Weekend Briefing No. 394
Welcome to the weekend. Summer is swiftly coming to a close. I hope you’re taking some time to relax with friends and family. This week, I’m testing out a new section called “Tweet of the Week” (toward the bottom of the email), in which I include my favorite tweet from the past week. Shoot me a note to let me know what you think.
Also, if there’s a tweet you come across that you think should be considered for “Tweet of the Week,” let me know by retweeting with cc: @kylewestaway. Also, I know most of you are following me on Twitter. But if you’re not, follow me here for more good stuff throughout the week.
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60 billion—U.S. climate tech funding could reach $60 billion this year.
150K—On August 18, digital payments giant Visa spent $150K to buy a piece of unique artwork called CryptoPunk 7610—what’s known as a non-fungible token (NFT), a unique digital asset. Similar to bitcoin, NFTs certify the authenticity, ownership and provenance of any digital object written to a blockchain.
8—Maersk has ordered eight container ships designed to run on e-methanol to the tune of $175 million each. E-methanol comes from a Danish startup, and it’s created by using solar power to produce hydrogen, then combining it with recycled CO2.
Ouster at Dannone
Emanuel Faber was the CEO of Dannone, which was the first listed French company to become an Enterprise à Mission (the equivalent of a public benefit corporation in the U.S.), which embedded purpose into the company’s structure by aligning its operations with environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Danone North America, its U.S. subsidiary, became the world’s largest Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corporation. When the pandemic struck, Danone introduced a number of programs to support employees, suppliers and communities such as a €300 million credit facility for the companies’ 15K smallest suppliers. For employees, they committed to no layoffs during the second quarter of 2020, when confinement was most restrictive. At the same time, Faber himself asked for a 30% pay cut, and the board of directors forewent its pay for the second half of 2020. However, Faber was ousted in March 2021 by the company’s board of directors, which was facing pressure from activist shareholders to focus more strictly on fiduciary duty and less on the social mission during the stock price hits that COVID-19 caused for Danone. On one hand, there was this unequivocal consensus to become an Enterprise à Mission. On the other hand, the Enterprise à Mission system was deeply rooted in the board’s culture and its representatives. Shareholders had given an overwhelming yes at 99%. The idea was so obviously connected to the heritage of Danone founder Antoine Riboud that going against it looked like betraying his heritage. But it did not mean that all board members were profoundly aligned. Learn more about what happened in this interview with Faber. Forbes (13 minutes)
Cities v. Theme Parks
We are now entering a new era of the internet—Web 3—where we have the chance to upgrade these networks into economies. In the process, we can build systems where the incentives of the network owners, network participants and third-party developers are fully aligned. When Web 2 networks allow for commerce, it is very limited, with centrally prescribed prices, products and buyer-seller relationships. Because of user lock-in, Web 2 take rates are extremely high. A true digital economy is like a real-world bazaar. Anyone can create new goods and services, and is free to trade with anyone else. People can fully express their creativity, and enjoy the economic upside of what they produce. For instance, consider a band who has spent years building a following but today gets only pennies from streaming services. Using tokens and NFTs, the band can upgrade their networks into an economy. The goods that flow through the band’s economy might be social tokens, digital art, collectibles, tickets, game objects, exclusive experiences, or whatever else creators and technologists dream up. (We are still early—there will be many more great ideas.) The band gets revenue from primary issuances and cuts of resale, and possibly by owning a chunk of fungible tokens, and is incentivized along with the community to make the economy as large as possible. Web 3 economies that grow organically, bottom-up look like cities. Web 2 economies owned by a single company with top-down control end up looking like theme parks. A single company can never match the creativity of a thriving ecosystem. The internet started out with so much promise, but over the last decade got taken over by a handful of giant, unseemly theme parks. We can build great cities, with thriving economies, to replace them. We have the tools, and the seeds have been planted. @chrisdixon (10 minutes)
Is entrepreneurship contagious? Maybe. First, entrepreneurs are often found in social clusters—if people have worked with entrepreneurs or lived near them, they are more likely to go on to become entrepreneurs. Second, this effect is causal, in the sense that if you expose a random person to entrepreneurs, you can “infect” them with entrepreneurship. It turns out that entrepreneurship transmits from peer to peer more readily when peers are similar. And, the positive impact of being around entrepreneurs falls off quickly once that idea has been planted. Matt Clancy (12 minutes)
