Nerd Corner #84

Small Business, The Future of Browsing, Crystals, Sneakers...

Hello Friends!

This week I've been busy brainstorming and planning what's next to come at Tiny Rockets. We're wrapping up our second cohort this weekend, and we're so pumped that we're planning to open up a new cohort soon, as well as challenges around specific habits. So, stay tuned ;)

Small Business 💼

In Nerd Corner #62, I talked about the idea of Small Tech, popular and profitable software companies that deliberately choose to stay small so that the owners could be free to make their own decisions and work as they pleased (raising capital always comes with strings attached).

I've been interested in this space for a while as it is a model that might work for us at Tiny Rockets. Here in Silicon Valley, the prevailing mentality is that of "go big or go bust" Your startup either becomes a unicorn or it is a failure. But it doesn't need to be this way.

It is perfectly fine to have one or more small businesses that provide you enough income to live life on your own terms. Daniel Vassallo—former AWS engineer turned book author—put it best

This brought me to a recent discussion on Clubhouse where precisely Daniel Vassallo discussed the idea of building a portfolio of small bets to stay self-employed with Peter Askew, who makes a living by buying expiring domains and transforming them into profitable businesses.

Isn't that crazy? The guy surveys 500+ domain names that are expiring every day, bids for the ones that he finds interesting, and then starts building a business around them. My favorite example is vidaliaonions.com, where he sells onions, but only of the "Vidalia" type and makes a decent profit out of it every year.

Peter is also a great blogger. I really enjoyed this short article Building things that [do just one thing].

Brave and the future of Browsing 💻

In a recent podcast, Lex Fridman interviewed Brendan Eich—the father of JavaScript, co-founder of Mozilla, and now co-founder and CEO of Brave.

During the podcast, Brendan discusses how super-cookies and fingerprinting techniques have evolved today to the point that he believes the Web Standards Body should implement third-party cookie blocking by default. The problem, he says, is that "the new Microsoft in the standards body is Google" (big and powerful), and Google has no intention of becoming privacy-first. They have a lot of business to lose, and their current efforts are a sort of "privacy as we want it" approach and not what users are demanding.

This brings us to the Brave Browser, which I've recommended in the past and discussed in my privacy guide. Brendan started Brave because he believes that many of the early web accidents need to be addressed, especially that of third-party cookies. No company should be allowed to store a cookie in your browser if you haven't visited it.

So Brave blocks these by default and uses local machine learning to learn from your browsing behaviors and block as many third-parties as possible.

On top of a privacy-first approach, Brave is also trying to change the way ads are sold on the Internet through their Brave Rewards initiative and the "Basic Attention Token" Rather than being bombarded with ads all the time, you get to choose which ads to view. Moreover, using crypto wallets, Brave doesn't keep all the ad-revenue but shares it with you. Let me repeat: you earn crypto tokens for viewing ads which you can then use to support your favorite creators and website through the BAT.

While we don't know how this new wave of browser evolution will play out, I'm excited to see these new experiments and confident that a privacy-first approach to building software will win in the long run.

From Around The Internet 🌎

  • 📊 This article from Oxford's "Our World in Data" publication is a great read. It surveys the current state of vegetable oil production (palm oil in particular) and shows how damaging these crops are to the environment.

  • 🔬 Using recent "atomic-resolution" video techniques, researchers at the University of Tokyo managed to record crystals' formation at the atomic level. The images are beautiful as one can see how atoms arrange themselves and order emerges from disorder, validating current theories on how crystals form.

  • 🤑 Speaking of small businesses, if you are in the business of flipping sneakers (selling shoes and reselling them for a markup), it helps if your mom is a high-profile employee of Nike.

Before you go 😎

What’s the most interesting article you read last week? Anything is fair game. Just hit reply!

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Until next week!

Alberto