Hi. I’m Duncan Davidson.

I am a Startup Advocate and CTO in Residence at Microsoft for Startups in Berlin, Germany. My job is to provide advice for startup founders and CTOs and help them prioritize, focus, and think through their work.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

4 days of fire

An amazing high-resolution satellite view over Australia of the fires from December 30th to January 2nd.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Microsoft’s net zero

What I expected at Microsoft’s sustainability event yesterday was a strengthening of the company’s commitment to being carbon neutral, probably through an improvement to the offsets and other tools it’s been using for a while. I was also hoping to see some kind of tool to allow customers to track their carbon emissions from the Azure services they use. You know, good stuff, but keeping in line with what’s come before.

What was announced yesterday is far and away beyond that. It addresses the scope of emissions by the company’s value chain, including the life-cycles of its products – including the electricity that customers consume using those products. And it aims to address them with something way beyond the offsets the company has been using.

The magic in what was announced yesterday comes down to two very important, yet simple-sounding words: Net zero.

Net zero means going beyond relying on the promises of offsets and moving to actively remove the carbon from the atmosphere. And, for a company the size of Microsoft, it at means using technology that isn’t yet commercially viable. Yes, the technology exists. It’s still too expensive, however, to deploy at scale. That needs to change.

That can change. And it will require large companies and governments to do something on the scale of what Microsoft is doing. I hope every company joins Microsoft on this commitment. And, even if I don’t work at Microsoft in 10 years, I hope to be celebrating its accomplishment in meeting its goals. And I hope to celebrate my 80th birthday by seeing Microsoft follow through on its commitment to remove all the carbon it has ever put into the atmosphere. And I hope that work makes it feasible for me to remove all the carbon that I’m responsible for emitting in my life by my 80th birthday.

Imagine that.

Back to the present, the question that’s on my mind right now is what individual action can I take, especially as an individual that works at a company that just made this audacious announcement.

The answer in Brad Smith’s blog post about the announcement where he makes a call for employees to participate in this initiative:

Finally, we’ll capitalize on the energy and intellect of our employees by inviting and encouraging them to participate in our carbon reduction and removal efforts. As we’ve found with Microsoft’s accessibility efforts, we believe that sustainability is a cause that is not only important to our employees, but an area where they can generate important insights and innovations across the company.

I work at Microsoft for Startups, which means it’s my job to help startups. Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking about and talking with my management and teammates about how to focus on helping startups that are helping fight the climate crisis. That discussion will continue over the weeks to come.

Thanks to Brad’s call, it’ll be getting even more emphasis.

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Data centers are roughly equivalent to the entire aviation industry in terms of global impact on climate.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Yes, I’m the geek at the cafe with a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone out on the table and using all of ’em at once.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Number one on Fred Wilson’s list of what will happen this decade: we begin to re-allocate captial to address the climate crisis:

The looming climate crisis will be to this century what the two world wars were to the previous one. It will require countries and institutions to re-allocate capital from other endeavors to fight against a warming planet. This is the decade we will begin to see this re-allocation of capital.

As I head back to work this year, this is at the top of my mind.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

If unchecked, Trump’s action to kill Soleimani may be the final nail in the coffin for the US Constitution.

Whatever you think of it, the way in which it executed shred whatever government norms are left at this point and bypass any oversight of the executive branch by congress. I can’t see how this isn’t effectively the action of an autocrat who is enabled by his party’s compliance and unflinching, unquestioning, and relentless loyalty.

Friday, January 3, 2020
The Rhein on approach to Frankfurt airport

Well America, that’s one hell of a way to start the new year.

The drone killing of Soleimani reads to me (and probably about half the population of the planet) as President Trump playing a massive distraction card before his impeachment trial is set to start.

It doesn’t help that the support for this action is, predictably, split right along partisan lines – the same lines which have been undermining the way the United States government has operated for generations, and which the likely upcoming impeachment trial result of an acquittal for Trump will likely continue to erode.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Top Gun: Maverick trailers that have come out so far are pretty sweet, but this behind-the-scenes look is the best of the batch for me. What a cinematographic treat this movie will be.