Weekend Briefing No. 423

Welcome to the weekend.

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Prime Numbers

$1.29 million—Justin Bieber bought a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT—BAYC #3001, which features a cartoon ape in a black T-shirt with tears in its eyes—for $1.29 million.

38%—Coronavirus rates have risen at 38% of wastewater sampling sites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last two weeks of tracking. This may be a possible warning of new COVID-19 upticks in some parts of the United States even as the number of positive tests plummets nationwide.

10—Despite the fact that 95% of USPS routes are a great fit for electric vehicles, only 10% of the new order of mail trucks will be electric.

Building Startup Culture

Culture is rarely examined at the co-founding duo, five-person team or 30-person startup level. More often, it’s seen as something that emerges organically—or something to worry about only once you’ve hit a certain scale. But if you’re intentional, you can design good culture (however you define that). And it’s easier to do at the beginning than later. Culture is the set of words, actions and behaviors of a group of people. (1) Words: What we say and how we say it. The frequency with which we talk, the way we talk to each other, the tone we use, how we communicate good or bad news, whether we communicate certain things at all, and the channels we choose to use—those are all essential pieces of our culture. (2) Actions: What we do? How we decide what we do? How quickly do we execute it? (3) Behaviors: The things we do that are not directly related to our job description. How are people celebrated? What do we do that’s unique as a company? When do people sign off? How often do people take vacation? First Round Review (22 minutes)

What Is the Purpose of Your Purpose?

Despite its sudden elevation in corporate life, purpose remains a confusing topic. A primary cause of this confusion is that the word is used in three senses: (1) Cause-based purposes (such as Patagonia’s “in business to save our home planet”) tend to receive the most attention. (2) Competence-based purposes (such as Mercedes’s “First Move the World”) express a clear value proposition to customers and the employees responsible for delivering that value. (3) Culture-based purposes (such as Zappos’s “To Live and Deliver WOW”) are effective at creating internal alignment and collaboration with key partners. This article offers advice about identifying what sort of purpose will best suit your company without misrepresenting it. Harvard Business Review (18 minutes)

Accredited Investors Only

Becoming an accredited investor isn’t easy. You need to earn $200K annually or have a net worth of over $1 million to join their ranks. Sure, having that level of wealth gives you wiggle room to buy Ferraris and beachfront property, but it does more than just that. Once you become accredited, you get exclusive access to “institutional-grade” alternative investments. In fact, there’s one that’s caught the attention of hundreds of accredited investors—the new “DAP product” from Masterworks. This is a one-of-a-kind offering that gives you exposure to a professionally curated portfolio. Their team analyzed over 5 million data points and reviewed over $10 billion of art to find quality works for you. They then create a custom basket made up of 60–80 works. Now accredited investors can diversify their portfolios in one easy investment. To date, the total Masterworks collection has appreciated by 18.9%. Masterworks (Sponsored)

Pre-Seed Pitch Deck

Are you working on a pre-Seed pitch deck? If so, here are some things to consider. Venture Capitals (VCs) spend an average of four minutes and 10 seconds evaluating pre-seed pitch decks. The best way to capture VC attention is by building an 18-page pitch deck with the following sections in this order: (1) Company purpose. Offer a clear, memorable, one-sentence explanation of your company’s goal. (2) Problem. Explain the problem at its broadest level and use simple, easy-to-understand words that make it easy for anyone to follow along. (3) Solution. Avoid technical product details. Instead, focus on what makes your strategic approach creative and different than anyone else’s. (4) Why now? Talk about current market conditions that make your company possible or present an opportunity for your solution. (5) Product. Highlight product features that demonstrate why your company can solve the problem statement. (6) Market size. It clearly defines your target customer profile with a comprehensive analysis of current market conditions and future growth potential (total available market, serviceable available market, serviceable obtainable market). (7) Team. (8) Business model. Articulate a clear monetization plan and go-to-market strategy. (9) Traction. Investors want to see any early indicators that you’re building the right product. They’ll take into account the stage you’re in, but you need to show them your idea has legs. (10) Financials. (11) Competition. Explain the uniqueness of your product relative to similarly sized competitors. (12) Fundraising ask. It outlines how much you plan to raise, as well as your broad plans for deploying capital. DocSend (11 minutes)

