Weekend Briefing No. 450
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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80,000,000 – Amazon's Seattle HQ has been warmed with the waste heat from a nearby data center since 2017, saving the company an estimated 80 million kilowatt-hours of energy over a 25-year span – or enough to power 7,500 US households per year.
186%—The number of original streaming documentaries increased 77% from January 2019 to July 2022, with demand up 186%.
25 – 25% of all millennials (ages 26-41) plan to “always rent” and never own a home in their lifetimes. That’s up from 13% in 2018.
The simple agreement for future equity (SAFE) has become, by far the most popular instrument to raise early startup funding. Based on my experience negotiating SAFEs for startups, I’ve made a short YouTube video about the SAFE. In the video I cover (1) the pros / cons of the SAFE, (2) how it differs from a convertible note, (3) how it converts to equity, (4) valuation cap and discount (5) side letters and more. The goal is to help founders understand if the SAFE is right for them and get a basic understanding of the deal points. Check it out. While you’re on YouTube, don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to the channel. We’ve got more good content queued up this Fall. YouTube (5 minute)
Deeper Dive: If you want to want to dive deeper into SAFEs, check out my free Founder’s Guide to SAFEs where I go into much more detail than the video.
Increase Online Credibility
Your website has a direct impact on the perceived credibility and quality of your business. GruffyGoat, a long-term web partner of Westaway and Weekend Briefing, understands there is a direct correlation between a beautiful and highly functioning website and a great first impression. Many businesses struggle to turn underperforming websites into websites that tangibly boost credibility and client acquisition. Eighty-eight percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Seventy-five percent of consumers make judgments on a company’s credibility based on its website design. First impressions are 94% design-related. Your website is your first impression. GruffyGoat will help you craft a first impression that finally makes you proud of your online presence. GruffyGoat (Sponsored)
Rise of the Robots
In the last decade, there’s been a lot of ink spilled on the “rise of the robots” narrative—that the robots are going to steal our jobs. There are two huge problems with this thesis. The first is that while it makes a great science fiction story, so far there just aren’t any signs that it’s happening. And the second problem is that if we really want to change our economy in all the ways we’ve been hoping—reshoring manufacturing from China, securing supply chains, preventing inflationary bottlenecks and so on—we’re going to need quite a lot of automation. Indeed, if the progressive project is to be revived in America, it will need robots to carry it forward. This article looks at all the ways that the “rise of the robots” just hasn’t happened yet and then talks about why we need to become a leader in automation. Noahpinion (12 minutes)
Here’s a list of core beliefs from investor Morgan Housel. (1) Incentives are the strongest force in the world. They explain why good people do awful things, why smart people do stupid things and why ordinary people do amazing things. Nearly everyone underestimates how much their own beliefs and actions are influenced by their incentives, many of which are designed to fulfill someone else’s goals. (2) Sitting still feels reckless in a fast-moving world, even in situations where it offers the best odds of long-term compounding. It’s like being told that you should play dead if a grizzly charges you; running for your life just feels more practical. (3) Stories are more powerful than statistics because they’re easier to understand and contextualize to your own life. The person who tells the most compelling story wins, not who has the best idea or the right answer. The winner is whoever tells a story that catches people’s attention and gets them to nod their heads. Collaborative Fund (8 minutes)
Insurance penetration in Africa is currently below 3%, largely attributable to the slow adoption of innovation in the sector. Many underwriters rely on traditional systems involving agents and lots of paperwork to sign up new customers, which limits customer reach and hampers the uptake of their products. However, our Kenya-based client Turaco has introduced new technologies and products that are disrupting the market. Through its B2B2C model, Turaco has created an expansive distribution channel that is enabling it to tap into a large pool of potential customers in its markets, providing insurance to a group that has never consumed it before. We were honored to support their recent $10 million Series A equity funding in a round led by AfricInvest, through its Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund (CAIF), and Novastar Ventures. TechCrunch (5 minutes)
Focus to Win
If you look around, you’ll notice the people and organizations moving the fastest are the focused ones. The tendency of people and organizations is to lose focus. People naturally lose focus when they forget that focus means saying no to good opportunities and good people. Average ideas are everywhere, and they try to pull you in. The more successful you are, the more people will want to work with you. If you start saying yes to average ideas, you quickly lose the space and time you need to execute on great ones. Focus turns energy into results. Why would you spend any time on your fifth most important idea? All of the energy that goes toward anything that is not the most important thing comes at the expense of the most important thing. Narrow the focus. Raise the standard. And set yourself apart. Farnam Street (7 minutes)
The concept of the technological liturgy is that the ways we use our technology, our practices, habits and rhythms—hour by hour, day by day, month after month, year in and year out—forms us and impacts the way we see the world. The underlying idea here is relatively simple but perhaps for that reason easy to forget. We all have certain aspirations about the kind of person we want to be, the kind of relationships we want to enjoy, how we would like our days to be ordered, the sort of society we want to inhabit. These aspirations can be thwarted in any number of ways, of course, and often by forces outside of our control. But I suspect that on occasion our aspirations might also be thwarted by the unnoticed patterns of thought, perception and action that arise from our technologically mediated liturgies. I don’t call them liturgies as a gimmick, but rather to cast a different, hopefully revealing light on the mundane and commonplace. The image to bear in mind is that of the person who finds themselves handling their smartphone as others might their rosary beads. Convivial Society (11 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders 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.
Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus. -Alexander Graham Bell
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