Weekend Briefing No. 72

Welcome to the weekend and welcome to summer! What goes better with summer than pop music? Check out my Summer Pop 2015 playlist for your summer listening pleasure.


This week a nationwide debate over the confederate flag is heating up, the US Supreme Court rules on key cases related to healthcare and same sex marriage, Taylor Swift persuaded Apple to pay artists during the three month free trial of its new music streaming service, Paris taxi drivers shut down the city in a huge anti-uber protest, and Don Featherstone, inventor of the pink flamingo died.


Congratulations to Keelin Jacobsen! He won a free, signed copy of my book Profit & Purpose just for liking a photo on Instagram. This is the last week to win a copy. If you want to win one, take these simple 3 steps. First follow me @kylewestaway. Second read the post. Third, like it.







50 smartest companies of 2015. When MIT Technology Review began their annual search for the smartest companies, they did not have trouble finding big ideas. To make the list, a company must have truly innovative technology and a business model that is both practical and ambitious. Biomedicine has had the biggest year, turning research breakthroughs – many powered by genomic analysis – into products that treat challenging diseases. The list includes big companies like Microsoft – for its wearable HoloLens device that blends virtual reality and the real world – to startups like Counsyl, a startup whose cheap, automated DNA analysis is expanding from prenatal testing to cancer screening. See the full list at MIT Technology Review.



How much money does it take to launch a startup? Every day we read about some company raising millions of dollars from venture capitalists to launch or grow their early stage startup. But this is the exception not the rule. Over 500,000 new companies get created in the U.S. each year. At most six percent of these receive Angel or VC funding. HP and Dell each started on $1,000 or less; Whole Foods $45,000; Under Armor $60,000; and Spanx $10,000. It is possible to create a multi-billion dollar business without following the path featured in the typical startup stories. I’m a firm believer in that taking outside money should be Plan Z, not Plan A.  Learn more in Funders and Founders post.



Don’t follow your passion. Ben Horowitz, cofounder and partner of famed venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is giving out career advice… don’t follow your passion. In his view following your passion is the wrong strategy because (1) passions are hard to prioritize, (2) passions change over time, (3) just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean you’re good at it, and (4) following your passions is a very ‘me-centered’ view of the world. Instead he urges people to honestly assess where their skills meet a market opportunity. Learn more in this video of his commencement speech at Columbia University.



Crowdfunding – step by step. Our good friends Jeff and Rob at CauseVox just released a slick infographic to help demystify and provide some hard data on successful crowdfunding campaigns. Did you know that campaigns that use personal fundraising pages raise twice as much as regular crowdfunding campaigns? Learn more in this Mashable article.



Teachers’ pay. What if teachers were paid salaries on par with doctors and lawyers? For the last five years, one charter middle school in Manhattan has been conducting a radical experiment by doing exactly that. The Equity Project pays its teachers a salary of $125,000 a year, with extra bonuses based on performance. It seems to be working. According to a study conducted by the Gates Foundation, eighth-graders at The Equity Project showed average test score gains in math equal to an additional year and a half of school, more than an extra half-year in science and almost an extra half-year in English. Learn more in this Wall Street Journal article.







Casey Gerald is a key voice of our generation, and I’m honored to call him a friend. About this time last year he gave the class day speech for his graduating class at Harvard Business School. I love the hope and determination in this talk, and I think you will too.







A jet and a ski jump. The new F-35 jet takes off from a ski jump… sounds cool right? With the ski jump, the F-35 can take off with a very short runway, which allows it to launch from smaller aircraft carriers. Check out this video to see for yourself.



There are more obese Americans than there are overweight Americans. The problem is getting worse.







The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.