March 28, 2014

Mind-blowing facts about Africa


As the title says, this article will cover mind-blowing facts about Africa. If you are interested in learning about mind-blowing facts about China, click here.

  • Over 1000 languages are spoken in Africa (40 of which have more than one million speakers)
  • Africa's collective GDP is $1.6 trillion, roughly equal to that of Brazil or Russia. South Africa and Nigeria are largest and contribute with 50% of Africa's total GDP
  • Seven of the world's ten fastest growing economies are projected to be in Africa between 2011 and 2015
  • Excluding the bottom 20% of Africa countries, Africa's average level of corruption is approximately equal to the average level of corruption in the BRIC countries
  • Africa has 10% of the world's oil reserves, 40% of its gold, 80-90% of its chromium and platinum group metals, 60% of the world's uncultivated arable land. But commodities is just 16% of GDP
  • 42 African countries have qualified for the debt relief plans initiated by the World Bank and IMF in 1999
  • Unemployed workers in Portugal have begun to move to the former Portuguese colonies Angola and Mozambique
  • High optimism about the future. 2/3 believes their life will improve in the coming five years
  • Number of African children who go to school grew with 50% between 2000 and 2008. 80 percent in Tanzania can read and write. 75% of those who finished elementary school also get a higher education
  • 25 of 53 countries are considered to be democracies and 22 have held recognized elections
  • Number of coups have decreased by 50%. If a coup occurs, it will be solved faster than ever before due to EU and the African Union
  • 19 countries south of Sahara have their own stock market
  • 300 million Africans are considered to be part of the global middle class (can spend $10-$100 per day)
  • Several Africans have 2-3 mobile phones because it's cheaper to call to the same operator
  • 20% have a bank account, but 70% have a mobile phone, so Africans have no need for a bank account. 70% of the people in Kenya are using mobile bank services (such as M-Pesa) - the same number in China is 3% and 5% in India. If you need cash, there are trucks that drive around to the villages with cash machines on their back. It was estimated that in 2015, 350 million will have access to mobile bank services - the same number in 2007 was almost 0%
  • The reason why mobile phones are more popular that computers is because of the low reliability of electricity. Before an election in Nigeria, the number one request was more reliable electricity
  • If you pay $2 per year, you will get a health insurance in Rwanda. The goal in Rwanda is that at least 50% will give birth in a health clinic. Birth control bills are included in this health insurance, so the number of children have decreased
  • Poverty in Africa decreases by 1% per year
  • Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi since 2012, realized that her predecessor had 45 limousines, 7 bikes, and several private jets. She sold everything except 4 cars and 1 private jet, and she reduced her salary by 30 percent
  • A refugee, who had fled from Liberia when she was young and now returned, explained how Liberia now was like a white canvas. Of the 1.1 million who between 2000 and 2007 emigrated from Ghana, only 153,000 didn't move back to the country
  • 85% of all Africans have never flown in an airplane and 60% work within the agricultural sector
  • 12% of all trades is between countries in Africa
  • China has invested $2 billion to establish an industrial zone outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Hualian Group, a Chinese retailer, will recruit 100,000 Ethiopians within the coming 10 years. They chose Ethiopia because of the low costs and supply of cattle for production of leather
  • Nigerians have begun to recruit craftsmen from Poland and Baltics to help them build buildings
  • It's common among Africans to argue that 50 years of aid from western countries has been a waste of money
  • African politicians and businessmen prefer to work with Chinese - not Europeans - because the Chinese begin immediately while Europeans "discuss for two years" before they begin. More than 1 million Chinese live in Africa. But China are not in Africa to just "steal" commodities - they have built roads, schools, railways, hospitals, and sun-powered traffic lights. China has more peacekeepers in Africa than any other country 
  • Members of the parliament in Nigeria have a higher salary than Barack Obama
  • Have begun to question female circumcision

March 25, 2014

Satya Patel on using the Scientific Method for Growth

Satya Patel (his Twitter) used to work for both Google and Twitter, and is now working as a partner at Homebrew venture capital.

