💡 rising from the ashes, again.

hi & welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 5m, 1s.

👋 hi, i’m sam!

the response to last weeks email was quite honestly overwhelming. i shared some of your lovely comments to my stories on instagram.

some of you discovered that you can also just reply directly to these newsletters to chat with me - always fun!

i hope that you enjoy this week’s slightly more serious edition.


📄 a note on slack:

slack, the workplace messaging company (think facebook messenger but for businesses), listed publicly this week via a direct listing. in 2018 alone, slack generated $400 million in revenue, according to it’s s-1 filing.

direct listing allows companies to bypass traditional ipo buyers & sell to the highest bidders, rather than to whomever the ipo underwriter wants to sell to.

- the query

slack had its start as a relatively obscure online game called glitch, which failed to attract a meaningful audience. it closed abruptly in 2012, & stewart butterfield (ceo) spoke of a newly spun-off company idea with prescience:

tiny speck, the company behind glitch, will continue. we have developed some unique messaging technology with applications outside of the gaming world & a smaller core team will be working to develop new products.

if this seems like a familiar story to you - it’s because it is. butterfield’s previous company, flickr, was itself a spin-off from an online game called game neverending. the game itself failed to gain much traction, however, its photo-uploading tool became extremely popular.

thus flickr, like a phoenix, rose from its ashes as the photo sharing platform that eventually sold to yahoo for between $22 million & $25 million. butterfield’s obsessive dedication to their product has seen their growth skyrocket since their february 2014 launch. a good product is one that can sell itself & this clearly shows as ninety-seven percent of slack’s new customers are referrals from current customers.

i am excited to see what happens now - what will butterfield’s next phoenix be?


⚠️ necessarily important reads:

the images below are graphic.


i do not think we should shy away from them.


we need to see these things, as difficult as they may be for us process.

a drowned father & daughter highlights migrants' border peril:

an image can make an atrocity seem more real to the american public - but why do people need to see in order to feel?

it’s hard to describe the thought process that ensues when you first look at a photograph of two dead bodies - one of a man and one of a small child clinging to him - floating in the shallow water near a riverbank. partly because the process of making sense of it is just so fast; the tragedy that has occurred is communicated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, immediately.

continue reading.

a casualty of the palm oil industry: an orangutan mother, shot 74 times:

the men came at hope & her baby with spears and guns. but she would not leave. there was no place for her to go.

when the air-gun pellets pierced hope’s eyes, blinding her, she felt her way up the tree trunks, auburn-furred fingers searching out tropical fruit for sustenance.

by the end, hope’s torso was slashed with deep lacerations. multiple bones were broken. seventy-four pellets were lodged in her body. her months-old baby had been ripped away.

continue reading.


💡 steal some of my ideas:

i have a lot of ideas, most of which are genuinely quite terrible.

here are some that have popped 🍾 into my head & onto this page over the past week:

📷 instagram access:

instagram should allow its creators to sell access to exclusive stories, content à la patreon. subscribe to your favourite people on instagram for €x amount per month, with facebook taking just a small percentage of net revenue.

the audience follows where the creators are. & if you own the creators’ paycheck: you own their audience.

i created this mockup quickly:

🎧 spotify social:

spotify now has 217 million monthly active users (mau). if it were a social media app, it would almost break into the top 20 social apps worldwide by mau. i think that they should re-introduce social features. i share music with friends & colleagues all of the time via messaging apps - why not take that in-house?

they do offer some basic social features like the activity feed that shows friends’ recent listens, but they removed their previous attempt at an inbox, citing that “that this feature has very low engagement”. spotify already do some clever work - their spotify wrapped marketing event, in december of each year, creates massive social cross-promotion from both users & artists alike.

if spotify want to continue trumping apple music at every step, they need to differentiate, fast.

✈️ future summer:

an environmental agency should create some fake “tourism posters” that showcase currently-snow-covered destinations (like siberia) as future summer destinations.

it could be a clever way to highlight the catastrophic impact of climate warming. see nasa’s visions of the future posters for reference.


🧠 brain candy:

🤪 1000 true fans:

in 2008, wired founder kevin kelly wrote an essay simply titled “1000 true fans.” his thesis: you don’t need to become famous - you just need 1,000 people to spend $100 a year, to earn a very decent living. it’s an interesting read for anyone considering the economics of starting their own business:

every thing made, or thought of, can interest at least one person in a million — it’s a low bar. yet if even only one out of million people were interested, that’s potentially 7,000 people on the planet. that means that any 1-in-a-million appeal can find 1,000 true fans. the trick is to practically find those fans, or more accurately, to have them find you.

continue reading.

👵 103 years old & just ran the 100-metre dash:

this is an incredible interview with julia “hurricane” hawkins, the oldest woman to formally compete on an american track. this advice is important:

look for magic moments. that is something that I have done in my life — think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you. all of those are magic moments and they are free for all. be sure to keep your eye open for them.

continue reading.


🤪 mildly humorous:


that’s all for this week. i hope you keep me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

this takes a reasonable chunk of my after-work hours to curate, so please let me know if you do or don’t like certain parts. this is very much a work-in-progress.


😌 see you next monday!


🦶 footer:

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website: sammcallister.me