Weekend Briefing No. 145

This Week By The Numbers

25,000,000,000: The projected value of Snapchat. The company filed confidential plans for an IPO on Tuesday. The company hopes to raise $4 billion in its IPO at a valuation of at least $25 billion. Apparently dog filters on selfies are worth something after all.

48: The number of hours it took to fill a 98 ft. wide, 50 ft. deep sink hole in the city of Fukuoka, Japan. Workers labored around the clock to fill it with a mixture of sand and cement.

28%: The apparent increase in sexual partners if you’re an altruistic person according to a recent survey. So, it looks like, in the long run, nice guys don’t finish last!

The United States of Hustle

When AT&T hit $200B in market cap they had 302,000 employees, and when GE hit that mark they had 239,000 employees. By comparison, when Facebook hit that mark they had less than 10,000 (9,199 to be exact). With all the debate about bringing back jobs to the US, both sides of the aisle need to acknowledge that the winning companies in the new US economy will need less people. Who knows where this will go. Perhaps reactionary populist politicians will eventually mandate a minimum number of US employees. Another route is to recognize the reality that most people won’t be “employees” but will be forced to cobble together a portfolio of jobs. If that’s so, we should be teaching our children the importance of entrepreneurship, grit and hustle. They will need those skills to thrive. See a chart on employees and market cap at The Information (1 minute).

Selling Out or Moving Forward?

In October Seventh Generation was acquired by Unilever for a reported $600 to $700 million in cash. The question now is whether the company can substantially grow its ranks of customers without losing the passionate core while being owned by this global $59-billion-a-year CPG giant that sells everything from Axe body spray to Vaseline. Seventh Generation’s faithful customers tend to be wary of big business to begin with. The CEO thinks it can be done. He says, “We’re not selling out. We’re moving forward.” Learn more at Fortune (11 minutes).

Disrupting Clorox

Maybe Seventh Generation should take a lesson from Burt’s Bees who sold to Clorox for $925 million in 2007. Clorox made the acquisition not only for the product, but they also knew that they could learn from Burt’s about sustainability. After the acquisition, Burt’s was able to teach Clorox how to significantly reduce waste and add more natural ingredients into their supply chain. Thus, Burt’s impact was scaled across the hundreds of brands owned by Clorox. Learn more in an excerpt from my book Profit & Purpose at Westaway Review (17 minutes).

$2M in Cash in the Gobi Desert

Last year, 28-year-old Matt Scanlan packed $2 million in cash from floor to ceiling in a land cruiser and drove into the Gobi Desert. Scanlan was on a mission. As cofounder and CEO of fashion company Naadam, he has been working to transform the cashmere supply chain by purchasing the wool directly from Mongolian herders, rather than through middlemen who inflate prices. By cutting out the middlemen, they could ensure that the people doing the hardest work in the supply chain were better compensated while also selling cashmere sweaters for less than what they are sold for in the market. It’s a “farm-to-table” approach to luxury fashion. Learn more at Fast Company (5 minutes).

3 Essential Career Conversations

As a leader, investing in your team is essential, but how do you do it? Here are 3 conversations to help your employees develop both short- and long-term plans.1) Be their Barbara Walters. Take an hour to get to know your employees — deeply. Begin with the phrase: Starting with kindergarten, tell me about your life. 2) Spot their lighthouse and bring it into focus. Articulating a clear vision for an employee’s future is the most important step. Ask your employee about their dreams. 3) Create a career action plan. Map out — in great detail — exactly how your employee is going to reach that vision for themselves. Think of it as a roadmap to self-actualization. Learn more at First Round Review (14 minutes).

Tech in Latin America

Latin American innovators are taking advantage of high mobile penetration, a strong middle class and a unified culture to capture new opportunities in the digital economy. A couple trends to note are: 1) In a region with low trust and high cash dependency, hybrid solutions are being developed to encourage skeptical consumers toward digital payment options. For example, online payment processors have partnered with convenience store chains to allow customers to pay for online purchases via cash in their local store. 2) Tech platforms are solving logistics challenges and integrating smallholder farmers into the supply chain, allowing them to capture more value. Read the full report from my friends at I-Dev International (27 minutes).

Disrupting Law

I don’t like to spend too much time in the Weekend Briefing talking about what we’re up to at my law firm Westaway. But today is an exception. We’ve been working behind the scenes on a ground breaking product we’re calling Venture Lab. Venture Lab is on-demand legal service at a simple monthly flat fee for startups and emerging companies. No limits. No clock counting. Just quality advice every step of the way. Legal bills can be erratic, expensive and opaque, and the billable hour misaligns the incentives of the attorney and the entrepreneur. We think there’s a better way. Because… ya know, it’s 2016. We’re launching this publicly next year, but if you’re a Weekend Briefing subscriber running a startup or small business we’re inviting you to join the beta program. Learn more at Venture Lab. Even if it’s not right for you… please shoot me an email with feedback. Thanks.

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.

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