Weekend Briefing No. 188

Welcome to the weekend! Hello from San Francisco.

Last week I mentioned that I’m working with my friends at ADAP Capital to run the Deal Room at SOCAP this October. The ADAP Deal Room aims to develop authentic connections between investors and entrepreneurs. Our deal room will be action-oriented, with the goal of making a couple $75,000 deals during the SOCAP conference. There was a TON of interest last week. If you’re an early stage social entrepreneur and you haven’t applied yet, do it today because applications close on Tuesday. Apply here.

Prime Numbers

6,000,000 – Zello, the walkie talkie app, got six million new users in one week as Florida prepared for Hurricane Irma

40 – Offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind announced a partnership with Tesla this week to pair a 144 MW offshore wind farm with a 40 MWh battery storage system.

33 – Magic Leap, the mysterious startup working on augmented reality wearable gadgets, is raising money again and this round may value the company at $6 billion, up 33% since last year. They keep raising boatloads of money although they’ve never shipped a product.

Universal Basic Income in Alaska

Every year the Alaska Permanent Fund of the state’s oil revenues issues $1,000–2,000 to every man, woman, and child in the state. That makes the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend a real-world example of a Universal Basic Income, or UBI — a regular, unconditional cash transfer for everyone. A recent study by Omidyar Network had some interesting findings: 1) UBI is not an income replacement. Instead it’s an important option for shoring-up safety nets as the economy evolves. 2) 40% saying it makes “a great deal or quite a bit of difference” in their lives (versus just 8% saying “no difference”). 3) People aren’t using the money unwisely. 94% of respondents use their dividend for essentials, emergencies, or for future needs, such as retirement or education. 4) Nine out of ten respondents are in favor of a “no strings attached,” universal program for every Alaskan, an attitude shared across political affiliations and income levels. 5) Only 1% of respondents believe that the dividend makes them work less. Rather, it may empower people to find more productive work: 11% said the dividends made them more likely to take risks, learn new skills, or start new businesses. Impact Alpha (6 minutes).

School 2.0

Silicon Valley veterans are ditching fast-track careers and going all-in with their time and money to reimagine education for their children. In a world where we have ubiquitous access to content in our back pockets, they’re moving away from content standards and more toward performance standards. Demonstrating mastery of chemistry, in this line of thinking, would involve designing a study and presenting the findings, rather than memorizing the periodic table. The goal is to encourage students at every stage of the learning process, to adopt an active stance toward their education. But the catch is that these new utopian education experiences come at a high cost – $35,000 / year tuition in some cases. So, can these techie parents reinvent school for everyone… or just their rich kids? Fast Company (11 minutes).

NPS Strategy

Most startups seek out early product enthusiasts – those who give you a high Net Promoter Score (NPS) to drive buzz and attract more customers. It’s tempting to listen to all the good stuff you get in your NPS surveys. But Shan-Lyn Ma, founder of wedding registry site Zola, has learned a lot more by being very focused on the not-so-good comments. Detractors are frequently clearer guides than promoters. While promoters tend to hedge and couch their criticism amidst their praise, the detractors tend to give matter-of-fact constructive criticism about the key flaws in your product. Shan has created a smart strategy on how to maximize the impact of NPS including the best cadence and milestones to survey customers and how to analyze the data. It’s paid off big time, Zola’s NPS scores have improved by over 50%, surpassing both Amazon’s score and the retail industry benchmark. First Round Review (12 minutes)

Supply Change

Levi Strauss & Co. launched a new initiative with vendors in its supply chain dubbed “Improving Worker Well-Being,” The 10-week course is designed to teach workers about health, hygiene, and sanitation, as well as communication and critical thinking. The program encompasses 42 vendors in 72 factories totaling approximately 140,000 workers. The goal is to build a network of more productive, better-run factories—with happier, healthier employees, with lower rates of costly absenteeism and turnover. It will be good for suppliers, but also for Levi’s, which will have more reliable, cost-efficient sourcing partners—while generating positive vibes that resonate with young talent and with consumers who want their values reflected in everything they buy. Fortune (9 minutes)


As science gets bigger, so too must its machines. The largest supercomputer in the US, possibly in the world, is up to the challenge. Summit is nearing completion at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee (my dad worked there when I was growing up). Summit is structured using heterogeneous architecture and is composed of 4,600 nodes. At peak performance, Summit will hit 200 petaflops, a petaflop being one million billion operations a second. It requires enough electricity to run 12,000 Southern homes with their air conditioners cranking while cooling requires a water flow of nearly 8,000 gallons per minute. Wired (5 minutes).

The Right to Remain Silent

If we are accused of a crime our constitution gives us the right to remain silent during investigation or trial. But technology has enabled―if not forced―us to project our most private interior selves into places that can be observed and recorded with few legal limits. Our digital machines are not mere tools, but extensions of the most basic processes of human cognition, the suite of mental processes encompassing thoughts, experiences, sensations, memories, where you have been, who you have talked to, what you said, what your heart rate was at the time, what you have looked at on the Web, what medication you are taking, what you have bought, what maps you have looked up, what spelling mistakes you make, and it is only accelerating. Cops of the future (and to some extent the present) won’t have to read minds because we will have done the work ourselves in making our minds readable via technology. Insert dystopian nightmare. Motherboard (6 minutes)

The Science of Parenting

What does science tell us about parenting? 1) Eat dinner as a family. Kids who eat with their families roughly five days a week exhibit lower levels of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity, and depression. They also have higher grade-point averages, better vocabularies, and more self-esteem. 2) Working moms. When moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to be employed themselves, hold supervisory roles, and make more money than peers whose mothers did not have careers. 3) Do chores. Adults who achieve the greatest professional success did chores as a child. (Thanks mom!) 4) Delay gratification. Learning to delay gratification results in better social skills, higher test scores, lower incidence of substance abuse, less obesity, and increased ability to deal with stress. 5) Travel. It creates openness, curiosity, independence and self-esteem. 6) Let them fail. It helps your child learn to cope, a skill that’s certainly needed in the real world. It also instills the need for hard work and sustained efforts, and also demonstrates that these traits are valuable even without the blue ribbon, gold star, or top score. Inc. (8 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. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback, insights, tips 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.