Weekend Briefing No. 522
AI and Developing Countries -- Trends in Startup Funding -- Process > Goals
Welcome to the weekend!
Did your brilliant friend share this with you?
38 — A new survey found that just 38% of Americans intend to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year.
51 — A new survey of parents of young adults extracted a significant concession from the parents. The survey found that 51% of parents said, when they were in their 20s and 30s, they rarely or never listened to their own parents about finances, work or relationships.
53,793 — Yelp tracked 53,793 restaurant openings in 2023, up 10% over 2022.
AI and Developing Countries
Could artificial intelligence (AI) transform life in developing countries? Perhaps. Two of the biggest obstacles to economic growth in developing countries are poor health care and low-performing education. AI assistants could help teachers in the classroom craft high-quality class plans, as well as give individual tutoring to students to help them master concepts. AI is also empowering health care professionals. In one example, Kenyan firm Access Afya runs mDaktari, a virtual health care platform with 29,000 clients. While Brazil has one doctor for every 467 people, Kenya has one for every 4,425. AI could help, says Daphne Ngunjiri of Access Afya. For a small monthly fee, they can ask for advice when they feel unwell. For a test group of 380 users, mDaktari added an AI-powered chatbot to the system. It records their queries, prompts them for more information and presents that information, along with a suggested response, to a clinician, often a nurse. The clinician reads it and, if the advice is sound, approves it and sends it back to the customer, perhaps referring her to a pharmacy or a clinic. Thus, a human can guard against errors, but AI does the time-consuming gathering of information about symptoms, enabling the nurse to deal with more patients. If necessary, the nurse can call the patient. For embarrassing ailments such as sexually transmitted diseases, some patients prefer talking to a chatbot. It never judges them. The Economist (16 minutes)
Trends in Startup Funding
This week, Carta, an equity management platform for startups, released a report on startup funding in 2023 entitled State of Private Markets: Q4 and 2023 in Review. I spoke with Peter Walker, who leads data insights at Carta, about the most important startup fundraising stories of 2023. We discussed: 1) Whether 2023 was the most fatal year for startups. 2) The rise of down rounds and bridge rounds. 3) How the length of time between rounds is changing. 4) Simple agreement for future equity (SAFEs) continued popularity. 5) How caps and discounts are being used. 5) Predictions for 2024 and much more. Check out the video. I think you’ll really enjoy it. While you’re there, please subscribe to my channel for more great videos. Thanks! YouTube (28 minutes)
Our Biggest Fight
The internet is broken. Its awesome power has been co-opted and corrupted by Big Tech corporations that harvest our personal data, exploit us for profit and exclude us from the value we create. In his new book, OUR BIGGEST FIGHT: Reclaiming Liberty, Dignity and Humanity in the Digital Age, Project Liberty founder Frank McCourt outlines the threat that today’s internet – and, especially, dominant social media platforms – pose to our democracy, our civility, our children’s mental health and our future. In calling for revolutionary change, McCourt offers hopeful, viable solutions. McCourt says, “autocratic surveillance technology is stripping us of our personhood and causing devastating harms. It’s time to fight back. By drawing on lessons of the past and redesigning what tech optimizes for, we can chart a new course and build an internet that empowers people over platforms." OUR BIGGEST FIGHT is out March 12th and available for pre-order. Project Liberty (Sponsored)
I stumbled upon this article from December 8, 1985 about the laptop computer. It’s fascinating to see how we react to new technology. Here is an excerpt: “For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few. The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours [that] they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so. The real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.” New York Times (5 minutes)
Process > Goals
Far too many people set goals using the following format: Rush. Reach. Rest. Let’s unpack that: 1) We rush toward the goals we set. We do the unthinkable to get to that reduced body weight. 2) We reach the goal at some point in our lives. Thus, we enter a state of awe and joy. But after that, we … 3) We rest. We abruptly stop the activities that led to our triumph, only to find ourselves in the starting position — e.g., gaining weight again. Perhaps the issue is that we should move from setting goals to building processes. This article has some interesting thoughts on that switch. Durmonski (16 minutes)
On Quitting While Ahead
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to success is success. David Sackett, a pioneering physician-researcher and founder of the evidence-based medicine movement, believed experts should quit their field once they become established. He argued that experts tend to retard progress in their field because they generate innovative ideas before becoming famous and then spend the rest of their careers defending those prior notions. Younger people who are not yet established experts are the ones who come up with new ideas until they too become experts who resist change. Beyond the rationale that experts impede progress, Sackett said that once you have mastered a field, you should move on to tackle new domains where you can again make important novel contributions. He pointed to his own career path, where he went from becoming an expert in medication compliance to pioneering the field of evidence-based medicine, for which he became much more renowned. Sackett believed there is a season for developing expertise in one area before shifting to new fields. You'll never know if your next big breakthrough lies in an entirely different domain unless you quit your current specialty. Psychology Today (7 minutes)
Since I’m in Las Vegas this week, luck has been on my mind. I like this framework of four kinds of luck. They may not be super helpful at the Blackjack table, but they are really helpful in life: 1) Accidental luck is completely random, like where a plant's seed happens to land. Privilege plays a large role. 2) Active luck comes from constant motion and exploration. Taking action and trying new things increases your chances of finding opportunities. 3) Prepared luck happens when you notice and capitalize on a chance occurrence that others would miss. Your unique background equips you to recognize and act on opportunities. 4) Magnetic luck draws chances to you based on who you are. Your passions make you a leader that opportunities are attracted to. Swyx (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 my other email, Founder Fridays — a Friday morning briefing helping startup founders and operators scale smarter.
Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. -Epictetus