Weekend Briefing No. 52

Welcome to the weekend.


Wow! You have blown me away! This weekend marks the first anniversary of the Weekend Briefing. What started as a quick weekend email on social innovation (and good music) to a few friends has grown to 12,000+ subscribers. It has become one of the highlights of my week, mostly driven by all of your insightful feedback – It’s a privilege to learn from all of you in your fields of expertise.


When I started this little experiment, I could not have expected this response. As the Weekend Briefing has grown beyond my small group of friends, I realize that I haven’t had a chance to meet most of you yet.


So, as I enter into the second year, I want to remedy that. I want to get to know you. I want to understand who you are and what you care about in order to continually make the Weekend Briefing more awesome and more relevant to you.  It would mean the world to me if you take two minutes to fill out this survey.


I know, eye roll, right? If you’re anything like me, you hate filling out surveys. I know your time is valuable, so let me buy you a cup of coffee. When you complete the survey, I’ll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card.


This project is a startup. So, by filling out this survey you are helping to shape this at its formative stage. Your input is so much more valuable to me than you think. Thanks in advance. I can’t wait to hear from you.


Also, to mark our year anniversary, today we launched weekendbriefing.com! Check out the site and let me know what you think.




Mobile money in Africa. Of the 2.5 billion people in the world who have no access to a traditional bank, approximately 1 billion have a mobile phone. The widespread adoption of mobile phones has enabled some of the poorest economies on earth to leapfrog ahead of developed nations when it comes to tech-driven financial solutions. M-Pesa in Kenya has been the classic success story, but their results have not been easily replicated in other countries. It seems that a key to Kenya’s success was governmental dysfunction, an underdeveloped banking sector and the dominant cell provider – Safaricom – already had built trust with its customers. In a more developed economy with more functional governance, mature banking sector and a diversified cell phone sector can actually be inhibitors to the adoption of mobile banking. This article is a great primer on mobile banking in Africa if you want to get caught up to speed.  It’s part of a series guest edited by Bill Gates on The Verge this month with a focus on how technology will revolutionize life for the world’s poor by 2030.


Is Silicon Valley focused on trivial problems? Silicon Valley used to think big—the integrated circuit, personal computers, the Internet. Are we really leveraging all that intellectual power and creativity to invent Instagram and dating apps? Is this truly going to change the world? Could the next generation of innovation – internet of things, autonomous vehicles & drones – have a greater positive impact on the world? Maybe. Maybe not. According to Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, those challenges don’t mesh with Valley VCs’ expectations that companies start quickly, with low capital costs, and have the potential to scale up tremendously. “There’s a lot of things that we aren’t good at here.” Learn more in this MIT Technology Review article.


What is a venture-builder? This is a new approach to startups. Essentially, it is a holding company that owns equity in the various corporate entities it helped create. The most successful venture builders are, however, much more operational and hands-on than holding companies: They raise capital, staff resources, host internal coding sessions, design business models, work with legal teams, build MVPs (minimum viable products), hire business development managers, and run very effective marketing campaigns. Learn more about this movement and how it’s shaping multiple industries in this Venture Beat article.


Education is hard to disrupt. This is true for a number of reasons. First, tech doesn’t currently play a huge role in public education. Second, good teaching is hard to automate. Third, until now, it’s been too expensive to create a “one laptop per child” model which makes personalized learning difficult. Fourth, though the education market is huge in aggregate, it’s incredibly fragmented and hard to sell into. So, what’s an ed-tech entrepreneur do? Find out in this insightful postThanks to Lizz Pawlson for sending this my way.


Millennials at work. According to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 60% of Millennials list a “sense of purpose” as part of the reason why they chose to work for their current employers. A strong sense of purpose is also closely linked to positive organizational performance. Among businesses where Millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly higher reporting of financial success, employee satisfaction, and recruitment. Millennials are also expecting more from business than any other generation, but, unfortunately, they overwhelmingly believe (75%) businesses are too focused on their own agendas rather than helping to improve society. Thanks to Vanessa Leong for sending this my way.




FCC enforces net neutrality. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, as well as the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services to the internet and the mobile web. The proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission. Read more in this Wired article.


The best love poem I’ve heard in a while is about a guy’s love for his Starbucks barista. Watch it here.


The Super Bowl of lip-syncing. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart joined Jimmy Fallon for the Super Bowl of lip-syncing… comedy ensues. Watch the video here.




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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I’m interested in your thoughts. If you have any story ideas, questions or just want to say hi, just send an email to kyle[at]kylewestaway[dot]com. If you have friends that would like the Weekend Briefing, please forward it along. They can subscribe for free here. Follow me on twitter and instagram for updates throughout the week.