Summary of “The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes On the Opioid Industry”

Moore had become familiar with the signs of an overdose since his nephew, for whom he’s a father figure, filled his first legal prescriptions in 2006 for Percocet, an opioid painkiller made by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. By 2010, his nephew, who asked not to be named, was obtaining generic fentanyl on the street.
The suits allege that the companies triggered the opioid epidemic by minimizing the addiction and overdose risk of painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Duragesic.
States have tried to legally challenge opioid marketing practices, aiming mostly at Purdue, since at least 2001.
The case may not have done much to waylay Purdue, but it did give Moore early insight into how opioid litigation could work and helped him establish connections with attorneys who are now among the most active filers.
According to the state, Purdue, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Janssen, Endo, and Allergan invested millions to change attitudes about opioid prescribing.
Janssen distributed a patient education guide calling opioid addiction a “Myth,” for example, while Endo advertised that an abuse-deterrent reformulation of one of its most popular opioids, Opana ER, made it crush-resistant, despite its own studies disproving that claim.
Of the roughly 234 million annual opioid prescriptions, only 4 million, or 1.7 percent, are for Purdue drugs.
Moore is confident that the opioid industry will be driven to negotiate for the same reasons tobacco companies were: to end the demonization and obtain financial predictability.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Odds And Perils Of Gambling Successfully On Japan’s New Casinos”

While Yakuza were traditionally notorious for their violent methods, one figure stood out for favoring a more cerebral approach to profiteering: Susumu Ishii – the second-generation leader of the Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third-largest yakuza group.
When the laws changed and Ishii was jailed in the late 197os for organizing gambling, he revised his views on what the yakuza should be and heralded the rise of the modern-day Yakuza, who have at times turned the Japanese stock market into their own private casino.
Casinos could open a whole new revenue stream for the yakuza.
What casino companies coming into Japan should really fear, according to Jake Adelstein, an investigative journalist who has covered organized crime in the country for more than 20 years, is not losing money to cheating yakuza customers, but the infiltration of their companies and casino staff by organized crime members.
It might be possible to set up excellent surveillance at casinos to keep yakuza from walking in the front door.
So what else can be done to mitigate the “Yakuza risk” associated with doing business in Japan, especially as it concerns legalized gaming? First and foremost, accurate and timely due diligence must be completed prior to hiring staff and engaging in any business relationship, as the monetary incentive to penetrate or compromise legalized gaming establishments is just too great.
Third, educating all vetted casino staff on recognizing yakuza and the signs of their entrapment schemes, as well as cultivating awareness among staff of how they could become targeted as a gateway into the casino operation, is indispensable.
Cyber security may merit special attention; vulnerabilities have been discovered at casinos in other locations around Asia, so casino operators will need state-of-the-art cyber security as well.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Netflix, Amazon Could Really Disrupt Legacy Networks: Buy Sports Rights”

“If you want to destabilize the entire entertainment ecosystem and you were Google, Facebook or Amazon, the best way to do it is to suck sports out of the legacy ecosystem,” Rich Greenfield, a managing director at BTIG, told moderator Mike Slade of Second Avenue Partners on Tuesday at TheWrap’s annual media conference, TheGrill.
The panelists said that with the proliferation of dozens of streaming services – and established content owners increasingly making their shows and movies available on demand – cable and broadcast companies can’t count on a regular audience, to their detriment.
“Whether it’s ‘Monday Night Football’ or catching up on ‘Game of Thrones,’ the choice is yours. It really screws up the legacy ecosystem of you watching the show at 8 o’clock, sitting through ads, and doing the same next week.”
Greenfield said the reason companies like Apple and Amazon haven’t tried to buy old-school content owners like Disney is that they’d inherit a dependence on the pay-TV model.
“The cable companies are just too greedy.”
Gerber said if cable companies lowered their price a little bit, consumers would stick with them out of the ease of having one login versus a variety of individual apps.
After praising Netflix’s international rights strategy, the panelists discussed how increasingly ambitious TV shows and a continued proliferation of streaming services have strained the movie business.
With Netflix and Amazon – and now Apple and Facebook – dedicating real resources to original video content, there is even more pressure on legacy content owners to keep their top talent.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Combat Consultant: Q&A With Retired General Stanley McChrystal”

