Measure What Matters

Author: John Doerr

John Doerr is the legendary venture capitalist who invested in (among others) Google, Amazon, Compaq, Intuit, Netscape, Symantec, Twitter and Zynga. Seriously this guy is an OG in the venture world. He started his career at Intel where he learned the system of OKRs (“Objectives and Key Results”) developed by Andy Grove. He’s been sharing it with the world ever since, it seems.

The OKR system helps organizations focus the talents and efforts of groups of people to accomplish incredible things together – from “making the trains run on time” to moonshot goals.

Shortly after Doerr’s firm Kleiner Perkins invest into Google, he showed up with a slide-show to pitch Larry & Sergey on OKRs. He presented it as an operating system for their business. They signed up, and have been using it ever since. This book includes excerpts from Larry Page and other founders/execs telling their story of OKRs.

I loved reading this book because I am a believer in goal-setting generally, and goal-setting processes for teams specifically to improve outcomes. Goal-setting and measurement are, for me, permanently intertwined. At eComfort, we used a similar methodology to set goals and metrics for each individual, and I was thrilled with the results. It was a bit rougher than OKRs, so the next opportunity I get I think we’ll migrate over to this instead.

Bonus: Google’s OKR Playbook

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AI reads eye scans as well as humans. 

“Doctors at a U.K. eye hospital are getting algorithmic help interpreting the results of 3D eye scans, using a system developed at Google’s DeepMind that can identify more than 50 eye problems and recommend a course of action with human expert-level accuracy.” learn more

China and the race for AI dominance. 

Here’s an interesting perspective from Wired UK that’s heavy on quotes from Kai-Fu Lee, one of the most famous technologists in China (he’s been an exec at Apple, Microsoft and Google). The author thinks China will win the global race. I think the jury’s still out. learn more

A peek inside Alphabet’s investing universe. 

Google’s parent company uses a multi-pronged approach to investing. “Taken together, Alphabet is one of the most prolific corporate investors in startups. In 2017, Crunchbase data shows that Alphabet’s three main investing arms — GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), CapitalG and Gradient Ventures — and Google itself invested in 103 deals.” learn more

The scale of tech winners. 

When I’m thinking about giant tech companies, it’s easy for me to conflate all the giants together. Ben Evans (a16z) relieves me of this misconception by highlighting the massive scale difference between past tech giants (i.e. IBM and Wintel) and today’s winners (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). learn more

Permissionless startup investing. 

Aaron Batalion, VC at Lightspeed Venture Partners, writes about the SAFT project (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens), and how it can enable access to early stage investments without the traditional prerequisites (including explicit permission from the founders). “In the past, if you wanted to invest pre-IPO in a Google or Facebook, you had to be in Silicon Valley, meet the team, and convince them to allow you to invest in their company.” learn more

What are Google and Facebook? 

Ben Thompson updates his views on Aggregators and Super-Aggregators in his latest Stratechery post. This is a very unique and interesting view of business models, and a must-read for anyone trying to make sense of the future of tech companies. learn more

Salt may help store energy in the future. 

X is the ‘moonshot’ group within Google’s parent company Alphabet. They’re now working on technology that may help solve the energy storage problem that plagues renewables like solar and wind. The idea isn’t new, but might the technology be coming of age soon? learn more

Serial inventor has her eyes set on telepathy. 

She’s credible: “Jepsen is a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Google[x] (now called X) and Intel. She’s also been a professor at MIT and is an inventor on over 100 patents. And that’s the abbreviated version of her resume.” Now she’s creating a wearable (i.e. hat) that can do the work of an MRI machine. Next, she’ll try to use that technology for instant thought sharing.  learn more

A year of Maps changes. 

Cartography expert Justin O’Beirne created a fascinating post diving into the nuanced changes in Google and Apple maps over the past year. This is way more interesting than it sounds! Thanks to Alex S for the link. learn more

Good managers apply radical candor. 

Kim Scott worked for Sheryl Sandberg at Google. After a presentation to triumvirate Larry, Sergey, and Eric, Sandberg wanted to help Scott by offering real-time feedback. Scott was having a hard time hearing it until Sandberg said “You know, Kim, I can tell I’m not really getting through to you. I’m going to have to be clearer here. When you say um every third word, it makes you sound stupid.” This helped Scott define her model for management success – radical candorlearn more

The journey to a flying car. 

Larry Page, one of the cofounders of Google, has been investing (over $100mm by some reports) in creating a flying car since 2010. This week the company Kitty Hawk unveiled an early prototype called The Flyer, which can take off vertically and looks like a lot of fun to fly. It’s already permitted by the FAA for flight in uncongested areas, and does not require a pilot’s license. learn more

Google used AI to cut data center energy bills.

While not the most recent news (Summer 2016), it’s worth highlighting that we’re already living in the world of AI. Google tasked it’s DeepMind AI unit to address the challenge of lowering energy usage in its data centers. Rising to the challenge, the machine learning controller achieved a 40% reduction in energy used for cooling, which is one of the largest sources of energy usage in the data center. learn more