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Data is an Input and a Filter into the Product Development Process

Recently I spoke at CrunchConf in Budapest. It was a great experience. The conference is fantastic for people interested in data (e.g. data analysts, scientists, product managers, etc.) Having said that, I’m not a data scientist. I don’t spend the bulk of my time storing, organizing and sifting through data. I’m not smart enough for […]

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Recently I spoke at CrunchConf in Budapest. It was a great experience. The conference is fantastic for people interested in data (e.g. data analysts, scientists, product managers, etc.) Having said that, I’m not a data scientist. I don’t spend the bulk of my time storing, organizing and sifting through data. I’m not smart enough for that!

I also like simple things, or better said, I like to simplify things as much as I can. The more I think about Lean Analytics, which Alistair and I wrote 3 years ago, the more I realize that the key message of the book is this: data is about simplification and communication. I don’t know if we got that across strongly enough in the book, but that’s why we blog, to adapt and evolve our ideas on various subjects.

So in preparing for my presentation at CrunchConf, I asked myself, “How do I take what I know about product management and data, and communicate that effectively and simply to an audience of data experts, without looking like a bozo?”

And this is what I came up with. (You can be the judge.) There’s no soundtrack here, and very few words on the slides, but hopefully the presentation itself is helpful.

Here are the key messages I was aiming to get across:

  • The answer isn’t more data, it’s more process. I know “process” is a scary word, but I genuinely believe the answer to building better products is in process…it’s just a question of what process and how we implement it. A painfully long, thousand-step process to do something is clearly not the answer. Fundamentally, this is why I believe Lean Startup has become so popular, it promises a simpler, faster process for getting stuff done.
  • But Lean Startup isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. What a shock, there’s no silver bullet. No easy answer. Shit’s hard and it takes a lot of work. If you’ve tried to implement Lean Startup in your organization, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Build->Measure->Learn looks so simple and elegant (and it is, in some ways), but it’s hard to implement. My goal with this presentation was to break up some of the parts of the cycle (specifically around idea generation and triage) to hopefully make the process clearer.
  • You can’t ignore qualitative data. Qualitative data is the unsung hero of most product decisions. If you lean too far to using your gut, without real data, you run the risk of being blindsided by your own biases; but if you ignore your gut completely, you’ll suck the magic out of the product building process.
  • Customer input is incredibly important. Customers can’t tell you what to build (because they don’t really know), but they have pain. Customers/users have problems. You need to listen to that pain, and deeply appreciate/understand it, so you can translate that pain into solutions for them. You’ll see in Slide 29 that I put “Customer Input” as a cycle around Build->Measure->Learn. It’s more than a single input at a single point in time, you should be collecting customer input constantly. But do it right.
  • Corporate goals are both good and bad. You can’t ignore corporate goals. The good ones align everyone around a common mission and purpose. The bad ones are misaligned and don’t work towards create genuine value for customers. If you’ve ever worked anywhere in your life this should resonate with you, because almost every company has good and bad corporate goals. They’re a necessary input into the equation, but a tough one to manage.
  • Data is a key input and filter into the product development process. See slides 39-41. Data is a key input that gives us ideas on what to build. If you’re using data at all, you’ll know how this works. But data is also a filter to balance against the other inputs into the process, most of which are qualitative in nature. So data is both an input and a filter. You’ll see in Slide 40, I’ve put “data” as a circle around Build->Measure->Learn. I’m not a visualization wizard, but the point I was trying to get across is that it’s ever-present and necessary for helping to make good decisions.
  • Data is also a communication tool. I mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s critical. I think this is a key lesson for data scientists and analysts who may find themselves lost in the data. If you can’t communicate the data effectively, no one will give a shit. Worse, they’ll do everything in their power to ignore the data (see Slide 47). If we want data to be used effectively as an input and filter into the product management/development process, then it’s on us to make the data simple for people to understand.

The title slide of the presentation has the words “Data + Guts” on it, because I genuinely believe you need a mix of both to build great products. You can’t win with one of them alone. And the key, since most people/companies rely too heavily on their guts today (or the voice of the HiPPO / Highest Paid Person’s Opinion!), is to make data approachable and usable by everyone. Make data meaningful to every department, so that they want to use it in their every day decision-making process.

Data is complex, but how we communicate it doesn’t have to be.

PS. Unsplash is an awesome source of photos.

Source: http://www.instigatorblog.com/data-in-product-development/2016/10/17/

Private Equity

Two weeks left to score early bird savings at TC Sessions: Space 2020

NASA just made history by landing a spacecraft on an asteroid. If that kind of technical achievement carbonates your glass of Tang, join us on December 16-17 for TC Sessions: Space 2020, an event dedicated to early-stage space startups. We’ve launched early-bird pricing, and $125 buys you access to all live sessions, plus video on […]

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NASA just made history by landing a spacecraft on an asteroid. If that kind of technical achievement carbonates your glass of Tang, join us on December 16-17 for TC Sessions: Space 2020, an event dedicated to early-stage space startups.

