DONUT 24: Everybody chill out

By DONUTS DONUTS

By DONUTS    2 weeks ago

Today’s post is brought to you by DONUTS (and written by Alec Liu). Not sure what DONUTS is? Well… stay tuned, you’re in for a treat.

I had the interesting experience of being in China during the general election. (Was visiting my granddaddy, dude is like 98, but his mind is still blazing quick!)

It was this really weird feeling because, in part thanks to the Great Firewall, I was totally removed to the climate of chaos following the result (read: I wasn’t on Facebook).

So everyone is freaking out because the world is ending. Yet there I was halfway around the world—where, by the way, the world continued on—surrounded by calm (if you can call the bustle of Shanghai calm).

And, in a way, that’s sort of what Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is kind of saying? Like, sure, things are different, we’re on a different path now, but at the end of the day, it’s still business as usual—no matter how much you decide to freak out about it.

Lloyd’s version is actually a bit more interesting since there’s some embedded shade here:

“It’s a vanity, always, at any given moment, to think, ‘My goodness we have challenges of a dimension we’ve never seen before — the world is more uncertain,'” he said.

“It always seems uncertain when you’re living in it, and it always seems so simple and sure when you’re looking back at it.”

He says some other agreeable stuff, too. You can check out the full video here.

Anyway, in another lifetime, I had just started a new job and during a work dinner thing at a steakhouse one night, I asked one of the senior equity derivatives traders from our team, John Kolozack, if he had any career advice for me. (He was definitely the one to ask because he never seemed to give a shit about anything and had kewl hair.)

“Learn to code,” he said.

Prescient advice. (Unfortunately, a couple years later I took to writing, a financially unfortuitous decision. Sorry, mom)

Much of today’s discussion of the impact of automation on society surrounds the blue collar disposition. Donald Trump’s nostalgia for American manufacturing, for instance. Yet the inevitable creep of technological progress doesn’t discriminate against the color of your shirt collar. As it happens, white collar jobs have been under attack for years.

And, you know, the first movers on new technologies is usually porn and Wall Street:

At its height back in 2000, the U.S. cash equities trading desk at Goldman Sachs’s New York headquarters employed 600 traders, buying and selling stock on the orders of the investment bank’s large clients. Today there are just two equity traders left.

Automated trading programs have taken over the rest of the work, supported by 200 computer engineers.

Complex trading algorithms, some with machine-learning capabilities, first replaced trades where the price of what’s being sold was easy to determine on the market, including the stocks traded by Goldman’s old 600.

Now areas of trading like currencies and futures, which are not traded on a stock exchange like the New York Stock Exchange but rather have prices that fluctuate, are coming in for more automation as well. To execute these trades, algorithms are being designed to emulate as closely as possible what a human trader would do, explains Coalition’s Shahani.

Goldman Sachs has already begun to automate currency trading, and has found consistently that four traders can be replaced by one computer engineer, Chavez said at the Harvard conference. Some 9,000 people, about one-third of Goldman’s staff, are computer engineers.

Yeah, four traders (each comfortably making six figures) can be replaced by a single computer engineer.

Shoulda learned to code, man.

Shoulda listened to John Kolozack.

In other news, a top banker actually got arrested.

Flung

Look, I don’t support throwing stuff at people, especially your daddy.

But this is a really fun story about Marco Nardone, the startup bro behind the app Fling, who spent $21 million of investor money in three years on really fun things. Also, the app got removed from the Apple store for being too sexy!

So much fun:

Nardone shouted and swore at Osmond before squaring up to him as if he was about to do something more, two former employees said. At this point, Nardone’s Italian father, Remo Nardone — a man in his 80s and Fling’s biggest investor — stepped in to try to cool the situation down, one of the employees said. But his son didn’t react well. He swore at his father before hurling a Pret a Manger baguette in his direction. It narrowly missed and collided with a glass window above his head. The event was described to Business Insider by four former employees.

In his spare time, Nardone apparently enjoyed taking photos of really poor black kids and scantily clad white girls. (NSFW maybe? Depending on where you work? No nudity, technically. So IDK.)

Not Facebook

Twitter’s stock price is down a lot after a really, really bad quarter. It’s brand is also down a lot. I mean, when your company name is essentially synonymous of what-not-to-be.

Also, you get the sense that people don’t have a ton of respect for Jack Dorsey in Silicon Valley.

Yet, at the same time, we are talking about a dude who brought two multi-billion dollar firms to the public market.

And isn’t that kind of the fucked up part? Because in a vacuum, Twitter would be deemed highly successful. Hundreds of millions of users. Billions in revenue.

But Twitter isn’t Facebook. You want to be the next Facebook. Never the next Twitter. It’s all or nothing. So that means Twitter is nothing.

Except that isn’t true?

Since what Twitter offers is something totally different and totally unique. Twitter has a clear place in the world, even if the upper management hasn’t figured out the best way to leverage its true identity.

Anyway, here’s a piece comparing Donald Trump’s Twitter thing to FDR’s radio thing:

Richard Greenfield at BTIG slapped a buy rating on the stock Wednesday, writing that after the election it is “undeniable that Twitter has been thrust into the global zeitgeist.” His report finds a historical analog in President Franklin Roosevelt’s radio “fireside chats” of the 1930s and 1940s, calling them the first direct means for a commander-in-chief to reach a large number of ordinary Americans.

Which is reasonable, I guess. I will say one thing though, I end up finding out about Trump tweets through the “corrupt, liberal media.” Because why bother monitoring the source when people will spoon feed it to me?

Stuff

My friend is all up on the Young Pope, especially the music.

Seattle is the new Vancouver, at least for the Chinese.

LA is the new NY, when it comes to tech.

We discovered a new gecko, and it likes to get naked.

Some dude is suing Uber for $45 million maybe because he got caught cheating on his wife.

You can call someone with your fingertip now, apparently. (“Like Reese on Person of Interest,” according to one of our colleagues.)

A bunch of people don’t read books.

Dripping is the new vaping.

Listening to people eat is satisfying, and a thing. (Sort of like how watching people pop pimples is also a thing.)

Napping has been a thing for a while, especially at hip startups along with Japan, but now it’s expanding to high schools.

Also, one thing everyone seems to be able to agree on is a carbon tax.

Speaking of taxes, Trump teases an impending announcement.

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DONUTS

Delightfully indulgent.