By James Flint

A tale of two families torn apart by hidden debts of love...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The newsletter newsletter

The news this week that HSBC has been involved in laundering Russian money will come as little surprise to any habituees of the Midland Shed who read the section of the novel (“Gull”) that I circulated to pledgers in February. “Gull” makes heavy reference to HSBC’s money laundering activities in the Caribbean, well-documented over the last few years by Private Eye.

Thinking about news - as I have to do quite a lot in my day job as a journalist - got me thinking about newsletters. As many of you will know, while I’ve been trying to bootstrap my start-up Hospify http://www.hospify.com/ over the last couple of years, I’ve been doing a kind of self-directed MBA to improve my business skills. My studies have taken me from futures trading floors to business incubators and currently see me writing about developments in artificial intelligence and robotics in the mornings www.curationcorp.com and studying data science and machine learning in the afternoons .

My AI & robots briefings take the form of newsletters (you can read the most recent ones here and here). But as well as producing newsletters, I read a lot of them too - in fact I’ve come to rely on them increasingly over the past few years as a key navigational aid in the vast information oceans through which we all now swim like whales (imagery which, if you’re paying attention, will tell you something key about the opening section of Midland - which like Gull has been sent to those who’ve kindly pledged…).

Here then are some of my favourite whale songs - sorry, newsletters. This is not an exhaustive or ranked list; they’re just things I read regularly to help guide my passage through the data oceans of the world. They are all tech and business focussed, so if that’s not your bag, step off here. As I say, this post is more about the day job than about the novel-writing, though if you know me at all you’ll know that there’s always been a pretty symbiotic relationship between the two things - as the content of Midland itself I think demonstrates.

  1. The Exponential View: Veteran of The Economist, successful tech entrepreneur and, more importantly, my old pal from the heady days of the first dotcom boom and Wired UK, Azeem Azhar’s newsletter on cutting edge tech culture is fast-becoming an industry must-read. 
  2. The Revolution: Another tech culture newsletter, from another dotcom boom veteran, though this time someone I knew from my time writing for Telegraph Connected, and this time focussed on the education sector. 
  3. Cognition X News Briefing: OMG! More dotcom veterans, more friends of mine, and more tech culture stuff (this is the last of these, I promise!). This AI-focussed briefing from Tabitha Goldstaub and Charlie Muirhead, founders of London’s fastest growing AI & Data Science community, is just great. 
  4. Zero Hedge: Time to put the tech stuff behind us now and head on over to the markets. Anyone who has done any trading at all will know Zero Hedge. I was introduced to this scourge of the indices during my time at Amplify Trading, and am still a regular reader. What goes in the markets stays in the markets… unless Zero Hedge gets to hear about it. Genius. http://amplifytrading.com/
  5. DB Reid: I can’t give a link to this one as it’s a subscription newsletter available only to Deutsche Bank’s clients. But I read Jim Reid’s morning briefing religiously every day for the year I was trading with Amplify, and it was simply the best market overview out there (as well as providing killer insights into how to train a small puppy and cope with the birth of your first child). The best substitute I have these days is Amplify’s own morning briefing on YouTube
  6. Small Cap Network: Before Amplify taught me how to trade forex and futures properly, I spent several years buying and selling equities on my ISA, during which I was spared total financial disaster largely thanks to the ever-rising market tides post-2008. I read heaps of investor newsletters during that time, and paid for quite a few of them; this (free) one is the only one I still read regularly. It is filled with solid and thoughtful insight and advice. It won’t make you rich, but if you like buying and selling the odd stock and share it might save you from becoming poorer. 
  7. Stratechery: From tech and trading we move to more general business writing, and there are few better practitioners out there than Ben Thompson. Formerly of Apple, Microsoft and the Kellogg School of Management and now based in Taipei, Ben’s clear, concise, data-driven blog posts bring genuine understanding to complex scenarios and are a genuine delight. 
  8. Benedict Evans: From Taipei to Californ-i-a (that’s a segu-e, okay?), and a newsletter that comes out of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the VC firms right at the heart of the Silicon Valley beast. Sometimes an essay, sometimes just links, Ben Evans’s missives are the product of a very bright mind dropped into a very bright place, and are full of top notch nuggets. 
  9. MIT Technology Download: We leap from west coast to east coast, where MIT rules the tech roost. The Download is nothing more than the best of the MIT Technology Review website, but because it’s MIT it has great access to all the best research that’s about to break through - like Wired without the hype, for PhDs. 
  10. CB Insights: Also on the east coast (I think - I’m not completely sure) is this fantastic market intelligence platform. Its founder Anand Sanwal writes a newsletter highlighting the best of the company’s research, and his irreverent humour combines with the general brilliance of CB Insight’s research to produce a killer read. Look out for dispatches from the frontlines of Sanwal’s righteous war on pie charts. 
  11. Muhr’s Must Reads: Well, that was 10 of the best, and if you’ve still got time in your week left after all that,, you might want to subscribe to MMR, which curates and summarises longer pieces of quality journalism from around the web. 

Enjoy. I know I do.


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