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Weekend Briefing No. 434
Weekend Briefing No. - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Here’s my June playlist to kick off the summer. I hope you enjoy it.
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510 million—According to the Centre for Retail Research, Queen Elizabeth’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee from June 2 to June 5 will see the U.K.’s consumers spend $510 million, a huge week for the Windsor fandom community.
317,500—Niue, a Pacific Island state, has announced it will protect all of the ocean within its exclusive economic zone from exploitation. This will save 317,500 square kilometers of ocean, which contains one of the largest coral atolls in the world.
63.7—Puerto Rico has the ninth-highest rate of home solar installations in the United States, with a rate of one home solar installation per 63.7 people. In large part, that’s because of a need for resilience following Hurricane Maria’s devastation of the island in 2017.
In David Gelles’ new book The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America―and How to Undo His Legacy, he chronicles how Welch’s laser focus on maximizing shareholder value by any means necessary—including layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring, acquisitions and buybacks—became the new playbook in American business. The book demonstrates how this shareholder maximizing version of capitalism has led to the greatest socioeconomic inequality since the Great Depression and harmed many of the very companies that have embraced it. I recently discussed the book with Mr. Gelles. Check out our conversation on my YouTube channel. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment. While you’re there, subscribe so you can be the first to see some new videos I’m working on. YouTube (20 minutes)
Rights of Nature
Adherents of the "Rights of Nature" movement believe ecosystems, animals and natural objects should have legal rights similar or equal to those of human beings. Recently, the highest court in India's Tamil Nadu state agreed, ruling that "Mother Earth" has "all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person," and humans have a duty to protect nature so it can be enjoyed by future generations. The Week (4 minutes)
Quality Doesn't Have to Be Expensive
Quince made a splash proving that their $50 cashmere sweater was soft, cozy and everything else you'd hope from a luxury retailer. This past year, they've worked to show that other apparel and home goods are also ripe for innovation. Their comforters were named to Sleep Foundation's Best Comforters of 2022 and are half the price of their competitors. They launched $150 leather jackets recently, which have repeatedly sold out within hours of when restock emails go out to customers. In fact, because they only make what they know will sell, it can be hard to get ahold of their most popular products for those not on their product waitlists. And despite global supply chains causing problems for all retailers, Quince doesn't seem to be slowing down its new product launches. Every week, there's something new. Quince (Sponsored)
Venture Capital Value
VC = smart money. VC = value add. VC = helpful. This is how the VC industry markets itself to founders. But do founders really agree? A recent study shows that VCs overestimate their level of impact and helpfulness. I’m shocked. Shocked! Founders rate the average impact of their VCs as a mere 5.2, whereas VCs believe their impact to be rated a decent 7.1—a 35% difference. The largest gap in perception comes in recruitment—69% of VCs think they’re making a real difference here when nearly 79% of founders state that VCs don’t. Big difference. Similarly, with introductions and marketing, nearly three-quarters of VCs see an important impact, whereas only 44% of founders agree. This is particularly interesting because, in the last four years, the conversation about VCs offering operational support has only grown, with funds increasingly adding talent functions and portfolio support roles. Yet the gap in perception is widening. Living up to founders’ expectations (or VC promises) is difficult. Creandum (7 minutes)
The Last of Lehman Brothers
It turns out that when global financial institutions die, it can take a while. These deaths require caretakers. Even after the funeral, all the debts on both sides of the ledger are still there, and professionals are needed to sort out who has to pay up and who should be paid. This short documentary is about a small team who has spent years working to eke out value from property assets the bank held when it went under. But before the last contract is signed and the last rented office key is turned in, somebody might want to foot the bill for a goodbye cake and prosecco for this loose network of lawyers, accountants, consultants and money managers. They’ve performed one of the weirdest jobs in finance: laying Lehman Brothers, finally, to rest. Bloomberg (11 minutes)
Men and Sex
In 2010, when the dating app Tinder launched, the share of young men reporting no sex in the past year was 11%. In 2018, that number jumped to 28%. Could dating apps explain this jump? Let’s look at the data. It turns out there may be a power law based on attractiveness. Attractive guys get more “likes” than unattractive guys do. The bottom 80% of men are fighting over the bottom 22% of women and the top 78% of women are fighting over the top 20% of men. According to open source data, a man of average attractiveness can only expect to be liked by slightly less than 1% of females (0.87%) on Tinder. This equates to 1 “like” for every 115 females. To expect a match, a typical woman would have to like just three men while a man would need to like over 50 women. Men in the bottom 10% see just one match per week at most. @sternzac (6 minutes)
Food Myths Busted
We’re being bombarded with conflicting advice on what we should and shouldn’t put into our bodies. Finally, here are the definitive answers, according to the experts. Coffee has often been accused of being bad for heart health. But we now have global research showing that coffee is protective against cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease, and decreases mortality linked to cardiovascular issues. There is also clear evidence that coffee protects against type 2 diabetes regardless of body fat; it’s definitely protective against Parkinson’s disease and almost certainly against cognitive decline in general. Coffee does not increase our risk of cancer. This article will give you the low down on whether the following are good or bad for you: plant-based milk, red wine, red meat and carbs. The Guardian (12 minutes)
The Man Who Broke Capitalism by David Gelles. In 1981, Jack Welch took over General Electric and quickly rose to fame as the first celebrity CEO. He golfed with presidents, mingled with movie stars and was idolized for growing GE into the most valuable company in the world. But Welch’s achievements didn’t stem from some greater intelligence or business prowess. Rather, they were the result of a sustained effort to push GE’s stock price ever higher, often at the expense of workers, consumers and innovation. In this captivating, revelatory book, David Gelles argues that Welch single-handedly ushered in a new, cutthroat era of American capitalism that continues to this day. Buy Now
Most Read Last Week
Hotels—This is a fun list of the most unique hotels in each state.
Bias Toward Action—The comfort of the discontented status quo is less scary than the potential of the unknown.
Burnout Burnout—Being OK when things are not OK is a tall order these days.
Funding Fridays is a briefing about the data and trends in startup funding. I send it out on the first Friday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Web3 Impact is a briefing I co-write with Banks Benitez about how Web3 is making the world a better place. We send it out on the third Thursday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Web3 Impact.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
Number one, cash is king. Number two, communicate. Number three, buy or bury the competition. –Jack Welch
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