Weekend Briefing No. 433
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society
Welcome to the weekend. Happy Memorial Day weekend!
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391,200—Existing U.S. home sales fall in April to the lowest level since June 2020. The median price of $391,200 is the highest on record and up 14.8% over last year.
3—Patagonia is ranked as the third most reputable brand.
70—Department store Sears will close another 70 US stores.
Alex Honnold and Fatherhood
Alex Honnold, one of the world’s best climbers and the star of the documentary Free Solo, just became a dad. Now what? It’s fun to visualize Honnold, a world class athlete, just trying to get by as an everyday father: changing exploded diapers with one hand while scrubbing cookie sheets with the other. This is where parents learn their trade, and it’s how they form bonds with each other and with their children. It’s the tedium that makes the whole thing special. So, with that in mind, this journalist asked Honnold the most basic question of all: How is fatherhood? Fatherly (14 minutes)
State of Crypto
Here are five key takeaways from the a16z 2022 State of Crypto Report. (1) We’re in the middle of the fourth “price-innovation” cycle. With the recent market downturn, we may be entering another crypto Winter. (2) Web3 is much, much better for creators than Web2. While in absolute terms, Spotify and YouTube paid out more to creators—$7 billion and $15 billion, respectively—the “per capita” disparity is striking. According to our analysis, Web3 paid out $174,000 per creator, while Meta paid out $0.10 per user. Spotify paid out $636 per artist, and YouTube paid out $2.47 per channel. (3) Crypto is having a real-world impact. If you judged by assets under management, DeFi would rank as the 31st largest bank in the world. (4) Ethereum is the clear leader but faces competition. Ethereum dominates the Web3 conversation, but there are plenty of other blockchains now too. Developers of blockchains like Solana, Polygon, BNB Chain, Avalanche and Fantom are angling for similar success. (5) Yes, It’s really early. We estimate there are somewhere between 7 million and 50 million active Ethereum users today, based on various on-chain metrics. Analogizing to the early commercial internet, that puts us somewhere circa 1995 in terms of development. a16z (9 minutes)
33% Return in 2022?
The stock market has been in chaos. Yet, members of one investing app have seen a 33% return already in 2022. So how’d they do it? Securitized high-end art: a $1.7 trillion market three times bigger than the value of Tesla. While everyone’s been fussing with stocks, contemporary art prices have quietly doubled the S&P 500 return from 1995–2021. But now you don’t have to be a billionaire art expert to access the best. All you need is Masterworks, the premier art investing platform. Their expert team acquires paintings, aiming for optimal appreciation, and offers shares right on their online market. It’s like you have your own team of Warren Buffetts handpicking stocks for you—except they’re paintings. In other words, you don’t need to know a Picasso from a Basquiat to invest and see profits like a pro. Join other Weekend Briefing readers, and use my special link to get priority access. Masterworks (Sponsored)
Oversized personal feelings—like despair, comparison and anger—have been swirling around and spilling over into the workplace. Uncertainty has taken root in every corner of our lives, from health and politics to the macro-economic environment, and constantly shifting trends in the startup sphere. Being okay when things are not okay is a tall order these days. Many managers are struggling with what I call “burnout burnout”—providing emotional support and looking after the well-being of their team has become a bigger part of their roles in the last two years, and it’s starting to take a toll. This article is a manager’s guide to helping teams face uncertainty, burnout and perfectionism. First Round Review (23 minutes)
Talk to a lot of carpenters, and they’ll express similarly warm feelings about their job. It’s the rare profession that doesn’t require an expensive education, yet offers decent pay. It’s largely unaffected by automation or globalization. And aside from occasional downturns, carpenters are in steady demand. So, why does America have so few of them? Even among the other construction trades, which have long faced retention and recruitment problems and for which there were ~400k unfilled jobs in March, carpentry stands out for its shortages. Builders have more trouble finding carpenters than roofers, electricians or just about anything else, and by a wide margin. Two possible reasons are: (1) carpenters make less than other trades, and (2) the job has historically not been welcoming to women and minorities. The Hustle (16 minutes)
Bias Toward Action
Unfortunately, most of us, most of the time, don’t have a bias toward action. We don’t start a conversation with the cute stranger we’ve been admiring. We don’t ask for the raise we feel we’ve earned. We don’t move to the city we’ve been dreaming of since childhood. And we don’t do these things because not doing them is easier than acting. That’s not to say the outcome will be better. It will almost always be worse. But the comfort of the discontented status quo is much less scary than the potential of the unknown. If only we could condition ourselves toward action, we’d finally start living the lives we’ve dreamed of while slogging through the one we own. Here’s a solution: Create situations that require action. Create a challenge where you can only be comfortable after you’ve done something hard. Joseph Wells (7 minutes)
This is a fun list of the most unique hotels in each state. I really liked: (1) Beckham Creek Cave Lodge in Arkansas. It’s a lodge built into a real cave in the Ozarks. (2) Eaton in Washington DC. This downtown complex is specifically geared toward inciting progressive organizing and social change. (They are also a client of ours.) (3) Madonna Inn in California. I’ve actually stayed at this one before. This is not just the quirkiest, most colorful, most chaotic hotel in California, but almost certainly in the entire country. Named not for the ‘80s singer, but for its founders Alex and Phyllis Madonna, every single room of this ultra-eclectic inn—from the dining area and the pool to all 110 suites—has a different theme: Caveman, Desert Sands, Fabulous 50s, Jungle Rock, Harvard Square, Carin, Love Nest, Victorian Gardens…and the list goes on. Thrillist (15 minutes)
Directorate S by Steve Coll. Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.'s "Directorate S.” This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets and subterranean violence.
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So many people condemn me for risk taking, but I find it sort of hypocritical because everybody takes risks. Even the absence of activity could be viewed as a risk. If you sit on the sofa for your entire life, you're running a higher risk of getting heart disease and cancer. -Alex Honnold
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