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Weekend Briefing No. 65
Welcome to the weekend. This week John Kerry visited Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia showing support for refugees and vowing support in the fight against Al-Shabaab, the US Jobs report for April showed gains of 223,000 jobs and an unemployment drop to 5.4% and David Cameron’s Conservative Party won the UK election.
Here is my May playlist, enjoy this beautiful weekend with some great tunes.
The state of impact investing. JP Morgan and GIIN just released their 5th annual report on impact investing. Global impact investments under management climbed to $60 billion for the 146 investors surveyed, up from $46 billion for 125 investors surveyed last year. We are starting to see some exits from private equity investors—77 in total, 61 since 2012 (17 in microfinance, 9 each in financial services, healthcare, and food and agriculture). Not surprisingly, investors continue to complain about deal flow, and not surprisingly, they continue to fund later-stage companies – 91% of all the dollars invested to post-venture companies and only 9% was invested in early stage companies. Investors, if you are looking for early stage companies, we should talk. Read more on the report at Impact Alpha.
How should a startup measure success? Running an early-stage company is really hard. Entrepreneurs want something they can hang on to. They want a scorecard. A number. Validation that they are getting there. Fred Wilson’s advice is perfect: Measure yourself on whether your employees are happy. Measure yourself on whether your customers are happy. Measure yourself on how much free cash flow your business is generating. Measure yourself on how your brand is known and appreciated around the world. Measure yourself on how your spouse and children feel about you when you come home from work each day. You control all of those things, at least to some degree. Read more at Fred’s blog AVC.
Two keys to sustainable social enterprise. Based on 15 years of study at the Skoll Foundation, Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg have found that successful social entrepreneurs all focus on changing two features of an existing system—the economic actors involved and the enabling technology applied. These economic actors fall into two categories: customers, whose role is to shift the power balance by consuming more consciously; and government, whose can play a far more productive role in changing the equilibrium. A second way, therefore, to effect change is to dramatically improve a system’s technology while leaving the current actors in place. Such improvement is achieved in one of three ways: substitution, creation, or repurposing. Learn more in this Harvard Business Review article. Thanks to Suzanne McKechnie Klahr for recommending this.
The sun in Africa. You can’t have a beer at Brew Bistro in Nairobi without overhearing a conversation about somebody’s solar startup. Could it be that solar power, combined with large-scale batteries, will be the “grid” in developing markets in the near future? Maybe. It is yet another example of a market need and context leading to solutions that leapfrog traditional infrastructure. The solar revolution is underway on the continent fueled by cheap cells from china, an increased demand for in home lighting / appliances and upward economic mobility. This re/code piece is a great primer on solar in Africa.
The Hollywood Model is an approach to labor management where a project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands. This short-term, project-based business structure is an alternative to the corporate model, in which capital is spent up front to build a business, which then hires workers for long-term, open-ended jobs that can last for years, even a lifetime. With the Hollywood model, ad hoc teams carry out projects that are large and complex, requiring many different people with complementary skills. We’ve been running our firm on the Hollywood Model for the last 7 years and have found it works well even in the legal world, allowing us to scale up and down quickly, meet a diverse set of client needs, keep fees low and margins high. Thanks to Stefanie Chang for sending this my way.
THINGS I LIKE
To stay married, consider delaying your wedding. Age is the “smoking gun” in modern marriage.
What’s your ‘Game of Thrones’ management style? I took this brilliant / fun Wall Street Journal quiz. Turns out I’m Tyrion Lannister! Who are you?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him. - Audrey Hepburn, quoted in The Telegraph (U.K.)
ABOUT THE WEEKEND BRIEFING
The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway & Co. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine and am committed to keeping you informed with the most relevant content.