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Weekend Briefing No. 64
Welcome to the weekend. This has been a tough week. We’re just starting to understand the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal. My friends and I are grappling with the loss of our friend Dan Fredinburg who was killed in the avalanche on Everest. If you are looking for ways to contribute you may want to consider donating to Dan’s favorite Nepalese charity Orphan’s Gift or to charity: water’s Nepal projects.
Drones & disaster relief. One of the biggest challenges in getting disaster aid to places like Nepal has always been how reach areas that have been cut off by destroyed roads or rubble. But now aid workers have a new tool to help: drones. An aid organization called Global Medic is using drones to photograph and map areas affected by the quake and pinpoint where aid needs to go. This eye-in-the-sky intel helps direct the efficient distribution of aid. Drones will continue to play an increasingly important role in disaster relief. I think we’ll see the drones deploying aid in the next 5 years. Learn more here.
The post-mortem of a failed Kickstarter campaign. What happens when a Kickstarter campaign fails to launch? This New York Times Magazine article is the answer to that question, detailing the rise and fall of ZPM Espresso, which raised $370,000 on Kickstarter to manufacture an espresso machine. Three years and 57 updates later, they threw in the towel, having burned through all the cash and having no product to show for it. This long form piece looks at the reactions of the founders and the backers. As crowdfunding becomes more ubiquitous, this will be a more common phenomenon.
How will B Corp certification work for larger companies? There’s been a lot of buzz around the Etsy IPO. Unilever is publically considering becoming B Corp certified. All of this raises question about how practical it is for big companies to operate as a B Corp. I’m quoted in this New York Times article giving my opinion on the matter. My perspective is that it’s much easier for a company to get B Corp certified when it’s small and growing than it is to get certified when it’s a huge multinational company.
Barefoot VC. One of my favorite podcasts on entrepreneurship is This Week in Startups. This week they interviewed my friend, the “Barefoot VC” Jalak Jobanputra. This wide-ranging interview touched on women in venture capital, cryptocurriencies and tech in developing markets, including a segment on our friends at BitPesa. The interview is worth watching; check it out here.
Warby Parker’s $1+ billion valuation. T. Rowe Price led a $100 million round of funding in Warby Parker, featured in Profit & Purpose, the company said in an interview this week. The round values five-year-old Warby Parker at $1.2 billion, though they are not yet profitable. The capital will go toward expanding to 20 physical stores by yearend, up from 12 currently and investing in technology to let customers conduct eye exams using just their mobile phones.
THINGS I LIKE
New York v. San Francisco in 12 cartoons. It’s pretty spot on.
Rubik’s cube records are being set left and right this year. We have entered an age that we have to start qualifying whether a record is human or robot. Collin Burns solved a Rubik's Cube in just 5.25 seconds this weekend in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. But a robot made from Lego named Cubestormer 3 accomplished the impressive feat in just 3.253 seconds.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The seven commandments of funding. Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation came up with 7 commandments for funding in the social sector. They are: 1) Thou shalt fund for impact above all else. 2) Thou shalt not restrict thy funds. 3) Thou shalt feed success with continued investment. 4) Thou shalt not hassle the doers. 5) Thou shalt not worship the god of overhead. 6) Thou shalt not be a doer by proxy. 7) Thou shalt advocate for thydoers. Learn more at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The hidden reason for poverty. This TED Talk by one of my heroes, Gary Haugen, is a must see! Collective compassion has meant an overall decrease in global poverty since the 1980s, says civil rights lawyer Gary Haugen. Yet for all the world's aid money, there's a pervasive hidden problem keeping poverty alive. Haugen reveals the dark underlying cause we must recognize and act on now.