We’ve launched early-bird pricing, and $125 buys you access to all live sessions, plus video on demand. Don’t procrastinate. Buy your pass now before the early-bird reenters Earth’s atmosphere (and prices go up) on November 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

More ways to save: Go further together with early bird group tickets ($100) — bring four team members and get the fifth one free. We also offer discount passes for students ($50) and government, military and non-profits ($95). Looking for out-of-this-world exposure? An Early Stage Startup Exhibitor Package ($360) includes four tickets, digital exhibition space, a pitch session to attendees and the ability to generate leads. Bonus savings: Extra Crunch subscribers get a 20 percent discount.

TC Sessions: Space is an unrivaled opportunity to learn from, connect and network with boundary-pushing founders, investors and officials from NASA, the Aerospace Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and leading space companies spanning public, private and defense sectors.

We’ve packed the conference with outstanding presentations, fireside chats and interviews. Plus, you’ll find breakout sessions on specialized topics, audience Q&As with Main Stage speakers and the expo area for partners and early stage startups.

Here’s a taste of the topics but keep an eye on the agenda, because we’ll add more speakers and sessions in the coming weeks.

Asteroid Rocks and Moon Landings

Lisa Callahan, vice president/general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin Space, discusses all aspects of scientific and civil exploration of the solar system — from robots scooping rockets from the surface of galaxy-traveling asteroids, to preparing for the return of humans to the surface of the Moon.

Sourcing Tech for Securing Space

Lt. General Thompson is responsible for fostering an ecosystem of non-traditional space startups and the future of Space Force acquisitions, all to the end goal of protecting the global commons of space. He’ll discuss what the U.S. looks for in startup partnerships and emerging tech, and how it works with these young companies.

Bridging Today and Tomorrow’s Tech

Corporate VC funds are a key source of investment for space startups, in part because they often involve partnerships that help generate revenue, and because they understand the timelines involved. SpaceFund’s Meagan Crawford and Lockheed Martin Ventures’ J. Christopher Moran discuss how these funds fit in with more standard venture to power the ecosystem.

TC Sessions: Space 2020 takes flight on December 16-17, but we’re starting our early bird countdown right now. Great savings disappear in two weeks on November 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT). Buy your early bird passes today and celebrate your savvy shopping with a tall glass of Tang.

Is your company interested in sponsoring TC Sessions: Space 2020? Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/29/two-weeks-left-to-score-early-bird-savings-at-tc-sessions-space-2020/

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Leon Black offers more details on ties to Jeffrey Epstein – Update

Apollo chief executive raised the issue after questions swirled about his relationship with the late financier

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Leon Black, the billionaire chief executive of Apollo, on Thursday, 29 October, offered a history of his ties to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, his most detailed public account yet of a relationship that sparked renewed concern among his firm’s shareholders and fund investors in recent weeks.

Epstein was indicted last year on federal sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls.

On a call to discuss the private equity firm’s third-quarter earnings, Black said he wasn’t eager to speak publicly about his personal business, “but this matter is now affecting Apollo, which my partners and I spent 30 years building, and is also causing deep pain for my family.”

The Apollo chief reiterated that he paid Epstein millions of dollars annually to provide professional services to his family partnership and other family entities, “involving estate planning, tax, structuring of art entities and philanthropic advice” from 2012 to 2017.

He said there was substantial documentation of the work and that it was vetted by law firms, accounting firms and other advisers.

“There has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not,” Black said. “And any suggestion of blackmail or any other connection to Epstein’s reprehensible conduct is categorically untrue.”

Black also re-emphasised that Apollo never did business with Epstein, who died by suicide in jail in August 2019, the New York City medical examiner found.

The speech came after the three Apollo board members to who make up the New York firm’s conflict committee last week hired law firm Dechert to conduct an independent review into Black’s business with Epstein. Black said he asked for the review and is cooperating fully.

The moves were prompted by a New York Timesreport on 12 October that Black had paid Epstein at least $50m — more than previously known—in the years after Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.

The article didn’t present any evidence that Black participated in inappropriate activity, but it sparked concern among some of Apollo’s public-pension fund investors and has weighed on the company’s shares.

Apollo’s shares rose briefly after Black’s statement but later fell about 1% in morning trading Thursday, 29 October.

Black, who co-founded Apollo in 1990, said he met Epstein around 1996 when Epstein was advising a number of prominent clients on estate-tax planning. The adviser had been named a trustee of Rockefeller University and served on the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

In his network were “luminaries I respected and admired, including several heads of state, heads of prominent families in finance, a US treasury secretary, accomplished business leaders, Nobel laureates, acclaimed academicians and noted philanthropists,” Black said.

The Apollo chief said he wasn’t aware of Epstein’s criminal conduct until it was reported in late 2006 that he was under investigation by state and federal authorities in Florida.

In 2007, Epstein signed a federal nonprosecution agreement, which has since been scrutinised, to resolve that investigation, pleading guilty the following year to two state prostitution counts. He spent much of his 13-month sentence outside prison.

