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The Turing Fest Newsletter #7 – 9th February 2023

February 9, 2023

Hey Gang 👋

Welcome back your fortnightly tech update through the Turing Fest lens of Build, Grow, Lead.

You’ll be glad to know that I have resisted the urge to make this entire missive about AI. Ok, I have slipped in just one piece – the Bonus link. With an intriguing real-world example of how ChatGPT and its inevitable competitors will likely make a lot of “knowledge work” redundant pretty soon.

There is a palpable sense of excitement across tech right now. It seems we are finally seeing the next big platform – probably even a paradigm – emerge. In the web era, we’ve had search, social, and mobile. Crypto/blockchain has yet to live up to the hype (to put it mildly), and frankly many were sceptical that AI/ML was heading a similar way – until OpenAI blew everything up last November. As Google rushes to catch up with that Microsoft-backed threat, Microsoft itself is determined to leverage ChatGPT to make Bing relevant in the world, and half of the latest YC batch (about 150 startups) is rumoured to be made up of companies working with ChatGPT, you can be sure that we’ll be returning to this theme again. A lot!

For now, though, here’s what is on deck in this edition:

  • We’re digging into when and why it sometimes makes sense to build a product from scratch rather than use off-the-shelf elements. In this case, a fascinating use case from GitHub and their enormous repository.
  • We’re also looking at how the best startups have used content to fuel their growth. An analysis by one of Airbnb’s former growth leaders, Lenny Rachitsky.
  • And TF alumnus (TF20) Nick Francis from HelpScout walks us through his lessons for building a great remote company culture.
  • I mentioned the Bonus link previously: is AI coming for your job? If you are a lawyer, the answer seems to be yes.
  • From the archives, we’re hearing from Meri Williams and her TF19 talk on diversity and inclusion and how building more diverse organisations is a proven way of delivering better results.

That’s all from me; hope you enjoy these links!

Brian


🗞️ [GROW] Content-driven growth

A brilliant strategic overview from Lenny Rachitsky – ex Airbnb, and now the one-man mononym behind Lenny’s Newsletter & Lenny’s Podcast (both excellent) – of how to leverage content as a growth driver, with tactical tips added in for good measure.

Including a simple but powerful matrix to show where different content strategies sit, Lenny maps out five unique content-driven growth strategies and then breaks them down. Every marketer trying to use content for growth should read this.

Read the full newsletter here

[Lenny Rachitsky, Lenny’s Newsletter]

📚 [BUILD] The technology behind GitHub’s new code search

Building a search engine from scratch seems like an odd decision, given the many open source solutions out there. Occasionally, though, a full build from the ground up is the only way.

To simplify the problem, GitHub had found repeatedly with general text search that it just didn’t cut it when it came to their specific use case of code search in their gigantic code repository (almost 45 million GitHub repositories, amounting to 115TB of code and 15.5 billion documents).

So, they decided to build their own code search engine, leveraging ML in the process, to deliver a more efficient coding experience for their users.

GitHub’s Staff Software Engineer, Tom Clem, explains why, and more interestingly, how.

Read the full article here

[Timothy Clem, GitHub]

📚 [LEAD] How to build a great remote company culture

Help Scout is an interesting company in a few different ways – not least because of its B Corp certification – and CEO Nick Francis is a thoughtful man. In this blog post, he shares lessons he has learned from building a remote company (so far 75 people, 50 locations, 12 countries) and, critically, a remote culture.

Touching on the benefits and challenges of remote work, Nick discusses strategies for building and maintaining a strong remote culture within an organisation. Covering topics such as creating a sense of community and connection, setting clear expectations, and promoting open communication, Nick also looks at tools and practices that can help remote teams stay organised and productive.

Read the full article here

[Nick Francis, Help Scout]

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📚 [BONUS] An AI wrote my will. I’m an estate lawyer. Goodbye career.

Technology has long since automated many elements of manufacturing, with ML and AI only accelerating this trend over the past decade or so. The more manual the labour, the quicker machines replace humans. But what about “knowledge work”? That has been safe enough – up until now.

Check out how one lawyer fared when he tried to use ChatGPT to do his own job.

Read the full article here

[James Peacock, After Your Time]

🎥 [ARCHIVE – TF19] Meri Williams – Beat your competition with this one weird trick: Inclusion

We already know that diverse teams are more creative and deliver better results. We’ve seen this play out in repeated studies and in the bottom-line financial results of companies across many industries. Sadly many organisations lag behind in adequately representing the population, but those that are making strides are also outperforming the competition.

So we know WHY but what about the HOW?

In her 2019 talk, Meri Williams, now CTO at Pleo (then CTO at Monzo Bank) explored a framework for how to think about diversity and inclusion and practical things you can go and do to make your organisation and culture genuinely inclusive. Because that’s the only way to attract, recruit, promote and most importantly retain a wide range of people. And THAT is the only way to have the highest-performing teams possible.

[Meri Williams, Pleo]

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