Weekend Briefing No. 194

Welcome to the weekend. Hello from Shanghai.


Prime Numbers

330,000,000 – Twitter monthly active users grew 4% to 330 million. Maybe people do want longer tweets?

50 – A Tesla cost 50% more in China than in the U.S. due to import tax. However, this week Tesla announced that they will build a plant in Shanghai’s free-trade zone which would reduce labor and transportation costs as well as possibly reduce the import tax. 

37 Amazon is pursuing something called Amazon Key, which lets its couriers unlock Prime customers’ doors and deliver packages. It’s pairing the service, which it plans to make available in 37 cities next month, with a camera so users will have intelligence inside and outside their homes, presumably boosting trust and lowering creepiness.


Big Brother Meet Big Data

The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents. Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not).  Creeped out yet? Newsflash… most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviors are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. It will also be used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date. It reminds me of the plot of sci-fi novel A Beautiful Sad True Love Story. My take is that this will actually happen for 2 reasons: 1) When the Chinese government chooses to act on something they bring the full force of the government to bear to make it happen and there is no opposition to push back. 2) I’m blown away with how little the Chinese (at least the ones I’ve met) care about privacy. The government openly monitors its citizens on all the apps and when I ask people about it they just shrug. Wired (12 minutes)


Chinese Millennials

Chinese Millennials, are the country’s main hope to lead the consumption revolution.  They already earn more, spend more and travel more than older generations.  In China there are 318 million consumers between the ages of 15-29 (roughly the population of the US). 52.4% male and 47.6% female (thanks to the One Child Policy). 2/3 are high income earners and 50% are international travelers. 74% feel they have more in common with Millennials internationally than they do with the older generation of Chinese. They expect to spend $4,362 on luxury goods this year, mostly from the West. Over 90% own a smartphone. As they grow older and wealthier, they will only contribute more to China’s, and the world’s, consumption. It’s a good idea to understand them as they’re likely to be buying whatever you’re selling. ChinaSkinny (5 minutes)


Recovery Tech

Airbus Aerial is a subsidiary aerial services business backed by Airbus. The Airbus Aerial team is changing the way companies respond to natural disasters by providing important data that was once hard or impossible to gain. Whiteboard, a digital design agency, worked with Airbus Aerial’s team, building out their website, and digital brand presence, and working with them to build their team and acquire new talent. Learn more about how Aerial is changing the way we respond to natural disasters. Airbus Aerial (Sponsored Briefing)


VR Shopping

Forget the stores; just grab your headset. Walmart’s in-house innovation team, Store No. 8, thinks VR could be a hit with its customers. How about taking a 3-D picture of yourself on a smartphone, then seeing different outfits draped over your torso in VR? Stepping into a virtual shop with matching virtual sales assistants to help you choose what to buy? Or visualizing the hazards around your home so you can make things safer for your curious child? One of biggest hurdles right now, of course, is the total lack of adoption that VR has so far achieved among the public. The other is the tech itself. VR is still a clunky experience – a lot of wire, the field of view is still not really great and there are latency issues. Will consumers buy the idea of buying in VR? Retail Drive (6 minutes)


Post-Startup World

Have we entered a post-startup era? The existing tech titans have dominated Silicon Valley and will accrue even more power, and startups will be increasingly hard-pressed to compete. The next wave of important technologies consists of AI, drones, AR/VR, cryptocurrencies, self-driving cars, and the “Internet of Things.” These technologies are collectively, hugely important and consequential — but they are not remotely as accessible to startup disruption as the web and smartphones were due to the capex and talent required. This is not a good thing. Big businesses already have too much power. Amazon and Google are so dominant that there are loud calls for them to be regulated. Fake news shared on Facebook may have swayed the most recent presidential election. What’s more, startups bring fresh approaches and thinking, while hidebound behemoths stagnate in their old ways of doing things. But for the next five to ten years, thanks to the nature of the new technologies coming down the pipe, those behemoths will just keep accruing even more power — until, we can hope, the pendulum swings back again. TechCrunch (5 minutes)


Disagreeing Well

According to a new survey from the Brookings Institution 44% do not believe the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects so-called “hate speech,” when of course it absolutely does. More shockingly, 51% think it is “acceptable” for a student group to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. 20% also agree that it’s acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. This is an age in which we judge one another morally by where we stand politically. It seems that in order to hold a strong conviction means we must resist, which has come to mean not only disagreeing with our opponents, but shutting down their ability to give their view point. In the US, we currently don’t disagree well.  To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say. New York Times (11 minutes)


Moving Beyond Good Enough

Once we reach some base level of competence at any skill, we practice that part over and over and shy away from the parts that might make us better. Stopping here is a hallmark of amateurs. The only way to get better at a task is through deliberate practice. The idea is simple: instead of avoiding pain, you dive in. How? First, use the mental model of Galilean Relativity to switch perspectives and see yourself through the eyes of others. This will allow you to recognize the areas that you need to improve. Recognizing these areas is necessary if you want to improve. Second, set aside time for dedicated focus on the specific area you want to improve. Farnam Street (7 minutes)


From the Community

Jenny Kassan just launched her new book Raise Capital on Your Own Terms it lays out the vast range of capital-raising strategies available to entrepreneurs beyond Silicon Valley and credit card funding.

Cliff Feigenbaum just released the 25th anniversary version of the Green Money Journal.


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.