Weekend Briefing No. 129

Welcome To The Weekend

This week the Democrats had their convention in Philly. Solar Impulse 2 completed its journey around the world traveling some 25,000 miles powered by 17,000-plus solar cells during the day and lithium polymer batteries at night since it took off in March 2015. The Federal Reserve holds off on a rate hike.

Aquila Liftoff

Aquila, Facebook’s solar-powered internet-beaming unmanned aerial vehicle, just had its first successful flight. It has the wingspan of an airliner and can beam down internet access to millions of people from 65,000 feet in the air. Additionally, it flies at 25 mph, runs on the power of a blow dryer, and it’s on the path to breaking the world record for the longest UAV flight in history. Watch the video of the launch and read an in-depth interview with Mark Zuckerberg on the future of Facebook at The Verge (15 minutes).

Enhance Me Not

A new Pew Research Center survey examined public attitudes about the potential use of emerging technologies to improve people’s health, cognitive or physical capacities. While the public expresses more worry than enthusiasm about human enhancements, most expect many enhancements will happen within the next 50 years. Most Americans say they would not want to improve their cognitive or physical abilities with brain chips or synthetic blood. Religious Americans are the most wary about future human enhancements. Learn more at Pew (5 minutes).

Ice Buckets

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Many critics noted that the faddishness of the challenge undermined its value. Is it true? Actually… no. It’s true that the vast majority of the people who made A.L.S. donations during the challenge haven’t done so again. But, aside from funding some important scientific breakthroughs, contributions to the A.L.S. Association have stayed about 25% higher than in the year before the challenge, and the average donor age dropped from above 50 to 35. Learn more at the New Yorker (4 minutes).

Craigslist’s Business Philosophy

The current models of big philanthropy focus on accumulating massive wealth, followed by the charitable contribution of a very small percentage of that wealth. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, practiced a different model, one that’s focused on a commitment to fairness and doing right by others. His philosophy has two basic tenets: 1) Stay focused on making a difference rather than making a killing. 2) If you’re lucky enough to do well, keep sending the elevator back down. Learn more at CraigConnects (2 minutes).

Systems Entrepreneur

When Evan Marwell founded EducationSuperHighway (ESH), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing broadband internet access to every U.S. public school classroom, he quickly realized it would require new data, new cross-sector partnerships, changes to federal policy, and teams to help states implement.  So, rather than approach his project solely from the lens of a tech entrepreneur, Marwell needed to be a systems entrepreneur focused on changing the entire system that constrained internet access in the classroom. Learn more in my friend and Weekend Briefing subscriber Jeff Walker’s piece in Harvard Business Review (4 minutes).

Startup Stock

The typical Employee Stock Option Plans for startups can be challenging for most employees because it forces them to lay out cash to exercise.  A typical option plan may have a 90-day exercise window, which essentially pits cash-rich employees against cash-poor ones. Employees who have vested their hard-earned options should not have to forfeit their stock simply because they don’t have the financial resources. So, prominent VC firm Andreessen Horowitz propose an option program here that includes 10-year exercise periods. Learn the details at a16z (9 minutes).

Bot & Sold

Apartment hunting in SF is a nightmare, because it’s one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, you have to be able to act fast on relevant information. So, Vik Paruchuri built a Slack bot that scrapes Craigslist, checks the listings against several criteria, and posts the matches to Slack. Learn how to build your own at Data Quest H/t Katharine Bierce (10 minutes).

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.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.