Robert Gates, the U.S. Defense Secretary under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, once called Stanley McChrystal, who led the counterterrorist force JSOC “Perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I’ve ever met.” McChrystal was also a maverick thinker within the U.S. military, seeing early that terrorist forces such as al Qaeda in Iraq and ISIS were more sophisticated than they appeared.
Today McChrystal runs the McChrystal Group, which helps companies become faster and more flexible.
Q: What kind of companies seek out the McChrystal Group?
McChrystal: The typical company that comes to us isn’t a failing company.
McChrystal: Because managers are classically taught to lock in a standard operating procedure in which people don’t have to organically collaborate.
McChrystal: People don’t think about this, but ISIS has almost no investment in what it’s doing.
McChrystal: What you can do is tell people how to think about things and the broader mission.
McChrystal: [Laughs] There’s a pile of dissent in the military! It just takes different forms.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google’s Search for the Sweet Spot – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Given that Google is the second most valuable company in the world, it is quite clear the company has found a sweet spot of its own.
Company: Google is built around the idea that superior technology is all that matters; that was certainly the case with search, which brilliantly leveraged the connectivity inherent to the web to make itself better; unlike its competitors, the bigger the web became, the better Google itself became.
Market: The truth is that the best technology does not always win; what made Google search the dominant force that it was and remains was the openness of the web.
Last year, after the company’s first ‘Made By Google’ event, I framed the company’s hardware efforts in the context of the search business model.
Secondly Google has a business-model problem: the “I’m Feeling Lucky Button” guaranteed that the search in question would not make Google any money.
If a user doesn’t have to choose from search results, said user also doesn’t have the opportunity to click an ad, thus choosing the winner of the competition Google created between its advertisers for user attention.
Google has adopted Alan Kay’s maxim that “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” To that end the company introduced multiple hardware devices, including a new phone, the previously-announced Google Home device, new Chromecasts, and a new VR headset.
So how does Google fare? Start with value chains: I actually found the breadth of Google products to be impressive, both proof that my suspicions about hardware being the best way to monetize Google software was correct, and evidence of a real commitment on Google’s part to realizing that opportunity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”

Facebook’s “Like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “Wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers.
Harris, who has been branded “The closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience”, insists that billions of people have little choice over whether they use these now ubiquitous technologies, and are largely unaware of the invisible ways in which a small number of people in Silicon Valley are shaping their lives.
A graduate of Stanford University, Harris studied under BJ Fogg, a behavioural psychologist revered in tech circles for mastering the ways technological design can be used to persuade people.
“A handful of people, working at a handful of technology companies, through their choices will steer what a billion people are thinking today,” he said at a recent TED talk in Vancouver.
Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “Likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when an individual is likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or maybe just bored.
A friend at Facebook told Harris that designers initially decided the notification icon, which alerts people to new activity such as “Friend requests” or “Likes”, should be blue.
He identifies the advent of the smartphone as a turning point, raising the stakes in an arms race for people’s attention.
“The people who run Facebook and Google are good people, whose well-intentioned strategies have led to horrific unintended consequences,” he says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Silicon Valley’s Next Target for Disruption Is Socks”

Trudeau, who attracted attention in May for a different pair of Star Wars socks made by Stance, is a fan but not an investor.
The business, which is the subject of this week’s episode of the Decrypted podcast, was never really about socks, according to Jeff Kearl, Stance’s 45-year-old chief executive officer.
“We saw socks as a Trojan horse to build a brand,” he explains, in a black tank top, shorts and, naturally, knee-high socks after a game on the company basketball court.
Stance’s socks can hold up to the beating skaters give them, thanks to a tight-knit weave and extra cushioning.
A temporary victory came two years ago, when Stance inked a licensing deal with the National Basketball Association to have players wear its socks during games.
Kearl hired Cohen in 2014 from Delta-Galil Industries Ltd., an Israeli contractor that makes socks for Nike and other well-known brands.
A third machine takes thermal pictures of heat dissipating to make sure Stance’s socks cool faster than competitors’.
In August, rapper Drake posted a photo of himself in a pair of socks designed by, and featuring the likeness of, his ex-girlfriend and Stance investor, Rihanna.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Physicist Max Tegmark Imagines How Artificial Intelligence Could Take Over”

