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Weekend Briefing No. 481
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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20— This week the International Space Station hit 20 years of continual service, having hosted 241 visitors from 19 countries over two decades.
18—Here’s a list of the 18 best state parks in the United States.
17.7—The EU managed to decrease its natural gas usage by 17.7% between August and March—greater than its target of 15%.
Don’t Work at a Startup
The basic proposition is this: “We raised a lot of venture capital and plan on becoming an enormous company. Join us, take a haircut on salary, but earn way more in the future in the form of equity.” Here’s a contrarian message: You probably shouldn’t work for a startup. 1) The big financial risk you are taking on is “will this thing actually work?” The answer is almost certainly no. The best data set I could find pegged unicorns at ~1% of venture-backed startups. 2) Startups aren’t always a great place to work. “Mission-driven” companies often end up being exploitative. Napkin Math (12 minutes)
What do you think? If your best friend was debating whether to take a role as an early employee at a startup, what would you advise? How would your own experience impact that advice?
Showing up consistently is incredibly powerful. Here are some reasons why: 1) People will root for you when you show up reliably. 2) There will only be a few other people that show up consistently with you. In your eyes, this group will seem like the “regulars,” but in the eyes of most, they are individual outliers that exhibit a remarkable sense of commitment. 3) People will assume that your consistency applies to other domains of your life as well. 4) Once you get past the start, you’ll get to the finish. Once you get past the start, there’s too much friction for you to go back and hit the abort button. 5) Regularly showing up is sustainable only if you do it for yourself. Ultimately, any commitment for showing up has to come from within. It has to stem from a fundamental belief that this routine or habit will make you a better person, and that regularly acting on this belief is the only way to manifest that vision. More To That (8 minutes)
Investors Strike Gold with “The New Gold”
One investing platform is giving access to the real asset that Blackrock CEO Larry Fink dubbed “the new gold.” This asset has been used as a store of value for centuries, not only because it can be sold across borders and in any currency but also because its value can climb even when other markets are in free-fall. From 1995 to 2021, a period containing three recessions, 10 corrections, three bear markets and four bull markets, this asset’s prices outpaced the S&P 500 by 131%. So what is this safe-haven asset? It's blue-chip art—and it's never been easier to invest in, thanks to Masterworks, the award-winning platform for art investing. Masterworks’ investors have realized a profit with each of its 13 exits, totaling more than $35 million in payouts. Now, Weekend Briefing readers can skip the waitlist with this exclusive link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
Grimes + AI
The musician Grimes is inviting creators to use AI-generated versions of her voice to make new music, saying she could even provide the raw audio files to facilitate it. The pop singer said she would "split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice. Same deal as I would with any artist i collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty.” The musician, singer, songwriter and record producer appears to have been inspired by last week's release of "Heart on My Sleeve," a viral hit that cloned the voices of Drake and The Weeknd, but has since been removed from streaming and social media platforms after the record label claimed copyright violations. But because the internet is the internet, she pleaded with creators to not be "the worst." NPR (4 minutes)
It seems that the first sector to suffer significant job loss due to Chat GPT is the contract cheating industry. For the past nine years, Collins, a 27-year-old freelance writer, has been making money by writing assignments for students in the U.S.—over 8,500 miles away from Nanyuki in central Kenya. He is part of the contract cheating industry, known locally as simply “academic writing.” In 2022, he made between $900 and $1,200 a month from this work. Lately, however, his earnings have dropped to $500–$800 a month. Collins links this to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence tools. More than 89% of the students said they had used ChatGPT for help with a homework assignment. Nearly half admitted using ChatGPT for an at-home test or quiz, 53% used it to write an essay and 22% used it for outlining one. Rest of the World (7 minutes)
The Merits of Wandering
In our education, in working at our occupations, a level of compliance with standards is required of us. But total resignation to marching in step is stifling, mind-numbing, soul-killing. Over time, it can accrete into a kind of self-regimentation that leaves you treading the well-beaten path even when no one is telling you to. In most of us, there survives an opposing curiosity and a desire to see what’s around the corner. It doesn’t require an epic, round-the-world journey. We merely need to go where nobody says we have to go, for no particular reason, where the smells and tastes and the breeze on our faces awaken us from the soporific haze of habit. To practice an enlivening sort of indolence. To drift, to roam, to color outside the lines a bit. To wander. Psyche (8 minutes)
This is a really fun interactive site. You’re in a space elevator. As you scroll, you ascend and learn about the wonderful world between solid ground and outer space. Check it out. neal.fun (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.
Check out Founder Fridays—A Friday morning briefing helping founders scale smarter.
Consistency is always the best teacher. –Stephon Marbury