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Weekend Briefing No. 480
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend! This week, I dedicated 90% of my time to distraction-free writing. I haven't focused this much on writing in a decade. I have some exciting projects in the works that I will tell you about soon enough.
I know that some of you are brilliant writers, for whom the writing process is effortless and the outcome is beautiful. Unfortunately, that's not the case for me. Writing has always been a struggle for me, more of a disciplined practice than a joyful expression. However, this week I realized that over time, I've started to enjoy writing slightly more. My process has improved, I've become more focused, and I'm certainly more productive. So...I'm taking solace in slow, consistent progress.
Because I've been in writing mode this week, the last two articles really resonated with me. I hope you find them helpful too!
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1,428,600,000—According to a new report from the United Nations, India has formally surpassed China as the most populous nation, with 1,428,600,000 people compared to China's 1,425,700,000 people.
620,000—Dozens of species have made homes in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, creating a marine ecosystem among the 620K-square-mile-wide accumulation of plastic waste.
260—Gogoro is a company based out of Taipei that operates 12,000 battery-swapping stations for electric moped drivers across Taiwan. It's hugely popular, with over 500,000 monthly users and some 260 swaps taking place every minute, extending the range and utility of mopeds.
A New Era of Startup
Just as cloud computing and open source unlocked “lean startups” in the 2010s, it’s likely that artificial intelligence (AI) will unlock a new kind of organization in the 2020s. Like lean startups, startups born in the AI era will start small. They will use open source and cloud computing to get off the ground quickly and iterate. But thanks to AI, they will stay smaller for much longer, and the most successful of them will achieve staggering scale with only a handful of employees. More importantly, this new type of organization will be able to try out new kinds of ideas. When experiments get cheaper, a wider variety of people can run a wider variety of experiments. The barrier to entry is already lower than ever. But now that AI is good enough to design interfaces, write code and execute marketing campaigns, we’re going to see a whole new set of experiments come online. To really understand what the new wave of AI-native startups will look like, we need to understand exactly how startups will use AI to get more done with fewer people—and Conway’s Law will help us understand what effect that might have on organizational structure. Every (18 minutes)
Do you think AI will usher in a new era of startups? What do you agree / disagree with in this article?
Dating and Inflation
“Do I want to spend money tonight?” If you’re dating in a high-inflation environment, it’s a good question. The recent bout of inflation has impacted nearly every component of dating life—food, drinks, transportation—and has added additional financial pressure to courtship. The Hustle surveyed 700 readers to understand the current economics of dating. A few key findings: 1) How much does the average date cost? $68. 2) How much did the average person spend on dates in 2022? $1,260. 3) How much did the average respondent’s most expensive date cost? $492. 4) Where do people go for a first date? The most popular first date is getting drinks at a bar. 5) Who pays? 83% of men report always paying for the date, while 5% of women report always paying for the date. 6) How has inflation impacted dating? 85% of respondents said dating has gotten significantly more expensive, but only 38% said it has caused them to go on fewer dates. 7) What role does income play in dating life? Nearly half of respondents said a suitor’s income and/or profession influences whether or not they go on the date. The Hustle (6 minutes)
Calling All Savvy Real Estate Investors
It’s 2023 and everything is done through apps. Banking? There’s an app for that. Stocks? There’s an app for that. And now, thanks to Mynd, you can manage your single-family rentals from an app too. Mynd is the first end-to-end real estate platform that allows investors to build and manage a portfolio 100% remotely. Mynd combines cutting-edge technology with local experts to deliver white-glove property management like you've never experienced before. The best part? Mynd’s investor app gives you real-time data insights and updates on your properties, so you can have peace of mind from anywhere in the world at any time of the day. Join the 5,500+ investors who have already modernized the way they manage their single-family rentals with Mynd. Mynd (Sponsored)
State of Web3
I know. I know. The only technology we’re supposed to talk about is AI. But remember blockchains? Given the fraud and the price drops, the tourists and scammers have moved on. But people are still building amazing things in crypto. Here are some highlights from this year’s State of Crypto report: 1) Even though prices have dropped, the number of developers has remained steady. 2) The Merge, a major Ethereum upgrade, removed the environmental objection to ETH. 3) DeFi and NFT networks seem to be on the rise again. 4) Blockchains have more active users and more ways to engage. a16zcrypto (22 minutes)
Structuring Your Web3 Funding
Speaking of Web3, check out my video about structuring your Web3 funding. In this video, I help you navigate the funding environment around the process of negotiating your Web3 startup funding round including: 1) Defining the decentralized path to exit. 2) How equity + tokens work together in a Web3 funding deal. 3) Why token allocation should be based on a pro rata percentage of the insider allocation. If you don’t know what that means, check out the video to find out. While you’re there, please like the video and subscribe. Thanks! YouTube (4 minutes)
Innovation is Overrated
Everybody talks about creating a culture of innovation. But is innovation a goal we should be striving for? Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp, doesn’t think so. Innovation should almost never happen. It's incredibly rare. It mostly happens by accident, not by intention. It's wonderful when it does, but you merely fluctuate in and out of it; it's not a steady state. The truth is that Work is mostly mundane. It's mostly maintenance. It's mostly local improvement and iteration. Work is mostly ... Work. Any innovation is an outlier, nearly a rounding error. Even the most innovative projects or products are full of rote, prosaic stuff that still needs building. The poetic magic may be in the 5%, but the bulk of the work is in the other 95%. Work is not often very exciting, but it can absolutely be fulfilling. Jason Fried (3 minutes)
The War of Art
Steven Pressfield wrote a small book called The War of Art. It’s perhaps best described as a manifesto for the warrior-artist, the person who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty doing the work that matters most to them. It’s about coming to terms with the resistance we all face in our work and doing it anyway. Here are some of the best ideas: 1) A pro views her work as a craft, not art. Producing something great, something beautiful, something truly useful and valuable requires getting dirty. Craft is uncomfortable. 2) It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. Procrastination kills a lot of good work before it’s started. 3) The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a byproduct of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like. It’s an act of profound acceptance and realism to relinquish control over outcomes—to genuinely detach our work and effort from expectations and hope. Nick Wignall (8 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 flat, 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 one-on-one call with me.
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To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. - Friedrich Nietzsche