Welcome to this week’s (and 2021’s first) Double Take on product, health tech, and digital media. Hello new readers 👋 Great to have you and I hope you’ll find at least one idea or spark or insight here.
Last year was slow for some and wild for others. The 2020 Stratechery Year in Review is always a must-read to wrap up a year. Some themes of 2020: distribution of information; shift of technology; direct to consumer going niche; and antitrust.
📚 2 books this month: Empowered by Marty Cagan outlines how to build an environment for empowered product teams to thrive in. My grandmother sends her regards and apologies by Fredrik Backman is a heartwarming, hilarious tale of a 7 year old’s adventure of delivering apology letters from her late grandma to people she wronged.
🎥 If you’ve seen Pixar’s Soul (10/10), watch this to learn more about the inspirations behind how this brilliant story was made from director Pete Docter.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. — Viktor E. Frankl
Now onto the regular programming 👇
One-Pager Checklist. This is a thoughtful list because it raises questions that pushes for deeper thinking and clearer articulation for what you want to build. It’s a long list but even if they don’t all end up on your one pager, PRD, or whatever your format of documentation, they make great prompts for discussions. For example, “if in a year, this thing didn’t work, imagine the 3 possible scenarios to explain it”.
52 weeks of product management. John Cutler’s weekly newsletter provides concise, actionable insights on the craft of product management. He compiled all 52 issues on GitHub for easy browsing. Think big, work small is one of my favorites.
Demo of shaping and writing a pattern language. Ryan Singer shared a 30 minute case study video showing the step by step process of “shaping work” and turning it into a pattern language. This is quite useful for writing the one-pager doc for the next thing you’re building, with the right level of abstraction. His newsletter here.
What differentiates good PMs from exceptional PMs? Gibson Biddle breaks down the PM hierarchy from good to exceptional. It goes from building product to using consumer science to building organizations to being effective leaders. This makes a timely and useful framework to self evaluate skill strengths and gaps.
Internal negotiation emails between Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom on the acquisition of Instagram was like reading a screenplay for The Social Network 2. Mark laid out the aggregation theory of content distribution as the thesis. The ensuing back and forth was a fascinating crash course on strategy and negotiation.
📠 Health Tech
The new tech stack for virtual-first care (video). There has been an explosion of full stack digital health companies that compete directly with traditional providers. Old systems were built for fee-for-service models and lack interoperability. The new tech stack can support back office, clinical operations, and front office services, and risk-bearing models. The bar for product quality is also raised by this new breed of digital health companies.
Health-tech predictions for 2021. Christina Farr shares the goods, the neutrals, and bads to expect this year. Anticipate a rise in investment in health-tech, more care-at-home, and more behavior health funding. Also, expect more IPOs coming (Oscar Health confidentially filed S-1). Health care workers are burnt out, misinformation will continue, and some health tech startups will not make it.
Banning surprise medical bills. Congress agreed to ban surprise medical bills (for unexpected service provided by out-of-network provider). Insurers and medical providers will have to use outside arbiter to settle disagreements, not patients. There are ripple effects but knowing you won't get surprise billed while unconscious has got to be a good thing.
Trump and Twitter. The current events forced us to have head-on debates about technology’s role in content moderation and the limits of free speech. Ben Thompson lays out a framework to think about content moderation on a spectrum of broadcasting to access. Since this piece was published, Twitter, Facebook, (and more) inactivated Trump’s account. Google and Apple pulled Parler off the app store. AWS gave 24 hour notice to suspend Parler’s service.
Platforms, bundling and kill zones. For companies that have market dominance, adding something to its offering could take away someone else’s business. Where is the line between exercising its competitive advantage and behaving anti-competitively? What counts as “essential” to the product and should be holistically provided by the same company? (Imagine your car didn’t come with turn signals, or your iPhone didn’t come with calendar or camera app.) Ben Evans debates a set of general principles to help evaluate “fairness”.
Nearly half a billion users played Among Us in November. The developer, Inner Sloth, has 4 employees. Talk about high per-employee output!
Thanks for reading! If you liked this edition, hit the 🖤 above, it helps others see it :) Let’s chat more on Twitter.