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Weekend Briefing No. 482
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Before I jump into the briefing. I’ve got some great videos coming up this Summer and Fall. I can’t wait to share them with you. In preparation, I’ve just refreshed my YouTube channel.
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Now onto the briefing…
Last week, there was a robust conversation in the comments in reaction to the article "Don’t Work at a Startup.” As someone who has founded a couple of companies and worked in the startup ecosystem my whole career, here are my two cents:
Money. Startup equity is like a lottery ticket. I agree with the author that the chances of your startup equity ever turning into a life-changing amount of money are slim. In most cases, you'll be better off economically taking a corporate job, saving and investing. However, most people aren't exclusively (or even primarily) motivated to work by money.
Meaning. Workers want to feel like their work is having a positive impact on the world, and you're more likely to find that in a startup.
Mastery. One of the complaints of a typical corporate job is that it's boring. One of the most compelling reasons to work at a startup is that you're constantly pushed to learn and grow. When we're learning and growing, we actually enjoy work more—even though it's harder.
Autonomy. Autonomy is the ability to execute your work in the way that you see fit without your boss micromanaging you. Honestly, this one is a coin toss. I find that autonomy can vary within any organization, depending on your direct manager. There are micromanagers in startups just like there are in the corporate world.
Team. One of the most tangible impacts on fulfillment at work is whether you like the people you work with. The cool thing is that great people are at all types of companies. But, in my experience, if you're the type of person that finds enough meaning, mastery and/or autonomy that you're willing to take the economic risk to work at a startup, then you'll probably find a like-minded tribe of people there.
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$136,000,000 — Cristiano Ronaldo ($136 million) tops Lionel Messi ($130 million) on Forbes 2023 highest-paid athletes list; LeBron James ($119 million) is the highest-earning American.
70% — Ticketmaster is the ticket seller for 70% of the venues in the country.
20,576 — Subway, the sandwich restaurant, is massive. Even though it closed 3,223 domestic locations from 2020 to 2023, it still has 20,576 restaurants in the United States. Number 2 is Starbucks, with around 16,000 locations.
There are seismic shifts in Gen Z’s worldviews, attitudes and preferences, and each shift will power a number of generational startups over the coming years. Here are three waves: 1) Sustainability. Climate tech is booming, a rare bright spot in the tech downturn. In addition, the squishier word “sustainability” bleeds into consumer behaviors — how we shop, how we eat, the jobs we work. 2) Mental Health. Mental health is (finally) becoming less stigmatized. At the same time, mental healthcare is becoming more accessible than ever. This timing is crucial, as younger generations are in the midst of a full-blown mental health crisis. 3) Digitally Native Jobs. We’re seeing a revolution in work, as young people seek the flexibility, autonomy and economic promise of new forms of work built on the internet. This is changing how we work and how we interpret the fundamental meaning of a career. Importantly, although these build on consumer behaviors, these aren’t exclusively “consumer” phenomena. Each seismic wave will underpin both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies. Business models will be varied, but they’ll all build on decades-long shifts in how people act. Digital Native (11 minutes)
How do you think these shifts will impact society? What possibilities do these shifts open up? Are there any major shifts that you think should be added to the list?
They call it Q-day. That is the day when a robust quantum computer, like this one, will be able to crack the most common encryption method used to secure our digital data. Q-day will have massive implications for all internet companies, banks and governments — as well as our own personal privacy. We know that this will happen one day. The only question is when. For the moment, it seems like Q-day may still be a decade away. Excited by the possibilities of building the first robust quantum computer and terrified by the prospect of coming second, the world’s leading powers are now in a race to develop the technology. Not only can quantum computers be used to crack existing encryption methods; they can also be used to secure communications in a quantum world. Governments, corporations and venture capitals have been investing heavily with a view to commercializing the technology. This interactive article is a good introduction to the concept of quantum computing. Financial Times (18 minutes)
Mental. Health. Crisis.
How often have we heard these three words? Pre-pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated one in five children were suffering from mental health issues and 80% did not receive treatment. While these numbers are growing exponentially, access is not. While pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) are on the frontlines of health access, too few can recognize nor treat pediatric mental health cases. For those diagnosed with mental health issues, help is nowhere to be found. Too often these cases that could have been treated earlier end up in the emergency room with much more acute needs. It doesn’t have to be this way. DRK Foundation portfolio organization The REACH Institute, led by Dr. Lisa Hunter Romanelli, is training pediatric PCPs to be able to recognize, diagnose and treat common mental health issues such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression within their own offices, exponentially creating capacity. Want to help? Reach out to REACH or DRK. Together we can solve this problem. DRK Foundation (Sponsored)
The Godfather Quits
Dr. Hinton, known as the “Godfather of AI,” quit his job at Google. He has worked for more than a decade and became one of the most respected voices in the field, so he can freely speak out about the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). A part of him, he said, now regrets his life’s work: “I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have.” Dr. Hinton’s journey from AI groundbreaker to doomsayer marks a remarkable moment for the technology industry at perhaps its most important inflection point in decades. Industry leaders believe the new AI systems could be as important as the introduction of the web browser in the early 1990s and could lead to breakthroughs in areas ranging from drug research to education. But gnawing at many industry insiders is a fear that they are releasing something dangerous into the wild. Generative AI can already be a tool for misinformation. Soon, it could be a risk to jobs. Somewhere down the line, tech’s biggest worriers say it could be a risk to humanity. New York Times (15 minutes)
Lifestyle creep is when someone increases their spending after experiencing an increase in income. That new raise quickly becomes a fancy new object or an expensive new habit, and, before you know it, your raise is gone. For this reason, many personal finance experts will tell you to avoid lifestyle creep at all costs. However, some lifestyle creep can be very satisfying up to a limit. Where is that limit? How much can your spending increase before it begins to affect your financial future? Technically, it varies based on your savings rate, but, for most people, the limit is around 50%. Once you spend more than 50% of your future raises, then you start delaying your retirement. It might seem odd that earning extra money could force you to delay your retirement, but it all depends on how much of that extra money you spend. Of Dollars and Data (8 minutes)
Kids in 1966 Predict the Future
In 1966, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) asked a group of kids what they think the world will be like in the year 2000. The responses are fascinating. Popular topics include: 1) that nuclear war will destroy the planet, 2) that overpopulation will make the planet unlivable and 3) that computers and robots will steal all the jobs, and there will be mass unemployment. We humans have a tendency to overweight the societal impact of new technologies. Are we doing the same with AI? Or is it somehow different this time? YouTube (6 minutes)
Super Mario in Middle Age
This article by Simon Rich is a hilarious account of Super Mario turning 40. It’s absolutely worth a read. Here’s an excerpt: I was-a born in 1981, which means, if you do-a the math, I’m-a forty years old. I wasn’t-a really thinking about it much until last summer. Just another birthday, right? Then it’s-a like the reality of the thing just hit me. Like, “Mamma mia, I’m-a going to be middle-aged.” It’s-a like one of those fireballs that moves-a so slowly you forget it’s even coming, until it’s-a right in your face. The thing that’s so hard about turning forty is it forces you to take-a stock of how you’re doing. And, to be honest, I’m-a not doing so great. These days, my life, it’s-a fucked up. Like, there’s just a lot of super-heavy shit that I’m-a dealing with right now. I guess the best way to explain it is-a to start from the beginning of last week, which is when shit really started to get-a, like, super fucked up. Here we go. New Yorker (21 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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It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. – Thomas Sowell