Genghis Khan

The legend of Genghis Khan has echoed through history: A barbarian conqueror, fueled by bloodlust, terrorizing the civilized world. This could not be more wrong. For not only was Genghis Khan one of the greatest military minds who ever lived, he was a perpetual student, whose stunning victories were often the result of his ability to absorb the best technologies, practices and innovations of each new culture his empire touched. In fact, if there is one theme in his reign and in the several centuries of dynastic rule that followed, it’s this: appropriation. The Mongols were as ruthless about stealing and absorbing the best of each culture they encountered as they were about conquest itself. Genghis Khan was not born a genius. Instead, as one biographer put it, his was “a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision driven by his uniquely disciplined and focused will.” He was the greatest conqueror the world ever knew because he was more open to learning than any other conqueror has ever been. Farnam Street (9 minutes)

The MBS Paradox

Graeme Wood has been traveling to Saudi Arabia over the past three years, trying to understand if the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is a killer, a reformer or both—and if both, whether he can be one without the other. Even MBS’s critics concede that he has roused the country from an economic and social slumber. In 2016, he unveiled a plan, known as Vision 2030, to convert Saudi Arabia from—to be blunt—one of the world’s weirdest countries into a place that could plausibly be called normal. It is now open to visitors and investment, and lets its citizens partake in ordinary acts of recreation and even certain vices. The crown prince has legalized cinemas and concerts, and invited notably raw hip-hop artists to perform. He has allowed women to drive and to dress as freely as they can in dens of sin like Dubai and Bahrain. He has also created a climate of fear unprecedented in Saudi history. It is widely believed that you place yourself in danger if you criticize the ruler or pay even a mild compliment to his enemies. Some fear that if he keeps getting his way, the modernized Saudi Arabia will oppress in ways the old Saudi Arabia never imagined. Khalid al-Jabri, the exiled son of one of MBS’s most prominent critics, warned me that worse was yet to come: “When he’s King Mohammed, Crown Prince MBS is going to be remembered as an angel.” The Atlantic (83 minutes)

Rural Cooking

As the internet reaches villages, rural societies are finding ways to showcase and monetize their unique food cultures to audiences across the world, using platforms like YouTube and Facebook. One channel called AroundMeBD has since been dubbed the YouTube village of Bangladesh. Its success has also created a whole new economy in Shimulia. Over the last four years, the channel has adopted a rustic, practical visual style; it uploads about eight videos a month and has a cumulative 1.3 billion views. The rise of rural cooking channels like AroundMeBD is tied to a sense of fascination; they fall into the general category of “oddly satisfying” videos. The two common traits of all oddly satisfying videos are novelty and transformation. The viewers witness something they don’t normally see in their everyday lives in these videos, and they also see the subject of the video undergo some type of change. The Rest of the World (11 minutes)


The Infinite Machine by Camila Russo. Everyone has heard of Bitcoin, but few know about the second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, which has been heralded as the “next internet.” The story of Ethereum begins with Vitalik Buterin, a supremely gifted 19-year-old autodidact who saw the promise of blockchain when the technology was in its earliest stages. He convinced a crack  group of coders to join him in his quest to make a super-charged, global computer. It then explores the brilliant innovation and reckless greed the platform—an infinitely adaptable foundation for experimentation and new applications—has unleashed and the consequences that resulted as the frenzy surrounding it grew: increased regulatory scrutiny, incipient Wall Street interest and the founding team’s effort to get the Ethereum platform to scale so it can eventually be  accessible to the masses. Financial journalist and cryptocurrency expert Camila Russo details the wild and often hapless adventures of a team of hippy anarchists, reluctantly led by an ambivalent visionary. The story lays out how this new foundation for the internet will spur both transformation and fraud—turning some into millionaires and others into felons—and revolutionize our ideas about money. Buy Now

Most Read Last Week

Depressing Math—Here’s some depressing math: Your life, in the best-case scenario, will consist of around 20 years of in-person time with your parents. The first 19 happened over the course of your first 19 years.

North Star Metric—At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the British rowing team unexpectedly won the Men’s Eight Rowing gold medal. One simple question was instrumental in their success. “Will it make the boat go faster?”

Web3 Founders—Web3 Founders, leaders and builders are skilled in different areas. They have different personalities, values and motivations.

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 Shuttergames.

Funding Fridays

In addition to the Weekend Briefing, I write atwo-minute Friday morning briefing on startup funding called Funding Fridays. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.

Should We Work Together?

This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. 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

Whereas most technologies tend to automate workers on the periphery doing menial tasks, blockchains automate away the center. Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer directly. Vatalik Buterin

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