What is the most underhyped startup in Silicon Valley today? Why?

Hands down, my vote is for Palantir Technologies. It's underhyped because it's not a consumer or web play, but the strength of their engineering team and the scope of the problem they are trying to solve makes it a very interesting company.

It's not just about data visualization; it's attacking the problem of how we navigate, learn from, and make inferences from large sets of data. The interesting thing is that while Palantir uses a lot of ideas from machine learning, its fundamentally a tool that offloads the task of "AI" to the best machine for that function – the human brain. It's a hard problem, and not just one of UX or interface design. What it requires is a new way of choosing what information to surface, why to surface that information, and what inferences one can make with that data to further exploration of the dataset.

And that's a separate problem from the (extraordinarily difficult in itself) challenge of efficiently storing, operating on, and cleaning huge, rapidly-changing datasets.

Palantir has developed technology that has significant 'real' option-value apart from government contracting.

Palantir is awesome 🙂

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What are the best brunch places in San Francisco?

Littler Places*

  • Magic Flute (Sacramento, near Spruce) is arguably my favorite, and simply a beautiful place for brunch. The food is spot on, even exquisite, and the whole spread for brunch is well appointed.  The atmosphere (especially in the back garden) is more leisurely and peaceful than at Mama's or Dottie's, and they take reservations.
  • Zazie (Cole, at Carl) has the most amazing eggs benedict (and variations), yet the roasted potatoes and garlic that come with are mindblowing enough that they manage to hold their own (and I don't even like roasted potatoes that much…usually). They have long lines, but you can hide out at the bar next door and they'll come call you.
  • Slow Club (Mariposa, at Hampshire) is amazing, with deliciously tasty, surprisingly affordable food, a smallish but open and bright dining room, and friendly staff. It's neither too quiet nor too loud. The area (in the fuzzy corridor between Mission and Potrero Hill) is not as busy, making parking easy on weekend mornings. They take reservations! Absolutely a favorite.
  • Outerlands (Judah, at 45th) has amazing, exquisite food. In a delightful, beautiful, easygoing space. The only downside is that they are a little far. But they make up for this by being near the ocean (frigid as it is in San Francisco)!
  • Blue Bottle (Mint Plaza, Mint at Jessie) is a great place for a light brunch (poached eggs on toast, waffles, french toast, granola, etc.) on the weekends. You don't get to sit down at a table here, so for a long time this was consigned to the "others" list. But it's so good and so cozy (and they have the paper) and so surprisingly easy seating-wise that I can't resist any longer.

Wider Places

  • Mama's (Stockton, at Filbert) is worth the wait. If you're open to going anytime, then breakfast on weekdays is a great way to get your Mama's fix without the standard line.
  • Dottie's True Blue Cafe (Jones, at O'Farrell) serves hearty, comfort brunch food similar to Mama's, also in a crowded corner joint and accompanied by a line of hungry devotees.  The decor is slightly more diner and less bright-and-airy than Mama's, but the food is still delicious. It's also conveniently close to Union Square.  Their pancakes are great.
  • Top of the Mark (California, at Mason; in the Mark Hopkins hotel) serves possibly the best brunch buffet in the city, against panel after glass panel of gorgeous city views.  The layout is definitely on the luxurious side, including champagne and caviar, and there is no attendant tradeoff in variety; it's  certainly worth the not inexpensive price. Certainly a place where you should plan on devoting a few hours of your Sunday if you go.
  • Foreign Cinema (Mission, between 21st & 22nd) serves great, if not the most spectacular, brunch, and my personal opinion is that the brightness of the courtyard and surrounding corridors (for indoor seating) counts for a lot. The bacon is delicious, and the rest of the menu thoughtfully done.
  • Mission Beach Cafe (14th, at Guerrero) — biscuits and gravy to die for, but with luck you won't, because the rest of the brunch is tasty as well. The place is small so expect a wait.
  • Brenda's French Soul Food (Polk, at Eddy) has great, hearty brunch food and awesome awesome biscuits. Lines are long on the weekends, and the biscuits are so good but so filling — a good solution is to stop by for a few biscuits to go on the weekend and come back for breakfast on a weekday morning.

Also,

  • Park Chow (9th, at Lincoln). Super nice for getting lunch within walking distance of the park.
  • Chez Maman (18th, at Connecticut).
  • Caffe Delucchi (the jutting corner of Columbus and Stockton), though I think I prefer this place for lunch.  Either way, it's a great to while away a few hours at one of their sidewalk tables.
  • Toast Eatery (Church, at Day); not mindblowing, but good and cozy, tucked on a little Noe Valley corner, with a handful of sidewalk tables out front.
  • Bushi tei Bistro (Post, at Laguna); simple and light brunch, with slightly less traditional offerings.  Certainly the best meal that Bushi tei serves, though dinner is decent.
  • Cliff House Bistro (1090 Point Lobos Avenue) has lovely brunch in a beautiful bright room over the ocean.  The food is fantastic.

*On augmenting my original list with places I've tried and come to love in the last nearly-two years, I'm also dividing this into littler and wider places. This is an entirely made-up metric based solely on how the place "feels" to me.

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