ANN: The Observer Effect

Hey everyone.

My newsletter has been on a bit of a hiatus recently as I’ve been tied up with other projects. I’m excited to be able to share one that launched this weekend (apologies if you’ve already seen this) - “The Observer Effect”.

It’s a series of interviews with interesting leaders on how they operate and how they spend their time. We kick off with the one and only Marc Andreessen who talks about how he allocates times, reads, learns and his infamous “build” essay and much more. As always, send me any thoughts or feedback.

P.S If you’re on this list and seeing this email, you’re already subscribed to any new interviews going forward from the Observer Effect. I’ve been trying to figure out how to manage my newsletter audience and felt it was highly likely anyone who wants to read me here will also want read those, especially given they. If you do want to unsubscribe from the interviews which show up about once a month or so, just hit unsubscribe when you see the next one there.

P.P.S This newsletter should resume soon too!


Montage Sequence #10 - a very "meta" letter.

[If you’re not sure why you’re getting this - I’m Sriram Krishnan and you probably signed up at my site or through one of my tweets]

My wife and I talk about “good TV times” - when we hit a abundance of great shows we can watch anytime and “bad TV times” - when we have lean pickings. Times have been good of late with multiple good shows on TV - Avenue 5, ST:Picard, a new season of Babylon Berlin but my favorite is…

F1: Drive to Survive as a management lesson:

Netflix’s “F1: Drive to Survive” is an instant classic ( I loved S1 and S2 which just came out is even better). It follows a Formula One season from start to finish with unprecedented access to the teams. Liberty (the new-ish owners of F1) pulled off a coup here because I’ve seen it make instant fans of F1 racing from people who had never cared before and it captures the drama, passion and heart break of F1 racing.

Where the show really shines is as a lesson on management and team building. From the massively resourced, precise and unyielding Mercedes to the ruthless Red Bull to the downright quirky Haas racing. Every episode also shows you a situation which happens in corporate America all the time - a new employee who isn’t working out, two team mates not getting along, a manager pushing their reports because he/she is worried about their own job (Haas again!).

My wife and I wind up discussing every episode in length. Should that team principal have yelled at the driver or maybe the driver was lacking the right support structure? Gasly being a bad culture fit for Red Bull but a great fit elsewhere. And we admired little moments like Toto Wolff’s unyielding demeanor or the Red Bull PR person shutting down a personal interview and protecting their driver.

Highly recommended.

Hiring your first head of product

I’ve found myself in multiple conversations with founders of Series B/Series C companies looking to hire their first heads of product. I’m going to write a longer post on this soon but my advice often breaks down into the below.

  • Know what this person is actually responsible for and how it overlaps/is different from a product founder.

  • What is the “API” between this person and the founders/teams. From the brass tacks of review cadences to broader questions.

  • Different kinds of heads of product - from strategic thinkers to great organizational builders.

  • Setting them up for success in the first few months (and also not accidentally sabotaging their chances for success).

If you folks have thoughts on this topic, email me at or tweet me @sriramk. I find startups often struggle with finding a great fit for this role.


For many years, my favorite word to teach people was “kayfabe” from pro-wrestling. But since that now seems to have entered the mainstream I have been looking around for a new favorite term and “meta” might be it.

This particular version of “meta” comes from gaming where it describes the shifting powers/strategies that you need to employ in every game. With every single game update, players have to adapt to learn how the balance of power has shifted and what new strategies to employ. All of this - and the notion of something ephemeral, knowledge that isn’t widely known - is “meta”. Do words like strategy, playbook come close? Yes but there’s something so fun about having a word that just feels right.

You can use “the meta of X” for pretty much anything. For example: the current “meta of tech/VC twitter” revolves around short information nuggets which go viral. The “meta of TikTok” a couple of weeks ago was all about the renegade dance. Political ads? You can see shifting metas the election goes on. Podcast user acquisition tactics? The same. Pop music? Get into the hook early and have it be TikTok-dance friendly. I have deep SEO friends who keep track of Google search changes - they’re tracking the “meta of Google”.

Now go forth and use meta!

Other notable links:

P.S Feel free to forward this to anyone you like. And I love hearing from all of you (otherwise it can feel like sending emails into the void). Do email me at or better, tweet me at @sriramk.

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