Weekend Briefing No. 221

Welcome to the Weekend. I hope to see some of you at the Opportunity Collaboration USA this week. If you’re going to be there, shoot me a note and we’ll meet up.

Looking for some fresh tunes? My May playlist is a high-energy musical journey about disappointment, brokenness, honesty, reconciliation and ultimately hope.

Prime Numbers

1oo B – WhatsApp and Messenger combined are now doing ‘almost 100bn’ messages per day. Global SMS peaked at around 20bn. 

55 – Britain, which went for a record 55-hours without burning coal in any of its power plants producing electricity by burning coal. No coal was used for power generation by stations in the U.K. between 10:25 p.m. in London on Monday until 5:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to grid data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time wind turbines produced more power.

49 Facebook generated $11.97 billion in first-quarter revenue, a 49% jump over the first quarter of 2017. The Cambridge Analytics scandal seems to not be taking a toll on the company’s bottom line yet.

Keep It Simple

In many sports, like diving, gymnastics, skating, etc, the way to win is to perfectly execute a high degree of difficulty move. In startups, unlike in a sport like diving or skating, you don’t have just one or two of three attempts to win. In startups, you get to show your stuff every day, all the time. So the better approach is to pick something simple to execute, nail it, then build on it with another relatively simple move, nail that too, and keep going. When, ten years later, you look back at what you and the team accomplished, it may well look like a reverse triple somersault with two twists in pike, and it will have been exactly that, and you will have won the prize too. But you will have done it by doing the easier things perfectly thousands of times instead of the hard thing just once. AVC (2 minutes)

Millennial Moms

Millennials are parents… I know, right?! Nearly two decades after the first Millennial turned 18, this generation is embracing a new role: parenthood. 50% of US children have Millennial parents, so what do we know about this generation of moms? Over 50% own a home. They stay fit, 43% have a gym membership (compared to 29% of other parents). They collectively spend $1 Trillion a year on their kids. They are much more brand loyal than their non-parent peers. 44% of millennial parents only shop brands that reflect their social or political values. 50% of millennial parents always research a brand or retailer’s views on topics that matter to them. Bottom line: if you’re building a brand for this target demo and don’t have a social / environmental impact, you are losing. Shoot me an email, we can help build a compelling strategy for you. National Retail Federation (11 minutes)

CEO Activism

A new poll shows consumers expect chief executives to proactively take steps on social issues, even before lawmakers do. 64% of people say that C.E.O.s should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it, according to the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, a poll of 33,000 individuals across 28 markets around the world. The poll found that 84% expect C.E.O.s to inform conversations and policy debates on one or more issues and 56% said they have no respect for C.E.O.s who remain silent on important issues. This isn’t just a Millennial thing. Perhaps the most intriguing finding this year is that all age groups expect a company’s C.E.O. to be personally visible in sharing its purpose and vision (75% among ages 18 to 34, 80% among ages 35 to 54, 83% among those 55 and older). New York Times (4 minutes)

Jeff Bezos on Colonizing Space

If you take baseline energy usage, globally, across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That’s the real energy crisis. And it’s happening soon. And by soon, I mean within just a few hundred years. We don’t actually have that much time. So what can you do? Well, you can have a life of stasis, where you cap how much energy used. You have to work only on efficiency. Now take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System. The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins, a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in. Quartz (3 minutes)

DNA Detectives

Even as scientific experts applauded this week’s arrest of the Golden State Killer suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, some expressed unease on Friday at reports that detectives in California had used a public genealogy database to identify him. Privacy and ethical issues glossed over in the public’s rush to embrace DNA databases are now glaringly apparent, they said. “This is really tough,” said Malia Fullerton, an ethicist at the University of Washington who studies DNA forensics. “He was a horrible man and it is good that he was identified, but does the end justify the means?” Coming so quickly on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook data of more than 70 million users was shared without their permission, it is beginning to dawn on consumers that even their most intimate digital data — their genetic profiles — may be passed around in ways they never intended. New York Times (5 minutes)

Plastic Bag Ban

A year after Kenya announced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory – so much so that other east African nations Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are considering following suit. Kenya’s ban comes with the world’s stiffest fines and some businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives.  But, in Nairobi’s shanty towns, the clean-up is changing lives. Waterways are clearer, the food chain is less contaminated with plastic – and there are fewer “flying toilets”. But it is equally clear that there have been significant knock-on effects to businesses, consumers and even jobs as a result of removing a once-ubiquitous feature of Kenyan life. The Guardian (4 minutes)

Innovation @ Nintendo

Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s GM of development says, “The thinking that guides us is: what can we do to pleasantly surprise players? It’s not that we’re consciously trying to innovate; we’re trying to find ways to make people happy. The result is that we come up with things other people have not done.” Takahashi paints innovation as a side-product of Nintendo’s working culture focused on delight. A constant flow of new talent is extremely important to this approach. Nintendo does not prioritize experience in its hiring, says Takahashi – instead it looks for focus. When they are interviewing candidates, the quality of the end product that those students created doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether they kept their focus and had the endurance to see a multi-year project through completion. The Guardian (11 minutes)

From the Community

I was honored to find my name on Brad Lomenick’s (Author of Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle) list of Young Influencers. I appreciate that I’m perceived as being influential, but, at 38, I’m just glad that somebody considers me young!

Christine Bader wrote a piece in the New York Times about the learning to quit and the importance of Sabbath.

Weekend Wisdom

The new basic principle is that in order to learn to avoid making mistakes, we must learn from our mistakes. To cover up mistakes is, therefore, the greatest intellectual sin.” — Karl Popper

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

Eberhard Grossgasteiger