Weekend Briefing No. 28

Welcome to the weekend! The summer is winding down. Obama is in Martha’s Vineyard. Janet Yellen is in Jackson Hole. I hope you’re getting out of town or at least getting outside and taking advantage of one of the last weekends by spending time with friends and perfecting that tan you’ve been working on. I’m really looking forward to the fall and the launch of my book Profit & Purpose. I just got off the phone with my publisher. The books are being printed as we speak and will be available soon I really appreciate you taking the time to read the Weekend Briefing, so I wanted you to be the first to know: The official launch of the book is September 15th! I’m psyched! I hope it will be your favorite book of the fall.




Why the ice bucket challenge worked? Ok…I know, your Facebook wall has been a constant stream of people doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This has been a fundraising phenomenon for the ALS Association, bringing in $41.8 million in the last month, more than doubling the fundraising for the entire previous fiscal year, and picking up 739,000 new donors in the process. Why did this “go viral”? I think it’s a combination of factors. 1) Universality. The act itself is shocking and universal, so everybody intuitively understands how unpleasant the experience is. 2) Public accountability. It’s fun to challenge friends publicly. 3) Narcissism. Everybody wants to be seen as somebody who is doing something good among their peers. 4) Influence. Enough celebrity and influencer involvement for it to tip into mainstream. Read more about it in the New York Times piece by my good friend Emily Steel.


TOMS + Bain. This week Bain Capital took a 50% stake in TOMS at a valuation of $625 M. This represents one of the first major private equity deals in the social enterprise space. In addition to the capital, Bain will also bring in experienced executives to help with expansion. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie retains 50% ownership and will focus on expanding TOMS into new categories. After doing a bit of research on the domains and Trademarks TOMS owns, they seem to have aggressive expansion plans across multiple categories including, water, wine, hotel services, luggage, wearable devices, credit cards and student loans to name a few. Will TOMS become the Virgin of conscious consumption? Only time will tell. But this deal proves that purpose does in fact drive profit. Read more about the deal in Dealbook.


In defense of arrogance. In Profit & Purpose, I posit that one of the key values of successful social entrepreneur is humility. But this Businessweek article makes the case that in order to change the world, you need to be an arrogant person. So can arrogance be a good thing?


Spray on Solar. Scientists at the University of Sheffield are working on solar panels that can be sprayed on any surface, replacing the bulky rooftop units that are common now. Theoretically, once the technology is perfected, we could have solar panels on everything from cars, to backpacks to clothes. The technology offers the ultimate potential of very low-cost solar energy, which will be particularly important in the developing world, where access to low-cost, carbon-free energy will be an important part of making sure that economic and population growth happens in a sustainable fashion. Read more about this innovation at Fast Company.


Co-developing products with users. Massdrop is a community commerce site that helps people organize into groups to buy products in bulk, which now has hundreds of thousands of users. The founder Steve El-Hage wrote a very detailed post on how they actually listened to users to build out their product. This First Round Review post is a great nuts and bolts piece for anybody building a product.




Chechnya’s president interrogated 1,000 villagers about his lost iPhone. Well, he needed it; he’s famous on Instagram, after all.


You are super smart, so I’m interested in your thoughts. If you have any story ideas, questions or just want to say hi, feel free to contact me. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. If you have friends that would like the Weekend Briefing, please forward it along. They can sign up for free here. Follow me on twitter for updates throughout the week.


Have a thoughtful & restful weekend