Weekend Briefing No. 176
Welcome to the weekend. Can I ask a 1-minute favor? I’m up for 2 panels at SOCAP this Fall and I’d appreciate you taking a second to vote for them by clicking on each link then hitting the “VOTE UP” button on the top left (no login required). The first is Form Follows Function: A Business Model Approach to Legal Structure for Social Enterprise, and the second is Making the Law Work for Social Entrepreneurs.
Just to say thanks, here’s a link to my summer country playlist.
$930,000,000 – Almost half of the money ($930MM of $1B) raised on GoFundMe was for health care costs. More than half of those health care campaigns started in states that opted out of Obamacare.
50,850,000 – Netflix has, for the first time, surpassed cable in total subscribers according to Leichtman Research. US cable companies have 48.61 million subscribers while Netflix has just hit 50.85 million.
13 – So far this year, Mark Zuckerberg has visited 13 of 50 states. His 2017 resolution was to visit all 50 states.
A smart contract is a digital agreement between parties that self-executes when a certain condition(s) is met. A smart contract operates electronically. It consists of lines of code as well as the software that prescribes its conditions and outcomes. The idea of automated performance is at the heart of a smart contract. Smart contracts are traditionally regarded as irrevocable. The fundamental logic here is automating “if-this-then-that” on a self-executing basis with finality. And that means that somebody in Albania can do a smart contract with somebody in Zimbabwe and to the extent that they can formalize their deal mathematically with this logic code they don’t have to rely on the Albanian authorities or the Zimbabwe authorities. They can just do business directly. The humble vending machine is the original form of a smart contract. The machinery reflects the nature of the deal: IF You put in money and make your selection, THEN it computes and dispenses the candy bar as well as change. Learn more at the Digital Chamber of Commerce (55 minutes).
Press Pause Before You Scale
Stripe’s COO says that there’s a list of questions companies should ask themselves as they head into rapid growth — ideally in that relatively brief moment right after clinching product-market fit. Some are: (1) Have we documented our operating principles? Your principles should be clear and explicit enough that the people who consult them will make the same decisions a founder of your company would. (2) What structure is going to help us achieve our goals? At the beginning of any company, everyone is doing whatever it takes to succeed. When you enter growth, that no longer works. People need to be connected linearly to success metrics. (3) Who has been successful at our company thus far? The people who scale with your company are the ones who anticipate what they need to learn now in order to excel at what their role will become in six months. They’re curious enough to look ahead. They aren’t content with or consumed by simply doing their present job. Learn more at First Round Review (16 minutes).
Alex Honnald & Fear
Two weeks ago I featured a story about Alex Honnald free soloing El Capitan. So, I thought it would be interesting to understand his relationship to fear. Often referred to as the brain’s fear center, the amygdala is more precisely the center of a threat response and interpretation system. It receives information on a straight pathway from our senses, which allows us to, for example, step back from an unexpected precipice without a moment’s conscious thought, and triggers a roster of other bodily responses familiar to almost everyone: racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, tunnel vision, loss of appetite. Meanwhile, the amygdala sends information up the line for higher processing in the cortical structures of the brain, where it may be translated into the conscious emotion we call fear. An fMRI scan of Honnold’s brain showed that “Maybe his amygdala is not firing. But it could be the case that he has such a well-honed regulatory system that he can say, ‘OK, I’m feeling all this stuff, my amygdala is going off,’ but his frontal cortex is just so powerful that it can calm him down.” Learn more and hear him describe fear at Nautalis (12 minutes).
A Good Life
After compiling 2,000 obituaries from a 20-month period in 2015 and 2016, researchers compiled some themes on living a good life. One of my favorites was that it takes time to make a mark. We humans are fascinated by prodigies. We can get so enamored with stories of dot-com millionaires and people who became millionaires in their twenties and we forget those are the exceptions. In fact, for the 2,000 obituaries he and his team analyzed, the average age of an individual’s first major accomplishment was 37. In this age of instant gratification, that’s a lesson in the value of patience. Also, patience is anything but passive — for the women and men in the obituaries, the decades before their big move were busy ones, filled with learning, trying, failing and persevering. Learn more and watch the TED Talk at TED (7 minutes).
AI & Congress
The health care bill winding its way through the U.S. Senate is just one of thousands of pieces of legislation Congress will consider this year, most doomed to failure. Indeed, only about 4% of these bills become law. So which ones are worth paying attention to? A new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm could help. Using just the text of a bill plus about a dozen other variables, it can determine the chance that a bill will become law with great precision. Learn more at Science (4 minutes).
Q: Is there was a way to deliver medical care before emergency responders can navigate the mayhem that comes with a natural or man-made disaster? A: A drone outfitted with audiovisual equipment and medical supplies. A new pilot project is testing the combination of the two technologies, drones and telemedicine, a doctor miles away could instruct a layman at the scene in how to provide rudimentary, but perhaps life-saving, medical care. Learn more at GovTech (9 minutes).
Globally, one-third of food produced for humans — about 1.3 billion tons costing around $1 trillion — is lost or wasted annually. Such wastage is particularly conspicuous in retail, where large quantities of food are thrown away due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance. That is where supermarkets like OzHarvest come in. Australia’s first recycled supermarket is giving food destined for landfills a second chance. The Sydney outlet takes surplus products normally thrown out by major supermarkets, airlines and other suppliers, and sells them on a pay-what-you-can model. It is an innovative attempt to tackle the mounting waste problem in Australia, where consumers toss out some 20 percent of food they buy with more than 4 million tons ending up as rubbish each year. Learn more at Japan Times (4 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback, insights, tips 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.