Weekend Briefing No. 51

The Transportation Cloud, Liquid Talent, Virtual Reality, Impact Investing, Profit is Not a Purpose.

Welcome to the weekend. This week we were hit with a blizzard of “historic” proportion in New York, (turns out, the only thing that was historic was the hype and the Mayor shutting down Seamless), Apple posted the most profitable quarter in the history of capitalism ($18 billion in profits in case you’re wondering), and Google Fiber announced it is rolling out in Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham.

Get into the groove this month with my February playlist on Rdio & Spotify.

 

WEEKEND BRIEFING

The transportation cloud. It seems inconceivable that Americans born today will never own a car, but given the fact that most cars are only used 3% of the time and the rise of autonomous cars… this seems like the most likely reality – especially for those living in urban areas (currently 54% of global population and will be 66% by 2050). A recent Columbia University study suggested that with a fleet of just 9,000 autonomous cars, Uber could replace every taxi cab in New York City – passengers would wait an average of 36 seconds for a ride that costs about $0.50 per mile. Such convenience and low cost will make car ownership inconceivable, and autonomous, on-demand taxis – the ‘transportation cloud’ – will quickly become dominant form of transportation – displacing far more than just car ownership, it will take the majority of users away from public transportation as well. Read more about the transportation cloud in this well-researched post from Zack KanterThanks to Sean Pfitzenmaier for sharing this post.

Liquid talent. The Economist recently had a special report about the on-demand economy entitled Workers on Tap. Alex Abelin, CEO of LiquidTalent, a mobile marketplace that matches developers and designers with on-demand job opportunities in real-time, wrote a response piece to The Economist article. He believes that the two forces that are driving the independent workforce revolution are the rise of Millennials and mobile phones. It’s worth a read, check it out here.

Virtual reality the “last medium”. With virtual reality, you’re essentially hacking the visual-audio system of your brain and feeding it a set of stimuli that’s close enough to the real world that the brain accepts it as truth. VR is becoming known as “the last medium” because any subsequent medium can be invented inside of VR, using software alone. Looking back, the movie and TV screens we use today will be seen as an intermediate step between the invention of electricity and the invention of VR. Kids will think it’s funny that their ancestors used to stare at glowing rectangles hoping to suspend disbelief. Learn more about the last medium in this post by Chris Dixon.

Impact investing. Impact investing – investing with the expectation of creating both profit and purpose – is starting to take root in the mainstream. One only needs to open up David Brooks’ New York Times column on Tuesday to see evidence of this. I’d highly recommend this piece if you are trying to understand what the buzz is all about. He delivers a balanced view of the asset class.

Profit is not a purpose, it’s an end product. According to Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who once trained as a priest, business shouldn’t exist solely for profit, but for purpose. Unilever has been investing in creating a greener business models, using sustainably sourced materials in its packaging, acting against deforestation and ensuring all factories are “zero waste”. “If we invest smartly now, then we can have our cake and eat it too,” said Mr Polman, citing Unilever’s recent financial results, which show that despite falling revenues, pre-tax profits for 2014 rose 7pc to €7.6bn (£5.7bn).“Our share price is up 25pc over the past four months alone, showing the world that you can address tough issues without touching the economic viability of your business model.” Read more about Unilever’s pursuit of profit & purpose in this Telgraph article. Thanks to Sarah Doody for sending this my way

 

THINGS I LIKE

Superbowl XLIX party guide. If you are looking to create the ultimate party experience for the big game tomorrow, check out this Pinterest board for inspiration.

Valentine’s guide. As my mom says, “If you care, you plan.” So, gents, if you’re searching for some cool Valentine’s date ideas in New York, check out these three thoughtful dates from Inside Hook.

Tesla’s souped-up Model S has an “insane mode” and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Watch the dash-cam reactions of freaked out passengers here.

Then came the album. The highly anticipated sophomore album from The Lone Bellow dropped this week. It was worth the wait! I’m currently listening to it on repeat. Check out this live video of the trio harmonizing Watch Over Us and buy the album here.

 

ABOUT THE WEEKEND BRIEFING

The Weekend Briefing is a selection of the best stories from around the web about innovation and society curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway & Co.

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