Lessons learned
  • Companies tend to "throw spaghetti at the wall" when they grow their company - they try everything between heaven and earth, and it ends up in a mess. Satya Patel argues that it's better to use a scientific approach. 
  • No companies fail for lack of ambition - they fail for lack of focus. By using a scientific approach to ask the questions you should answer, it can help you to focus.
  • You should be learning at every step. Begin with small steps, and as you learn you can increase the steps. Crawl - walk - run. 
  • The scientific method:
  1. Purpose. What problem are you trying to solve? Twitter asked themselves 2 questions: "How do you increase active user growth?" "How do you increase revenue?" Twitter focused on those questions, so everyone in the company had to orient their product ideas around these 2 objectives.
  2. Research. Can help you to clarify the question you are trying to answer and find new answers. The goal is to conform the hypothesis so you can have a focused experiment. Talk to your customers, team, and understand your competitors. You can also find surprising answers. By looking at data, Twitter thought the users liked to click on a button. But when they talked to the users, they realized that the users had misunderstood the button.   
  3. Hypothesis. What do you believe to be true? Make sure it's measurable. AdSense's hypothesis was that they thought that publishers had to put ads on the top of the page, but AdSense realized that ads on the bottom of the pager were much better. People read the text and clicked on the ads. Twitter tried multiple hypothesis to improve their landing page: "Change the text," "Remove the search function." 
  4. Experiment. Focus on the variables that matter. Twitter could have tested a million variables to optimize the landing page, but they focused on a few (maybe 10?) main variables.  
  5. Analysis. Use enough data to make sure the result is statistically significant. But if you are new, you don't have enough data. Then take the data you have and let your intuition guide you. Remember that data is not the end since data can lie. Look at the data and use your own judgment to find the right approach.    
  6. Conclusion. From their landing page, among others, Twitter removed the search because users searched instead of signing up, and the pictures of signed up users because it increased loading time.   
  • Don't forget to write down your conclusions and share what you've learned. 
  • Reinforce what you've learned. Lather - rinse - repeat!
  • To grow, companies are using Google Analytics, Optimizely, KISSmetrics.
  • There were two good way to grow Twitter: address book import and translation of the site. Twitter also realized that growth increased if they customized the site depending on what country the user came from.  
  • Even small changes matter as long as they are statistically significant and not expensive to implement. A small change each month will grow into a large change over several months.  

March 22, 2014

Tesla Motors History Timeline

If you've found this page you probably know what Tesla Motors is, and if you don't know you will in a near future understand why you should keep an eye on the company. Tesla Motor's history can be described as a roller coaster as there have been many ups and downs, including a near death experience in late 2008. This timeline will be updated until Tesla Motors has achieved its vision (or gone bankrupt) to
"Create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles."

But we begin from the beginning:

