Weekend Briefing No. 170

Welcome to the weekend. I’ve got some fresh tunes for you. Enjoy my May playlist. Cheers!

Prime Numbers

800 – Nepal is bracing for a busy and potentially dangerous season on Mount Everest as it has issued permits for 800 climbers, guides, and Sherpas. With 4-5 days of good weather to make a summit push, Nepali officials said they expect “traffic jam”-like conditions on the icy slopes.

$42 – Tesla’s cost for its new solar roof tiles is about $42 per square foot, significantly below the prior estimate of $68 per square foot. Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years.

40% – The median home price in Vancouver soared nearly 40% percent between mid 2015 and mid 2016. What happened? – like several other cities around the world it is seen as a safe place for international investors to park their money in uncertain times. And “for wealthy Chinese, Vancouver has emerged as the perfect ‘hedge city’.

How To Get Startup Ideas

The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. It sounds obvious to say you should only work on problems that exist. And yet by far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has. The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.” The most successful startups almost all begin this way. The clash of domains is a particularly fruitful source of ideas. If you know a lot about programming and you start learning about some other field, you’ll probably see problems that software could solve. If you’re at the leading edge of a rapidly changing field, there will be things that are obviously missing. What won’t be obvious is that they’re startup ideas. Live in the future, then build what’s missing. Get more tactics from YC Founder Paul Graham (23 minutes).

The Employee’s Perspective

“67% of employees said, ‘Yes, I’m afraid of something at work.’ 78% of employees said, ‘Yes, there’s something we should measure in the company that we currently don’t.’ The only way to get valuable answers is to ask valuable questions. Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company, helps businesses do just that and in this post she shares nine surprising insights from employees, based on interviews with 15,000 employees in countries all over the world. The insights include that 81% of employees wish they could have more interaction with other parts of their companies, 92% would like to apprentice under somebody in their company for a few weeks, and 76% believe there are people at the company doing great work that goes unnoticed. Learn more at Signal v. Noise (5 minutes). I found this article on my friend Josh Spector’s email For The Interested. It’s one of my favorites, check it out and subscribe here.

Paying With Your Face

Over the past few years, computers have become incredibly good at recognizing faces, and the technology is expanding quickly in China in the interest of both surveillance and convenience. Face recognition might transform everything from policing to the way people interact every day with banks, stores, and transportation services. Technology from Face++ is already being used in several popular apps. It is possible to transfer money through Alipay, a mobile payment app used by more than 120 million people in China, using only your face as credentials. Meanwhile, Didi, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, uses the Face++ software to let passengers confirm that the person behind the wheel is a legitimate driver. This technology will definitely take off first in China where the expectations of privacy are very low. Learn more at MIT Technology Review (5 minutes).

Salesforce Goes to Zero

In February 2015, the B Team, a nonprofit group of business and foundation leaders cofounded by Richard Branson that counts CEOs from Salesforce, Unilever, and the United Nation Foundation among its members, set forth an agreement dubbed “Net-Zero by 2050.” Salesforce decided to not just meet them, but exceed them, investing in a way that creates a carbon-neutral cloud. As well as in environmental projects that have a social and economic impact in the developing world, one of the places expected to be hardest hit by climate change. This week the company hit that mark this month, 33 years ahead of the deadline, although they won’t disclose how much it cost. Learn more at Fast Company (4 minutes).

CRISPR Eliminates HIV in Live Animals

Due to their innate nature to hide away and remain latent for extended periods of time, HIV infections have proven notoriously difficult to eliminate. Yet now, new data released from a research team led by investigators at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh shows that HIV DNA can be excised from the genomes of living animals to eliminate further infection. Additionally, the researchers are the first to perform this feat in three different animal models, including a “humanized” model in which mice were transplanted with human immune cells and infected with the virus. Findings from the new study were published recently in Molecular Therapy (11 minutes).

O Captain, My Captain

Norwegian chemicals group Yara announced this week that it’s building a battery-powered ship that will be able to drive itself by 2020. It says the new container vessel will replace 40,000 of the diesel truck journeys it makes hauling fertilizer from its plant to ports every year. The new ship, named the Yara Birkeland, is a zero-emissions vehicle developed with shipping technology company Kongsberg. The ship will begin operations as a manned vessel next year, move to remote operation in 2019, and be capable of fully autonomous travel in 2020. Learn more at Quartz (2 minutes).

Oregon Trail Generation

I was born in November of 1979. I’m too young to be fully Gen Xer and too old to be fully Millennial. A perfect label has emerged for people like me: the Oregon Trail Generation. We grew up playing the game on Apple II’s in our school computer lab. (Kyle died of dysentery!) We were the first group of high school kids to do research for papers both online and in an old-fashioned card catalogue. We had a youth untouched by social media, so, though we were still acting like idiots, the whole world couldn’t see it. We used pay-phones; we showed up at each other’s houses without warning; we often spoke to our friends’ parents before we got to speak to them; and we had to wait at least an hour to see any photos we’d taken.Thanks to the evil genius of Sean Parker, most of us were in college in the heyday of Napster and spent many a night using the university’s communal Ethernet to pillage our friends’ music libraries at breakneck speeds. We were on the cusp of changes that essentially transformed modern life. We are the last generation who was formed in the analogue world, but the first generation to fully embrace the digital world. Learn more at Social Media Week (6 minutes).

About the Weekend Briefing

The best articles on innovation, impact, and growth distilled into one email every Saturday morning by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.