Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir on the return of Bill Simmons from his (ridiculous) suspension this week:

Simmons declined to comment. Since his suspension, he has surfaced only in snapshots on his Instagram account — Simmons at the beach, Simmons on the golf course — seemingly designed to let ESPN know that he’s enjoying his time off. But people close to Simmons say he is furious and has been talking a lot about whether ESPN is still the right place for him. He has threatened to leave ESPN before, but this is the most pitched moment yet in their fraught relationship.

The next move will indeed be interesting

One thing that won’t be happening:

Kenneth Lerer, the co-founder of the Huffington Post and chairman of BuzzFeed, said he has never met Simmons, but thought it would be relatively easy for him to move to another large company, but infinitely more difficult to start something of his own. “Knowing what I know now,” Lerer said, “I think he should say: ‘I had a breakdown, I didn’t mean what I said. I’m back at ESPN and I love it.’ ”

Simmons may indeed come back to ESPN — he’s certainly incentivized to between salary, Grantland, 30 for 30, and soon his new NBA show. But I’d say there’s no way he comes back fully hat-in-hand. Nor should he.

The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004. And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.

Steve Ballmer, speaking to Vanity Fair about his tenure atop Microsoft.

It’s a telling quote. A big part of Microsoft’s current predicament isn’t that they lacked the talent to do what their rivals did — it’s that the talent was directed to focus on the wrong things (or just as bad: the right things at the wrong time). 

Paul Wachter:

Bourbon producers typically don’t want to age their product any longer than they have to, since a percentage of the whiskey evaporates each year it’s in the barrels. The money literally disappears into thin air. So, taking a cue from the Scotch industry, which had long been releasing bottles of well-aged whiskey, Julian released a 10-year bottling of Rip Van Winkle and then, in the mid-nineties, a line of 20-year-old bourbon he called Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, charging about $50 per bottle when most bourbons sold for $20 or less. It wasn’t exactly an instant success. Dan Gardner, a longtime bourbon salesman, says of the initial release, “I sold Julian’s products for 20 years, and in the beginning you couldn’t put a gun to people’s heads and make them buy it.” Now, of course, you’re lucky you can find a bottle for less than $500.

Some simple, seemingly counterintuitive tweaks and demand soared. Always fascinated to read stories like this in any industry.

I’ll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s gonna work, you spend 7 or 8 years working on something, and then it’s copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is ok at all.
Jony Ive, when asked for his thoughts on Xiaomi, the phone-maker known as the “Apple of China,” at the Vanity Fair Summit.

Eric Kester has a good yet balanced take on the current state of the NFL (not only was Kester a ball boy in the NFL, he played college football) in an op-ed today. His best bit:

A sniff of my salts would revive the player in alertness only, and he would run back onto the field to once again collide with opponents with the force of a high-speed car crash. As fans high-fived and hell-yeahed and checked the progress of their fantasy teams, and as I eagerly scrambled onto the field to pick up shattered fragments from exploded helmets, researchers were discovering the rotting black splotches of brain tissue that indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Known as C.T.E., this degenerative disease is the result of players’ enduring head trauma again and again. Symptoms include dementia and extreme aggression, and C.T.E. is considered at least partly responsible for the string of recent suicides of former and current N.F.L. players, whose anger, sadness and violence eventually collapsed inward.

As with everything, this isn’t as black and white as it may appear to some. But it’s just really hard for me to see how this game exists in its current form in 20 years. We’re basically cheering as giant men destroy themselves before our very eyes — both physically and as a result, mentally.

Shirley Halperin:

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of internet software and services, tells Billboard that U2’s Songs of Innocence has racked up a staggering 26 million complete downloads since its Sept. 9 release as a free download exclusively to Apple’s 500 million global iTunes customers. In total, Cue adds, over 81 million Apple customers experienced songs from Innocence, a global figure that includes plays and streams through iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music. “To help put this into perspective,” he says, “prior to this, 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since the opening of the iTunes Store in 2003.”

26 million album downloads in a month. Even if a large percentage were unwanted, that’s insane.



Former Apple CEO John Sculley: Steve Jobs Sold Experiences, Not Products

All pretty obvious and said before, but a good, simple reminder of how Apple sells itself differently.

Though an important thing not stated: if the products sucked, no amount of marketing would matter. Sure, focus on the experience in marketing. But it has to be backed up by the product or you’re selling nothing.

Update: Or, in Steve Jobs’ own words. (Thanks zkahn94)

One of those clever, potentially profound system-level apps that can unfortunately only work on Android for the time being. I personally use at least six different messaging clients (including unconventional ones like Twitter DM) throughout the day. It’s a chore to figure out who I’m talking to where. And it gets worse seemingly everyday with new apps constantly popping up.

That’s the first battle Snowball is choosing to fight. And why I’m pleased Google Ventures has invested in the team. Now to figure this out on iOS…