After its launch in 2005 as a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace, it had grown rapidly, with tens of thousands of people around the world anonymously competing around the clock to perform highly structured chores called HITs, “Human Intelligence Tasks.” These tasks ranged from transcribing audio recordings to classifying images and writing descriptions of web pages, and all had one thing in common: If you did them well, nobody would know that you were an AI. Prometheus 10.0 was able to do about half of the task categories acceptably well.
Aside from their AI breakthroughs, one of the recent projects that the Omegas had the most fun with was planning how to make money as rapidly as possible after Prometheus’ launch.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a game on which many of the Omegas had wasted more hours than they cared to admit, had grossed over $400 million during its first week back in 2011, and they were confident that Prometheus could make something at least this addictive in 24 hours using $1 million of cloud-computing resources.
The Omegas noticed that after Prometheus had binge-watched a few hundred films, it started to get quite good at predicting what sort of reviews a movie would get and how it would appeal to different audiences.
The Omegas scheduled their website launch for Friday, giving Prometheus time to produce more content and themselves time to do the things they didn’t trust Prometheus with: buying ads and starting to recruit employees for the shell companies they’d set up during the past months.
Over a timescale of months, the business empire controlled by the Omegas started gaining a foothold in ever more areas of the world economy, thanks to superhuman planning by Prometheus.
The current situation was very different: Prometheus already had the next steps figured out, so the limiting factor was simply how rapidly people could be guided to understand and build the right things.
Since Prometheus could accurately predict how long it would take humans to understand and build things given various tools, it developed the quickest possible path forward, giving priority to new tools that could be quickly understood and built and that were useful for developing more advanced tools.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Exactly Is Vegan-Mayonnaise Company Hampton Creek Selling?”

Peter Thiel instructs start-up entrepreneurs to take inspiration from cults, advice that came to mind when Tetrick told me, after the job interview, that he screens for employees who “Really believe” in his company’s “Higher purpose,” because “I trust them more.” But buying into the mission has become a more complicated proposition, as Hampton Creek has recently been besieged by federal investigations, product withdrawals, and an exodus of top leadership.
Tetrick founded Hampton Creek, as he has recounted it on numerous conference stages, shows his instinct for a good narrative.
Despite his current emphasis on Hampton Creek’s technical chops, Tetrick says he never expressly founded Hampton Creek as a tech start-up.
Tetrick launched Hampton Creek in an era when investors were reaching beyond traditional tech companies, and businesses that might otherwise have been merely, say, specialty-food purveyors could leverage software-and grand mission statements tapping into Silicon Valley’s do-gooder ethos-to cast themselves as paradigm-breaking forces.
Bloomberg also reported on claims by a Hampton Creek investor named Ali Partovi-an early backer of Facebook and Dropbox who lasted nine days as Tetrick’s chief strategy officer before leaving the company and severing all ties-that the company was exaggerating profit projections to deceive investors.
Tetrick told me that Hampton Creek will debut both a liquid version of Just Scramble and the Scramble Patty early next year, to be followed shortly by a new category of plant-based foods-possibly the butter, or ice cream.
As for the three recently fired executives, Tetrick said their desired changes would have given more control to investors, whose incentive to go public or accept an acquisition offer might undermine Hampton Creek’s “Higher purpose.” When I asked him about the board departures, which were made public after my visit, Tetrick told me that some members had been asked to step down; others “Chose to remain members of the advisory board and help the company achieve its mission.”
Tetrick led the two Chinese men through a spacious room housing Hampton Creek’s team of designers and settled them in a windowless office with a large TV. Tetrick’s filmmaker, one of his longest-serving employees, cued up footage with a Kinfolk vibe: a farmer lovingly cradling a white chicken, a Hampton Creek employee in a field contemplating a single feather as wind rustled his curls.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Venture Capitalists Aren’t Funding The Businesses We Need”

People with these sorts of profiles win the lion’s share of funding from VC firms.
In 2015, more than three-quarters of U.S. VC funding went to companies in three states: Massachusetts, New York, and California.
Baird explains how it is that VCs keep funding businesses offering conveniences we don’t really need while so many other needs, from hunger to financial inclusion, go largely unfulfilled.
In one case, a group decided to award funding to a founder as a “Sympathy vote” because it thought there was no way he could actually be successful.
Each program chooses two startups that get $100,000 in seed funding.
Small-scale funding for small businessThough the VC industry has many successes to its name, from Facebook to Amazon, its track record as a whole isn’t that great.
He says the VCs have a “One size fits all” approach, whereby some businesses fit the profile and are funded to the maximum, while many smaller companies, with less immediately sexy business models, struggle to find capital.
He says we need to get beyond the old binaries of profit and nonprofit and instead fund businesses that make money and solve problems at the same time.

The orginal article.