Sunday Reads #143: How to tell your boss he's wrong (without getting fired).
Plus golden nuggets and dispatches from the crypto-verse.
One of the most common Amazon legends is the story of the Fire Phone.
It was a proud project for Jeff Bezos and Amazon. Multiple years in development, several new technologies designed to wow the consumer.
It was also dead on arrival. A colossal failure.
Within a year of launch, Amazon had discounted it to 99 cents on contract. And taken a $170M writedown on inventory.
When reporters asked Bezos about the debacle of the Fire Phone, he said:
If you think Fire Phone is a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now — and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”
The Fire Phone story adds to the legend of Amazon. Be bold and go where no one has gone before. Win big, or fail.
But… it might not be true.
What actually happened may have been all too banal. From The Inside Story Of Jeff Bezos’s Fire Phone Debacle:
“We poured surreal amounts of money into it, yet we all thought it had no value for the customer, which was the biggest irony. Whenever anyone asked why we were doing this, the answer was, ‘Because Jeff wants it.’ No one thought the feature justified the cost to the project. No one. Absolutely no one.”
As one top product engineer put it, “Yes, there was heated debate about whether it was heading in the right direction. But at a certain point, you just think, Well, this guy has been right so many times before.”
Now, I don’t know whether Bezos had already transformed into Vin Diesel at the time…
But even if not – who could tell him he might be wrong? When he’d been right so many times before!
This is not an Amazon-only problem.
Telling your boss he’s wrong is sticky territory. He’s so confident in his view, how can you antagonize him? What if you get thrown out of his inner circle? Or worse, get fired?
Let’s get into this. But first, a more fundamental question…
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Golden Nugget of the Week.
Saw this on Twitter yesterday.
Dispatches from the Crypto-verse.
I read a great article this week, expressing skepticism about the wide-eyed optimism of the Web3 crowd (of which I am a card-carrying member).
Moxie Marlinspike is the founder of Signal. And when he says something about anything related to security, it’s 100% credible.
He wrote a blog post about his first impressions of web3. (Thanks for sharing it with me, Kunal and Pritish).
It’s a thought provoking piece, but it’s also a Rorschach test.
Moxie just stops short of making some definitive claims, letting you fill in the blanks. So a common reaction is, “I didn’t know all these details, but it TOTALLY confirms my pre-existing view”.
That’s a trap I might have fallen into, with my reaction. You can read it on Twitter here:
Moxie Marlinspike @moxieWrote some notes summarizing my first impressions of web3: https://t.co/16MoPROOGc
That’s it for this week. As always, stay safe, healthy, and sane.
PS. Would love if you could also share today’s edition on Twitter so more people can see it. Thanks a lot!