Weekend Briefing No. 401

Welcome to the weekend.

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Prime Numbers

90—On Wednesday, William Shatner became the oldest person to ever go to space. The feat, at age 90, beats a previous record of 82 set a month ago when Jeff Bezos brought Wally Funk above the Karman line.

55—More than half (55%) of young people feel they will have fewer opportunities in life as adults than their parents.

5.4—Inflation rose at 5.4% in September as compared to the same time last year, according to data released yesterday, the highest jump in the measure since 2008. (The rate may actually be higher. Read Shadow Inflation below to learn why.)

The Price of Carbon

The price of carbon may be zero in many places today, but it’s unlikely to remain zero for long. That means that many companies have hidden liabilities on their books. To cover their carbon short position, executives can take several steps: Measure the position in carbon terms; determine if carbon intensity will increase or decrease as revenues increase; determine a set of carbon prices to use and the timing of putting them into place; price out future emissions; and finally discount the “carbon cash flows” by using your company’s cost of capital to discount the future carbon prices and determine a total economic impact in today’s dollars. Executives should then share these calculations with investors in their quarterly reports. Harvard Business Review (10 minutes)

How to Win the Future

Andreesen Horowitz just released a policy agenda for the third generation of the internet. They believe in three core principles to guide policymakers: (1) web3 systems offer a better vision for how societies should use technology. Open, distributed technology platforms that are directly accountable to their users provide an alternative to a digital status quo that is dominated by big tech and subject to exploitation by potentially oppressive regimes and malicious non-state actors.(2) Decentralization is the organizing principle of our past and future success. Decentralized competition was at the foundation of American growth and dynamism in the 20th century when it helped the country outcompete authoritarian adversaries. It can help us succeed in the face of new challenges today. Decentralization fosters democratized technology platforms that embody the values of open societies and will provide the infrastructure to power tomorrow’s economy and institutions. (3) Policymakers should work with market participants to unlock the potential of web3 technologies and design regulatory frameworks that are carefully calibrated to address perceived risks. America’s technological and financial leadership depends on developing world-class systems that support better payments, digital identity management, data protection, and broader access to opportunity. Those systems will emerge from public-private collaboration, sensible regulation, and standards that are tailored to the different levels of risk inherent in different sectors and projects. a16z (26 minutes)

How to Blow a Whistle

When Ifeoma Ozoma came forward with allegations of discrimination and racism at Pinterest, she was prepared. She had a list of reporters on deck to share her story. She’d already hired a lawyer. Then she started hearing from other tech workers who also wanted to speak out. “The general lack of awareness around options and resources was shocking,” she says. Now, she’s aiming to fix that. On Wednesday, Ozoma launched the Tech Worker Handbook—a comprehensive online resource to help employees who want to speak out. “Deciding to go toe-to-toe with a powerful and well-resourced corporation is difficult for many reasons,” the website reads. “Access to information about how to find legal counsel, file a complaint with a governmental organization, work with the media, secure personal information, or ensure physical safety should not be an additional barrier.” The Verge (3 minutes)

Shadow Inflation

Inflation has surged in 2021, with various official measurements of consumer prices rising faster than they have in years. But in a crucial respect, the data may be understating things. Many types of businesses facing supply disruptions and labor shortages have dealt with those problems not by raising prices (or not by only raising prices), but by taking steps that could give their customers a lesser experience. When there are shortages of labor or supplies, some businesses adjust mostly or entirely by raising their prices. Others find less obvious, less easily measurable ways to adapt. Consider, for example, rental cars versus hotels. Both were dealing with shortages. But they showed up in different ways. The car company just had to charge higher prices, while the hotel could take the hit through service quality instead. We measure them in different ways. The car company’s problem gets measured as inflation, while the hotel’s problem is mostly relayed by anecdote. New York Times (9 minutes)

Play to Earn

A couple of years ago, many of us would have laughed at the notion that it was possible to earn from playing games. Yes, you could gain money as an esports player, live a decent life and get millions of bucks at that, but that was about it. Today, play-to-earn (P2E) games such as Axie Infinity, Cryptoblades, Ethermonand the like allow you to earn money just by investing in the game and playing games (and even allow you to share the spoils with your friends, family and loved ones in some cases). For instance, in the Philippines, where the highest possible minimum daily wage is P537 ($10.50), P2E games play a huge role in uplifting the lives of their players (and give gaming investors another way to diversify their investments). Players in the Philippines can earn four times the minimum wage; this amount was something that only company supervisors and high-level bureaucrats obtain on average in a day. Hacker Noon (6 minutes)

What Is a DAO?

Let’s use an example: Imagine that you want to work for a hot tech startup. Instead of applying for a job, you can just join this startup’s Slack with one click. There’s no real onboarding; you see dozens of channels right away. It’s overwhelming, but you start exploring. After some digging around, you discover “Bounties”—a massive JIRA board with tickets on everything from taking meeting notes to shipping a feature. You take notes for a meeting and share them in Slack. Someone marks the ticket as done, and you get a few shares of the company in return. So, you take on a project of creating a marketing web page. You’re finding it hard to coordinate with other people as everyone seems to be part time. Somehow you still manage to ship the page with another contributor, and you both get more shares. You like that you only get rewarded if you put in the work versus FaceTime. You keep doing more projects and people notice. Someone submits a proposal to give you a $150K salary for your hard work. There’s no CEO to approve this. Instead, all contributors vote and the proposal passes. So that’s how this startup (DAO) works: (1) Most people are part-time and work at multiple startups. (2) All decisions are transparent. (3) You earn the right to own more of the company by putting in the work. @peteryang (5 minutes)

Cheetah Cub Cam

Cheetah Rosalie gave birth to five cubs Tuesday at the National Zoo. There is a live webcam. It is cute. Enjoy. National Zoo (Infinite minutes)

Bookshelf

Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scot Kupor. In Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Kupor explains exactly how VCs decide where and how much to invest, and how entrepreneurs can get the best possible deal and make the most of their relationships with VCs. Kupor explains, for instance: (1) Why most VCs typically invest in only one startup in a given business category. (2) Why the skill you need most when raising venture capital is the ability to tell a compelling story. (3) How to handle a “down round,” when startups have to raise funds at a lower valuation than in the previous round. (4) What to do when VCs get too entangled in the day-to-day operations of the business. (5) Why you need to build relationships with potential acquirers long before you decide to sell. Filled with Kupor’s firsthand experiences, insider advice and practical takeaways, Secrets of Sand Hill Road is the guide every entrepreneur needs to turn their startup into the next unicorn. Amazon

Most Read Last Week

Fermi Paradox—There are 500 billion sun-like stars and 100 billion Earth-like planets. So is there life out there? If so, where is everybody? This is the Fermi Paradox.

Tech-Tonic Shift—Technology is fueling most of the growth across the global economy. Tech companies have accounted for 52% of total market growth since 2015.

Johnny Ive on Steve Jobs—On the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death, Sir Jony Ive (the iconic Apple product designer) reflects on their collaborations and friendship.

About the Weekend Briefing

This is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Fabrizio Conti.

Should We Work Together?

This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for entrepreneurs. Rather than the antiquated billable hour model, we’ve developed an innovative new model called General Counsel. For a flat monthly fee, we provide ongoing legal guidance. No limits. No clock counting. Just quality advice every step of the way. We believe this new model is the future of law. Apparently, we’re not the only ones. Fast Company recently recognized General Counsel as a “World Changing Idea.” If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.

Weekend Wisdom

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.Kahlil Gibran

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