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Weekend Briefing No. 344
Welcome to the weekend.
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37 B—Venmo processed $37 billion in payments, up 52 percent in the quarter, in the second quarter of 2020.
127—Turn that video on during your Zoom calls. Deals are 127 percent more likely to close when video is used during any point in the sales process.
7—In 2005, one of the world’s highest-valued companies was a tech company. In 2020, seven of the top eight highest-valued companies in the world is a tech company.
Race and Philanthropy
Just as calls for racial justice echo in American and European streets, government offices and boardrooms, we must not forget that the legacy of racial injustice extends far beyond those borders. Any honest reckoning must include open dialogue around race in international development. In Africa, white-led institutions have shaped the development and social entrepreneurship landscape, deciding who succeeds and who fails. Only recently has there been a growing recognition of these imperialist dynamics, which uplift foreign-led practitioners more than local ones. There is a growing consensus that the future should and must be created and led by Africans because real progress requires it to be on our own terms. And yet, this is just talk until funders shift resources and power, at scale, towards local solutions. Closing the race gap in philanthropy demands radical candor. Only when funders are open about identifying racial bias and holding the philanthropic community accountable will emerging black leaders have equal chances for success. We must not let this opportunity pass without progress. Funders must: (1) challenge the belief that “local solutions cannot scale” and do the hard work of creating supportive ecosystems that develop solutions that scale; (2) as you fund and award white founders working in communities of color (at home and abroad), ensure you apply the same level of recognition and support to leaders of color who possess the same or greater skills and knowledge of their environment; and (3) mandate diversity within the teams that allocate resources and make investment decisions. The Guardian (10 minutes)
Long-Term Stock Exchange
Publicly traded companies have an immense pressure to pursue short-term results over creating value for future decades and generations. Because of that, innovation was held hostage by boom-bust cycles, abrupt changes in governance and struggles to maintain constancy of purpose. The focus on the short term undermines the building of sustainable businesses. Nine years ago, Eric Ries proposed the idea of a Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) in the epilogue of my book The Lean Startup. LTSE is a public market that supports capital formation while sustaining long-term thinking. This week, the LTSE has opened for business with a mission to support companies and investors who share a long-term vision. As we adapt to a different world, a public market that offers companies the resilience of long-term governance and supports the creation of value over time can help to put our society on the path toward a sounder future. The LTSE represents, I hope, one brick in a new foundation for our civic society. LTSE (6 minutes)
I love seeing our client Regenerative Travel getting some well-deserved ink in the New York Times for reinventing the future of travel. If sustainable tourism, which aims to counterbalance the social and environmental impacts associated with travel, was the aspirational outer limit of ecotourism before the pandemic, the new frontier is “regenerative travel,” or leaving a place better than you found it. Playa Viva is one of 45 resorts belonging to Regenerative Travel, a booking agency that vets members based on metrics such as carbon usage, employee well-being, immersive guest activities and sourcing local food. To date, qualifications for membership have been handled internally. But in September, the company plans to launch a benchmarking system to demonstrate their regenerative progress. New York Times (9 minutes)
A decade ago, when impact investing was in its infancy, the prevailing view among investors held that there was an inherent tradeoff between doing good and turning profits. Today, that thinking appears to be shifting. Assets under management devoted to impact investing—defined as investing in companies that intend to generate a financial return as well as a positive, measurable social or economic impact—grew to $715 billion as of December, up from $502 billion a year earlier, according to the Global Impact Investing Network. Nearly 90 percent of the 294 impact investors surveyed by the GIIN this year said they met or exceeded their financial expectations on their investments. To compile “The Impact 50” list of the most notable impact investors, Forbes identified primarily U.S.-based individuals investing in ventures striving to have a positive social or environmental impact both domestically and around the world. Forbes (20 minutes)
Apple & Human Rights
Apple just released its first-ever statement on human rights. The four page document notes that: We want to be a force for good in the lives of people in our supply chain and their communities. We’re proud to work with our neighbors and suppliers to develop new skill sets, start businesses and advocate for change. We’re deeply committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights in our business operations, as set out in the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Our approach is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We conduct human rights due diligence to identify risks and work to mitigate them. We seek to remedy adverse impacts, track and measure our progress, and report our findings. We believe that dialogue and engagement are the best ways to work toward building a better world. In keeping with the UN Guiding Principles, where national law and international human rights standards differ, we follow the higher standard. Where they are in conflict, we respect national law while seeking to respect the principles of internationally recognized human rights. Apple (6 minutes)
Questions for VCs
Top-performing founders know something that others do not: When you meet with venture capitalists (VCs), don’t just fixate on getting their money—learn from them. For any given meeting with a VC, the chance for funding is between 1 percent and 10 percent. That means you have 90-plus percent probability that you will not raise money from this person. So if that is your only goal for that meeting, you are wasting more than 90 percent of your meetings. It’s better to view the meeting as an opportunity for you to build your company using the information you get from the VC, not just the money you might get. This will give you a higher return on your time. Remember that investors see thousands of companies and have invested in tens or hundreds of them over their careers, which means they’ve likely seen different insights than you have. They see and hear things that you may not. This wealth of experience is sitting right in front of you. You just need to know what to ask and how. Here are more than 40 questions to ask VCs. NFX (14 minutes)
Interesting things happen when you do interesting things. It’s an equation, an unwritten law and a universal truth all rolled into one. It’s a way at looking at each day, at each opportunity, each time you meet someone. (1) Outputs are directly related to inputs. If you go looking in the same place for inspiration as everybody else, you will find your work quickly resembles theirs. Go see that odd Polish subtitled movie. Be one of the three in the audience. (2) Comfort zones are creative dead zones. To feel most alive, you have to be doing work that keeps you on your toes. Once you have your successful formula, don’t repeat it. Start again, but start from a new place. Having doubts about your work means you are trying new ways. (3) Listen. The best way to be interesting is to be interested. Stop being on transmit, and flip the switch to being on receive. Listen hard, listen without thinking about what you are about to say. Good listeners are sought after. (4) Treat failure as a rite of passage toward interesting. How you view failure will determine how much success you have. If you fear it, you will hold back. And if you hold back, you will not be brave with your ideas. Ideas require you to be at your bravest in order to stand out. (5) Fallow. In order to be fertile with ideas, sometimes you have to rest. Take a break. Farmers know this. They know you have to rest a field. Put it back, so it can give again. You are not a machine. Creativity comes in sprints after a rest. Do Lectures (11 minutes)
Most Read Last Week
Milk—Watch Olympian Katie Ledecky swim with a full glass of milk on her head.
North Korean Underground Railroad—This is the story of one desperate woman who risked her life to reach freedom and of the complicated man who led the way.
Entreprise à Mission—A change in French law and a global pandemic have accelerated Danone’s pursuit of a stakeholder-driven business structure that aligns social and environmental benefits with the bottom line.
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The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. – John F. Kennedy
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