After his release, Epstein went back to his financial-advisory work and once again began associating with prominent people from finance, academia, science, technology and government,  Black said. He said he didn’t learn the extent of the further allegations about Epstein’s conduct in 2018 until after he had already stopped working with him.

“Like many other people I respected, I decided to give Epstein a second chance,” he said. “This was a terrible mistake. I wish I could go back in time and change that decision, but I cannot.”

Whether Black’s explanation and the independent investigation will be enough to satisfy the firm’s jittery investors remains to be seen. Working to Apollo’s advantage is the fact that big pension funds, which typically need to invest large sums of money, have relatively few options for where to do so. And Apollo’s funds have continued to offer them strong returns.

Any defections among investors could theoretically threaten the firm’s goal set last year of reaching $600bn in assets over the next five years. For now, growth in the metric is chugging along. The firm said that assets climbed to $433.1bn in the third quarter, up from $413.6bn in the prior quarter and $322.7bn a year earlier.

Apollo chief financial officer Martin Kelly said the firm’s assets were durable even if the independent review of Black has an impact on fundraising. He noted that 60% of Apollo’s assets are in permanent-capital vehicles—pools of money that don’t need to be constantly replenished—and 90% are either in permanent-capital vehicles or funds with five years or longer from inception.

Kelly said the firm expects some of its investors will pause new commitments until the independent review has been completed. But even if Apollo raises no additional third-party capital this year, its fundraising of $18.4bn from third parties through 30 September already falls within its typical annual range of $15bn to $20bn, he said.

“We have incredibly long and durable relationships with our clients,” Apollo co-founder Josh Harris said on the call. “We’re deeply in contact with them, and obviously they are awaiting the results of the review Leon discussed.”

In response to an analyst question about how long the review would take, Apollo said it hoped the process could be completed by the end of the year, but that it was in the hands of the conflict committee.

Apollo also reported lower net income and distributable earnings for the quarter. It posted net income of $272.4m, or $1.11 a share, down from earnings of $363.3m, or $1.63 a share, a year earlier. The decline was primarily driven by a bigger loss attributable to noncontrolling interests.

Fee-related earnings were a bright spot, climbing 30% year-over-year.

Apollo invested a net $20.9bn across its various investment platforms during the quarter, a metric that reflects investments in vehicles beyond traditional drawdown funds.

The firm said it would pay a dividend of 51 cents per share versus 50 cents a share for the third quarter of 2019.

Write to Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com

From The Wall Street Journal

Source: https://www.penews.com/articles/leon-black-offers-more-details-on-ties-to-jeffrey-epstein-update-20201029

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Private Equity

Alternative Investments/ESG: Brunel Allots £1.2B ($1.55B) Sustainable Mandate To Three Managers

The Brunel Pension Partnership has picked Ownership Capital, RBC Global Asset Management, and Nordea Asset Management to manage its new Sustainable Equities Fund of around £1.2 billion ($1.55 billion). Brunel is one of eight pooled Local Government Pension Scheme funds in the U.K.

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Alternative Investments/ESG: Brunel Allots £1.2B ($1.55B) Sustainable Mandate To Three Managers

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The Brunel Pension Partnership Limited (Brunel) launched a new Sustainable Equities Fund for local authorities’ pension funds.

The Brunel Pension Partnership has picked Ownership Capital, RBC Global Asset Management, and Nordea Asset Management to manage its new Sustainable Equities Fund of around £1.2 billion ($1.55 billion).

Brunel is one of eight pool Local Government Pension Scheme funds in the U.K.

The sub-fund mandate is on behalf of 10 local government pension scheme funds. They wanted a listed equity portfolio with a pronounced skew in favor of ESG considerations. The emphasis would be on companies with positive ESG performance rather than negative exclusions. (Institutional Asset Manager)

Multi-manager sustainable fund

Brunel shortlisted the three managers from 70 expressions of interest.

“The three managers we appointed share a broad investing style and a prioritization of sustainability, yet their approaches are also different enough to provide clients with the diversification they were looking for,” said David Cox, Head of Listed Markets at Brunel.

“We were delighted to find managers who share our understanding of sustainability, embedding it deep into their culture and investment processes,” says David Jenkins, Portfolio Manager for the Sustainable Equities Fund. “This portfolio, therefore, meets our aspiration to go beyond traditional Responsible Investing and ensure that the managers are engaged with the companies and are investing in them for positive reasons, not simply focusing on negative exclusions.”

Investment thesis

The portfolio is significantly underweight to the GICS energy sector. It also features an aggregate carbon intensity that is significantly lower than its benchmark, the MSCI All Country World Index.

The selected managers will integrate ESG considerations into their whole investing process. Their focus will not be to manage ESG risks – rather to positively seek out exposure to companies on a sustainable path.

In the process, they would also generate a suitable financial return.

Related Story:  Insurers Take a Fancy To ESG & Sustainability ETFs (Invesco)

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/brunel-allots-1-2b-1-55b-sustainable-mandate-to-three-managers/

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