Weekend Briefing No. 161
$31 B – Airbnb just closed its Series F round of funding, which was north of $1B, the company’s new valuation is $31 B. Oh.. and hi from my Airbnb in Cape Town.
4,050 miles – A South African man has become the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard after completing an epic 4,050-mile voyage alone at sea. Chris Bertish pulled into Antigua, in the Leeward islands of the Caribbean, at 8.32am local time (12.32pm GMT) Thursday after departing from Agadir, Morocco, 93 days ago.
7/16/17 – The date season 7 of Game of Thrones will premiere.
Bangladesh or Mississippi?
This week, the Nobel Laureate and emeritus Princeton economist Angus Deaton, pointed out that inequality among countries is decreasing, while inequality within countries is increasing. Life expectancy in much of Appalachia is below life expectancy in Bangladesh. Mortality is actually increasing for middle-aged white Americans, due in no small part to overdoses and suicides—so-called “deaths of despair.” Poverty is very complicated and you can’t make these international comparisons! But if you had to choose between living in a poor village in India and living in the Mississippi Delta I’m not sure who would have the better life. Learn more at the Atlantic (9 minutes).
Patagonia and The North Face have an authenticity problem. Both companies have been phenomenally successful because they have crafted an image that is about more than just the adventure, but more about being ethical and environmentally friendly. The paradox is that by presenting themselves this way, they are selling a lot more jackets. In other words, both companies are selling stuff in part by looking like they’re not trying too hard to sell stuff, which helps them sell more stuff – and fills the world with more and more stuff. For all their similarities, the two companies are taking radically different approaches to solving it. Learn more in this long form piece in the Guardian (23 minutes).
Summers Rebuts Gates
Last week I mentioned Bill Gate’ proposed a Robot tax. This week former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers gave the counter argument. He notes that Gates is correct about the gravity of the problem and need for action, but he’s profoundly misguided in his proposed solution because: 1. Why single out robots as job destroyers? What about kiosks that dispense airplane boarding passes? Or Microsoft Office? 2. Much innovative activity, even of a robot-like variety, involves producing better goods and services we should incentivize, rather than not incentivize this. Surely it would be better for society to instead enjoy the extra output and establish suitable taxes and transfers to protect displaced workers. Learn more at the Washington Post (6 minutes).
Decline in American Manufacturing & Families
A new study provides evidence that economic struggles of white males without a college degree are directly responsible for many of their personal ones. The study finds that, as men’s economic prospects decline, they marry less frequently. Once, men had good earnings, especially when compared with women. But now these men don’t earn much more than women do, and so fewer people are getting married, and more children are being born out of wedlock. Children are much more likely to grow up in poverty in households headed by single mothers. Learn more at the Atlantic (4 minutes).
3D Printed Houses
A San Francisco-based 3D-printing startup, Apis Cor, has come up with an exceedingly affordable solution for building new houses. It can 3D-print concrete walls for a small house in under 24 hours. Apis Cor recently used its massive 3D-printer to lay down concrete walls on a cozy but livable 400-square-foot house. The machine, which looks more like a small crane than a conventional 3D printer, spits out layer upon layer of a concrete mixture that the company says can last for 175 years. After printing out the walls, the printer is removed, and a group of contractors install insulation, windows, appliances, and a roof. Learn more and watch a video of it in action at Quartz (4 minutes).
My friend, photographer and fellow adventurer Phil Anema has been trying to slowly teach me about photography on our recent trip to Namibia. Learning a bit about photography makes me appreciate how hard it is to capture a great photo. Check out the finalists of the 2017 Sony World Photography awards. My two favorites are: 1. Lady in Red. from Montenegro on the Adriatic Coast, 2. Black rhinoceros at night. The waterhole at Okaukuejo in the Etosha National Park in Namibia, is visited by black rhinoceros. See all the stunning photos at the Atlantic (3 minutes).
Sex in Marriage
It used to be that along with certain tax benefits, one advantage to being married was having more sex than singletons. That benefit is steadily diminishing, according to a study released Tuesday. Overall, American adults are having less sex than they did a quarter century ago, with married people showing the most dramatic decline of all. The drop in number of times a married person had in a year dropped from around 73 times a year in 1990 to around 55 in 2014 — bringing their frequency of sexual activity below that of never-married people. People in that group have sex an average of 59 times a year. Learn more at the Atlantic (6 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.