Weekend Briefing No. 239

Welcome to the weekend.

Prime Numbers

1T – Tuesday, Amazon’s market value briefly topped $1T, making them the second company in the world to hit 13 figures (Apple passed the mark just a month ago).

1,570 – There are 1,570 miles of elevator shafts in New York City, almost double the miles of subway tracks (about 840).

70 70% of pre-booked train tickets in India are booked online.

Why Americans Spend So Much on Healthcare

Despite the higher spending, the U.S. fares worse than the OECD on most major measures of health. The pace of improvement by other advanced nations has been faster on most measures since 1970. A big part of the problem in analyzing health spending is the opacity of the industry. Since insurers negotiate prices with providers, it is hard for individuals to judge health costs and make more informed choices. Of course, overall prices are rising. One reason prices are rising: Hospitals are becoming more consolidated and are using their market clout to negotiate higher prices from insurers. This consolidation contributes to the overall increase in health costs, research suggests. Hospitals with a monopoly in a geographic market charge significantly more for procedures than those in markets with four or more competing hospitals, according to researchers. Check out these 12 charts on US healthcare.  Wall Street Journal (10 minutes)


Swarm is a company that has created the world’s smallest two-way communication satellites to enable low-cost, space-based connectivity anywhere in the world. Existing communications satellites haven’t changed significantly in price, size, or functionality for decades. Swarm invented a new satellite stabilization scheme and built and launched four operational satellites into Low Earth Orbit. Their satellite design doesn’t require the large, heavy, and power-hungry components common in conventional satellites. The small size and low mass of their satellites also makes them inexpensive to launch, providing unique economics for the deployment of our network. Swarm’s future constellation of 100 satellites aims to solve the problem of low-cost connectivity at a global scale far faster than any other provider, and at a fraction of the price. Swarm (3 minutes)

SOCAP Deal Room

Just like last year, I’m partnering with my friends at ADAP Capital on the Deal Room at this year’s SOCAP conference. Here’s the deal: seed-stage social entrepreneurs pitch at the beginning of the week and 2 companies walk away with $75,000 investment by Friday.  In addition to showcasing their “4-hour due diligence” process, ADAP will be focusing this year’s deal room on thoroughly exploring how ADAP Advisory – a key part of the ADAP model – can add value post-investment. I’m collaborating again with ADAP on this deal room, and I will contribute a year of legal services to two participating companies. If you are a pre-Series A social enterprise that has traction, take a look at ADAP’s website to learn more and then apply here. (12 minutes)

Brick & Mortar Resurgence

Doomsayers have predicted that online shopping, led by Amazon, would one day conquer all of retail, rendering brick and mortar obsolete. But, it may be too early to declare the death of retail. Americans have started shopping more — in actual stores. The retailers that get it recognize that Amazon has forever changed consumer behavior. The customer shouldn’t have to work to shop. Target’s shoppers can order sunscreen or a Tokidoki Unicorno T-shirt on their phone, pull up to the parking lot and have the items brought to their car. Many successful stores are now a cross between a fast-food drive-through and a hotel concierge. New York Times (8 minutes)

Journalism on the Blockchain

The goal of Civil is to create a sustainable, global marketplace for journalism that is free from manipulative ads, misinformation and outside influence. By improving transparency and autonomy through a decentralized approach, Civil aims to strengthen trust between citizens and traditional news reporting, creating a renewed appreciation for the value of financially supporting journalism directly. The model includes 1) Proven authorship and ownership — Who took this photograph and who owns the rights to it? 2) Smart contract licensing terms — Automatically enforceable entitlements and term length along with improved usage tracking across the web. 3) Incentives for ethical behavior — Civil’s Constitution, or code of conduct, is designed to reward quality content and discourse in the community as it grows. This week that Associated Press struck a deal with Civil to put their content on the platform. I can’t wait to see how this changes journalism over the coming decade. Civil (30 minutes)

Indefinite Flight

The U.S. Army thinks it has found a way to keep drones in the air indefinitely. And like all good plans, it involves lasers. Currently, drones need to land often to refuel. The Army is developing a system in which a laser shot from the ground can power up a military drone mid-flight. The key is hitting a photovoltaic cell on the drone, which then converts the light from the laser into electricity. The Army hopes to be able to do this from up to 500 meters (.31 miles) away. The Army still has several hurdles to overcome before its drone-powering laser system is ready for the battlefield, though. The biggest one: not melting the drone. See, any laser energy that isn’t converted to electricity by the drone’s photovoltaic cell becomes heat — heat that could do serious damage to a drone. The goal is to have this system operational by 2020. Futurism (4 minutes)

Enduring Love

Many scholars have claimed that enduring intense love is uncommon, almost always evolving into companionate love which, as time goes by, is low in attraction and sexual desire. Love is a trade-off, the prevailing wisdom goes: we can either soar briefly to the highest heights or we can have contentment for many years. No one can have both. Or can they? Perhaps in looking for enduring love we should look for profundity not intensity. The complexity of the beloved is an important factor in determining whether love will be more or less profound as time goes on: a simple psychological object is liked less with exposure, while a complex object is liked more. A complex psychological personality is more likely to generate profound romantic love in a partner, while even the most intense sexual desire can die away. Sexual desire is boosted by change and novelty and diluted by familiarity. Romantic profundity increases with familiarity if the other person, and the relationship itself, is multifaceted and complex. Aeon (19 minutes)

Weekend Wisdom

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.Lao-Tzu

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 Adrian Curiel