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Weekend Briefing No. 290
Welcome to the weekend. I’m recently back from a trip to climb the Grand Teton – check out my Instagram for some photos of me climbing the Grand Teton as well as some big personal news. Feel free to follow if you want to keep up with my adventures in the Alps next week.
I have to say, in over 5 years of writing the Weekend Briefing, I’ve never had such a positive deluge of thoughtful response as I did to last week’s briefing on shareholder primacy. I’m still digging my way out of my inbox, because to be honest, it was a little overwhelming (in a good way). So, if I didn’t respond to you, sorry. Just know that I appreciate your feedback immensely. Thanks so much.
2.5 B – TPG lowered the target for its second social impact fund, which was rocked after its leader Bill McGlashan was indicted in the college admissions scandal. The fund, known as The Rise Fund II LP, is expected to raise about $2.5 billion after setting a goal of $3 billion.
1 B – Apollo Global Management LLC is planning to set up a $1 billion impact investing arm, targeting funds dedicated to sustainability.
253 MM – Uber loses $3.36 every single time someone gets a meal delivered through their Uber Eats service. Uber paid out $253 million more to Eats drivers than it pulled in during the second quarter. So, don’t think of Uber Eats as a meal delivery service, think of it more as a logistics company that finds the most optimal setup to distribute a billion extra dollars every year to delivery guys.
While the Business Roundtable’s pledge to do something similar to what the B Corporation movement is already doing is laudable, the B Corporation took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times imploring Business Roundtable companies to join its B Corporation movement and get certified by them, which, in order to do so, would mean that the Business Roundtable’s new “purpose of a corporation” definition would need to be made legally binding. Fast Company (4 minutes)
Urgent global action is needed to halt greenhouse gas emissions, and it looks increasingly likely that in addition to emissions reduction, humanity will need to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In its most recent summary report, the IPCC notes that most scenarios that stay below 2°C of temperature increase involve “substantial net negative emissions by 2100, on average around 2 gigatons of CO2 per year.” So, Stripe – the payments company we use – is making a commitment to fully offset their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing verified carbon offsets. Starting this year, they’re going a step further. In addition to their offset program, they are committing to pay, at any available price, for the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its sequestration in secure, long-term storage. Stripe (6 minutes)
Sand & Startups
Every startup idea is an hourglass filled with sand. The minute you start pursuing an idea, you flip that hourglass over. The sand is the amount of time you’ve got to build something meaningful. The amount of sand you start with varies — it’s based on a bunch of inputs like founder, domain expertise, team, market, funding potential/needs, key insight, and customer. The more unique or elite your advantage is in any of those categories, the more sand goes in the hourglass. The goal of your startup idea is to maximize your initial portion of sand. You aren’t picking an idea you need to execute fast, you’re picking an idea that allows you to build slow. The holy grail is when your hourglass has more sand than anyone else’s possibly could if they chose to pursue something similar. Slow is good because the first version of your product will be wrong. So, will the second, third, and probably fourth. Even if you’re the most qualified person in the world, it’ll take a long time to build the right thing. The startup idea you pursue should be one you’ve been unconsciously preparing for your whole life. It should be about your strengths, not just a gap you see in a market. What are you, uniquely, incredible at? What do you know that no one else does? The first thing you should ask yourself when you have an idea is, “Why am I the best person to start this?” Fast Company (8 minutes)
File this under: We wanted fancy doorbells and got a surveillance state. The doorbell-camera company Ring has forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them potential access to homeowners’ camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nation’s “new neighborhood watch.” The partnerships let police request the video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company’s millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don’t receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email thanking them for “making your neighborhood a safer place.” Washington Post (12 minutes)
Data & Design
There are a new class of data-driven analytics platforms that combine factors such as search queries, social media activity, e-commerce sell-throughs and consumer feedback to provide clues into what is most likely to become a trend. Fashion brands use them to help build out product ranges, price its collections, and identify opportunities and weaknesses. Data is exceptionally useful to detect when a rising trend is about to hit mass adoption and to anticipate the decline of a trend. What it can’t do is invent a trend. Vogue (5 minutes)
Venture down the self-help aisle of any bookstore and you’ll see it littered with titles about hacks, quick fixes, burning fat, and accessing mystic sounding theta brainwaves. The hack culture has flipped our priorities. We no longer make sure we put in the work and create a solid foundation, we want to fast-forward to the finishing touches. We desperately need an answer. But as Ryan Holiday has so perfectly said, “there are no shortcuts besides HACKING IT every single day.” Forget the hacks, stop trying to sleep 4 hours a night. Don’t worry about detoxing your diet, just eat less fast food. Stop binging on stimulants. Instead, get back to the basics: Challenge yourself to grow. Rest and Recover. Find meaning and purpose in your endeavors. Set yourself up to perform. And, above all, realize the journey is what it’s all about. It’s time to move on from the hack culture, and just do the stuff that actually works. Science of Running (7 minutes)
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. TED (18 minutes)
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love. Amazon
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People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing. – Trevor Noah