Weekend Briefing No. 246

Welcome to the weekend. After a couple weeks on the road, it’s good to be back in Brooklyn. Thanks so much to everybody who reached out. I had a blast hanging out with readers in Mexico City and San Francisco. Y’all are an impressive and fun bunch.

Prime Numbers

1 B – Small satellites are the fastest-growing segment of the $260.5B global satellite industry, and investors pumped $1B into space startups in just the first quarter of 2018.

54 – In the US, tablet ownership has grown steadily since 2015, but peaked at the start of 2017, with 56% of adults owning a tablet. Since then, ownership has declined to 54%.

15 – Tesla’s stock surged as much as 15% Wednesday, after posting earnings in the third quarter that blew away Wall Street’s profit forecasts as the company began selling the enough of its new Model 3 cars to push the company well into the black.

Data Industrial Complex

In Berlin this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook praised Europe for passing its GDPR protections. He also called on the U.S. to enact “a comprehensive federal privacy law” consisting of at least 4 key planks: 1) The right to have personal data minimized. 2) The right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. 3) The right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data. 4) The right to security. Security is foundational to trust and to all other privacy rights. Cook also took aim at the companies that are profiting off the collection of user information, calling it a “data industrial complex.” He warned of the privacy implications of mass data collection, and criticized tech and government leaders who downplay tech’s negative impact on society. Axios (4 minutes)


It’s hard to explain just how much economists love Uber. Economists love Uber like a mother loves her child. They love it like the internet loves cats. They love it like tech bros love Elon Musk. Economists love Uber because it’s the closest you can get to taking the pure economic theory of textbooks and summoning it to life. Uber created a massive open market, governed first and foremost by the forces of supply and demand. Along the way it broke up the taxi monopoly, taught people to accept “surge” pricing, and ushered concepts long confined to Econ 101 into the popular discourse. Uber built an internal economics think tank with the mission to prove, with cool and unemotional logic, that the rest of the world should love Uber as much as economists already do. Quartz (10 minutes) 

Deal Room Winner

On the main stage at SOCAP my friends at ADAP Capital announce the winner of this year’s Deal Room. Solstice – through their IoT and software, homeowners in Nigeria can now easily monitor, manage and control switching energy sources to help their clients save money and live smarter. They will receive an investment of $75K and on-going consulting services from ADAP. These are brilliant early stage social entrepreneurs, it’s our hope that this investment of capital and resources will accelerate their impact. Solstice (5 minutes)

Middle Class in Silicon Valley

For nearly 20 years, Silicon Valley has led the nation in economic growth. But most of its workers have been excluded from reaping the rewards of this boom. Nine in 10 workers in the California region make less than they did in 1997 after adjusting for inflation, according to a new report. The study shows a pattern of income inequality on tech’s home turf that’s worse than the national average. Middle-class workers in Silicon Valley are being hit the hardest by stagnating wages, seeing their earnings go down by as much as 14 percent. For those at the lowest rung of the income ladder, incomes have gone down by about 1 percent. Unlike in Silicon Valley, nationally, median and very-low-income earners have still seen some wage growth, even as the rate of that growth has slowed down in comparison to high-income earners. recode (6 minutes)

A Farm Grows in Brooklyn

In sunny California, Elon Musk is upending America’s auto and space industries. And here, in a cold, gritty section of Brooklyn, his brother Kimbal has embarked on a project that’s just as significant in its own way: Trying to reboot the food system. The younger Musk is the co-founder of Square Roots, an urban farming incubator with the goal of teaching young people how to farm in cities while preaching the importance of locally sourced, non-processed food. In Brooklyn, budding agricultural entrepreneurs set up year-round farms inside 10 retired metal ocean shipping containers and grow crops like microgreens, herbs and strawberries. I visited Square Roots and chatted with CEO Tobias Peggs two weeks ago (and even got a t-shirt that I’ve been wearing too much). I was so impressed! By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be in urban areas. This just may be the solution that allows for them to eat healthy local food. USA Today (7 minutes)

AI Ethics

In 2014, researchers at the MIT Media Lab designed an experiment called Moral Machine. The idea was to create a game-like platform that would crowdsource people’s decisions on how self-driving cars should prioritize lives in different variations of the “trolley problem.” In the process, the data generated would provide insight into the collective ethical priorities of different cultures. 1) Countries with more individualistic cultures are more likely to spare the young. 2) Countries with more individualistic cultures are more likely to spare more lives. 3) Japan is the most likely country to spare pedestrians, while China is the most likely country to spare passengers. MIT Technology Review (6 minutes)

On Writing

This article has 20 tips from Stephen King. Here are some of my favorites: 1) First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. 7) Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. 11) There are two secrets to success. I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married. 19) You become a writer simply by reading and writing. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. Open Culture (7 minutes)

Weekend Wisdom

Fall in love with the process not the product. – James Clear 

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 Frank Mckenna