Weekend Briefing No. 378
Welcome to the weekend.
Thanks so much to everybody who gave their feedback on the Basecamp story last weekend. You can check out the responses in the Most Read Last Week section at the bottom of the briefing. I’ll continue to include the feedback there every week. I’m looking forward to your comments this week on another interesting topic today!
This week I am sharing an inordinate amount of news about our firm and our clients. If you're new to the briefing, just know that, generally, we don't love talking about ourselves. But there's some really great news. So... sorry not sorry.
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272 M—Tesla’s Q1 earnings release revealed that the company sold $272 million worth of its bitcoin holdings in the first quarter. According to its CEO, Elon Musk, it did so to test the market’s liquidity. The $101 million it added to the company’s quarterly profit didn’t hurt either.
80—Experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent. Polls show that about 30 percent of the U.S. population is still reluctant to be vaccinated. That number is expected to improve but probably not enough.
1—There are 70 percent of Americans who celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Also: Only one in 10 Americans know what Cinco de Mayo is about.
World Changing Ideas
I’m kicking off the briefing with a little personal news. I’m excited to share that my law firm was recognized as one of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas. World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on elevating brave concepts that make the world better. The companies on this list are doing impressive things like building cleaner freight trains, designing savings accounts for refugees and using artificial intelligence (AI) in beehives. It’s notable that, as far as we can tell, we’re the first law firm to be recognized in the history of the awards. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves, “How did a law firm make this list?” To get the full story and learn about how we developed an innovative business model, check out my post. Westaway (6 minutes)
McKinsey has some data on how employees are feeling right now. Nearly half of employees surveyed say they’re feeling some symptoms of being burned out at work (likely an underestimate). So how do organizations help their burned-out employees? One answer: Move to a hybrid work model. More than half of employees told McKinsey that they would like their organizations to adopt more flexible model, in which employees are sometimes on premises and sometimes working remotely. In fact, more than a quarter of those surveyed reported that they would consider switching employers if their organization returned to fully onsite work. Employees with young children are the most likely to prefer flexible work locations, with only 8 percent supporting a fully onsite model in the future. Employees without children under 18 are nearly three times as likely to prefer onsite work, but the majority still prefer more flexible models. McKinsey (12 minutes)
This week has been an insane week for Westaway clients. I’ve never had this issue before but, I’m going to brag on three clients in one briefing. Here goes…
Regenerative Travel – a company that helps you plan vacations that meet your values – was also recognized as a World Changing Idea. I think this is super timely as we’re all thinking about post-pandemic travel. Fast Company (4 minutes)
Co:Census – a SaaS company that help cities, states and companies run surveys that gather equitable data and get real-time analysis to understand the voice of your community – just finished Techstars and gave an amazing pitch at demo day. Techstars (3 minutes)
Daybase - Startups and landlords are banking that even after the pandemic, people will want a place to work remotely beyond their living rooms. With many Americans working at home and planning to continue even after the pandemic, some startups and landlords believe these employees will want a place to work beyond their living room. They are offering these workers a nearby alternative: furnished office space, bookable by the day or month and within walking distance from home. One of those companies is Daybase, a New York-based startup founded by the former WeWork executives Joel Steinhaus and Doug Chambers. It is launching this week and plans to open its first locations in Northern New Jersey, this year, eyeing suburban towns like Hoboken and Montclair. A proliferation of new suburban office spaces could help fill empty retail space. They could also further blur the distinction between residential and commercial neighborhoods and help remake metropolitan areas. We’re excited to support the work Daybase is doing to shape the future of work. Wall Street Journal (9 minutes)
Moore’s Law of Everything
Broadly speaking, there are two paths to affording a good life: an individual acquires more money (which makes that person wealthier) or prices fall (which makes everyone wealthier). Wealth is buying power: How much can we get with the resources we have? Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to create more wealth by drastically and rapidly reducing the cost of goods and services. It will do this by stripping much of the cost of labor out of the retail price. If robots can build a house on land you already own from natural resources mined and refined onsite, using solar power, the cost of building that house is close to the cost to rent the robots. And if those robots are made by other robots, the cost to rent them will be much less than it was when humans made them. “Moore’s Law for Everything” should be the rallying cry of a generation whose members can’t afford what they need or want. It sounds utopian, but it’s something technology can deliver (and in some cases already has). Imagine a world where, for decades, everything—housing, education, food, clothing, etc.—became half as expensive every two years. Sam Altman (18 minutes)
So, I have two questions for you this weekend: (1) In the next 20 years, how likely is it that “Moore’s Law for Everything” actually happens? (2) From your perspective would this create a utopia or dystopia? Why? Answer here.
Inside this facility in Chesterfield, Missouri, trillions of bacteria are producing tiny loops of DNA containing coronavirus genes—the raw material for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It’s the start of a complex manufacturing and testing process that takes 60 days and involves Pfizer facilities in three states. The result will be millions of doses of the vaccine, frozen and ready to ship. Check out this beautiful photo essay that takes us behind the scenes of how the Pfizer vaccine is made. Also, scientists are amazing! New York Times (12 minutes)
Operation Neptune’s Spear
The effort to track and execute Osama bin Laden, which took place 10 years ago, was the most closely held operational secret in modern American history—a highly sensitive, politically fraught and physically risky mission that involved breaching the sovereign territory of a purported U.S. ally to target an icon of international violence and terror. Much of the initial attention focused on the bravery and skill of the SEAL operators who flew in and conducted the attack. But the operation also stands as a fascinating window into the most rarefied zone of presidential decision-making: Barack Obama had sole authority to approve an act with huge consequences and huge risks, one that could easily sink his presidency if it went bad. The full story of how, and why, America’s top security officials decided to pull the trigger that night in May has never been told. This oral history in Politico is based on extensive original interviews with nearly 30 key intelligence and national security leaders, White House staff, and presidential aides—including some who have never spoken publicly before. Their accounts, from the White House, CIA headquarters and Afghanistan, paint a never-before-seen view of the most momentous decision of Barack Obama’s presidency. Politico (32 minutes)
Calendar & Values
I had a great 9-minute conversation with my friend, coach and angel investor Steve Schlafman about aligning your calendar with what matters most. It turns out we're both obsessed with our calendar. Some key takeaways: (1) Why we feel our calendar is out of our control. (2) The power of a "Full Body Yes". (3) How our calendars reflect what we truly value. (4) If you take care of the minutes, the years take care of themselves. Check out the conversation. I think you'll enjoy it. And if you follow me on Racket, you'll get future audio posts sent to your email when they go live. Racket (9 minutes)
The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. This is a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses and have healthier babies. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids? After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species. Amazon
Most Read Last Week
May Playlist—I created a playlist of fresh tunes.
Yolo Economy—Burned out and flush with savings, some workers are quitting stable jobs in search of post-pandemic adventure.
Changes at Basecamp—The founders of Basecamp, a company that makes project management software, made a company-wide announcement about some changes that they are making.
Feedback Loop—Last week’s question was whether you agree / disagree with Basecamp’s new policy. We had a robust discussion about it this weekend. Check it out.
About the Weekend Briefing
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What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder. –George Saunders
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