Siddhant Pyasi

The Universal Postal Union (UPU), KPCB, and what to do about websites with stupid password rules

Sep 6, 2019 | Read time: 4 min | 719 words

If you’ve ever sent a letter overseas using Singpost, I bet you were delighted by how cheap it was. Turns out that the international postal rates you saw there were set by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a sort of international postal illuminati that has been around since the 19th century (1874 to be precise) and which keeps international post affordable and effective. The system that they worked out for countries to compensate each other for postal delivery hasn’t been working as planned, though – since the rise of e-commerce from China to the rest of the world, countries like the US have begun to feel shortchanged with the money they get for shipping (it’s not just a matter of feeling short-changed, the economics of delivering so many parcels from shippers in China to buyers in the States (who may live anywhere, btw, from the remotest part of Alaska to the Fleet Post Office in Yokohama) for the same fee doesn’t make sense any more. And Trump has moved to set this right by withdrawing the United States from the UPU. This means that the US will have to basically re-negotiate postal rates with all the UPU members bilaterally. How much time and diplomatic energy would it take to do so, though?

Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers (KPCB) was at one point of time the holy grail of VCs – if they gave you money, you considered it a blessing and took it. They’re the guys who funded Google, and Amazon, and Intuit, and Spotify, and Slack, and Compaq, and Sun Microsystems, and Netscape, and EA, oh, the list goes on. So I was surprised when I came across an article by Fortune magazine’s Paulina Marinova, which says that their empire has fallen. Her reasons are twofold – first, she says, they’ve stopped funding good companies at the “venture” stage (which is VC legend John Doerr’s responsibility – he was the guy who famously foisted a CEO onto Larry Page and Sergey Brin when Google was starting out), and only enter at the “growth” stage (which came under the domain of Mary Meeker, that goddess of 300+ page ppts that describe internet trends). And second, KPCB messed up when it came to talent management – they hired big names (think Colin Powell, Bill Joy) that had no experience in investing, and they let go good investors because the top ranks were occupied by the aforementioned big names.

Closer home, we hear that Amazon is looking at GoJek for deliveries. Sounds like a win-win situation, honestly. Amazon gets to sell to SE Asia’s most populous region, without worrying about the hassle that is building a delivery network from scratch. And GoJek finds another revenue stream (which can then be used to fling more discounts at people who use Grab). What I wonder is, why didn’t Amazon look at Indonesia’s postal organization for this support? I’d imagine that the Pos Indonesia could reach places that no one else would – for cheaper, too.

Here’s a guy who went blind after eating a diet of only fries, pringles, white bread and ham. Please, people, it’s not that hard to have a balanced diet.

If you ever encounter a website with absolutely stupid password rules, just mention it to the chap who runs this page. He’s set up an entire webpage to shame websites that have stupid password rules, and he’ll be more than happy to include whatever website pissed you off.

BONUS POINT FOR THIS WEEK: For our metal straw sipping, jute tote bag wielding, bento box carrying eco-warriors, here’s something more real to think about. In the summer, Pacific walruses look for shellfish in the sea between Alaska and Russia, before resting on the sea ice to rest and raise their young. However, the Arctic sea ice has been melting, reducing their traditional sunning spots, forcing them to go inland. Some of them climb up nearby cliffs for more space (and sun). The thing is, though, that our maker did not intend for walruses to go rock-climbing. And he definitely didn’t intend for them to go rock-descending (WARNING: graphic video) (sidenote – hmu if you wanna go bouldering sometime next week). This is not an isolated incident, and the numbers of dying walruses have increased from the tens to the hundreds.

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