Weekend Briefing No. 285

Welcome to the weekend! Hello from Santa Cruz.

Prime Numbers

1,700 – New York has signed the biggest-ever deals for offshore wind power in U.S. history, a key part of the state’s plan to get all of its power from emissions-free sources by 2040. On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded contracts for two projects off Long Island that will total 1,700 megawatts in capacity.

45 – Immigrants and their kids founded 45% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies.

20 A typical home in Hong Kong costs 20 times the median salary (by way of comparison in the NYC metro area, that number is 5).

Billion Dollar B Corp Acquisition

The iconic makeup brand Avon just confirmed an all-stock sale to Brazil-based beauty brand Natura valued at $2 billion, effectively creating the world’s fourth-largest beauty brand with roughly $10 billion in global revenue. The combined businesses will have more than 6 million direct sellers, 3,200 stores and operations in 100 countries. The move followed Natura’s 2017 acquisition of The Body Shop, the first billion-dollar acquisition by a B Corp. Once completed, this deal would make Natura the world’s largest Certified B Corporation, surpassing Danone North America. Missing from almost all of the reports of the purchase was a deeper story on emerging business trends: by voting to approve an all-stock sale to Natura, Avon’s directors became the first directors of an existing U.S.-listed, publicly traded company (NYSE-AVP) to vote to upend shareholder primacy by adopting a corporate governance structure that’s purpose is to create long-term value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. That’s a big deal. Forbes (16 minutes)

Save the Rhino

The planned sale of a rhino impact bond, aimed at growing the population of the endangered black rhino, is seen by its backers as a test for the creation of a conservation debt market that could be used for everything from protecting species facing extinction to preserving wildlife areas. The sale next year of the $50 million bond, the first financial instrument for species conservation, is being run by the Zoological Society of London and Conservation Capital. Under the program, the five-year bond will cover conservation efforts at five sites in South Africa and Kenya where about 700 black rhinos, or about 12% of the world’s population of the animals, live. Investors will be paid back their capital and a yield if the number of animals increases. The target is to boost the world’s black rhino population by 10%. Bloomberg (7 minutes)

Direct to Bathroom

Adding to the laundry list of no-go consumer items, it turns out toilet paper is *also* bad for the environment, between all the virgin wood used, energy consumed, and chemicals expended to produce it. So suddenly there are all these startups looking to disrupt the space by “doing better”. “Who Gives A Crap;” “Cheeky Monkey;” and “No.2” of Goop Fame all make TP out of recycled paper and/or bamboo, and they’ll even deliver straight to your door– via subscription, no less– incurring enough environmental damage through freight and cardboard that you might as well have bought Charmin in the first place. Responsibility isn’t easy, kids. Lorem Ipsum (4 minutes) Also, if you dig this issue you can subscribe to her email on culture here.

Scooter Repo

The multibillion-dollar dockless scooter industry is going after a two-man team who have 10,000 scooters languishing in a tow yard. The two men run an operation called ScootScoop and they spend their time impounding scooters around San Diego on behalf of business owners and landlords who are fed up with the deluge of dockless two-wheelers. Bird and Lim have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and are notorious for working around any local permits or regulations are now demanding protections under the California Vehicle Code, asking a judge to intervene and save their dockless scooters from ScootScoop. Depositions are scheduled to take place at the end of July. The Verge (11 minutes)

Working @ Amazon

A few days before the Fourth of July, British comic John Oliver used the pulpit of his US infotainment show, Last Week Tonight, to deliver a lengthy monologue about the depredations working at one of Amazon.com’s fulfillment centers. One worker responds in this article noting that Oliver’s takedown is unpersuasive. Warehouse work, Oliver solemnly informed his audience, is strenuous, difficult, and doesn’t pay very well. To most Americans (and people in general, for that matter), this will not have been news. Yes, it’s hard work. Since huge bay doors are open to load trucks, it’s not a perfectly climate-controlled environment. Oliver’s researchers even uncovered an incident in which a worker had died on the job and her co-workers were told to carry on working in the presence of her corpse. Amazon disputes much of this, but I have no difficulty believing that incidents like these do occasionally occur. Amazon employs approximately 650,000 people worldwide. That number is higher than the populations of 50 of the world’s 233 countries. It’s entirely possible that at some point a citizen of Luxembourg (population 602,000) has been sprayed by bear repellant, or that workers somewhere in Iceland (360,000) have been required to work around a fallen co-worker. But neither of these things, if they happened, would be proof that working conditions in Luxembourg or Iceland are appalling. Quillette (12 minutes)

Founder In Transition

This is what one founder learned about job transition after meeting with 100 entrepreneurs and investors. (1) So much of a founder’s identity is wrapped up in their company. When you pour your life into building something, and then you change course, you almost have to redefine yourself. That intensity of introspection can be daunting. It’s a chance to understand who you are outside of your company. (2) Fear of the sophomore slump is real — but so is the possibility for growth. (3) Are you excited, or still exhausted? If you’re waking up feeling excited to tackle something new, that’s a good indicator you’re ready to dive back into the fray. First Round Review (18 minutes)

8 Questions

Here are 8 alternatives to “What do you do?” (1) What excites you right now? (2) What are you looking forward to? (3) What’s the best thing that happened to you this year? (4) Where did you grow up? (5) What do you do for fun? (6) Who is your favorite superhero?  (7) Is there a charitable cause you support? (8) What’s the most important thing I should know about you? Harvard Business Review (6 minutes)


Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde-scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde’s philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published. These landmark writings are, in Lorde’s own words, a call to “never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is…” Amazon

About the Weekend Briefing

A Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society by Kyle Westaway – Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Shripal Daphtary.

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Weekend Wisdom

If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more. Gen. Shinseki