In Holmes Shadow
A generation of female entrepreneurs—particularly those in life sciences, biotechnology and health care—is still operating in the shadow of Ms. Holmes. Though Theranos shut down in 2018, Ms. Holmes continues to loom large across the startup world because of the audacity of her story, which has permeated popular culture and left behind a seemingly indelible image of how female founders can push boundaries. Many said they already had to prove that they belonged in the male-dominated field of startups. But in recent years, they faced the additional hurdle of fighting assumptions that they were like Ms. Holmes, something their male counterparts have generally not had to contend with. New York Times (9 minutes)
Here are five commonly used idioms in tech: (1) Bikeshedding. To bikeshed is to devote way too much time and energy working on and optimizing trivial issues—that are often hypothetical future problems that don’t exist yet—instead of focusing on what’s actually important right now. (2) Yak Shaving. Yak shaving is to start working on one task that leads you to perform another, and results in a seemingly never ending queue of tasks, diverting you from the original goal. (3) Rubber Ducking. To rubber duck, or to rubber duck debug, is to explain your code or problem aloud in hopes that the process of describing it and hearing it aloud will help you diagnose your problem. Often times it does! (4) Bus Factor. A bus factor is a measure of the level of responsibility and knowledge a person or team holds. The lower the factor, the riskier it is if that person were to leave the team. (5) Dogfooding. To eat your own dog food, or to dogfood, is to have the team that made the product use the product themselves before releasing it to the public. Gitconnected (7 minutes)
Here are three ways to cultivate your creativity. (1) Create on the shoulders of your past. Your ability to recall past experiences and recombine them in novel ways will help you become more creative. In order to better remember past events, consider taking notes or journaling. The act of writing down your thoughts will help you reinforce these memories so they are more easily accessible in the future. (2) Practice creative visualization. Connecting ideas together is a great way to visualize the future and to come up with innovative solutions to tough problems. You could simply brainstorm various scenarios, or use mind mapping to link concepts together. You don’t even need to be sitting at your desk; asking yourself “what if?” while taking a walk is a great way to practice creative visualization. (3) Make space for mind wandering. Finally, activate your default mode network by doing … nothing, which is easier said than done. If doing absolutely nothing sounds too challenging, try simple activities that do not require your brain to focus too much, such as going for a walk, taking a shower or cooking a simple meal. Ness Lab (5 minutes)
Looking Good v. Getting Good
Once you start riding the corporate elevator, there’s a strong temptation to keep going, hoping the view gets better the higher you go. Sometimes this is a good thing. Pressure and accountability keeps you sharp. But pressure to always “look good” also boxes you in. Once I learned how the elevator worked, my strategy shifted. I prioritized easy wins over risky bets to secure points on the scoreboard. I skipped learning opportunities to maintain a pristine track record. After all, consistency + points = promotion. And it generally works. But to actually get better: (1) Don’t expect constant, linear growth: Be open to venturing down the mountain if it means greater learnings. (2) Stretch the time horizon you optimize for: When you get good in the near-term, you will look good in the long-term. (3) Never stop building your talent stack: Be a chess player, not a chess piece. Product Lessons (9 minutes)
Odalisque by Neal Stephenson. The trials of Dr. Daniel Waterhouse and the Natural Philosophers increase one hundredfold in an England plagued by the impending war and royal insecurities, as the beautiful and ambitious Eliza plays a most dangerous game as double agent and confidante of enemy kings. The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson’s award-winning series spans the late 17th and early 18th centuries, combining history, adventure, science, invention, piracy and alchemy into one sweeping tale. It is a gloriously rich, entertaining and endlessly inventive historical epic populated by the likes of Isaac Newton, William of Orange, Benjamin Franklin and King Louis XIV, along with some of the most inventive literary characters in modern fiction. Amazon
Most Read Last Week
Sound of Healing—When musician Yoko Sen ended up in the hospital, she was overwhelmed by the cacophony of noise. What if all those beeps and alarms could sound like music instead?
AI Inventor—In a world first, South Africa grants a patent to an artificial intelligence system.
Justice Deferred—New Orleans DA reaches a $2 million settlement with Robert Jones in a wrongful conviction case.
About the Weekend Briefing
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Xiang Ji.
Tweet of the Week
My advice (for what it's worth) for success and happiness: Compete with yourself and root for everybody else. @candice_millard
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Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. –Bill Moyers
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