1900. 38 percent of US automobiles are powered by electricity. But as Henry Ford designed the much cheaper T-Ford, the electric cars began to disappear
1970s. The price of gasoline reaches record pricesbecause of aseries of energy crises,so the interest in electric cars increasesagain
1996-1999. General Motors produced an electric car called EV1. Other auto manufacturers, including Toyota, produced other electric cars
  • January. The co-workers Martin Heberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors with the goal to reinvent the electric car and transform traditional car manufacturing into a clean technology industry
  • General Motors canceled the EV1 program. They said they couldn't sell enough cars to make the EV1 profitable
  • April. Tarpenning bought the domain name
  • July. CEO Martin Heberhard and Marc Tarpenning formally incorporated Tesla Motors. They had earlier made a feasibility study to see if they could make an electric car. They now made a feasibility study together with a small company called AC Propulsion to see if the batteries would work
  • November. The 2 employees searched for a partner to build the rest of the car. Lotus became their choice
  • February. Ian Wright, who knew Martin Eberhard, joined the company. They finished business plan 1.0
  • March. Starting a car company is expensive, so they began to look for outside investors
  • April. Series A funding where Elon Musk was the main investor. Other investors included SDL Ventures and Compass Technology Partners. JB Straubel joined the company as employee number 5
  • May. An early styling study began
Early Tesla Roadster design.
  • June. A technology implementation study began
  • July. Tesla had 9 employees and moved to an office in San Carlos, California. They also made a "mule" which is a car that doesn't reproduce but you can see if the concept works. To design Mule 1, they bought an old Lotus Elise
  • October. The 15 employees began to design the drive-train component
  • November. They installed the drive-train in the Mule 1
  • December. Tesla couldn't use the same design as the Lotus Elise, so they had a contest where Barney Hatt made the best design
The Tesla Roadster design by Barney Hatt.
  • January. They made a 1/4 scale model in clay. Tesla had now 18 employees and they also took out Mule 1 for a test drive
Tesla Roadster clay model.
  • February. The now 23 employee strong company needed more money, so they made a series B funding. Not only Elon Musk invested more money, but also Valor Equity Partners. Tesla opened an office in UK close to the Lotus office
  • April-June. Tesla made a full-scale model in clay of the Tesla Roadster
  • July. With 38 employees, they tested a plastic model of the Roadster in a wind tunnel
A plastic model of the Tesla Roadster
  • August. Some of the 41 employees began developing a motor
  • December. 63 employees and they began to build the Mule 2 in fiberglass
  • January. A drivable Mule 2 was finished
  • April. The engineers thought the Roadster was finished so they made 10 engineering prototypes (EP), which compared to a Mule can (in theory) be produced
  • May. 92 employees and they finished the first EP, called EP 1. Tesla raised a series C round led by Vantage Point Partners and Elon Musk
  • July. Almost no-one knew that Tesla existed, until now when Tesla showed EP 1 and EP 2 in Santa Monica, California
  • August. 100 employees. Why did they make 10 EPs? So they could test-crash a few of them. Tesla had earlier crashed a few virtual cars, but they needed to know if the computers models were accurate. They began to show the Roadster at events to market it
Tesla Roadster crash test.
  • September. 120 employees. They made more tests, including radiated emissions and susceptibility testing
  • October. They made a durability test, which consists of driving the Roadster on a cobblestone racetrack. The idea is to simulate 100,000 miles in 6 months. It would have taken more time to drive the same distance on a smooth road. Tesla realized their computer models were inaccurate - the Roadster's transmission didn't survive the durability test
  • November. 144 employees, and more tests, including driving through a salt-water bath
  • December. They showed the EP 2 at the Los Angeles Auto Show
  • January. Tesla brought the Roadster to Arvidsjaur, Sweden, to see if it could survive winter conditions
Tesla Roadster in Arvidsjaur, Sweden.
  • February. 205 employees. Tesla began to build a validation prototype (VP), where they took everything they learned from the engineering prototype. Tesla says it will build a $35 million plant in Albuquerque, to produce the Model S
  • March. 230 employees and they finished the VP 1
  • April. Raised more money - a series D round led by Elon Musk, Technology Partners, and Vantage Point
  • June. Tesla's motor factory in Taiwan was finished and it began producing parts
  • July. A new transmission was finished
