Weekend Briefing No. 91

Welcome to the weekend. Chinese and Taiwanese leaders meet for coffee. Amazon, who has put countless brick and mortar book stores out of business, opened up their own brick and mortar bookstore (with no price tags). At least 41 died in a plane crash in South Sudan. Turkey returned to one-party rule. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party won a better-than-expected 49.4% of the popular vote, securing an outright parliamentary majority.

Enjoy some good tunes for your weekend, listen to my November playlist… yes, Adele is on it.


Greenland is melting away. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect in Greenland could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet. See this stunningly beautiful landscape in this interactive piece from the New York Times.

Goldman Sachs dubious results. Goldman Sachs entered was a party to a social impact bond in Utah around early childhood education. The goal was to reduce the number of students needing special education. The program’s unusual success — and the payments to Goldman that were in direct proportion to that success — were based on what researchers say was a faulty assumption that many of the children in the program would have needed special education without the preschool, despite there being little evidence or previous research to indicate that this was the case. They seem to have either performed a miracle, or these kids weren’t in line for special education in the first place. Learn more in the New York Times.

Keystone killed. After a seven year deliberation, President Obama finally killed the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. “The pipeline would not make a meaningful, long-term contribution to our economy,” Obama said. “So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it.” Learn more in the Atlantic.

Tech bubble? With the rise of the unicorns, everybody is asking if we are in a tech bubble. Sam Altman of Y-Combinator is making the argument that there does not appear to be a tech bubble in the public markets or in early to mid stages of the private markets. There does appear to be a bubble in the late-stage private companies (think Uber), but that’s because people are misunderstanding these financial instruments as equity (they actually have liquidation preferences that make them look more like debt). At some point, LPs realize that buying debt in late-stage tech companies is not what they signed up for, and then prices in late-stage private companies appear to correct. Learn more in Sam’s blog.

Crowdfunding regulations… finally! After a three-year process, the SEC finally voted on the proposed Title III changes to the JOBS Act establishing new equity crowdfunding regulations. Some highlights are: 1) Companies can raise up to $1M from non-accredited investors every 12 months; 2) Investors are capped on the amount they can invest depending on their annual salary; 3) Companies must comply with disclosures; 4) The offering must be conducted through a qualified portal. Learn more here. Thanks to my friend Taylor Davidson who has his own cool newsletter on fundraising and finance for startups.


Do unto others. A study that involved professors from seven universities found that religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts: “Children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households.”

Bond, James Bond. And just in time for its latest installment, here’s a tally of everything you need to know about James Bond.


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 Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.