of course. Investors have a deep-seated bias against hardware. But investors' opinions are a trailing indicator. The best founders are better at seeing the future than the best investors, because the best founders are making it.

From personal experience, hardware startups are definitely undergoing a well-deserved renaissance.

Investors are, indeed, somewhat apprehensive. Most tend to default to recommendations of Kickstart-ing a project, rather than pursuing venture capital. But, steadily over the past few months, there's been a marked transition in the typical investor's mindset.

Cautious intrigue has replaced caustic uncertainty and, as a result, there are some truly phenomenal hardware projects being undertaken all over the world. As we've seen in the software industry, startups — and the disruption they encourage — have a keen propensity for upsetting established norms and creating phenomenal new levels of competition.

For the hardware industry — a space so often characterized by monopolizing giants — I couldn't be happier that the tide is turning.

The New Brooks Review Business Model

Ben Brooks:

Simply put: I hate the business model of this blog, well actually I hated the business model of this blog.

The monetization of Internet content is easily one of the most compelling, rich, and fascinating narrative threads occurring within the online writing community today. On a daily basis, discussions seem to sporadically ignite concerning the nature of advertising, sponsorships, and membership drives.

Yet, despite the excessive volume of discussion, few people dare to embark upon a measurably new path. Although reticence is certainly comprehendible with regard to career stability, the publishing sphere is ripe for disruption, and those who dare to experiment are likely to be well-rewarded.

Today, Ben Brooks has implemented a pseudo-paywall system for his site, The Brooks Review. Admittedly, when I heard the term “paywall,” my immediate reaction was of sincere pessimism. Experiences with The New York Times, The London Times, and The Wall Street Journal have each left me with rather bitter sentiments for paywall implementations.

And yet, Ben has embarked upon this path intelligently. Rather than simply following the industry standard, Ben evidently took a long, hard look at the pre-existing paywall landscape, and has sought to improve the situation. Offering a number of novel intricacies to the equation, Ben has contributed something measurably new to the discussion. Regardless of any degree of success, I believe the contribution is of the utmost importance, and Ben has certainly made one today.

Thus, despite any divergence of opinion between myself and Ben in matters of technology and business, I cannot help but tip my hat toward his bold decision today. Independent writers are increasingly shaping the landscape for intelligent discourse, and monetization — for better or worse — is an integral element of such an equation. Rather than simply perpetuating the status quo, Ben has embarked upon something unique, and that’s certainly deserving of praise.

Further information is available from The Brooks Review Membership Page.

Louis C.K. Independently Sells 100,000 Tickets Within 45 Hours

Louis C.K.

Following the successful independent distribution of his latest stand-up special late last year, Louis C.K.’s latest experiment appears to have paid off. Announced on Twitter, Mr. C.K. wrote:

Within an extraordinarily small timeframe, Louis C.K. has once again offered a profound statement regarding the nature of the media industry. Following indictments of both media and ticket distribution, Mr. C.K. has thereby decisively proven that independent distribution is thoroughly within the bounds of financial feasibility, mass-market accessibility, and consumer affability.

Here’s hoping Mr. C.K.’s innovative maneuverings further catalyze media attitudes in a meaningful way moving forward.

P.S., my apologies for the repeated title image, but it’s simply too perfect to avoid re-using.