  • August. Tesla finished the VP 10. CEO Martin Eberhard was replaced by Tesla investor Michael Marks, who would work as an interim-CEO until Tesla found a long-term CEO
  • September. Tesla delayed the launch of the Roadster because they needed more time to test its durability
  • October. It turned out that also the new transmission failed in the durability test. Tesla needed yet another transmission
  • November. Martin Eberhard had to leave the company against his will and he sued Tesla because he felt he was mistreated
Martin Eberhard with his Tesla Roadster
  • December. Interim CEO Michael Marks was replaced by interim CEO Ze'ev Drori
  • January. 260 employees. The VPs survived the new tests, so the Roadster was finished - except for the transmission
  • March. Tesla began production of the Roadster
  • April. More money - a bridge financing led by Elon Musk and Valor Equity Partners
  • May. Opened a retail store in Los Angeles, and they also finished a new transmission
  • June. Opened a second retail store in Menlo Park, California, and they also delivered the first Roadster to the customers. Marc Tarpenning decided to leave Tesla. The Model S was announced in a press release
  • August. Franz von Holzhausen joined Tesla Motors as Chief Designer
Franz von Holzhausen with a clay Model S.
  • October. Elon Musk became the CEO after interviewing more than 20 prospective CEOs
  • November. Tesla revealed it had requested about $400 million in loans for the Model S and powertrain manufacturing, under the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program
  • December. 252 employees
  • March. Tesla unveiled two Model S prototypes in a design studio close to the CEO Elon Musk's other company, SpaceX. Tesla began taking reservations for the Model S. More than 500 people reserved the car in the first week
Tesla Model S prototype.
  • May. Agreed with Daimler to produce a battery pack and charger for Smart Fortwo. Product recall 1: An insufficient torquing of the rear inner hub flange bolt (Was actually Lotus's fault)
  • June. Tesla got approval for $465 million in low-interest loans from the Department of Energy. Delivered Roadster number 500
  • December. 514 employees
  • January. Tesla registered for an initial public offering of stock. Announced that Tesla would collaborate with Panasonic. Delivered Roadster number 1000
  • May. Tesla bought NUMMI - a former Toyota and General Motors factory in Fremont, California. Toyota and Tesla announced they will cooperate on electric vehicle development. Agreed with Daimler to produce a battery pack and charger for A-Class
  • June. Tesla shares began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange
  • July. Toyota bought 2 941 176 shares of Tesla stock. Recruited Apple veteran George Blankenship to build Tesla's stores
  • October. Product recall 2: A cable in a single vehicle chafed against the edge of a panel in the vehicle
  • November. Panasonic bought 1 418 573 shares of Tesla stock
  • December. 899 employees
  • Began crash testing Model S
  • September. 100th Roadster delivered to Switzerland
  • December. 1417 employees
  • January. After manufacturing 2500 cars, Tesla ended production of the Roadster to focus on the Model S
  • February. Tesla revealed the Model X prototype - a small SUV
  • June. The Model S was officially launched at the Fremont factory. Retail deliveries of the Model S started in the United States
The first Model S delivery with Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson (left) and JB Straubel.
  • September. Unveiled the Supercharger network
  • December. 2964 employees
  • April. Began offering a resale value guarantee to Model S buyers in US
  • May. Repaid the loan from DOE
  • June. Product recall 3: 1 000 Model S needed a new rear seat striker (connects the rear seat when not folded down)
  • July. Agreed with Daimler to produce a powertrain for B-Class Mercedes-Benz
  • August. Opened the Tilburg Assembly Plant. First Supercharger in Europe (Norway). First Model S delivery in Europe
  • December. 5859 employees. Delivered a total of 22 477 Model S in North America and Europe in 2013
Future events
  • January. Product recall 4: Not a recall - but the software needed an update
  • February. 90 Superchargers in North America and Europe
  • June. First Model S with steering wheel on the right side
  • Q4. A production design Model X prototype on the road
  • First Supercharger in Asia
  • First delivery to China
  • Plan to ramp up the sales of the Stationary Energy Storage Applications
  • September. Delivery of the first Model X
  • Production of 100,000 cars per year
  • Model III unveiled
  • Model III in production
  • Full production at the Tesla Gigafactory
  • Peak Oil, according to Elon Musk
  • Production of 500,000 cars per year
  • In California (and other states who has adopted the law), 15.4 percent of each car manufacturer's cars must be zero emission vehicles