- Two stories on football to start the newsletter this week. The FT ran a great story on activist investor Elliott Management’s ownership of AC Milan and the challenge they face in turning the club around. It’s interesting enough in its own right, but there’s also a parallel with one of Elliott’s other investments, in the bookselling chains Waterstones in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US. In both cases the investments are in challenging markets and look like difficult or non-standard turnaround cases. But as this piece makes clear, that doesn't mean their long-term objectives are any different from usual.
- The second sports story that interested me this week was the news that the Guardian’s David Pemsel is moving to the Premier League as its new CEO, hopefully third time lucky for the league which made two previous missteps in finding the right candidate. Fittingly, subscriber Roger Mitchell’s podcast this week touches on the difficulty of running a league in today’s landscape.
- One of the other points that Roger and his co-host Grant Williams make is about the decreasing shelf life of football managers. Coincidentally, I came across some research this week looking at five decades of chart performances in music, which shows evidence of cultural acceleration: previously albums had a slow climb to the top, now an album is either a hit from the start or not. With global channels and faster feedback loops, it’s intuitive that hits are bigger but have a shorter half-life.
- Investor Eze Vidra has a great piece here on what the advent of 5G means for entertainment tech startups, including opportunities for live streaming, content creation and advertising.
- I really enjoyed this thought-provoking piece by Lea Simpson at Brink on applying behavioural science to innovation: "We know that behaviour is shaped by context, so how might we create the optimal context for curiosity, risk-taking, experimentation and courage?"
- One answer to that question might be found in subscribers Brian Dell and Tom Critchlow's new newsletter Little Futures, which has an interesting build on the familiar metaphors of peacetime and wartime CEOs: "Perhaps instead... we should consider a third way: the playtime CEO. In a world that is constantly changing, organizations require a playful theory of operations—small, creative explorations as an always-on mode of action."
- An analysis of Crunchbase data shows that larger founding teams are correlated with more successful fundraising and more successful exits.
- I’ve lost track of who pointed me to it, so apologies if it was you, but in the context of a possible downturn, it was interesting to see the advice deck that Sequoia sent to its portfolio companies in October 2008.