Weekend Briefing No. 354

Welcome to the weekend.

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Prime Numbers

15,000—The price of one bitcoin passed $15,000 this week.

20Twenty percent of people infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.

500,000—The Brookings Institution has forecasted a serious baby bust for 2020. They predict a drop of 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in the United States compared to 2019.

JTBD Framework

Whether you’re a product manager innovating within a larger company, or building a brand new early-stage product at a startup, the Job To Be Done (JTBD) framework works to create better, non-obvious insights about your audience. Ultimately, the core value of this framework is that it provides an approach to gathering an understanding of who your user is, and what their motivations and hopes are. It starts with a clear JTBD statement, which helps you communicate with absolute clarity what a specific group of people want in a specific circumstance—and their barriers to getting it. To put that into practice, here’s a JBTD statement template that I find helpful and is commonly used amongs Facebook and Instagram product teams: (1) When I … (context). (2) But … (barrier) (3) Help me … (goal). (4) So I … (outcome). First Round Review (22 minutes)


Kenyan micro-insurtech startup Turaco has announced the close of a $2 million seed funding round, led by Novastar Ventures, to further grow the business and scale its operations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2018, Turaco is an insurtech business that partners with local companies and mobile-lending organizations to provide simple and affordable medical coverage to underserved and unserved communities. Currently operating in Kenya and Uganda, the startup offers life and health insurance products distributed through partnerships, with its offering based on a subscription model through which consumers can opt in for automated medical policy renewals bundled with their existing payments, like bank loans or ride-hailing services. To date, Turaco has insured more than 70,000 people and seen almost 2,000 claims paid in an average turnaround time of less than three working days. It plans to scale this impact after securing a $2 million seed investment. We were proud to provide legal support to the Turaco team for this round of funding. Linkedin (2 minutes)

Technology and Humanity

What makes technology racist? Who owns our data? How do we disrupt facial recognition surveillance? Join me and the team from Unfinished on Tuesday, November 24th, at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT as we explore these questions and more for the third installment of Unfinished Live, centering around technology and humanity.  Interviews, performances and films will feature Andrew Yang, Manoush Zomorodi, Tristan Harris, Rashad Robinson, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Nadya Tolokonnikova and others. RSVP at Unfinished. (Sponsored)

Cyborg Cockroach

There is a possible future where you’ll have cyborg cockroaches hiding all over your house all the time. Digital Nature Group at the University of Tsukuba in Japan is working toward a “post ubiquitous computing era consisting of a seamless combination of computational resources and non-computational resources.” By “non-computational resources,” they mean leveraging the natural world, which for better or worse includes insects. The reason to use cockroaches is that you can take advantage of their impressive ruggedness, efficiency, high power to weight ratio and mobility. They can also feed themselves, meaning that whenever you don’t need the swarm to perform some task for you, you can deactivate the control system and let them scurry off to find crumbs in dark places. IEEE Spectrum (7 minutes)

Dolly Parton’s Vaccine

As Dolly Parton tells it, her first-ever car accident in October 2013 was minor, but left her bruised and sore enough to seek medical advice at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. That’s where she met Naji Abumrad, a physician and professor of surgery. Abumrad knew next to nothing about the beloved megastar with big, blond hair, but he soon befriended her because he deeply enjoyed their talks about current events and science. Their bond of nearly seven years received worldwide attention Tuesday after it was revealed that Parton’s $1 million donation to Vanderbilt for coronavirus research, made in honor of Abumrad, partially funded the biotechnology firm Moderna’s experimental vaccine, which a preliminary analysis released this week found is nearly 95 percent effective at preventing the illness. Washington Post (6 minutes)

Dolly Parton’s America

I couldn’t share that last story and not share one of my favorite podcasts ever—Dolly Parton’s America. It is one of the best podcast series I’ve ever heard. The producer Jad Abumrad (yes, the son of Naji Abumrad from the last story) gets a surprisingly personal look at Dolly Parton. Through the series, I was impressed by Dolly’s depth and versatility. She is such a uniting force, bringing people together left and right, young and old. Maybe in this post-elections season, we could learn a thing or two from her. WNYC (9 hours)

Cranberry Harvest

Starting in mid-September, Ocean Spray farmers across the Northeast start hustling to harvest 100 billion cranberries in just six weeks. But just as harvest was beginning this year, a TikTok featuring a bottle of Ocean Spray cran-raspberry juice went viral. Soon, retailers struggled to keep cranberry juice on shelves as millions recreated the video. For Ocean Spray, the sudden demand made a rushed harvest even harder. The company had to hire seasonal employees and increase production. Business Insider visited a Massachusetts bog and manufacturing facility to see how the company is handling demand, harvest, a pandemic and an upcoming holiday season all at once. Check out this fascinating video to see how that cranberry sauce gets to your Thanksgiving table. YouTube (7 minutes)


Roots of Division by Curtis Chesney. Do you notice racial inequalities (in education, income, housing, incarcerations) and feel the related tensions (in politics, social media, church, friendships)? Do you know some of the history (supremacy, slavery, segregation) but struggle to grasp why race continues to divide America? Curtis Chesney wrestled with that question for years. As a skeptic, he wanted concrete answers. And as a White man, he needed to face disturbing truths, including slavery on his ancestors’ farm—injustice committed by Chesney men. So he dug through the parallel histories of his family and his nation, uncovering roots of today’s racial division across several centuries of inequity in America. Chesney’s findings forever changed his perspective on our past, deepened his understanding of our present and clarified his hopes for our future. Amazon

Most Read Last Week

Bill Gates—Bill Gates gives brilliant 30-second answers to common job interview questions.

Elon Musk’s 2020—Elon Musk’s totally awful, batshit-crazy, completely bonkers, most excellent year.

My Instagram.

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 Ilona Frey.

Should We Work Together?

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Weekend Wisdom

I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb … and I also know that I’m not blonde.Dolly Parton

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