Weekend Briefing No. 420

Welcome to the weekend.

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Prime Numbers

1,036—In the past several weeks, 1,036 beehives worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reported stolen in California, with the largest heist of 384 hives stolen from a field in Mendocino County.

62—Paul Farmer, a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-quality health care to some of the world’s poorest people, died on Monday on the grounds of a hospital and university he helped establish in Butaro, Rwanda. He was 62.

60%—As Uber comes out of lockdown, 60% of gross bookings now come from food delivery.

The DAO Hacker

Ethereum, the second biggest crypto network, is worth $360 billion. All the most popular trends in crypto over the last several years launched on Ethereum: initial coin offerings (ICOs), decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). Ethereum is also the subject of a great mystery: Who committed the largest theft of ether (Ethereum’s native token) ever, by hacking The DAO? The decentralized venture capital fund raised $139 million in ether (ETH) by the time its crowd sale ended in 2016, making it the most successful crowdfunding effort to that date. Weeks later, a hacker siphoned 31% of the ETH in The DAO—3.64 million total or about 5% of all ETH then outstanding—out of the main DAO and into what became known as the DarkDAO. So, who hacked The DAO? This exclusive investigation appears to point to Toby Hoenisch, a 36-year-old programmer who grew up in Austria and was living in Singapore at the time of the hack. Until now, he was best known for his role as a cofounder and CEO of TenX, which raised $80 million in a 2017 initial coin offering to build a crypto debit card—an effort that failed. Check out this video report to get the scoop. Forbes (8 minutes)

Career Athleticism

We are preparing our kids for a future dictated by the past: How can we change course? Let’s start by teaching our kids about career athleticism. We want them to build muscles and agility that can be translated in multiple settings and environments. This means developing capabilities like building structure out of autonomy, leading through ambiguity and creating a vocation (versus finding a job). Careers are going to look more like the vast Netflix movie offerings rather than the limited blockbuster shelves. But to help our students, we have to build sophisticated tools that input skills, psychometric data, experience and job market analysis to help students navigate their unique vocational pursuits. The Hill (6 minutes)

The Future of Digital Contracting

As teams are increasingly working remotely, old workflows won’t cut it anymore. With 90% of businesses’ spending and investments governed by contracts, legal teams are accelerating their plans to go digital. Companies need the ability to search and find contracts and provisions in seconds from anywhere. Remote-friendly activities such as cross-functional collaboration, access and visibility into existing contracts are “must haves.” World-class security with certifications such as SOC2, HIPAA and GDPR compliance are non-negotiables. Companies embracing software such as ContractSafe gain immediate efficiencies. ContractSafe wins awards for fast implementation and overall ease of use. With ContractSafe, all your contracts are at your fingertips, and with unlimited users included in all plans, collaboration across remote teams is a breeze. Named a G2 High Performer, see ContractSafe for yourself and get a special offer for Weekend Briefing readers by booking a demo today. ContractSafe (Sponsored)

Hybrid Work

What once seemed like a hot take is becoming a stone-cold reality: For tens of millions of knowledge-economy workers, the office is never coming all the way back. The implications—for work, cities and the geography of labor—will be fascinating. (1) The five-day work week is dying. For some knowledge workers, Friday through Monday may come to occupy a murky space between weekdays and weekends—a sort of work-play purgatory, where the once-solid walls between work and life become more porous. (2) The age of hybrid work is going to be a beautiful mess. When the internet disrupted brick-and-mortar stores, the response from many retailers was: Make shopping an experience. Now the internet has disrupted brick-and-mortar offices, and the response from companies may be similar: Make the office an experience. (3) Cities are already starting to freak out. If office occupancy never recovers, downtown areas will experience an extended ice age. Emptier offices will mean fewer lunches at downtown restaurants, fewer happy hours, fewer window shoppers, fewer subway and bus trips, and less work for cleaning, security and maintenance services. This means weaker downtown economies and less taxable income for cities. The Atlantic (8 minutes)

Talent Geography

The geography of talent appears to be shifting in subtle but significant ways, according to a new study by Richard Floirida. Coastal superstar cities and leading tech hubs like San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York continue to top the list of talent. But small- and medium-sized metros farther inland and across the center of the country are gaining significant ground. The big takeaway: Despite the continued dominance of a few coastal metro areas, many more affordable places have made considerable strides in attracting talent in the nation’s heartland, which according to our definition covers 20 states in the center of the country running from the Midwest to the Sun Belt. These include larger metro areas like Austin, Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Des Moines, Omaha, Columbus and Cincinnati. Smaller college towns and cultural hubs like Ann Arbor, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; and Iowa City, Iowa also rank as significant talent hubs. Bloomberg CityLab (8 minutes)

Remote Cheating

Exam software is booming, but is it ethical? College kids have been cheating on exams since the beginning of time. But remote learning has created a new challenge for educators: How do you keep students from cheating when they’re taking the tests from their bedrooms? Luckily for academic institutions, this challenge has led to a burgeoning new industry. The key player in the space is Honorlock, which grew revenue 1,000% YoY between 2020 and 2021, leading to a $25 million fundraiser last year. Honorlock’s software uses artificial intelligence to scan students’ faces to make sure they’re the ones actually taking the tests. It detects the use of cell phones and other devices during the exam window, and it tracks activity on fake websites that provide answers to test questions. In other words, it’s all about student surveillance—and the last bullet has landed Honorlock in hot water. These fake websites, which the company calls “honeypots,” exist solely to catch students cheating. Critics say it’s a classic case of entrapment and argue that the software creates an environment that assumes students cheat—which could backfire by normalizing cheating. The Hustle (6 minutes)

The Pursuit of Happiness

If you pursue only happiness, you won’t ever leave your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable. You’ll keep dragging yourself into the same predictable tomorrow by reliving yesterday. Instead of chasing happiness, find and follow your north star. That’s the guiding light that determines all the choices you make in your life—what you reject and what you embrace. Your north star must be a principle that inspires you to act even if—and especially if—it generates pain in the short term. Following your north star will often take you off the path that you’ve followed in the past, as it did for me. There’ll always be a reason to keep coloring inside the lines you’ve drawn for yourself. It’ll be agonizing to leave behind what feels comfortable to pursue what’s uncomfortable—and to step into the unknown, where all things that never existed are created. But, as Zora Neale Hurston writes, “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” What will your story say? Ozan Varol (5 minutes)


Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. In honor of Paul Farmers life, I’m recommending this book on his life’s work. In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the life-saving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Kidder’s magnificent account takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity.” At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”—as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too. Buy Now

Most Read Last Week

Pass the Ball—Forty animators from around the world collaborated on a two-minute video.

Web3 Product Management—This is a great post enumerating 10 truths of Web3 product management.

Fired by His Own DAO—What do we make of the man who was fired by his own DAO?

Weekend Briefing

The Weekend Briefing is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Paul Earle.

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Weekend Wisdom

I mean, everybody should have access to medical care. And, you know, it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Paul Farmer

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